Do I Know You?
“Well duh, how is it with Miss Bell? You can be so obtuse sometimes Drew Bond!”
“Me?” I exclaimed, “you dropped me right in it last night!” I pointed out.
“You mean she twigged?”
“No, well I don't think so. You could have at least warned me a bit more about ‘Samuel', I think he was starting to smell a fish. Just what have you two been up to?”
“Nothing!” Mad's reply seemed a bit quick. “Anyway, what's it to you?”
“Well in case you forgot, quite a lot as I'm being you!” I must admit to being more than a bit peeved with Mad's attitude. “And anyway I thought you were my girlfriend.”
“I might be Drew's girlfriend but I'm not Gaby's, that would be really weird!”
She might as well've slapped me round the face. Our arrival at Erin's Cyclery precluded any further discussion and I was glad to note that a: no one else was there waiting and b: Erin was already at the shop. I didn't mention did I, the plan was for Mad to hang out at the shop while we had our ride then she'd join me to go to Diane's factory. As I say, that was my plan.
“Hiya Gaby?” Erin greeted us as we entered the shop. She looked a bit bemused.
“Morning Erin” I mentioned.
A confused Erin did a cartoon like double take.
“Tell me I'm seeing double”
“Nope, the ugly one is my cousin, Maddy.”
Mad swiped my ear hole.
“Geez, you look like twins. Nice to meet you Maddy.”
“So you're the Erin he keeps on about?”
The two of them stood apparently sizing each other up.
“So Maddy, what brings you here so early?”
“That's my fault.” I admitted, “we made a stupid bet, we've sort of swapped places so Mad is pretending to be me at the Walters, so we sort of needed to swap back for the day.”
“If its alright Erin, I'll hang round here until you get back” Mad added.
Erin shook her head.
“You kids sure know how to live complicated lives! I guess that's okay, I'm sure Don won't mind some company, he usually holds the fort on his own this time of year.”
At least the plan was holding together so far.
“I'd best get ready”
“You can use the restroom, second door on the left okay” Erin told me
I left Mad and Erin in the shop and taking the kit bag Mad had sneaked out, I went to get into my borrowed bike kit.
When I padded back in, the two of them were talking to a lad of about seventeen.
“There you are” Mad mentioned.
“Here she is Don” Erin added.
“Gaby, this is my Saturday help Don Tanner, Don this is Gaby Bond
“Nice to meet you Ma'am”
“Erm, Gaby will do”
“Well come on Gaby, I can see the others outside” Erin told me.
Although it was actually looking to be a better day than last week, we were a couple of rider's light when we set off. I was really looking forward to today and despite our little spat on the way over, I cheerfully returned Mad's wave as we departed.
We started out heading towards I-81 out past the airfield and we seemed to be heading towards a range of hills Diane identified as the Shenandoah Mountains, the highest peak being Shenandoah Mountain itself. We kept up a steady pace as we crossed the wide valley, with just over twenty miles on the clock we turned onto a more main road signposted for Churchville another fifteen miles on.
The road reminded me a bit of back home as it bucked up and down and twisted about the quiet Virginia countryside. We had been on the go for about ninety minutes when the word went out that it was only two miles to Churchville. When you know the form you expect the ensuing dash – unlike last week everyone remained pretty much together the gentle undulations made any escape bid much more difficult.
Of course after last week they were all watching me so I let ‘em! I don't know what they thought I was going to do; even Diane and Erin seemed to be watching my every move. Although the pace picked up everyone was together as the town hove into sight, I admit it was difficult not to make a move at this point. When Diane broke she might as well have waved a flag to advise me where the ‘line' was. A few brave souls made an effort but enthusiasm can never really overcome technique. Erin was still watching me, I waited until an oncoming car distracted her for a moment and I was off like a shot.
Diane was looking nervously back despite her twenty-metre lead; yep the line was where I thought still over a hundred metres away. I clicked up a gear just as a wheel came alongside and the gap to Diane shrank quickly. I picked my line and some five metres before I caught Diane I made my big effort. Out of the saddle I made my last gear change and stomped good and hard on the pedals. I was committed to my action so when Erin pulled alongside there was nothing I could do. We sprinted wheel to wheel and with one final thrust I pushed half a wheel in front just as we passed the Churchville limits sign.
