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red route

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“Six singles for the red route, please,” Fraser said, plastic out ready at the mountain bike center service point.  He smiled out the window, peaceably, serene.  Because after four visits to the outdoor sports-center, he still couldn't meet Rockin' M-Bike Girl's eye.  Especially not now she'd started smiling at him, and making conversation, the last two rides he and the gang had taken here.

It was a little bothersome.  Girls who smiled, and expected you to have a suggestive answer ready when they said unanswerable things about the weather and the route and what model bike you were on.  Crazy out-there philosophical issues like that.  Now, being an extremely apposite case in point: Fraser focused more earnestly on the rather interesting birds pecking at thrown-away burger out the center window -- not that breed's usual migration pattern, surely? -- as she said, “Enter your PIN number, please. So, you're the captain of this crazy bunch, right?  I mean, going by your headgear.  D'you demote 'em if their performance isn't up to par on the route?  Last one to the finish line gets a spanking and a time-out?”

A what?  Fraser gave her an uneasy sideways half-look, as Kowalski sniggered, and leaned into him from behind.  He was probably giving her a much more confident eye, being as he was the default ladies' man of their off-hours amateur mountain bike crew.  And suddenly he had a captain's helmet from the Great War pulled down over his eyes.  Which was when he realized that someone had skilfully purloined  his campaign hat.

Well, darn it.  And all of the lectures he'd given these reprobates, about his hat.  Even when before they'd set out at 5.45 a.m. this morning, the Rays had gone on a caffeine-fuelled rampage through his wardrobe, storage cases and loft.  What was currently planted on his head was the end result, which he'd somehow forgotten about on the journey between his apartment and the bike trail center. His great-uncle's helmet from WWI, and a precious heirloom besides.  Not to be treated with hilarity, a party favor to be tossed around.