Behind us Gret and Tali had made a good job of their part in the plot, by their actions convincing the rest of the peleton that they were chasing Ron and me. That couldn't be further from the truth, they were actually running interference, okay I wouldn't've thought of it either but Dad has been round a bit longer than our fellow competitors!
I let Ron go through the prime at the front then we started riding with more purpose, through and off, through and off. We took equal turns and so far our ruse was working as a quick glance behind revealed – we were out of sight!
Meanwhile a couple of the brighter ones had worked it out and rather than letting our girls do the ‘work' they joined in the effort. Tali allowed herself to be separated from Gret, another ruse to slow the bunch down.
We turned into the Okertal and our riding efforts changed in style as we started the long climb. I wasn't 100% convinced that this would work but the twisty road is ideal for a small escape group and the two of us redefined small. The road climbed more steeply for a bit and we reached the Okertalsperre still without any company, Roni was already showing signs of impending difficulties and I must admit to digging quite deep.
A minute behind things had finally cracked, their job done Gret and Tali were now riding the dragon. A small break of four had taken a few metres out of the main group and on the Talsperre climb they started to close the gap to Roni and myself.
“They're coming.” Roni gasped.
“Three, no four I think.”
“Best be ready.”
We didn't dare ease the pace too much so we were riding alongside the reservoir for several kilometres before we were joined by some of the lads I'd picked out as threats back at the start. They were all bigger than me – not that that's difficult, I'd guess they were older too although that might be a size thing!
The good thing was that they were all blowing at least as much as we, the ride alongside the water had allowed me and Ron to recover a little but our new arrivals had been chasing us. So far Dad's game plan had worked, his predictions uncanny, lets hope the next bit works too.
“Geez, how did we let two girls get away like that?” one of the two RVS Salzgitter riders mentioned.
“Caught us napping I guess and we were chasing their mates.”
I kept my counsel as they overhauled us, let them think what they want; actions speak louder than words after all. Roni slipped neatly onto the fourth riders wheel and I on to hers, these lummoxes could do some work for us and as ‘girls' they'd let us hang on without participating.
The speed of our little group barely fluctuated alongside the water, I risked a look back as we took a long left-hander, the bunch wasn't dead yet but by the looks of things it was seriously depleted. Now that they'd caught us and apparently brought us to heel the lads relaxed a bit, Roni smirked at me, I did the same back before taking a good swig from my bidon. It might be cold and damp but you can still dehydrate.
Slightly worrying was the number of cars coming down the road with headlights on, it didn't look too bad ahead but we've a couple of hundred metres to climb yet.
“You okay Ron?”
“Uh huh, you?”
“So far, bit worried by the weather.”
“Yeah, lots of cars with lights.”
“That looks like our turn up ahead.”
“Best show some willing then.”
“Every ‘girl' for herself!” Roni grinned.
The lads eased for the corner allowing us to close the few metres we'd dropped off the back. After the last few k's it was a bit of a shock to find the road rearing up virtually straight away but there was a reason for my Nurburg circuits and I soon found my rhythm. Worryingly the road was now wet and there were a few wet spots landing on us too.
The guys were climbing quite comfortably at just under twenty kph; Roni wasn't too comfortable, in and out of the saddle but managing to hold the pace. We'd discussed this last night, whilst Gret is stronger she wasn't confident of her climbing and Tali doesn't do climbing too well at all so Roni drew the short straw of riding with me!
We swung to the right and as the trees opened up a nightmare came into view. Well okay maybe not nightmare but the hills in front clearly had white stuff on them and it looked like we were climbing into it.
“Shitza!” one of the Salzgitter lads exclaimed.
He pulled towards the kerb his rear tyre clearly deflating fast.
“Go for it Billy!” he called as we passed; his mate just waved a hand.
Now there are five.
By the time we reached the next corner big wet flakes were descending, settling on both the tarmac and us. We were both still ‘hanging on' at the back of the group but in these conditions that wasn't really the place to be.
“Uh?” she managed in reply.
I motioned with my head the plan, if my memory was right this was the time anyway. Roni stood on the pedals and moved up, the others more concerned with keeping going than any possible attack. The road was turning increasingly white as we climbed; the lead car was leaving clear tracks that I made sure I avoided. Well it's now or never.
Out of the saddle and I accelerated past my companions, having a dodgy moment when I crossed the tyre tracks and found my back wheel rotating but not gripping. I sat down quickly, the extra weight just sufficient to keep forward motion.
The lads were less than impressed with my move but what do I care? I dropped a gear and powered upwards through the snowflakes.
“Come on Drew, fifty to the top!” a familiar voice encouraged from the roadside.
“Up, up ‘pollinaris!” another voice joined in.
I was surprised to see quite a crowd ahead through the lights and snow. Up here the verge was white over and I needed to stay seated as I ploughed through about a centimetre of white, the lead car no longer leaving dark tyre marks, just compressing the snow. My mind went back several weeks to that training ride I did in the snow, yeah I can do this. I grinned to myself and there was a goodly cheer as I passed under the prime banner.