I collapsed back into the saddle as first Erin and quickly the rest of the crew came up to me.
“Gee kid, I thought I had you there” Erin managed between gasps.
“Thought never won,” I mentioned one of Mum's favourite lines.
“How did you know where the line was? I know no one said”
“When Diane went I knew it couldn't be too far and the way a few others had a go confirmed it”
“But you sprinted for the line”
“Well there had to be an obvious marker, we do sprint for signs at home as well you know”
“I guess we're still underestimating you”
“But you were really close” I allowed.
“Not close enough” she stated.
We negotiated the town and picked up the Staunton road.
“We stopping today?” I asked Diane as she came alongside.
“Uh huh, ‘bout five miles there's a nursery that has a tea room”
“There another sprint?”
“Might be” she grinned back.
Well I might just sit that out.
Or not. I mean, I can hardly just let them go can I? We stayed pretty tight for a few minutes but I detected a certain nervousness around me, the café sprint must be soon. Diane was the one who lost her bottle first, she took off like a scalded cat, Derek decided to give chase, I decided to call their bluff on this one. Erin grinned as she checked what I was doing, then she took off with a couple more riders whose names I didn't catch. I had a fair idea of what would be going through their heads right now, ‘Gaby's done in from that last sprint', ‘got her this time!' Oh how naïve! They were only about twenty meters in front and after checking that I hadn't followed, were now preparing for the showdown.
I made sure I stayed in the clear at the front of the second bunch and kept an eye on the action ahead. Mentally I ran through the plan, I stretched as nonchalantly as I could with a grin at my companions. They visibly relaxed their posture; I mean no one is this relaxed for a sprint are they?
“So where is this café place?” I asked the chap next to me.
“About a half mile, they always sprint for the tea room sign just up by that tree at the top of the next rise.”
Oh do they, heh, heh!
“Looks too much like hard work to me.”
“For me too” he agreed.
We were holding station but the ‘main' contenders were starting to play around a bit, soon Drew, soon. We turned a corner and I spotted both the tree and sign, there was a sort of roller coaster climb, not steep but the dip in the middle will make it difficult. Erin was obviously expecting something from me but when she looked I was still sat on the tops, I even gave her a wave. This is it; I'll have one chance and one only.
Apparently satisfied she was safe from me; Erin started to position herself for what will be a sprint of attrition. One last stretch and I settled my position.
“See ya!” I mentioned and I was off like a shot!
Diane and co were still watching each other as I sprinted up to them and held off slightly as we crested the first of three rises. I got a chance to catch my breath before Derek chanced his arm and the others took off after him up the second rise. He was spent by the top of that and I'd done just enough to stay in contact. By now the back markers had discovered my presence but were thankfully too bushed to give anyone further up the order warning. No chance to rest this time through the dip, I estimated the gradient; well it'll hurt but what the heck!
I snicked it into the fifteen and stomped on the pedals, only about seventy meters to the sign I could now see ahead. Erin's mistake was to wait for Diane to go, I was already moving when they hit the start of the last climb and my momentum carried me past, a deft downshift kept the momentum and I was eyeballs out to the summit and as mum had taught me, a bit beyond.
“Gaby! Gaby? Come on girl wake up!”
“I'll dial nine eleven from the tea room”
“And give Jessica a call straight after”
I could hear the voices but I seemed to be in some sort of limbo with no interaction with the real world.
“Is she okay?”
“We saw her pass you guys like a bullet then poof she just seemed to lose it”
“Well I don't think anything is broken”
“She hit her head?”
My head was sort of swimming, not unpleasant but just sort of floaty. I've done this before haven't I?
“I'm a doctor, lets have a look at the patient”
I felt someone touching me; it was the light in my eye that jerked me back to consciousness.
“Whoa young lady, stay still” the woman who I guessed was the medic stopped me from jerking upright.
“Thank god!” Erin stated.
“Well there's nothing broken, lets get her inside”
I found myself in Derek's arms and being carried into the tearoom.
“She okay Maggie?”
“Looks like she fainted Donald, can you rustle us up some tea?”
“Okay, Gaby is it?”
