Mountain Bike Mania


By Matt Christopher

Illustrated by The #1 Sports Writer for Kids

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 1, 1998. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Riding a bike is such a rush for Will Matthews. Soon after he joins a mountain biking club, he’s hurtling down hills, pedaling over mud-churned trails and leaping over rocks and gullies. But he may be moving so fast that he’s forgotten the friend he left behind.160 pp.



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Little, Brown and Company

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New York, NY 10017

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First eBook Edition: December 2009

The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Matt Christopher® is a registered trademark of Matt Christopher Royalties, Inc.

ISBN: 978-0-316-09529-7


Will Matthews stared at the television screen and stuffed another handful of candy-coated popcorn into his mouth. On the screen, a girl and a guy in exercise outfits were leading an aerobics class. Everyone looked in perfect condition, even the students.

Will glanced down at his own stomach. Not me, he thought. I must have gained at least ten pounds since school started!

This business of coming home after school to an empty house was not turning out so great. Ever since his mom had landed her new "high-powered" job at the software company, Will's life had gone totally downhill. With his dad already working long days at the law firm, it meant that from two-thirty, when he got home from school, till five-thirty or six, when his mother got home, nobody was around. His dad usually didn't walk in the door till six-thirty or seven.

Will was an only child, but until now, he hadn't minded. In fact, he had always felt kind of superior to all his friends when they complained about their brothers and sisters. But now he was jealous of them. It would be cool to have somebody around to argue with in the afternoon. Anybody!

Will grabbed the remote and started channel surfing. He couldn't stand looking at those perfect people for one more second. But, as always seemed to happen in mid-afternoon on the weekdays, there was nothing good on any channel.

Will flicked off the set and got up. He stretched, then went upstairs to his room. The empty popcorn bag stayed on the couch.

Upstairs, he pulled the chair out from his desk. His computer was already on. He'd played Crash Coogan for an hour before turning on the TV. The computer's clock read 4:30 P.M. He'd wasted two hours but still had another hour or so to go!

Will thought about tackling his homework, but he had a free period tomorrow morning. He could do it then. Since his mom wasn't around to prod him, he didn't force himself to work.

Glancing around the room, his gaze fell on the telephone. Maybe he'd call Danny Silver. Danny had been his best friend ever since first grade. Pulling the phone toward him, Will punched in Danny's number, only to get a busy signal. After a minute or two, he pushed the redial button. Still busy.

He's probably on the Internet, Will said to himself. Sitting down at the computer, he logged on to see if his hunch was correct.

While he waited for the connection to be made, Will checked himself out in the full-length mirror on the back of the door. Twelve years old. Not bad looking, if you didn't count the wire-rim glasses and the extra ten pounds. Lucky thing he didn't have to wear braces. No zits… so far. Short dark hair, blue eyes, nice face, like his mom's, dark eyebrows like his dad's. He was okay, he guessed.

Will wasn't all that popular at school, though. He was shy and didn't make friends easily. He and his family had moved here to Montwood seven years ago, and he'd more or less stuck with the same few friends the whole time. That was fine in elementary school, but now he was in sixth grade.

Middle school was different. Most of the kids at Hopgood Middle were from other neighborhoods, and he didn't know them even to say hi to. As for his old friends, they were all too busy to get together during the week. Too much work, too many clubs, teams, and lessons, blah, blah, blah.

Will would watch the other kids get picked up after school every day by their parents. Then he would ride the ten blocks home by himself, pedaling his rusty old three-speed bike. It was the only exercise he ever got anymore. Will wasn't much for sports, and he wasn't about to start working out with those perfect people on the TV show.

He sat back down and clicked his way around the Internet. Danny wasn't logged on, and neither were any of Will's regular chat room buddies.

Will felt like screaming. There was nothing to do!

Being a "latchkey" child was the pits! Oh, it hadn't been so bad during the summer, when there were plenty of kids around the neighborhood. Now they were all too busy, and he was alone.

Heaving a deep, heavy sigh, Will put the computer screen to sleep, then went downstairs to get his book bag. How much lower can you go? he thought, trudging sadly down the stairs. When homework is the most entertaining thing to do, your life is truly pathetic!

Will's mother came home and found him staring vacantly at the Home Shopping Network, his school-books scattered on the floor around him.

"Will!" she gasped, grabbing the remote and shutting off the TV. "Is this how you've spent the entire afternoon?"

"I finished my homework!" he protested, snapping out of his trance. "Most of it, anyway."

"Well, that's good," his mother said, softening a little. She took off her coat and hung it up, then held up a shopping bag. "I brought home dinner!" she said brightly. "Chinese food."

Will groaned. He had once liked Chinese food, back in the old days, when they didn't eat it for dinner three times a week. Now he was about sick of it. "Thanks, but I'm not hungry," he said.

"That's because you've been gorging on junk food!" she retorted, grabbing the empty popcorn bag. "Did your father buy you this stuff?"

"He bought it for himself," Will corrected her. "I just got to it first."

"Well, that's not acceptable, young man," she said sharply, heading off into the kitchen. "We're going to have a talk about it over dinner!"

