“Drew? Come on luv, wake up.” The voice pushed through my thoughts, vague as they were. Mum.
“Have some of this.” I felt a cup or something at my lips and I tentatively took a sip, only water.
“Well done Bond.” John's voice mentioned.
“Thanks.” I croaked.
I blinked my eyes and at first couldn't work out where I was but then I realised that I was lying in the back of the Saab.
“Is he okay?” Kristen's voice asked.
“I think so, just a bit of over exertion.” Caro told her from somewhere just out of my vision.
“Daft bugger did the same at the hill climb last year.” Josh's gruff tones noted.
I really did feel knackered; I must have done the last lap on reserve.
“Anyway Mrs. Bond, Dad asked if you wanted to eat with us before we head home?” Kristen mentioned nervously.
“That ok with you Mum?” Mum asked Gran.
“Sure luv, I'm sure Gungerdin will want to.”
“That's a yes then Kristen.”
“Kewl! I'll go tell Dad.”
Mums face appeared above me.
“This has been happening a lot hasn't it?”
“Your Dad mentioned it and your friend Josh just told me about an incident, you passed out after Atlanta too.”
Bum! I didn't want to mention the other times, she'd go ballistic.
“I'll talk to Caroline later, see if we can't do something about it with your training.”
I realised I was still wearing the remains of the makeup and the bra.
“I er really should get changed if we are going to eat.”
“Well you were right next to the car.”
The prize presentation was pretty well attended, I spotted the photographer from the Comic, at least I'd had a chance to clean up my face and lose the braids! None of the squad made the podium, well I don't think anyone expected that anyhow. The other squad ‘teams' had been given less specific jobs than mine, well Kristen's although the team Josh was on did win the team prize. There was no way for anyone to beat my forty points in the climber's competition, I won it by twenty one points! The prize was fifty pounds, which in the spirit of teamwork we split between the four of us, ten pounds each, the others insisted I had the extra ten, which didn't seem that fair but it wasn't the place to argue.
“And so Drew sneaked past them!” Kristen announced to her audience in The Cartwheel as we waited for our food.
According to Mum this place is quite popular with the ‘local' cyclists and we were sharing the place with a bunch who had ridden over from Sheffield to see the race. Josh and his uncle had headed straight back to the northeast so there were just the five of us. Kristen had stayed at a B&B organized by the federation and her Dad had just come up yesterday to take her home after the race. I guess I'm pretty lucky that Mum was so involved and we stayed with Gran.
“I doubt that'll work a second time.” Kristen's Dad mentioned.
“I don't think the officials realised today other wise there might have been words.” Mum noted.
“So Kristen, have you enjoyed this week?” Gran asked.
“Definitely! I didn't realise how much there was to learn or how hard it would be but it's been well cool.”
“It looks like you've a star in the making Mr. Oakey.” Mum mentioned.
“Ian please, yes I must admit I never expected her to get so caught up in it, we're not a cycling family, her mother and sisters are into horses and shopping.”
Further embarrassing conversation was halted by the arrival of lunch, five all day breakfasts, I was more than ready for mine and the way Kris was tucking in so was she!
“So I'll see you in a couple of weeks then.” Kris told me.
The olds were still chatting inside The Cartwheel so Kristen and me were taking in the ‘sights' of Glossop. Not that there's much to see although we did find a reasonable bike shop to peer into, I think they were one of the sponsors of this mornings torture.
“I guess so.” I agreed.
“Can I ask like a personal question?”
“Well its sort of a bit weird really.”
Alarm bells started clanging.
“Do you think…”
Wait for it!
“Do you think people think your stupid cos your blonde?”
“I was thinking about dyeing my hair so people take me more serious.”
Talk about a curve ball! I was certain she'd worked out me and ‘Gaby'.
“I um dunno. Never really thought about it, it's not like I'm Brain of Britain anyhow.” I admitted. “I can't see what difference hair colour makes to how brainy you are.”
“I know, I just get a bit fed up with all the blonde jokes.”
“Hey Paul had a good one, what do you call a blonde at university?”
“Dunno” Kristen sighed.
“Lost! Get it?”
“Drew Bond, for a blonde yourself you really are… ooooh!”
I um think I hit a nerve!
“That's exactly why I'm dyeing it brown or something! That was a cute outfit in Paris.”
“Ah ha! It was you!”
Bum, bum, bum!
“I er, sugar! How?”
“Did I know? Well I wasn't certain until this morning but yesterday when Caroline showed that clip of your Mum in Paris she was hugging the girl and stuff like she was family, close family not a niece. Plus the girl had your face not Maddy's, you look quite similar but not the same.”
“I'm dead, I bet everyone's worked it out.”
