Brrrr, its cold this morning! A glance out of my eyrie's window revealed fields covered with rime and to top it off a dank looking ground mist. The good news is that higher up the sky showed a stunning blue - the contrail from a plane the only thing marring the blue. I finished dressing and took a moment to find my favourite hat before heading downstairs.
"At last, I thought you'd gone back to bed."
"It was tempting." I admitted.
"Well let's shake a leg then." Mum suggested rather too cheerfully.
I thought it was unusual to find Mum so enthusiastic this time of the morning, she's not exactly known as a morning person! Five minutes later the pair of us were scooting down the cycle track towards Bad Neunahr where we were meeting the others. I was looking forward to this with some trepidation - it's been a while since I've been out on the Klein and longer still since I did any halfway serious off road riding.
We pulled into the station forecourt to find the others, Maria and Tina already waiting.
"Bit cold eh?" Tina proffered in greeting.
"You're not kidding." Mum agreed.
"You okay Drew?" Maria enquired.
"Well let's get a move on, its cold enough to freeze your nipples off!" Tina pointed out.
“Tina!” Mum and Maria chorused.
We set off down the valley taking the old road towards Sinzig. The bare fields still wore a bit of white and in a couple of spots there was ice on the roadway. It was fast riding even if the Klein's handling was entirely different to my usual rides. At the main road we turned right into Sinzig centre then with Maria leading the way we started heading up hill.
"I (puff) thought we were (puff) going off (puff) road." I gasped as the narrow lane leveled out a bit.
"We are (puff) but we've got to get there first (puff)." Maria advised.
"You are so (puff) impatient Drew!" Tina added.
The lane started to climb again, the bare fields to either side striped by lines of frost in the furrows, the overall effect was of dirty snow covering the countryside. After a couple of kilometres of steady climbing we crossed the E31 and just beyond we entered the Vehn woods.
“Geez I'm glad it's frosty this morning.” Mum noted.
I couldn't disagree with that sentiment as the first fifty metres of off tarmac had all the makings of a quagmire – once or twice a tyre broke through the crust to reveal the brown porridge waiting to engulf everything below.
“There wasn't much mud last time I came.” Maria told us.
“When was that Mar?” Tina enquired.
“August I think.”
“Hardly a surprise then.” Mum pointed out.
The track improved some in as much as it became less rutted although the trees seemed to hold the cold, our breath erupting in plumes of steam. We climbed some more before passing Schloss Vehn – or rather what remains of Schloss Vehn, it's just a few broken down walls now, dark and forbidding amongst the forest. We changed direction, south I think, and fifteen minutes later emerged at the little village of Königsfeld. Another short bit of tarmac then we cut across the fields on a farm track towards the looming presence of Olbrück castle.
“Flippin' eck!” I managed as we drew to a halt a few minutes later.
“Bit of a lung opener eh kiddo?”
“(Gasp) who (gasp) stuck that (gasp) there?” Tina added from over her bars.
Maria sucked on her bottle, “ready for some more?”
“Have we got a choice?” Mum enquired.
“Not really.” Maria giggled in reply.
The sun might have risen and was bathing us in warming radiation but not warm enough to make much impression on the frost, instead it just felt even colder when our route moved into the shade, which it seemed to do on an increasing basis. Maria led us back up towards, well over the peak of Adert where we took another short break.
“Its nearly all downhill now.”
“I'll believe that when I see it.” Tina sighed.
“I can't believe you're so out of form!” Maria countered.
“Get on with it old woman.”
It was great fun out with the girls – and Mum of course, the joshing was always in good humour but the effort needed was always 110%.
We left the road again and span easily up to the tower of Häuschen.
“Last one to the road cleans the bikes.” Maria announced as she dropped off the side of the trail.
“You!” Mum spluttered as she overshot the turn.
I made the turn in front of Tina and found myself hurtling through the trees on some single track, Maria already fifty metres in front. This is more like it; I dropped a couple of sprockets and soon closed the gap leaving a few metres spare in case of mishap. I could hear the others behind me then we concertina'd to negotiate a narrow defile.
“Got you now Pinger!” Mum sang from behind me.
“That's what you think Bond.” Maria replied as we emerged from the undergrowth onto a logging track.
“Ha ha!” I noted as I picked a line out.
Maria had the gas on and me, Tina and Mum were hard on her wheels.
“FRONT!” Maria yelled with a squeal of brakes.
Beyond her I could see a couple of bikers on their way up, hmm maybe….