Uh-oh. The dreaded "talk over dinner." This is not looking good, Will thought miserably.

And he was right, too. When his dad got home, they all sat down at the table together. Will kept quiet, hoping his mom would forget to bring up the subject. But no sooner had his parents exchanged the news of their jobs with each other than his mother started in: "I'm concerned about Will, Bob. He's got nothing to do after school, and he's just staring at the television for hours and hours and eating all the junk food you bring home."

"I only ate the caramel popcorn!" Will protested.

"Hey, I bought that for myself!" his dad said, instantly annoyed.

"I was hungry!" Will explained defensively. "There was nothing good in the refrigerator because you never go shopping anymore. And what was I supposed to do, wait for you two to get home? I would have starved to death!"

His parents exchanged a funny look — half guilty, half furious. "Look, son," his father said. "I know it's been hard on you, with both of us working full-time. But you're old enough now to find a way to entertain yourself away from the TV.…"

His father's voice petered out as Will started drumming on the side of his plate with his fork. "Okay, what is it that's eating you?" his dad asked.

"I just don't understand why Mom has to work all day, every single day. It leaves me stuck in the house!"

"That's the way my job is structured, honey," his mom said apologetically. "Look, Will, we knew there would be a difficult period of adjustment for you."

"We just didn't know how difficult or how long it would be," his father finished.

"Would it help if we hired a baby-sitter — I mean, a child-care worker — to be here with you?" his mom asked.

Will rolled his eyes and bit down on his tongue. He didn't want to say anything he'd regret, but they'd talked this all out before. A baby-sitter? He was twelve years old, for Pete's sake! What were they going to do, pay some fourteen-year-old to be his friend?

"What about after-school activities?" his father suggested. "Some sports team or other. You look like you could use a little exercise, after eating all my caramel popcorn."

That forced Will to crack a smile, and the momentary spell of anger was broken. "I hate sports, and you know it," he said to his dad. "I'm just no good at them."

"Oh, come on, now," his dad challenged him. "How can you say that? You've never even tried out for a team. Maybe you're better than you think you are!"

"Yeah, right," Will snorted.

"Just give it a try — that's all I ask," his dad said. "If you don't make it, we'll figure out something else."

Will just sighed. There was no use appealing to his mom. She'd just agree with his dad — especially since Will didn't have any better ideas.

"Okay," he mumbled. He carried his plate to the sink, rinsed it, and put it in the dishwasher. Then he went straight up to his room, flopped down on the bed, and thought about tomorrow. He dreaded trying out for a sports team. He wasn't a good athlete, didn't like competition, and was not exactly thrilled about the possibility of humiliating himself and maybe even getting hurt!

No, tomorrow was not going to be pretty.

"You okay, kid?"

Will was on his knees, not sure if he was going to hurl or not. "I think so," he breathed, his stomach still turning.

"Guess you didn't pace yourself well enough," the coach said, chuckling and patting Will ever so lightly on the back. "That half-mile run will take it out of you if you aren't careful."

"Did I make the team?" Will asked, not even looking up.

"Um, er, I… well, let me put it this way. You need to work up your strength and endurance. Then you can start working on your speed. Why don't you come back next year at this time and we'll see how far you've come?"

"Sure," Will said, staggering to his feet and trudging off. "Thanks anyway."

It was his third tryout of the week. On Tuesday he'd been flattened by a football that hit him right between the eyes. "Gotta get those hands up and catch that thing!" the coach had advised.

Then on Wednesday, he'd totally humiliated himself on the soccer field when he'd tripped over his own feet and accidentally knocked the ball into his own goal. "Take a break, there, kid," the coach had said. "Are you sure you've played soccer before?"

Now he'd been defeated on the track, where he'd been trying to keep up with a bunch of long-distance runners. Will forced himself to his feet and shuffled over to the bike rack. He retrieved his beat-up old three-speed and started pedaling home. By the time he got there, his stomach had more or less stopped heaving, and his ears weren't popping anymore.

He guessed he'd live. But he wasn't going to go through another day like this one. He'd tried out for three teams, and already he was the laughingstock of the whole sixth-grade locker room.

Will walked up the driveway and entered the house through the garage. It was almost five o'clock. Tonight at dinner, he was going to lay it all out for his parents. He'd tried out for three teams; that was enough. Three strikes, and he was out. Now they had to let him play couch potato. That was all there was to it.

"Look, maybe those just weren't your sports," his dad offered lamely at dinner when Will had finished telling his sad, painful story. "You still need some kind of physical activity. Don't they have a lacrosse team or a golf squad? Maybe tennis…"

"Bob," his mom said in a tight voice, "I think Will's been through enough."

Go, Mom! Will thought, breathing a sigh of relief. "Thanks," he said gratefully.

His mom nodded. "I think you've had enough of trying to succeed at sports. But there are other things in the world, you know…."

Uh-oh, Will thought. Here it comes.

"There are clubs and other after-school activities. Right, Will?"


On Sale
Dec 1, 1998
Page Count
160 pages

Matt Christopher

About the Author

Matt Christopher is the best-selling name behind more than 100 sports-themed books for young readers.

Learn more about this author