“I doubt it Drew, it was only because I got a chance to study you closely, and how easily your Gran got you into a bra this morning. I am curious as to why though.”
“It's a long story.” I sighed.
“Now there's a surprise.”
“Hey kids,” Gran's voice reached us, “time to go.”
“You can tell me at Milton Keynes.”
“I guess.” Maybe she'll forget by then.
We rejoined the senior element of our party at the cars.
“So we'll see you on the 24 th then Ian.”
“I might even drag the rest of the clan along, they can go into the Centre to spend my money for me.” Mr. Oakey chortled.
“Kristen seems like a nice girl.” Mum mentioned as we negotiated Stockport for the third time today after leaving Gran's.
“Her Dad says she's very quiet except when bikes come up in conversation.”
“Knows what kiddo?”
“‘Bout me and erm being Gaby.”
“And I think she gets bullied at school, she didn't say but she was talking about getting picked on for being blonde.”
“Since when did you get to be such an expert?”
“Well duh!” I shook a sprig of hair at her.
She concentrated on driving for a few minutes, obviously in thought.
“So she knows about your dressing?”
“Well she worked out it was me in Paris.”
“So what are you going to do?”
“Hope she forgets?”
“Not likely kiddo is it?”
“No.” I sighed. “I suppose I'll have to tell her how that came about.”
She let the subject drop and we spent the rest of the drive home with little conversation listening to the chart show on Radio 1.
The main reason for coming home last night rather than staying at Gran's until today is that this afternoon I'm riding the Easter ten on the Torksey course near Gainsborough. I slept like a log last night, yesterdays race really took it out of me, more than I thought at any rate. Goth Girl is still at Charlie's so its just me and Mum still, it's really weird not having Dad about, I had to give my time trial bike, actually Mums testing bike, the once over myself.
“Are you ready Drew?”
“Just about Mum”
“We need to leave in five minutes if you want a warm up.”
Geez, she's worse than Dad!
After the hullabaloo at yesterdays race the ten today was very much minor league. Not that I've got a problem with that, in some respects I prefer what Mum calls ‘fish and chippers * ', just a bunch of ordinary riders enjoying themselves, no big ‘names', heck I've even scored a ‘five' start ** ! I think Mum was a little bemused after a year of the highest profile events in the cycling world to be here at the ‘grass roots' of our sport.
I rolled up to the line and waited for the pusher to grab my bike.
I started taking some deep breaths as much to aid my concentration as anything else.
I checked my cleats and set the pedals ready to start.
“Ten, car coming up, five, four, three, two, one, GO!”
I heaved on the pedals and in two revs I was changing into a higher gear. I stayed out of the saddle for maybe fifty metres before settling into my aero crouch. The first half-mile or so is a rolling climb but nothing compared to Tintwistle! I was doing over thirty as I dropped through Gate Burton, the road switching through the narrow main street before exiting onto the Trent flood plain. The power station opposite Torksey acted as a beacon as I started to reel in my minute person, a woman a bit older than Mum.
The bit along to Torksey was into a fairly stiff headwind and I was glad when the oil terminal hove into view. Over the Foss Dyke and I could see the turn and number thirty-three heading back. The turn here is about as close to an old fashioned middle of the road dead turn as you get now, I swung as wide as I could around the dual carriageway island, passing thirty four as I came out of the turn. I stood up for a few metres to recover a bit of lost speed then settled back into aero mode.
Back over the Foss Dyke and a glance at the speedo showed thirty mph again and a little over fifteen minutes on the clock – not bad for just over six miles. I had a dodgy minute negotiating Gate Burton's narrow main street when a tractor pulled out in front but I squeezed through without losing any time. You can put yourself off looking at the clock at this stage so on Mum's advice; I flicked the button to distance instead, just a mile to go. I'd been slowly catching thirty-three but as I exited the village I suddenly found myself overtaking him. The course ends much as it starts with a rolling climb before a final slight downhill to the finish, come on Drewbie, not far now!
The chequered flag fluttered ahead so with a last big effort I sprinted to the line.
Urgh! I freewheeled, slumped over the bars sucking in huge gulps of air. I checked the computer, it was showing 24.41, not too shabby, a bit off my PB *** but the season is still fresh! I soft-pedaled back to the village hall in Knaith, today's race HQ where Mum was sunning herself in a camp chair.
“It was only a ten.”
“How'd it go?”
“Okay, middling 24.”
“Lets have your number, I'll get your drink while you change.”
I unpinned the fluorescent square and handed it to her before collapsing in the recently vacated seat. I slipped my shoes off and sat back, I could get to like this, blue-sky, warm, country quiet.