We slipped past at a reduced speed and Maria was a couple of moments too slow in getting it going again – I wasn't!
“Links!” I screamed as I almost ducked under her elbow. Yes!
“Why you little….”
I clicked the shifter again and stomped on the pedals even harder.
“YE HA!” I mentioned as I sped downward.
“Gate at the bottom.” Maria shouted out in warning.
Spotted. Right then last minute speedway stop I think. I disengaged my right spud in preparation then hit the back brake to put me into a skid then I spotted it, the puddle! Bum! By now I was going sideways and was totally committed – Nooooooo! I almost made it but just as I was reaching for the ground my remaining momentum kicked in and dumped me in the mud with an almighty splash.
“DREW!” Mum screamed.
Brakes squealed and as the wash settled around me I spotted the others looking at me.
“You alright kiddo?” Mum enquired dropping her machine.
“Awesome splash Drew.” Tina smirked.
“Gee thanks, I think so Mum, bit wet maybe.”
“More than a bit,” Maria chuckled as I struggled to my feet, “at least its at the end of our ride.”
I dragged the Klein clear of the goop and gave it the once over. Nothing broke at least.
“Come on, let's get you home.” Mum suggested.
We set off again, emerging from the woods into the hamlet of Rech. Instead of the bike track we joined the valley road and in barely five minutes arrived at Schloss Bond .
Of course being Sunday I was due at Thesing's so while the others settled in in the kitchen I was straight in the shower to get ready for work. Sometimes I wish I hadn't accepted the job…
“So that's two coffees and two tortes.” I worked it out in my head, one ninety, three eighty and two tortes that's “six eighty please.”
I was handed a ten and made the change, “three twenty, thanks for coming.”
I've been working at the bakery for three weeks now and I've just about got my head round things.
“Gabs, table six!”
There is that of course. Connie has taken to calling me Gaby but you knew that didn't you? In case you don't remember she found out about my alter ego back at the start of the summer – ‘ "Drew, why is she calling you Gaby?" Connie enquired. "It's a um family nickname from like ages ago.” I admitted.' Well she like teased me with it a bit over the summer but for some reason since I started helping out here at the bakery she's started using it pretty much all the time.
I collected the tray and headed out to the pavement. Oh no not that lot!
“Hi what can I get you?”
“How about a coffee and you?” one wag suggested.
Jerk! Is he bent or something? I gave him a look of distaste.
“Just kidding Drew.” Max interjected before his sidekick Freddy could dig himself a bigger hole, “four coffees please.”
Maximillian von Strechau, a right pain in the arse. His family are some sort of local gentry, a fact not lost on some of the girls at Silverberg and the Strechs – his gaggle of followers. You'd' a thought he was God's gift.
“Four coffees, anything else? On the menu.” I added before one of the jerks could say anything.
“Just the coffee Drew.”
I headed back inside. Of course Max was in my class so we sorta know each other but we move in two different circles, Brit would probably call him a ‘jock', he plays footie and represents the Gymnasium at swimming and athletics too. He's always mucking about at school, well him and the Strechs, and that sometimes spills over into getting other students involved. I seem to have attracted his attention the last couple of weeks but coming to the bakery – well that's - I dunno, I mean schools one thing but here, he better not start anything!
“Hello? Anyone in? Gabeee!”
“Oh sorry Con.”
“What do they want?”
“Er four coffees.”
“Four coffees.” I announced five minutes later.
“Thanks Drew, can I ask you something?”
What's he want now?
“Go for it Max!” Freddy, the gobby one, whooped.
“Shut up Freddy.” Ralf put in.
“I was only saying.” Gob a lot noted.
“So Max, I've got other customers you know.”
“Well I um.”
“Spit it out.” I encouraged.
“What?” Did he really say what I thought?
“Would you go to the Kursaal with me next Saturday?”
He's gay! Max von flippin Strechau is bent!
“Gab's, give us a hand in here.”
I was saved from replying by Connie.
“I‘ve gotta go.”
“Let me know tomorrow eh Drew.”
“He what?” Steffi exclaimed in registration.
“That'll put a few noses out of joint, half the year were hoping for the invite.”
“They're welcome to him, the big gay boy!”
“Drew Bond? Would you like to share with the rest of us?” Fr. Dürst enquired.
Maybe I was a bit loud.
“No Miss, sorry Miss.” I turned an unbecoming shade of beetroot.
Maddy Bell 31.12.07 © 2007
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