“Er yes” I agreed.
“You done this before, felt faint or even fallen off your bike?”
“Once or twice” I admitted, “I take some tablets for it”
“It your time?”
She wasn't embarrassed by the question but I was!
“Er not exactly”
“You taking iron supplements?”
“Uh huh” I agreed.
“Hmm, oh thanks Donald. Here you go young lady, drink this up.”
She handed me a cup of revolting sugared tea and a big brown pill.
“We still need Medicare?” Diane asked.
“No, I don't think so but I don't think she should ride anymore today. Where're you guys headed?”
“Grottoes” Erin advised.
“Is there anyone to collect her?”
“Did you get Jessica Diane?” Erin asked
“She must be out, the answer machine kicked right in”
“Damn, and I don't have the Walters number with me”
“Look if there's a problem, I'll drop her back home” Doctor Maggie offered.
“Not home, they're out all day” I gushed.
“That's right I forgot” Erin ad libbed, “if you could drop her at my shop that would be great.”
“So Gaby, you do a lot of bicycling in England?”
“A fair bit”
“As a girl or a boy?”
“A b.. How did you know?”
“Six years of med school and my own family, I think I can spot a boy by now.”
I slumped into the car seat.
“your breasts, they don't feel quite right, a bit too squidgy”
“that was it?”
“that was it. You do actually pass really well, I doubt if anyone but a doctor would doubt that you're a girl when they see you, do they?”
“Don't worry Gaby or do you prefer something else?”
“Well Drew, I know it's not really my business but how come you are dressing as a girl, you TG?”
“Transgendered. I guess not, you don't have to tell me,” She pointed out.
“It goes no further right.”
“Cross my heart.”
“It's a long story.”
“Well your friends won't get back to Grottoes for another hour.”
So I started to tell Maggie how come I'm being Gaby. Of course explaining why I was Gaby here in the States meant backtracking to stuff at home in England. For the most part the Doc just listened but after we pulled into a gateway just outside of Grottoes she asked a few questions. I've no idea what she made of it all; she seemed amused at when I told her about switching with Mad though.
“I have got to meet with this cousin of yours.”
“She should be at Erin's when we get there.”
“Talking of which, we should push on, they'll be there before us otherwise.”
We slipped back onto the road and I managed to direct her to Erin's shop without getting lost.
“‘Bout time Dru.. Gab” Mad greeted as I pushed the door open.
“Where's Erin? Why are you muddy? Who?”
“Maggie, meet my cousin, Maddy Peters. Mad this is Maggie, she's a doctor”
“You crashed, are you hurt?”
“Drew's fine now Maddy” Maggie advised.
“I told her Mad. I'd best be Gaby now though Maggie, just in case.”
Just then there was a bit of noise at the back of the shop.
“Gaby! You back?”
“Out here Erin” I called back.
“Where's Don Maddy?”
“Said he had to pop out for a few minutes. Something about Hooch”
“Hooch!” Erin sighed shaking her head, “what has that brother of his gotten into now?”
“Well I'd best be off” Maggie mentioned.
“Thanks for dropping hi-er off Doc” Erin offered.
“No problem, it was an education. And Gaby, remember your medication in future huh?”
“I will, thanks for the lift”
Maggie departed leaving the three of us in the shop.
“Medication?” Mad asked.
“My iron tablets, you've got them at the Walters”
“I didn't know you took them all the time”
“Yeah well I don't exactly shout about it, the Doc had some so I'm okay now”
“Well come on miss drama queen, you need to shower and change.” Erin stated.
“Is the trip out to Diane's factory still on?” I asked.
“It is if my assistant gets back, ah talk of the devil.”
“Hey sorry Erin” Don mentioned as he slipped in.
“Hooch? What this time?”
“No great drama, he didn't fancy walking home after pretzelling his wheel is all.” He brandished a distinctly bent bike wheel. “I keep telling him to take that revert easy, but no, he slams it every time.”
“He hurt himself?”
“Few scrapes, mostly pride, Amanda Dreyfus was there and you know he's sweet on her.”
Erin chuckled. “Come on Gaby, let's get you cleaned up.”
Maddy Bell 01.08.05 © 2005
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