Behind me the snow was causing chaos. Roni did quite well until the road white'd out then she took a fright at some wheel spin, which resulted in a severe drop in pace. The lads with her weren't that keen on pursuing ‘that daft little cow', that's what Roni told me later anyhow, so whilst they passed and left Roni they were really just keeping going.
There's one thing that's certain, if you are at the top you have to come down and from the Wolfwarte it's downhill all the way to the finish just about. With the conditions being on my own was a big advantage, I could pick my line even if I did have to keep my speed in check. It wasn't so steep on this side but even so we lost height quite quickly and by the time we reached Torfhaus and the main road the tarmac was again black if covered with some slush.
Gad's my feet are cold, all this cold and wet was going directly onto them and I could barely feel them. My hands aren't much better and my ears are dropping off! At this point all I want to do is get to the finish, ‘snick' lets do it!
Although it was still snowing the road was ‘safe' and I got myself into an aero crouch and powered away. If the other lads got with it they'd most likely soon overtake me, gravity does help when descending. Hmm I hope Roni's okay, and the others.
The road's wide and well surfaced and the rolling closure meant I could use the full width of my side. Apart from the frostbite this is fun, I dropped into the eleven and let rip on the steeper descent as we approached Braunlage, the comp touched sixty at one point but where are the others? The course used the Braunlage bypass then the lead car's stop lights just warned me in time of the turn into the town.
As I descended the slip road I caught sight of the chasers just coming up to the junction, bum I hope its not too far.
The snow was thinner down here, maybe not even snow but light rain, that I can live with. My guess is that my lead is about three hundred metres, not enough to be complacent and easily lost so I dug a little deeper and closed on the lead car a bit. We hit the town and I found myself dodging manhole covers then a sharp right brought us to the main street, a quick left and the lead car sped off.
I chanced a look behind, nope no chase in sight, time for a tidy! I sat up a bit and tugged my jacket down from where it had gathered around my belly, dislodging some snow in the process. The street was fairly well peopled with spectators who cheered madly as I belted along. Mind you I think they'd have cheered anything on two wheels!
“Come on Kiddo!”
The voices were just noise as I scrambled my bike across the line. I headed to the kerb and stopped.
Dad found me moments later slumped over the bars, taking deep breath's and seeing stars.
“Well done son!”
“Roni made fourth, the others are still coming.” Dad continued.
I just nodded.
“Come on Drew, let's get you out of that wet kit.” Frau Luchow suggested throwing a space blanket over me.
“… And with a most courageous showing, our winner of the 2005 Junge Harz Grand Prix, from Team Apollinaris, Drew Bond!”
There was quite a good reception and I climbed onto the podium trying not to let my skirt show too much. The Mayor guy presented me with a trophy nearly as big as me and a girl in traditional dress gave me a bunch of flowers. I grinned for the cameras and grimaced inside. Right, you missed the bit with the skirt huh?
After the race I collected my kitbag from the Vito and headed into the Sportzentrum to use the showers and change. Thankfully there were individual cubicles sort of like you get at campsites so I can maintain some modesty. Boy was that shower ever good, I luxuriated under the warm water for ten minutes that eventually brought feeling back to most of my extremities, one seemed determined to remain hidden however! I dried off and pulled out my fresh clothes.
“Bum! Bum! Bum!”
I looked at the stuff on the bench in disgust, how the hell did this get in here? I tried to think back, oh sod! I had it out Friday night cos I was looking for the bra I bought with the HRM band sewn in. I thought I'd put that on the pile of stuff to bring with me, I must've put it on the wrong pile, shitza! I did have a t-shirt and my team fleece but my jeans were in my other bag in the Vito. Which left a choice of cold and wet cycling togs or the denim mini that now taunted me. At least I found that a pair of thick tights were folded inside it, not much of a choice really.
I carefully descended from the podium and joined the rest of the team.
“You look cute in that Drew.” Tali mentioned.
“So how come you are in a skirt, you are Kreuzkleidung?” Gret enquired.
“A er no, I erm got some of my sisters stuff in my bag by mistake, it was this or wet race kit, dry won.”
“Well I think Tali's right, you look Über cute, I like you're make up.” Roni put in.
Joy, joy, joy. Now this lot think I'm cute!
“Okay you lot, lets get out of here, I'll spring for dinner when we get to Goslar.”
Ha! I'll be able to get my jeans before we get there.
We headed north out of Braunlage and soon discovered that it was still snowing higher up.
“We'll go the long way round.” Dad stated turning onto the Torfhaus road.
“Ron, could you pass my ruckie over?”
“Where is it?”
“Just behind you I think.”
Roni twisted around to look for my bag.
“Hmm, can't see it, what colour is it?”
Maddy Bell 20.02.09 © 2009