“Ah, so you are joining us again this season?”
“Why not – beats going training!” Drew quipped as he took the signing sheet from John.
“Don't let your coach here you say that. You have your consent form?”
“Yup” Drew dug in his pocket and extracted a slightly damp square of folded paper. ”Here goes!”
“Nice of you to look after it so well.” John noted wryly as he opened the essential bit of paper.
“Still riding for the Velo then? Thought you might have had a few offers.”
There had been some strange phone calls the last few weeks; Mum had come off the phone just last Saturday mumbling something about ‘ridiculous man'. Yes there had been offers, from some of the best teams around but they had all been rejected much to Drew's annoyance.
“Mum doesn't think it would be fair to move right now what with going to Germany in the summer.”
“Well its nice to see someone still has some standards.”
“Your cousin not joining us this year?”
“Not yet at least.”
“Pity, she was showing some promise.”
“I best get ready.”
The weather was typical for the time of year – overcast with a light breeze and a slight chill so Drew was wearing arm warmers with his skinsuit. There were plenty of faces he recognised, a few that he didn't and some missing, the cycle goes on.
“Here.” Drew rolled down to the line.
“Have a good un kiddo.” John mentioned.
The pusher grabbed his bike and he started the pre start run through, cleats engaged.
Start the computer, concentrate on the job, deep oxygenating breaths.
Relax. Clear mind.
“Ten…five, four, three, two, one, GO!”
Nought to thirty in under five seconds, then back in the saddle, slip up a gear, tuck onto the tri bars and let the legs do the talking! The crossroads came up quickly, marshals at both of them this year, then still with a good head of steam, back out of Cuckney. It seemed so long ago the last time he'd done this, six months to be sure, three percent of his whole life! Number four was already in sight as he turned towards Holbeck and once again his thoughts returned to the job in hand.
There were just ten minutes on the clock when the wunderkind took his minute man, the climb to the turn already looming ahead. The Worksop to Mansfield bus swept the other direction, washing him with a barrier of ‘hard' air but his pace barely faltered. He was halfway up the climb before the first rider came the other way, the clock was looking good too, 13.24 as he went into the island complex.
There was little traffic so there were no hold ups going around the triangle of grass that make Darfoulds island, Drew checked his speedo as he made the brow of the ski ramp, yes! 15 minutes on the nose. By the bottom he was doing almost 60kph, his legs windmilling his biggest gear round, the dead bit before the Hodthorpe turn was, dead but there were barely three miles to go from here. Several riders went the other way and up ahead there was more quarry just approaching the Creswell turn.
His breathing was still smooth as was his pedalling action as he pounded south into Sherwood Forest. It was number two that he caught just by the entrance to Welbeck Abbey after 20.38 in the saddle. Not far now, he adjusted his position a bit on the down slope before the road swung left to start the long drag to the last corner. He held his speed at a great 45kph to the top then the finish was in sight along with the other two riders in front of him. One last big effort then, don't look at the clock, concentrate, concentrate, last fifty, out of the saddle, sprint.
Freewheel, deep breaths, sit up, stop pooter. He was nearly back to the llama field before he got his breath back enough to actually look at his timepiece. Must be something wrong, I'm sure I started it at thirty. Turning at the bottom crossroads, it was nearly five minutes after crossing the line that he arrived back at race HQ.
“There he is!” John mentioned loudly, mine wasn't the only head to snap round.
“What'd I get?”
“Hang on.” John returned to his clock as the next rider came through.
“Twenty three fifty.”
My clock was right then.
“whoohoo!” I punched the air in delight.
“Great ride young un.”
For all that it felt a bit lonely, no Maddy here, and I know Mum has marking to do but you know, it's nice to have someone to share the moment with. And to top it I have to rub my own legs!
“How'd you do?” Mum asked from behind a pile of marking.
“I was second fastest, some lad from over Sheff did a long 22.”
“Oh by the way, Helen rang, can you call her if you are back before nine.”
“Sure, I'll get showered first.”
I wonder what Helen wants? I let the hot water play over my back, its so relaxing after all that effort but at least it gets me out of a thirty minute turbo session!
“Sorry, Mum just said there was a girl on the phone.”
“I don't sound like a girl!” well actually, Drew conceded, I do a bit; I don't just look like Mad I sound quite like her too.
“Well you do a bit.”
“Don't be like that.”
“So what did you want me for?”
“Well I know that you do loads of stuff after school and stuff.”
“Yeah?” Drew replied cautiously, does she know about the cheer team?
“I was just wondering like, if you'd like to come to our Friends Night at Guides next week?”
“Just coz I wore a dress to the dance doesn't mean I want to do it again!”
“No, no! It's nothing like that, honest!” Helen went into damage control mode.
“I'm still listening.” Drew mentioned.
“Okay, right its like a sort of party, we can all take a friend and we do sketches and stuff.”
“Isn't it just for girls? Like Guides equals girls.”
“Course not, I wouldn't be asking you otherwise.”
“Er why are you asking me? Why not Bernie or one of the other girls?”
“Well you are sort of my best friend here in Warsop, please say yes, there's food!”
Hmm, food eh?
“Um just when is this bun fest?”
“I said didn't I, next Wednesday at the church hall.”
Drew mentally checked his calendar, Monday cheering then gang time, Tuesday race night, Thursday cheering. Hmm looks like Wednesday is clear except training and that could happen in the morning before school, Mum had been trying to get him to do that for weeks.
“Okay a provisional yes, I need to check with Mum but it should be okay.”
“Yes, yes! Thanks Drew!”
“What do I have to wear?”
“Just your normal Joe stuff, oh thanks Drew.”
“See you in the morning?”
Drew walked back into the lounge where Jenny was still marking books, after making his call in the kitchen.
