Growing-up around dirtbikes and racing it wasn't a surprise to anyone when Jimmy began building a dirtbike for racing. But he wasn't interested in racing at big stadiums or doing goofy tricks while flying off of jumps. Rather his goal was to race in The Mojave Challenge. An elite series that raced in the western Mojave Desert over long-distances. A desert race from Reno, Nevada to Las Vegas, Nevada was one of their more famous races.

It took years of saving and working as hard as he could but finally Jimmy built a motorcycle capable of racing in the series and most people who knew him thought he had a good chance of winning it. Jimmy was in his mid-twenties and had raced in smaller race formats since he was a teenager. His bike too had been out-fitted with all the best gear he could find. Oh sure that meant he'd worked two jobs, lived in a studio apartment and drove a twenty year old Toyota truck since just about every spare cent he had went to building his bike and spending time out in the desert practicing but he didn't mind, in the end he knew it would be worth it since most of the racers who raced in the Mojave Challenge series had big-name sponsors and winners regularly walked-away with prizes over $100,000. He just needed to get his foot in the door; he was confident that his ability would be enough to get him into the winners circle in no time.

His first race was a 200-mile qualifier for an up-coming longer race. Jimmy expected to face some hostility among his fellow riders, this being one of the more competitive forms of motorsports however what he experienced went well beyond that. First he was told by the race organizers that he'd need to pay basically double the entry fee since this was his first race and the extra was a "fee". His bike passed tech. inspection but only after the inspectors insisted he shave a quarter inch off of each of the knobbies on his tires, and while he was dealing with that someone "accidently" backed into his pick-up, pushing one of the fenders in.

Through it all though Jimmy didn't let it bother him, he was here to compete with some of the best racers in the desert and soon they would see that all their hassles and hazing wouldn't stop him once the racing started.

By all accounts for his first race he did quite well, finishing in the top ten out of a field of almost 100 and he got to embarrass some of the corporate sponsored riders in the process. He felt that if his bike had just a little more power he could have finished in a better position.

His success was not lost on his rivals nor the organizers of this race series and sure enough a couple of weeks later a series of new rules was passed that essentially made Jimmy's motorcycle obsolete; making it compliant with the new rules would basically mean he would have to start from scratch building a new motorcycle. Which was no big deal for his corporate-sponsored competitors, however for a guy who built his motorcycle in the living room of his apartment it was more than just a small setback.

Jimmy made an appeal to the board of directors for the race series and was quickly re-buffed. Storming-out of the meeting room Jimmy was made his way across the parking lot to his old truck when someone called-out to him. It was an older man; he seemed to be in his mid to late 60's. Jimmy had seen him at the races for years though he'd never talked to him, to be honest he wasn't even sure how the man knew his name. The man introduced himself as Wilson and commiserated with Jimmy about the rule changes. Jimmy appreciated Wilson's concern however he was still trying to find-out what his angle was. Wilson was well known around the races, though no one knew much about him, everyone just remembered Wilson always being there. There were rumors that he had been a team owner back in the day, or one of the original promoters but no one really seemed to know. He was just there, helping-out if he saw something that needed to be done, offering advice when needed but never revealing much about himself.

Wilson told Jimmy that he thought he had a lot of natural ability and that the rule changes obviously had been aimed directly at him. Jimmy agreed but said he didn't know what he could do about it. He had next to no money, even racing would tax his finances to the max, there was no money left to make a bunch of senseless modifications to his motorcycle. He reasoned that maybe he would just try a different form of motocross racing. "With your abilities that would be a waste" Wilson said flatly. "I'd like to take a look at your bike. There might be another way." He said.

A couple of days later Jimmy was nervous. Other than his girlfriend no one ever came to his apartment. Especially since much of the time his living room was a makeshift workshop for his motorcycle. He tided it up the best he could just as he heard a knock on his door.

Wilson was there. He and Jimmy exchanged pleasantries before Wilson began looking at Jimmy's motorcycle. Poking things, taking a quick measurement or two, not saying anything just nodding, scratching his head a little and making some quick notes on a scrap piece of paper. Finally he said, "We can make this bike work. But first you're going to need to get a place with a garage" he said as he handed Jimmy an envelope with some cash in it. Jimmy looked at him in disbelief; he asked what all this was about. Wilson just smiled and said he saw potential in him. With that Wilson bid his new friend goodbye and told him he'd be in touch.

Jimmy did what Wilson asked. He found a new place which while still dingy had a garage and thanks to Wilson's contribution he was able to (barely) afford. It seemed like the day Jimmy called Wilson to let him know of his new address, packages for his motorcycle began arriving. Swingarms, handlebars, wheels, tires all the stuff he needed in order to be able to race under the new rules. Jimmy began making the needed modifications immediately; the next race was in less than a month.

Jimmy arrived at the race, in the same beat-up old truck with his newly modified bike. Wilson was there too, he gave Jimmy a nod from across the pits as he stood off to the side watching a practice session. Jimmy wowed the inspectors at Tech. inspection; they could find nothing wrong with his bike; they had to let him race, but they didn't have to like him and they made that clear to him. As soon as the green flag dropped a fellow rider gave the side of Jimmy's bike a swift kick, almost knocking him over. It was obvious that Jimmy he was still considered the outsider. He had to prove himself.