Jen smiled to herself. Middling 24 indeed, 23.39 is pretty respectable for a fourteen year old; he must still be a bit tired after yesterday too. She glanced over to where the car was parked, number one son was sprawled in her chair only it looked more like number two daughter! Even from here the nubs of breast were obvious on Drew's slight form, if he was a bit bigger in build you probably wouldn't notice – at least not as much, and with the mop of blonde hair…
It wasn't by much, just six seconds, but it's a PB nonetheless! I forgot to take the extra minute off from starting the computer on my minuteman. I hadn't won anything, a lanky sixteen year old from Lincoln took the schoolboy prize and I only made thirteenth overall but coming home with a personal made up for that, ready for the first Cuckney tomorrow night. The drive home, barely twenty five miles via Dunham Bridge seemed to fly by, when we drove through Tuxford I couldn't help thinking about a return visit to that course, so much faster than today's, what might I do on there, 22? 21?
Squeak, squeak, squeak.
I looked up from my bike cleaning to see whose bike was making such a terrible racket.
“Saw you drive through the Vale **** and thought I'd see how you got on.”
“Didn't think you were a fan.”
“I'm not really, not of bike racing.”
What's that supposed to mean?
“So did you win?”
“Nah, but I did improve my PB.”
“Is that good?”
“Just kidding! Was your thingy at Manchester good?”
“Okay I guess.” I offered cautiously.
“It was dead boring here, we went to Nottingham on Friday which was crap and Bernie came over for tea yesterday, Mum is so embarrassing, it was like twenty questions.”
“You wanna stay for tea? I'll see if I can fix that squeak on your bike.” I offered.
“I'll have to check with Mum.”
“Use this.” I handed my mobile over.
“Your wheel needs straightening.” I noted when we returned to the workshop.
I spun the wheel to show her, “ see, it's catching the brake block.”
“Can you fix it?”
“Dad's the expert but I'll have a go.”
“Help me put it in the stand, grab the back.”
We managed to hoist the beast into place and I got it clamped up so I could work on it. I'm not exactly a wheelwright but Dad has explained the basic concept so I found the spoke key and cautiously started turning nipples.
“Bern said that you and Mad go to costume conventions.”
“Er yeah, a couple” I admitted.
“Sounds pretty cool, I've never done anything like that.”
“Its okay I s'pose, Mad usually makes the costumes.”
“Bernie said you met JK Rowling at one.”
Bern you are a blabbermouth!
“That must've been ace.”
“Pretty good, that's better.” I spun the wheel, “no squeak at least.”
It wasn't perfect but it was a lot better than it was.
“Might as well check the back one too.”
“Thanks Drew, so you got any pictures?”
“Somewhere.” I mumbled checking the wheel.
“I've never met anyone famous – except your Mum of course.”
“Neither have I really.” I concentrated on the wheel, or have I? There was Lance of course oh and Sheryl Crow when the Yanks were over and I suppose you could count the Sports Personality of the Year, there was Jensen Button and Victoria Beckham and I was close enough to touch Gary Lineker! “Well not met properly that is.” I corrected myself.
“I wish I was good at something”
“You do Guides.” I noted checking the rest of her steed over.
“You can't exactly be ‘good' at Guides”
I twiddled with bits and gave the chain a bit of a makeover.
“You really enjoy doing that don't you?”
“It's sort of relaxing.”
“I wouldn't have the patience.”
“That should run a bit better.” I announced lowering the Gazelle to the ground.
I suddenly found myself engulfed in a hug topped off with a peck on the cheek.
“Um no problem.”
I'm not sure how but we ended up on the computer so I could show Hel some of my pictures.
“You really go to some interesting places.”
“I guess.” My pictures from Pembroke were doing the slideshow thing.
“Even when Dad was with us we never really did much.” Her eyes were filling up.
“Maybe you can come with us sometime.” I offered.
“Thanks Drew, you don't have to.”
“Well the others come sometimes so it's no big deal.”
“All the same.”
“You looked pretty good at the dance last week.”
I felt my face turn red.
“I bet most people thought you were really a girl, you looked so convincing, not like a boy in a dress at all.”
“Oh have you got the pictures from when you met JK on here?”
“Somewhere.” I flicked through the files, “I didn't take these, Mad and her parents put them on a disk, I've not even looked at them meself.”
Most of the pictures were of other conventioneers and they were in no particular order.
“That you there?” Helen pointed.
“No that's Mad, that's me in the background.”
“By the girl in the sailor outfit.”
* Small events with low prize funds – originally so called as the prizes were often vouchers for the local chippy!
** In time trials the riders starting on 5's and 10's are the fastest in the field. The field is organised so that the faster riders are spread through the field with the slowest riders starting on 9's and 4's.
*** Personal Best
**** Meden Vale where Helen lives with her Mum and Gran.
Maddy Bell 22.11.06 © 2006
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