Bump! My wheel got stuck on a rock. I click the brakes and move my bike around the rock. I wipe the sweat off my forehead and continue following my dad up the trail. […]
Bump! My wheel got stuck on a rock. I click the brakes and move my bike around the rock. I wipe the sweat off my forehead and continue following my dad up the trail. The hot sun was beaming down on me, making sweat roll down my face and back. I am Stella Cubster, I am currently just out of San Diego, California. I live in Estonia in Europe, but I am visiting here for my mom’s work. She works as a doctor and has to travel a lot! I am riding my bike on a mountain with my dad. He loves mountain biking. I think it’s fun, but still, I’d prefer to be painting in my room with my friend, Beth. We spend almost every afternoon together. We usually paint, but sometimes we draw. Today reminds me of a hot day a few years ago. Me and my mom were walking on a path in the desert. The sun was blazing down on us. I watched dust kick up as my mom, in front of me, exclaimed to me, “Stella! I see the top!” I was so relieved. That was the hottest walk ever, and I knew there would be shade up there, unlike down where we were– you could only see rocks and sand for miles and miles. I looked around at the dry landscape. I was looking at a cute mouse when I missed a step and fell down on the rocky path. I remember getting lots of cuts and scrapes from that fall, but I also remember getting to the top and sitting in the shade. Oh, that felt so nice! I try not to think of getting all of the cuts and scrapes as I continue pedaling up the mountain.
“Stella, there is a roller up here.” My dad calls to me from up ahead. “Do you want to try it?” He asks, already riding down it.
“No,” I reply immediately, seeing that it was big. My dad asks me this almost every time there is a rock to roll up or down. Usually I say no, because I am too worried about falling off and breaking a bone. I roll down beside the side of the rock, careful to not scrape my pedal on it.
“Stella, we are almost to the top of the mountain, when we reach the top let’s have a water break.” My dad calls from in front of me.
“Definitely,” I reply, short of breath. I am happy to know I could drink clear, cool liquid soon. After this huge climb I didn’t even think I could make it two pedals further.
After 10 more minutes of riding, I turn a corner and exclaim excitedly,
“We’re at the top!!!”
Right as I reach the top, feeling renewed from my excitement and going at an incredibly fast speed, my bike crashes hard against a nearby rock. The next thing I know I go head over heels and hear a huge crack. At first, I don’t know if the crack was from me or the bike.
“Stella!!” My dad cries and runs over to me. “Are you ok?!” It takes me a minute to register his question considering my shock. But when I do, I reply,
“Yes, I am totally fine, I am not quite sure about my bike though.” I am so thankful that it was my bike not me! My legs are still shaking from being scared as I get up to check my bike. I lay it on its side in the dirt. We start examining the parts. It looks like the bike hit near the frame of my bike. There is a little dent but nothing major.
“It looks fine.” I observe, taking one last look over the bike. “What do you think, Dad?”
“Stella, get back,” Dad says suddenly. I look to where he is looking. A big snake was at least 30 feet away. But Dad has a big thing with snakes. He is terrified of them.
“It looks okay…” he says, looking back at the bike and slowly rubbing his hand over the dent mark. “But take it slow going down the mountain, we don’t want you to get hurt today. And let’s definitely get going.” He eyed the snake that had never even looked at us.
“Dad! It’s fine!” I say reassuringly. Even I am not afraid of snakes.
After we eat a quick snack, I take a big gulp of water. Water had never tasted so good! We hop on our bikes and we start down the mountain. I feel the wind flow through my hair, pushing it back. That is my favorite feeling. It almost feels like silk running across my face. I feel so free! I tried to take it slow like my dad said to, but when I click my brakes to slow down, I don’t slow down. I try again, this time I hold my brakes harder. Sometimes my brakes are hard to push. But not this hard. I feel panic bubbling up in my core like soup bubbling in a pot waiting for the heat to be turned off. I attempt to scream but my mouth is clamped shut, no matter how much I try, I can’t get it to open. I steer my bike around a corner, going at an incredible speed. I try to scream to my dad, but like before, my screams and words got caught in my throat, unwilling to come out. As I continue down the trail I spy a big rock ahead. I try to put my foot down to stop the bike but an odd dizzy feeling in my brain takes over. I can’t move. I try and try to get off the bike, but I get dizzier by the second. My eyes show a blurry picture of the rock getting closer and closer. I close my eyes, preparing for the fall, but there is no way to prepare myself for what was about to happen. I get to the rock way too fast, my bike wobbles and…
“Ahhhhhhh!” I hear someone scream. They keep screaming. Then I realize it was me. I try to stop but the screams keep coming out. I can’t feel anything. I can’t see anything. Where am I?
“Stella?!” I hear my dad yell out to me. That stops my screaming. Dad? Then it all floods back to me. Speeding down the mountain toward a giant rock unable to stop. My bike wobbled then… I can’t remember. I see Dad peddling so hard, I thought for sure his pedals were going to snap off.
“Stella!” He jumps off his bike, letting it crash to the ground. Dad never ever let his bike fall down. He always put it down slowly, carefully to make sure his bike would not scratch.
“Dad, I’m fine,” I croak out. I sound like a frog with a sore throat. I push off the rock to try and get myself up. A shot of pain bolts through my leg. I let out an ear-piercing scream and tumble back to the ground. I close my eyes and clench my teeth. There is no way I can describe the pain that I am feeling now. I can’t see. I can’t think. I can’t… The last thing I hear is Dad scream, “Stella!”
“Dad? Dad? Dad, where are you?” I look around searching for Dad. He just called my name. Where did he go? “Dad?!”
“Stella? Stella, wake up!” Someone shakes me. “Stella!” I feel someone squeeze my arm. I open one eye then the other.
“Mom?” I ask. She smiles then hugs me. It felt good to be near her. I look down. The top of my hand has a hot pink band aid stuck on. I look at my leg. It was covered by a big pink cast. “What hap…” I start then I remember. Bike. Rock. Falling. Screaming. Pain. Oh the pain.
“Where’s Dad?” I ask, scanning the room. Right as I say that Dad comes in. “Stella!”
6 months later
Dad and I are driving to a new mountain biking spot. Dad got me a new bike as a get well present. It was kind of funny, because I couldn’t exactly use it with a broken leg. But the color is a lavender purple with pink lettering that says “STRONG STELLA” on the frame. I love it!
We figured that when I hit the rock when I was coming up the mountain, we didn’t check my bike carefully enough and missed that the brakes were broken. Dad had said sorry so many times. He said the snake made him not as focused on the bike and more focused on getting away.
I had forgiven Dad a long time ago, though I’m not sure he’ll ever forgive himself.
“Oh look,” Dad said pointing to the mountain that the tragedy had happened on.
“Dad, I’ve been thinking. I want to ride that mountain to the top and down,” I say determinedly. “Today.” I add.
“Stella. Did I hear you right? You want to ride that mountain even after what happened?”
“Yup,” I responded, “even after what happened.”