And prove himself he did. He finished seventh in that race and showed everyone he was a force to be reckoned with. After that race things started to get easier. Jimmy picked-up a couple of small sponsorships, which helped with expenses and with every race he was finishing closer and closer to the top. Wilson still helped Jimmy as much as always, even co-signing for a truck and trailer so Jimmy could attend races farther away. Wilson also began giving Jimmy advice about his racing style, which sometimes went contrary to popular opinion. At one race with a particular curvy section Wilson casually told him to stay on the outside in the corners. Jimmy questioned him knowing that the inside-line would be faster. Wilson just said to trust him. Jimmy did as he was told and the first couple of corners were disastrous. Jimmy had fallen from the front to mid-pack. Just as he was about to change his strategy he saw what Wilson had been talking about; once the corners got sharper, and the hills steeper pile-up's began happening in the corners; pile-up's he was able to ride around because he was on the outside line. That was the first race Jimmy won.

From that point on the world began to change for Jimmy. Corporations were practically lining-up to sponsor him, he moved into an actual house with real furnishings, which was the first he'd owned in his adult life but through it all Jimmy stayed close with Wilson, regularly consulting him for advice on everything from which sponsors he should accept to which strategies would work best for which tracks. Wilson quickly became Jimmy's main confidant.

That's why Jimmy was confused when a couple of months later Wilson came-up to him an hour before the biggest race of the season, pulled him aside and told him to forfeit the race. Jimmy thought his friend was joking at first, after all this was it, the largest, longest and last race of the season, the one for all the marbles as it were. However Jimmy quickly realized that Wilson wasn't joking. Wilson explained, "You've done what you came here to do. There is more to life than racing. You have a devoted girl who loves you. Enough money to live on for however long it takes you to decide what it is you want to do with the rest of your life. Take a good look at the guys racing here, they've given everything-up for this sport; they don't know when to stop and all they have to show for it is a string of broken homes, broken bones and old stories. You've shown that you're better than them on the track, now show that you can be better than them off the track as well." As Wilson turned to walk away he stopped, looked Jimmy in the eye and said "Remember, these desert nights are for weathered men; the ones who have already given in." With that Wilson walked away, leaving a stunned Jimmy standing there trying to take-in what his friend had just told him.

Jimmy went back to the pits where his bike was sitting on its stand ready to go. Jimmy flopped-down into a chair and stared-off at the vast open desert in front of him. A few puffy clouds lazily blew by slowly overhead. The weather was perfect, the bike was perfect, the course was perfect so why was Wilson trying to talk Jimmy out of racing? Again Jimmy found himself wondering what his friend's angle could be.

Before he could give it much more thought though he was called to the starting line. He geared-up, kissed his girlfriend Shelley good-bye and rode-off to the starting line. As he sat there watching his competitors ride-up he scanned the growing crowd for any sign of Wilson but he was nowhere to be found. Then he scanned his fellow riders waiting with him at the line. They looked mean and tough with their fancy helmets and bright jersey's but once he looked under the surface he now saw what Wilson had been talking about; all of them had scars and had lived through their share of broken bones. Of the five hard-core guys he was competing against he was the only one whose girlfriend was standing off to the side excitedly clapping and cheering her man on. The bikes too, they were all loud but now that he was really listening he realized it was all just noise. Just then the flash of a yellow light caught his attention, the race was seconds from starting. Engine's revved; all the bikes lunged forward against a barrier, which would fall as soon as the green light came-on. A moment later it did and the whole pack charged-out into the desert. As the dust settled the only one still sitting at the line was Jimmy; his bike in-gear and ready to go but just sitting there. A stunned silence fell over the crowd as they looked at him. After a moment he rode off but rather then following the pack he hooked a sharp turn and rode back to his trailer. Wilson's advice had never failed him before so why should he stop following it now he reasoned.

People were gathering around his trailer wanting to know what happened. Had the bike broken? was he alright? Questions were flying from every direction but Jimmy ignored them all and quickly loaded his bike and gear into his trailer and drove-off. Shelly sat next to him and finally broke the silence by saying "I know you have your reasons. When you're ready to tell me them, I'll be right here." Jimmy gave her a smile and kissed her hand and continued to drive.

The pair stopped for the night at the first town they came to, just a little desert town with a ten-room motel. Jimmy got them a room for the night then they ate dinner in silence at a coffee shop across the street. Jimmy went to bed and tried to put everything that had happened out of his mind. He especially tried not to think about how the one thing he'd wanted since before he could remember he'd just thrown away on the advice of some old guy whose last name he didn't even know. What would he do now?

Jimmy woke-up the next morning to Shelley shaking him. He rubbed his eyes and annoyingly asked "what!?" Shelley dragged him out of bed and over to an open window, there he saw everything outside covered in a several inches of snow. From the window he could see the wind was rocking his truck and trailer roughly side-to-side. Shelley turned-on the TV, there a local reporter in a cheap suit and a comb-over was giving a report about some freak storm which had blown-in unexpectedly the previous night. The reporter said something about a cut-off low over Canada which had taken an unexpected southerly turn and given the desert a rare late-season snow storm; actually it was more of a blizzard with temperatures an unexpected 30 degrees below normal and winds with gusts up to 70 miles per hour screaming across the barren terrain. Now Jimmy's thoughts turned to the racers, none of them carried survival supplies or warm clothes. It was then that Jimmy realized that if not for Wilson he would have been one of the people trapped out there. Wilson had saved his life.

Jimmy never raced again. He still enjoyed trail riding but now concentrated on working (one of his former sponsors hired him to scout for new talent) and building his life with Shelley. Jimmy never saw Wilson again, although he thought he caught a glimpse of him in the crowd the day Jimmy and Shelly got married but when he took a second look whoever it was, was gone. Whoever he was, wherever he is Jimmy knew he owed Wilson more than he could ever re-pay him. He had given Jimmy his dream, than shown him something more fulfilling and for that Jimmy was eternally grateful.

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