“Number 2 full lap next time”
Geez, that bloke's a sadist! They'd been circling the track doing mixed intervals for nearly thirty minutes and this was the third time that he'd been called to take a lap. The others wouldn't give him any quarter and he wouldn't expect any – welcome to British Cycling's junior elite squad!
He stayed high on the second banking before launching himself down the home straight at pretty much full tilt.
With a fifteenth birthday only a couple of weeks away 2004 was looking like it would be a busy one. There'd already been the school trip to Berlin, there was this trip ‘home' for the annual squad progress ‘school' and Dad already had the first half of the season planned out for me and the girls. Then there's the Weinkönigin stuff, sheesh – yup this year looks like its gonna be a full one.
It really was eyeballs out but after five laps the back of the bunch was almost in touching distance. A last effort and he ‘tagged' Stuart's arm making him a lap gained.
“Okay, 2 laps warm down.”
“Something like that.” Josh agreed as we caught up.
“Three flippin' laps I got called on.”
“Well Mr Champion, you don't expect us lesser mortals to do all the work.” Stuart opined with a grin.
Drew blew a raspberry by way of reply.
“Nice session everyone, get some lunch, Mark wants everyone in room 6 at two please. Drew, can I have a word before you disappear.” Richard, call me Dick, Haslam ended the morning session.
“See you in the canteen Drew.” Josh grinned.
Dick waited until the others were headed down to the garage before saying more.
“Good session Drew, how do you feel its going?”
“Not bad I guess, I was a bit rusty with the fixed, it's difficult to get track time at home.”
“Well if that's rusty, I can't wait to see the polished article. I really wanted to check how you were getting on with the rest of the squad, I know it can be difficult when you're not here all the time.”
“I guess some of them are a bit offish but I guess you'd expect that, I mean they hardly see me and whenever they do its like the Nationals or something. I guess I'd be a bit pissed if I happened to me.”
“That's honest at least. I know you're as committed as the rest and last season more than confirmed your right to be on the programme. What I do want is a team, not lots of individuals, I'm sure you know what I mean.”
Drew nodded, just where was this going?
“You remember last year when we started this development squad what the objectives were?”
“To get us in medal winning form for like the Olympics an' that.”
“Well that's the gist I guess but more than that we are determined to bring back Gold medals across the disciplines. We expect to start the collection in Athens later in the year but by 2008 in China we hope to get medals in every event, that includes the road race and time trial. This goes no further okay,”
“Er yeah” Drew agreed.
“I'll be frank with you Drew, the powers that be see you as a wild card, one or two have questioned your place on the squad, your supporters, and that includes me, still hold the high ground! The truth of the matter is that some of us have higher ambitions for British Cycling than a few gongs every four years, nice as that is. When your mother won the Tour Feminin it opened our eyes and sowed a seed, a seed that is due to germinate in maybe five years time.”
“What's this got to do with me?”
“Well young man, we want you to be the first British winner of the biggest prize of all, the Grand Boucle itself.”
“You've got to be kidding, I'm not even fifteen yet!”
“Yep, a few of us are sticking our necks out on this one and it relies on getting the right funding but we want to build a team that can at least give it a go. At the moment there are only a couple of others who we think are up to the job, there are a few talented juniors out there, Millar is doing okay and we have young Mark Cavendish a couple of years away from starting a pro career. I've rattled on long enough, I just wanted you to know that we're not picking on you rather we're trying to push you to greater things.”
“Er thanks I think.”
“Get yourself on, and remember, this stays between us ok?”
“What'd Dick want James?” Stuart enquired.
“Nothing much, just telling me how crap I am on the track.”
“We've all had that one” Kristen mentioned.
“I guess practice makes perfect.”
“So what's Germany like?” Kris asked as I stuffed another meatball down the hatch.
“Ish orwight I geth.” I got out around the food.
“All sausages an' them levver shorts” Josh suggested.
“The racings a bit different, hardly any testing but they do these audaxy things a lot but like everyone rides, we all ride to the Gymnasium nearly every day.”
“‘Ark at her, going to the Gym on ‘er bike.”
“Don't be such a berk Simon!”
“Well it gets on my tit, it wafts in here, pisses all over us and buggers orf to sossidge land again.”
I guess Simon has issues!
