The Inter High is a yearly race where the cycling clubs of many high schools from around Japan compete to prove themselves the best. You can read more general information about the Inter High event on the Inter High page.
The 40th Summer Inter-High was celebrated in Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture, one year prior to Onoda Sakamichi's first year of high school. The first, second, and third place winners were, in order, a member of Hakone Gakuen, a member of a school by the name of Sanri, and Machimiya Eikichi from Hiroshima Kureminami Technical School. Not much detail is given about the event, as it is only seen in a few flashbacks.
Kinjou Shingo reflects on the second day of the 40th Summer Inter High from Ride 67 to Ride 70.
Kinjou passed by his team's tent and received supplies from Aoyagi Hajime and Teshima Junta, who told him that he was five minutes ahead of the pack of competitors. The heat was intense during the competition, and Kinjou remarks that many already forfeited due to exhaustion. He was at the front, chasing down Hakone Academy's Fukutomi. Fukutomi commends Kinjou for his performance, mentioning that he performed "brilliantly" on the climb yesterday as well. He goes on to point out that they have already reached the last third of the second stage- there are only 35km left. Despite his earlier complement, Fukutomi says that he's bored because he can't find a worthy opponent. He accelerates, leaving Kinjou behind. However, Kinjou quickly catches up, saying that while he is indeed exhausted, he carries the wills of his teammates. This conflicts with Fukutomi's ideas about only needing one strong team member to win.
When Kinjou continues to tail Fukutomi closely and even declares that he is definitely not going to give up, Fukutomi decides to pull ahead again. He says that even with persistence, there are some opponents that you can never beat. After Fukutomi has passed Kinjou, he thinks that Kinjou has met his end because the road ahead is an uphill slope afflicted with harsh mountain winds. Though Fukutomi seemed sure that Kinjou would tire and give up, Kinjou managed to catch up with 20km left of the course. Kinjou tells Fukutomi that he is competing for the sake of his team, but Fukutomi dismisses this as a "foolish ideal." He argues that it is one's own strength, and that alone, that leads to victory.
Kinjou acknowledges his exhaustion, thinking that he probably lost 4 or 5 kg since the start of the race. He thinks back to how Makishima and Tadokoro and their seniors did their best for the team on the slopes and flat roads, respectively. He feels responsibility as the ace of the team; he refuses to let their efforts go to waste and pursues Fukutomi with renewed vigor. At this point, Fukutomi is getting nervous about Kinjou's persistence. His internal dialogue includes his confusion over why Kinjou, who appears average, is still chasing him down and even trying to pass him. Fukutomi notices that he made another gear shift mistake, though he remains in denial about the pressure he feels from Kinjou. Just as Fukutomi reflects on his flawless record of never losing a one-on-one race, Kinjou suddenly passes him. At this point, there were only about 2km left in the race. Now seriously disturbed by the prospect of falling behind, Fukutomi desperately reaches out and grabs the back of Kinjou's jersey, not even conscious of his actions until it is too late.
The resulting crash sends Kinjou flying into a nearby guardrail, severely injuring him in the process. Fukutomi, horrified at what he has done, calls out to Kinjou from his own fallen position. Despite bleeding profusely from various wounds, Kinjou gets back up and continues the race. However, his injuries greatly hindered his performance, so he fell far behind. The first, second, and third positions went to racers from Hakone Academy.Kinjou was only able to finish the race in 69th place; his other teammates had passed him as part of a group without even noticing. Kinjou instructs Tadokoro and Makishima to bring Koga to fix his bike, which was damaged in the fall. The pair are more worried about Kinjou's condition than his bike's condition, but Kinjou only apologizes for failing to fulfill his duty as the ace. Tadokoro is greatly upset by this, and loudly laments their loss due to an "accident," but Fukutomi appears and owns up to his actions. He explains what happened and apologizes, saying that his weakness is to blame. Tadokoro punches Fukutomi in response. When Fukutomi says he will withdraw from the next day's race, Tadokoro confronts him angrily, leaving them both in tears. Tadokoro berates Fukutomi, pointing out that Sohoku only has one ace, unlike the illustrious Hakone Academy. Kinjou tells Tadokoro that they can't change what has happened, so they should just move on and prepare for the next day's race. Fukutomi asks Kinjou if he really plans on racing with his injuries, and Kinjou responds that he won't give up, because that's the same as losing. Kinjou also declares that, even if it takes him a year, he will definitely lead Sohoku to victory.