“What was that all about?”
“Helen's sort of asked me out next week.”
“A date Drew Bond?”
“Not exactly, its some thing at Guides, Friends Night or something.”
“So are you going?
“I said I had to check but I said yes.”
“When is it?”
“Wednesday night, at the church hall.”
“What about training?”
Geez, nothing gets past her does it?
“I thought I'd go before school?”
“I know, if I set off just after six I can get back and ready in time.”
She lifted her eyebrows.
“You realise that now you are on the national team things are a bit more serious, you need to stick to your schedule.”
“I am Mum, honest. I'm wheelie serious!” he quipped.
Mum ignored the pun, “tell you what, I'll come with you.”
“To Helen's thing? Muu-uum!”
“No dumbo, training. I need to get out too you know and this way I can keep an eye on you too.”
Bum, no slacking then.
“How about we have a dry run tomorrow?” Mum suggested.
“I guess.” Its not like I need my beauty sleep!
That's how come the two cycling Bond's were to be seen pounding the lanes of North Nottinghamshire early the next morning. Drew had to admit it wasn't as bad as getting up in the dark to get to distant events or some of those stupid time trial start times! Mum kept them off the main roads as much as possible, going round from Cuckney to Carburton and then through Clumber Park, which was really pleasant at seven in the morning, a light mist hovering over the lake. Then they took the lane round through Hardwick, which allowed them to loop around the bottom part of the park past Thoresby Park. Then it was back via Edwinstowe before returning to Warsop.
“You look bushed.” Mad noted when I met her to walk to school.
“A bit.” I admitted, “we went training early this morning, my body clock needs to catch up.”
“Its getting wheelie serious all this racing lark.”
“Oh yeah, John asked if you were going to race this year.”
“I dunno, what with cheering and stuff.”
“Hi Drew, Mad!”
“Hi Hel.” I called after her.
“Laters” Mad added giving me a funny look.
“Come on Mad, I know you too well.”
“You fancy Helen don't you?”
“I thought we were like, you know.”
“Duh! Idiot, like I was your girlfriend.”
“You are one of my girl friends, like Ally and Bern.”
“That's not what I meant and well you know it.”
“Sorry couldn't resist. And what's not to like about Helen?”
“Never said there was!”
“You're jealous!” I crowed.
“Maddy's jealous, Maddy's jealous, Maddy's jealous!” I danced around her.
“Give over you little turnip!”
“Takes one to know one, and anyway I thought I was your sprout?”
“Boyzzzz!” she exclaimed to no one in particular.
School was as usual, school. Mr Wood looked out over the dining room , ‘they really are a good lot of kids, okay there's a couple of bad eggs, but on the whole I'll take this lot.' There was a bit of jeering at the door. ‘Ah, Weldon, our fat boy, but you don't let them get to you do you son. Not victim material, I'd be inclined to say you were actually a bit of a bully, using your size to intimidate people – they only call you Fatty once! And Faye Mansfield, the other end of the scale. I hate having to do it but I'm seriously contemplating a temporary exclusion after your latest episode in Mrs Cattalls class.'
He readjusted his position, ‘hmm young master Bond, you really do have a lot on your plate don't you? Your impending move to Germany, your sporting ambitions, it doesn't surprise me that you made the National team at all, you might be small but you use that to your advantage. On top of that there are your health and gender issues – did I contribute to that last year? I hope not, I don't think so Jenny doesn't think so. We could write a book about you and your friends and no one would believe it!' he chuckled to himself, ‘good job the kids don't know that I know some of the stuff, when Jenny told me about Wales I couldn't help laughing – it could only happen to Drew! No it won't be same around here without you son.'
As far as Drew was concerned the week couldn't pass quickly enough, Saturday is race day in Milton Keynes and he was looking forward to donning his squad strip again. School was a blur; the only highlight really was cheer practice where they tried some new moves. He shouldn't be enjoying that but it was good fun and you got an adrenalin rush too! Maddy seemed a bit more attentive even planting him with a kiss after cheer practice, after the last few weeks when she's been a bit distant at times – well that's got to be an improvement right?
There was a surprise for them all when they got home on Friday, Dad was home!
“Why didn't you let us know?” Jen managed after a disgusting (to the kids) show of parental affection.
“George only suggested I come this morning.” Dave told them.
“Can you come to the race tomorrow?” Drew asked hopefully.
“That's why I'm here – and to see my girls.” He quickly filled in.
There was another hug fest; Jules was the last to break away with tears in her eyes.
Never one to miss a detail, Drew had to ask about the airport carrier bag on the table.
“What's in the bag Dad?”
“Nothing gets past you does it?” he grabbed the bag, “I'm not doing this every time I come mind, Jules...” he gave my sister a bag that obviously had perfume in.
“Oh wow Chanel! Thanks Dad!” and she engulfed him again.
“Whoa, you don't need to hug me to death Jules. Drew yours is the red bag.”
The bag was retrieved and duly opened to reveal a model truck on a card.
“Oh wow, the Gerolsteiner team! Cool!”
“There's a set to collect apparently.”
“Thanks Dad.” Drew gave Dave a quick hug.
“So what've you got me David Bond?” Mum enquired.
“Aren't I enough?”
“You'll do for starters.”
“You might want to open yours upstairs.” Dad hinted handing her a pink and white bag.
“Ooh La Senza !” my sister cooed. “Lets see?”
Jen was curious too but wasn't ready for the wispy bit of pink nylon and lace that came out of the bag.
“Dave Bond, you are so bad!”
“Urgh, gross!” Drew commented as Jen moved in to her husband for another snog.“Get a room guys!” Jules added.
Maddy Bell 27.12.06 © 2006
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