I stared out of the window into the black Peak District evening as the train shook and rattled its way towards Sheffield where Uncle John is due to pick me up. The weekend seems to have flown by and it was a bit weird not having Mum or Dad around. At least I get to see the gang for a couple of days! Sometimes airline schedules are great!
“Miss, miss? We're at Sheffield.”
“Hmm? Wie spät ist es?" I groggily requested.
“Sorry, I don't understand, you know English?”
“Er my bad, what time is it?” I glanced about me; apart from the conductor the carriage was empty.
“Five to eight or thereabouts.”
“Shitza! Uncle John'll be going bonkers!”
It's difficult to travel light when you have a bike with you as well as normal luggage. And Sheffield station has loads of steps. I was huffing a bit by the time I got to the entrance.
“Drewbie!” one of them banshee dervish things launched itself at me, I was hard pressed not to drop my bike, my kit bag however landed on the floor.
“Let him breath Mad.”
“Um glad (huh) to see you too.” I managed as my cousin relaxed her grip some.
“Whoa girlfriend, your getting a bit er, you know.” Mad made a rather crude hand gesture.
“Gee I hadn't noticed thanks for reminding me.”
Uncle John stepped in to forestall the impending storm of words.
“Come on you two, let's get back home, you can talk in the car.”
In truth my ‘appendages' were starting to be more than a bit of a distraction, the last thing I needed was Mad making it an issue. The fact that I, a fifteen (well nearly) year-old boy, sport a generous 34B chest is something I don't exactly advertise. I thought my sports bra's hid them pretty well but who am I kidding, even the train conductor called me miss!
“Jump in Drew, I'll sort your bike.”
The drive across to Warsop seemed quicker than ever, Mad was full of questions; I guess my own could wait a while as I would be in town till Wednesday.
“Drew! Lets have a look at you.” She held me at arms length and looked me over. “Well you've certainly grown.”
Not her too!
“A full centimetre since October, I'm still the shortest in my class though.” Yeah I know a couple of my mates are shorter but I did say my class.
“I hope you're hungry, I've done a roast.”
“Hmm I wondered what the pong was.”
“Get on with you!” she gave me a friendly push towards the dining room.
I hadn't realised how much I missed Aunt C's cooking. Don't get me wrong, we hardly starve at home but Mad's Mum somehow manages to make things just that little bit yummier. Not only that but we don't often get a roast at home – the last time was when Gran was over at Christmas. I guess you get used to the local cuisine but a proper roast with Brussels, peas and carrots, roast and mashed tatties and proper thick gravy – hmmmm! And getting lamb in Germany is like finding a vineyard in Yorkshire!
“Mum, this is Drew!”
“Hey! Er please.”
“Spotted dick or ice cream?”
Not exactly a choice is it?
“Spotty dick please.”
“Think I'll join Drew.”
I found myself yawning and not paying attention to Mad's latest tale of shopping.
“Think I'll hit the sack.”
“Aw, I was gonna show you the con pics.”
“I'm asleep sat here, it's been a long day.”
“Mad, let the boy go to bed, you can bore him tomorrow.” Uncle John put in.
I got an escort up to the guest room.
She had plonked herself on the bed.
“I wanna change.”
“You know, get naked? Me Tarzan, you Jane?”
“It never bothered you before.”
Maybe not but for some reason I felt shy in front of this young woman and I didn't feel so comfortable with the idea now.
“Oh alright, see you in the morning.”
“Yeah, nite Mad.”
After a few nights in the Belle Vue Travelodge, the bed in the Peters spare room was bliss. However a little after two I still found myself staring at the ceiling. It was weird being back in Warsop, my home for fourteen years, and not feel at home! Although we've been in Germany less than a year, Dernau really feels like home, this weekend I've had to concentrate on using English – I spent ten minutes telling the guys about the boar incident on Friday before Josh interrupted to ask for the English version! How weird is that?
How many times have I slept in this room? Twenty, thirty times maybe, it never felt strange, well okay it was a bit weird being Gaby overnight a couple of times but now it sort of feels like I'm a visitor.
The moon was bright enough to illuminate the room quite well through the curtains.
Even this room seemed alien, there's different stuff in here, and even the wallpaper has been changed. It's familiar but not entirely. I lay staring into nothing for goodness knows how long before the z's finally got the better of me.
Maddy Bell 20.11.08 © 2008
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