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Adventure bike club and.., p.1
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       Adventure Bike Club and the Tire Giant, p.1

           Brian Bakos
 
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Adventure Bike Club and the Tire Giant
ADVENTURE BIKE CLUB & THE TIRE GIANT

  by Brian Bakos

  Book 3, Time Before Color TV series

  cover art: Othoniel Ortiz

  Copyright 2012 Brian Bakos / revised 10-2016

  Table of Contents

  Prelude: What Happened Before

  One: The Adventure Begins

  Two: Trapped

  Three: Desperate Measures

  Four: Battle for Freedom

  Next Book in the Series

  Brian’s Other Books

  Prelude: What Happened Before

  The First Ring Rainbow gives some interesting background information that can help you to enjoy this story more. Click the link to obtain a copy.

  If you’d rather just dive in and read, that’s okay, too.

  One: The Adventure Begins

  1. Gathering of the Club

  I’m feeling pretty good about my bike – until Melissa shows up.

  “Still riding that old thing, Amanda?” she yells.

  I flinch and look up from the tire pump just in time to see Melissa blur past. She rides to the corner of the block, spins around, and zips back at hazardous speed.

  Then she barrels up our driveway right at me. I think she’s going to run me over, but she stops a few feet away, hand brakes screeching loud enough to hurt my ears.

  “Do you like my new English racer?” she says.

  She’s all out of breath like she has just run the marathon. A grin splits her glowing face, and her natural blonde hair is mussed just the right amount to look cool.

  “Y-yeah, sure, Melissa,” I say.

  What else could I say? The thing looks fast just standing still. It has a blazing crimson frame etched with gold highlights. It has skinny tires and a cut back front fender. The handlebars are curled under competition style. Melissa flicks a little trigger by the right hand brake.

  “It has ever so many speeds, imagine!” she says. “If you don’t like the one you’re in, just choose another.”

  “That’s really, er, nice,” I say.

  I look down at my own bike. It’s all lazy curves, while Melissa’s is decisive sharp angles. My bike has fat balloon tires and a green & white frame with rusty little scrapes. It looks about as fast as an old shopping cart. I’ve spent half an hour cleaning and oiling, but now everything looks pretty dull.

  “It’s supposed to be my early birthday present,” Melissa says, “but I’ll talk Dad into getting me another gift later.”

  Tommy shows up next riding a sensible Schwinn Hornet like mine, only red and cream colored – and with a boy’s frame, of course.

  “Nice bike, Melissa,” he says.

  “Thank you,” Melissa says. “My Dad bought it for me at Empire Bicycles.”

  “Empire?” Tommy asks.

  “Yes, they sell only the better imported models,” Melissa says. “You know – English, French, that sort of thing. I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of them.”

  “Mmm,” Tommy replies.

  “All the riding clubs in England have bikes like this one,” Melissa adds.

  A violent whoosh! of air announces Quentin’s arrival. He blows right past us, almost running over my tire pump.

  “Catch!”

  He tosses a red plastic camera our direction. Tommy snatches it in mid air.

  “Got it, Quentin!”

  “Yee Haaa!” Quentin howls.

  He shoots across the lawn, headed straight for our big elm. Then, an instant before crashing, he dives onto the grass and rolls.

  Ka-Thunk!

  His bike slams against the tree without him.

  “That was really dumb!” I say. “I told you not to do that anymore.”

  Quentin stands up and brushes at the grass stains on his pants.

  “Sorry, Amanda,” he says, “but when Old Reliable sees that tree, he just has to crash into it. Kind of an irresistible attraction.”

  “Your bike’s not going to be ‘reliable’ much longer if you keep doing that,” I say.

  Melissa rolls her eyes. “Quentin is so immature. I can’t imagine why I let him talk me into joining this club.”

  She smoothes back her hair and stands theatrically beside her English racer.

  “At least his camera is still in one piece,” she says. “Take my picture, Tomas, and be sure to include the whole bike.”

  “I don’t know,” Tommy says. “It’s not my camera.”

  “Go on!” Melissa says. “What are you waiting for?”

  Tommy snaps her picture.

  “Would you care to be in the next one, Amanda?” she asks.

  I know what she wants. A dramatic shot of herself with me standing alongside looking all overwhelmed by her amazing bike.

  “No thanks,” I say.

  “Some other time, then,” Melissa says. “Get my other profile, Tomas.”

  She changes her pose, turning her head and staring off toward a far horizon that only she can see.

  Tommy snaps another picture.

  Quentin picks up his bike and walks it toward us. You can’t tell what brand Old Reliable was originally, as it’s all stripped down now. No fenders, carrier, or chain guard – not even a kick stand. The only add-on is a bike bag hanging from the seat.

  Quentin tries to act casual, but his eyes narrow as he studies Melissa’s new machine.

  “That looks sharp,” he says, “for a girl’s bike.”

  “Thank you,” Melissa says, “it’s made for speed, not for crashing.”

  Quentin nods.

  “Here’s your camera.” Tommy hands it over.

  Quentin glances at the film counter. He looks a bit ticked that two frames have already been shot without his permission, but he doesn’t complain. If he did, Melissa would probably just ride off, and his latest club would be down to just three members.

  Ever since we were little, Quentin has always wanted to be in charge of something. He founded the Atomic Kids Club, the Space Raiders League, the Anti-Communist Boys – but none of these outfits lasted very long. Now he’s hit on the idea of an Adventure Bike Club. This will be really cool for years to come, he says, until we are old enough to drive cars.

  Then he’ll start a hot rod club, no doubt, or be one of those motorcycle club guys.

  “Okay, is everybody ready?” Quentin says.

  “Yeah,” we all say.

  Quentin draws himself up and raises an index finger.

  “Then, as president of the Adventure Bike Club, I officially announce the beginning of our first ride.”

  “Great!” Tommy says. “Uh, so where are we going?”

  Quentin looks around to make sure that nobody else is in earshot. You’d have to say that he has a good sense of the dramatic.

  Then he leans in close. We all stand around like a football team in a huddle.

  “We’re going to the Tire Giant,” Quentin whispers.

  We all jerk back.

  “You’re kidding, right?” Tommy asks.

  Quentin shakes his head.

  “No, I am not,” he says. “This is supposed to be an adventure club, right? So, let’s go have an adventure.”

  The day is turning creepy – fast.

  2. The Tire Giant

  This gigantic tire recently appeared along the new freeway outside town. I saw it on a foggy morning earlier this week when we were driving out to visit my Russian Grandpa in the hospital. The thing was bigger than a Ferris wheel and very spooky.

  “What’s that?” I asked my dad.

  “Beats me, Honey,” he said, “it must be an advertisement for some tire company.”

  But there was no company name or logo on it. The thing just stood t
here – huge, blank, and ugly. A menacing tread wrapped around it, deep enough for a person to hide in. The middle was all dark and swirly. Sparks, or lighting, seemed to be shooting around the tire, but maybe I was just imagining that part. Maybe the fog was playing tricks on my vision.

  I kept expecting the horrible thing to come rolling after us. I could almost see it rumbling down the pavement, sending a booming shock wave before it, crushing any cars or people in the way.

  “How fast is our car, Dad?” I asked, trying not to sound scared.

  “Pretty fast,” Dad said.

  He stomped the gas pedal, and we shot up over the speed limit. He had this evil, jumped-up look on his face, like he was some juvenile delinquent hot rodder.

  “That’s quite enough, Dear,” Mom said in that stern voice of hers.

  We slowed down again, and Dad returned to normal. I watched from the rear window until the Tire Giant vanished back into the mist. I felt chilly for a long time afterwards.
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