There was barely time to register the sight of a loose spoke on the front wheel, and less still to compensate for the sudden loss of steering and momentum. Danny tumbled over the handlebars with a yelp, and the light was dashed out of the world.

The next thing he knew was a coppery taste in his mouth, followed by a blinding flare as things came back into focus. The Cannondale was a few feet behind him, bent in several places and scratched in others.

No sign of Steve and his crew. The race was over, and they hadn’t even bothered to come back for Danny when he didn’t make the finish line.

Dragging the mangled remains of the Cannondale, Danny struggled to River Park, leaving a long trail of dusty skidmarks in his wake. He’d carry it as far as the rack near the parking lot, and then leave it there, just like he’d found it, and give up that terrific sensation of riding the world through whizzing gears for good.

There was one car in the lot, parked near the rack—a familiar-looking sedan. The window rolled down as Danny approached it, and a familiar face appeared.

“Kids,” Dad said. “Always think we old-timers are blind and stupid. Well, we see and hear a lot more than you give us credit for. Looks like you got your head handed to you, eh kiddo?”

Danny nodded.

“Well, you put up one hell of a fight,” Dad said. “Building a new bike from scratch? I don’t know if I could do that now, much less at our age.”

“I…I just wanted to go fast,” Danny said. “I wanted to go fast whenever I wanted and feel the wind and see the ground going under me.”

“Well, we’ll see what we can do about that,” Dad said. “Load up what’s left of ‘er. You’ve got a gift, Danny me boy, and I’ve got a feeling you’ll feel that wind and see that ground spinning by again soon enough, on your own terms.”

The drive home wound over roads stained with fallen blackberries and under wide maples that filtered the waxing light of summer through their boughs. The world took on a bit of the heady blur it had carried earlier, and Danny trailed his hand out the window, letting the dusk air spin through his fingers like the tarnished spokes of an old tire.

That spring, Danny finally outgrew his old bike, the one he’d learned to ride on. It had fit, just barely, during the fall, but now his legs banged awkwardly against the handlebars, leaving angry red stripes across Danny’s knees.

Dad said that, thanks to little Sandy’s new dentalwork, any new bike would have to wait until Christmas.

“I can’t just walk everywhere all summer!”

“You’ll appreciate your new bike a lot more once you have it,” Dad said. “And that means you’ll take better care of it. I’ll show you how to give it a nice tune-up; it’ll be fun.”

Danny stormed up to his room and threw himself on the bed. It wasn’t fair. Why did parents always have to be like this? It wasn’t his fault he’d outgrown the old bike. They probably just didn’t want to pay.

“The city garage sale is coming up,” Mom said the next morning. “I bet you can find a nice used bike, and your father’d help you fix it up.”

Four hours’ worth of poking around dusty piles of junk later, Danny was about ready to go home, dejected and bikeless, when he saw sunlight glinting off spokes in the corner.

The old Flyer was definitely a garage-sale special—it was sturdy, ran well, and had cost only ten dollars. The fact that the bike had looping handlebars, a banana seat, and a definitively made-in-1973 paint scheme mattered less than the fact that it moved.

Dad, who was an amateur mechanic and doted on his old Schwinn, had helped give the old girl a tune-up. He’d even let Danny reattach the bike’s chain after cleaning it; thanks to carefully watching his father, Danny had been able to do it on his first try.

The real piece-de-resistance, though, was the sleek battery-powered light Danny picked up at Wal-Mart—he’d been so excited by the purchase that the Flyer’s unveiling and maiden ride happened at night. Danny had torn through the city streets like a man possessed, reveling in the speed, the wind.