As the three Sohoku second years walk off, Fukutomi acknowledges that Kinjou is a true ace and much stronger than him. He believes that the reason he reached out and grabbed Kinjou's jersey earlier is because his instinct knew he would lose.
Machimiya Eikichi thinks back to the 40th Summer Inter High in his hometown of Hiroshima in Ride 172. On the second day, with 52km left, Machimiya was riding close to Fukutomi. As previously stated in Kinjou's flashback, this day was particularly hot. This was already bad enough, but Machimiya faced another problem: both of his water bottles broke open, spilling their contents. He thought back to the harsh training he did in preparation for the competition and the extra responsibility placed on him as the ace and a local. Desperate to live up to others' expectations, he approaches Fukutomi asking if he can have one of Fukutomi's water bottles. Though Fukutomi had two full water bottles, he naturally refused to give one up. He cites the fact that he still has to face a Sohoku competitor in front (assumed to be Kinjou) as his reason for needing both bottles.
Machimiya continues to try and convince Fukutomi to give up one of his water bottles, mentioning that he is the ace of his team and a local, so he has a lot of expectations to meet. Fukutomi reiterates that there is still someone ahead he must beat in order to take the goal, so he cannot afford to lose one of his bottles. He suggests that Machimiya ask one of his Hakone Academy teammates following behind them for a bottle instead. Machimiya protests, saying that he would have to go back in order to do that, but he needs to continue and make the goal. He asks Fukutomi to wait, but Fukutomi says he has something he must do and accelerates, leaving Machimiya behind in tears.
Just as in Kinjou's flashback, members of Hakone Academy took first, second, and third place on Day 2. It does not appear that Fukutomi was among these three winners. Machimiya tearfully watched the winner's ceremony, blaming his loss on that single water bottle. This is how Machimiya developed resentment towards Fukutomi and Hakone Academy.
Even though he fell behind on the second day, Machimiya placed third overall in this Inter High competition. This is possible because the Inter High is not a cumulative race; the final results are determined by who crosses the last goal line on the third day. In accordance with Machimiya's third place finish in the 40th Inter High, team Hiroshima has zekken that begin with the number "3" for the next Inter High.
There is a flashback centered around Koga Kimitaka's participation in this Inter High competition in Ride 287. Koga was only a first year at the time, but he was hailed as a talented cyclist and allowed to participate in the Inter High. This story picks up after Kinjou's flashback ended, in the aftermath of the race's second stage. Koga is trying to fix Kinjou's bike as he was asked to do, but he is having some trouble with it. Tadokoro and Makishima tell Koga that, with Kinjou injured, there is no chance of victory the next day. Koga desperately wants to fix Kinjou's bike, but Tadokoro angrily says he doesn't have to.
Teshima enters the tent with a report about Kinjou's condition. He says that the hospital confirmed that Kinjou has broken ribs and that Kinjou cannot participate in the next day's race. Koga speaks up to say that he will take on the ace's role in Kinjou's absence, but Tadokoro interrupts him by saying that they should rest. Afterwards, Koga speaks to Teshima and Aoyagi. Koga tells them about his intention to act as the ace because Kinjou has supported him all this time. He thinks that, since he is just a first year, other teams won't think to mark him. He plans to stage a comeback and seize victory for the team.
Teshima discourages Koga from trying to enact his plan. He says that Koga should focus on supporting the upperclassmen instead. Koga is disappointed because he thought Teshima would understand, but Teshima retorts that Koga has already injured his leg, so what can he hope to do? Teshima goes on to mention that Kinjou said Koga shouldn't push himself too hard, but instead use this Inter High to gain experience for next year. The two continue their argument, and Teshima thinks to himself that he is actually jealous of Koga's talent. Koga tells Teshima and a worried Aoyagi not to worry because his injury has already healed.
The next day, Koga speeds ahead of the pack as he planned, leaving Tadokoro and Makishima behind. It is clear that Koga admires Kinjou a lot, and wants to live up to his expectations. Even though Koga appears to be having trouble with his supposedly healed leg, he still pushes himself, and ends up not noticing an upcoming curve. Koga takes a serious fall down the hill that forms the curve, injuring his shoulder badly in the process. Some spectators see the accident and rush to check to see if he is all right and call for help.
Teshima and Aoyagi hear about the accident back in one of the tents where they were waiting to hand off supplies to their teammates. They both seem horrified, and Teshima looks at the supplies prepared for Koga and questions why Koga would do such a thing.