I arrested my forward motion and slumped over the handlebars totally spent.
"Fer fecks sake, where did you come from man?" Josh panted as he pulled up beside me.
I was still gasping air and just shook my head.
The two mums were soon with us and, well the whole team were soon gathered round wearing tired but cheesy grins.
"Way to go Drew!" Roni offered.
"So who got what?" dad asked when he joined us.
"Looks like Drew got it on the line." Gret supplied.
"It's a photo." Dieter advised.
"Get some clothes on people, it might be a few minutes before we get a decision."
We were waiting nearly fifteen minutes amongst an expectant crowd before the PA crackled into life.
"Thank you all for your patience, the judges have had quite a job deciding on the result from such an unprecedented finish. So without further ado here are the first three in reverse order. Third at half a wheel. Josh Waugh Team Apollinaris."
"Way to go!" Tali cheered as he made his way to the podium.
I could see Hans looking less than happy across the way.
"In second place at two tyres, Veronike Grönberg Team Apollinaris."
There was a big cheer and Hans looked gutted.
"And in first place, our series leader, Drew Bond Team Apollinaris!”
I never cease to enjoy that feeling and I was beaming big style.
“Before we present the prizes it wouldn't be fair to not mention the other riders. So close was the finish that the official split from third to fourth was a tyre, fifth a further half wheel and sixth another tyre. So congratulations to Hans Braubecker, Greta Luchow and Thalia Schmidt who put the first six within a single bicycle length after over 150 kilometres of racing, well done.”
The crowd were generous in their applause.
“The keen amongst you might have spotted that not only have Team Apollinaris supplied our podium but a further two riders in the top six so congratulations too to their team manager Dave Bond.”
I could see Dad colour up as he waved in acknowledgement of the name check.
“And now without further delay, Heinrich Wassermann from our main sponsors today, the Beck Brewery.”
I won't bore you all with a blow by blow of the awards ceremony other than to mention that Herr Wassermann obviously thought I was of the fairer sex as he insisted on kissing my hand rather than shaking it – I mean, do I look like a flippin' girl? Um best you don't answer that one.
Anyhoo, eventually we got to visit the shower facilities, mobile things like that race in Aachen and I got to get out of one lot of borrowed togs and into another.
“If I didna know man I'd think ya were like a real card carrying female like.” Josh supplied when we reassembled to find an eaterie.
“Well for now at least this is me, take it or leave it.” I sighed.
“I think she looks cute.” Roni put in.
“But deadly like,” Josh riposted, “just where did you come from, I looked back after we turned into the finish and youse were still like not on us.”
“She fired up the nitro.” Gret opined with a grin.
“Yeah it took all our strength to hang on to her.” Tali added.
“You lot wanting to eat?” Dad enquired from the adult posse.
“Not many!” I enthused.
“Get with it then, Dieter got us a table at the Becks restaurant on the square.”
“Nice.” Gret allowed.
Here in Bremen the sun was now fiercely out and the wind less noticeable which I was rather glad of as I was currently custodian to one of Tali's sundresses. I should mention that I would have been quite happy to wear the stuff I travelled up in last night except I managed to drop a particularly messy piece of pizza in my lap when we ate. So anyway I doubt I could look a great deal more girly than I do what with the sleeveless frock and my hair held off my face by one of Roni's fancy barrettes.
The restaurant has a typically German external seating area and our table was under one of the large umbrellas protecting patrons from the sun. These brewery restaurants are always very popular and date back to the origins of the breweries as inns.
We had a great meal, the adults chatting among themselves whilst the riders dissected the race from each person's own perspective. Thus we got to share each other's doubts and experience, learning more about each other's strengths and potential.
“The look on that Braubecker kid's face when they gave the result.” Roni noted.
“He's been dominating the northern events, I think he's podiumed every race until today.” Gret noted.
“And to get beaten by a girl must've been galling.” I added.
“Don't forget Roni like.” Josh dived in.
“That's who I meant.”
