56. Race2Mark’s leg was killing him. The worst of the bleeding appeared to be over, though; the wind dried the blood and helped it clot.

He looked ahead to No. 432, the guy who had put him on the pavement, and saw with satisfaction that he was gaining on him.

It was a charity bicycle event; Mark hadn’t even planned on competing until his friend Jason had pitched over earlier in the week and broken his collarbone. It had been a while since Mark raced, but he found the cool early spring air and the feel of competition were, well, like riding a bike. He stepped in and, without having trained for a couple of years, was doing better than he had a right to.

And then, No. 432 decided that Mark was in his way, and Mark remembered the other thing about competition — it brought out a person’s true nature.

Mark was shocked more than anything when he went down, hearing the crowd gasp. He knew when the pack was thick to protect himself, but 432 came out of nowhere. He didn’t accidentally bump him; he had done it on purpose.

Mark had gotten up immediately, relieved that there was a sting of pain to let him know that something was broken. His leg was road-rashed to a bloody mess, but nothing major was evident. A couple of the aids rushed over to him, but he waved them off and got back on his bike.

Game on, Mark thought.