“I'm betting Hans thinks its two Drew.” Tali stated.
“If he saw you filling out that dress better than I do he'd be in no doubt.” She continued.
Why is it that we don't see ourselves like others do? In my mind I'm a boy with breasts, to others they don't see the boy at all, even people like Josh who I've known for a while.
“So we'll see you in a fortnight.” Dad told the northern contingent.
“Yeah, I'll talk to you in the week Dave.” Dieter mentioned shaking his hand.
“See you soon guys.”
“Bye Drew.” Tali gave me a hug.
“Aye bonny lass.” He grinned in reply to which I took a swipe at him.
We climbed into our respective transports and turned opposite directions out of the car park.
“Penny for ‘em?” Roni enquired.
“Just thinking about Bernie.”
“I hope she is okay, the baby and stuff.”
“It just seems so unfair Ron, we're out here eating in restaurants, chatting with friends and stuff but she's locked up with no one.”
“She'll be fine, the time will go quickly and then you'll be in England and can see her in the summer.”
“Come on Drew, you should be happy, you rode a great race today.”
“You didn't do bad yourself.” I pointed out.
“I couldn't have done what you did.”
“That wasn't luck.” Roni stated seriously.
“Whatever,” I could feel the colour rising in my cheeks, “so what about Tali and Josh?”
“You saw that too?”
“You'd need to be blind not to.”
“You think he knows?”
“I doubt it.”
“I'd say she's well smitten.”
“Maybe Josh needs a bit of a prod next time we see him.”
“Drew Bond you little stirrer!”
I thought back over what had just passed; hmm maybe I've been hanging around the girls too long.
“Come on kiddo, school and don't forget your mother gets home this afternoon.”
As if I would but school – I'm cream crackered after yesterday.
“Yes Dad.” I sighed heaving myself out of my nest.
At least on Mondays at school here I don't have to go through Woody's embarrassing monologs about achievers, I never did find out who his spy was. At least Frau Boxberg is a bit more subtle restricting such proclamations to the school web news.
“You look terrible Gab.” Anna opined when I slunk into Thesing's.
“Didn't you sleep?” Steff asked.
“I did ride over 150 kay yesterday.” I pointed out.
“Win?” Con enquired.
“Of course.” I grinned buffing my nails on my blouse – so okay I'm wearing a skirt as well, the Sun is out you know! “Roni got second and Josh got third.”
“Who's Josh?” Pia queried.
“This lad from England I know, he rides for the team up north.”
“English eh?” Brid kinda mooned.
“From Geordie land.” I enlarged.
“Not heard of that, is it like Schottland?” Brid pursued.
“Well that direction, Newcastle sort of area.”
How did she get that from what I said?
“Well I think Tali has the hots for him and she lives a bit closer.”
“So where does he live?” Anna had to ask.
“Up near Celle, Lüneberg.”
“Hmm, maybe a bit far I guess.” Pia chuckled.
“Sandwiches madchen!” Frau Thesing interrupted which signalled our impending departure for the Ahr Gymnasium.
Of course school is school – with the school dance behind us and end of year exams looming the day passed in a swirl of mediocrity, only Mums expected arrival back home making the day more tolerable. But then of course I'm going to get the third degree about the wedding in person, joy.
There was no one at home when I returned to Schloss Bond so I collected together my borrowed and dirty clothing from the weekend and put the washer on. A quick wiz around with the hoover, with Jules hardly ever here I get to do most of the household chores, then into the shower. By the time I emerged the washer had done its deed and so I was hanging stuff on the airer when our car returned to the drive.
“You can do mine if you want.”
I dropped the basket on the veranda and rushed to embrace a very tanned and lean Mum. I'm not sure why but the ol' waterworks started, first me and then Mum.
“Give it a rest you two or you'll flood the valley.” Dad opined.
“Hey give a girl a chance,” Mum sniffed, “I've not seen my daughter for weeks.”
to be continued....
Maddy Bell 17.05.11 © 2011