Although my ankle was still a bit swollen and I've got a few colourful bruises, with the Mittelrhein on at the weekend I couldn't really afford to miss another days training. As a result of such thinking I was up with the sparrows and by six thirty I was honking up the climb into Altenahr. The Mittelrhein is at least not a premier series event, just a regional event on the other side of the river so we get to experience the intricacies of the Westerwald's climbs.
My ankle complained once or twice but given that this was my first ride since Sunday I didn't feel too bad overall. I found myself humming Irgendwie, Irgendwo, Irgendwann (Somehow, Somewhere, Sometime) by Nena, it was on the radio before I came out, it sort of felt like the right sort of rhythm and its one of those tunes that gets stuck in your mind.
The humming turned into what I considered to be a fair rendition of the actual lyrics, which got me a few bemused looks as I rode up through the town. Yep even at this time of the morning there are plenty of people about, walking dogs, going for the paper, getting the breakfast rolls – morning stuff.
Out of the town, over the level crossing and the long sweep past the campsite, I ride this so often that I'm pretty much on autopilot. At the top I took the Münstereifel road and started the climb up towards the Effelsberg, first along the valley bottom then the series of hairpins that lift you up to the radio telescope finally broke my singing/humming.
At the top I took the road down to Mahlberg via the Michelsberg climb, all 500 plus metres of it. That's the hard work over with, now, with very little break, its downhill all the way home. I started humming to myself again, a mixture of Nena, Queen, Sheryl and Shania, the road zipped away under my wheels and I felt on top of the world.
The sky promised a good day ahead, just a few wispy clouds marring an otherwise pristine blue sky. My cadence hovered at the higher end of my range as my twelve sprocket powered me downhill at speeds reaching as high as sixty-five kph. At those speeds, even if you are riding alone, it can get a bit iffy balancing on maybe five square centimetres of rubber with only a very tentative grip on terra firma. It certainly gets the adrenalin pumping!
Onto the Ahrtal road and back towards Altenahr and home, at Ahrbrück the Express was just about ready to depart, hmm a race is on. I settled into a tuck and once more concentrated my effort on riding, if I can get to the crossing before the train its quite possible to beat it down to Dernau.
Although the zug passed me easily to reach the first stop ahead of me, it did and I didn't which small lead allowed me to reach Kreuzberg still ahead. Yes! It was tight, the alarm started sounding as I half bunny hopped over the lines into Altenahr. To win this one you can't relax and I pushed hard over the bridge, having to dodge early shoppers and delivery vans almost round to the tunnel.
I heard the train sound its whistle as it departed Altenahr Bahnhof just before I entered the tunnel that leads into the gorge. Keep it smooth kiddo, around fire station turn, right, left, brake, right, sprint, brake – the train cluttered across the viaduct high above. The pressure is still on and I get the shorter route to Mayschoß before the loop round to Rech. I was still ahead going past the station, but only just. With a determined last out of the saddle effort I turned into our road and past the Dernau sign as the Express overtook me.
Sitting up and freewheeling I punched the air, yes! Beat it, that's four times since Easter. I rolled along to our ‘palace' and up our drive to come to a halt outside the garage cum workshop. I was still well pumped twenty minutes later as I pulled a pair of tights on, it was too good a day to wear trousers so I'd decided on shorts but the hose meant I felt less ‘exposed' in the quite short shorts the girls almost insisted I bought a few weeks ago.
Hmm, not a bad look I guess, does my bum look big in this?
“Gabs has got her legs out so it must be a good day.” Steff chuckled when I arrived at Thesing's.
“I'm not sure about these shorts,” I mentioned, “they're a bit um short.”
“It's the fashion.” Pia noted.
“I don't see any of you wearing them.”
“We don't have your legs.” Brid complained.
I looked at my pins, “yeah I see your point.” It was difficult keeping a straight face.
“So did your Kusine have any ideas for the con?” Anna enquired.
“She just confirmed my thoughts really.”
“Which are?” Steff hinted.
“Well we can use our dance outfits for one.”
“We said that yesterday.” Pia pointed out.
“She suggested recycling the stuff we wore to that thing at Phantasialand, it'll be easier than starting from scratch.”
“Quicker too.” Anna agreed.
“Its not like we have to go as specific characters or anything.” I added.
“Madchen! Es ist Zehn vor acht.” Frau Thesing prompted.
We hurriedly collected our belongings, lunch and bikes and headed off f't nuther day ‘t mill.
The rest of the week was uneventful, sometimes it goes like that – reasonable weather, training – my ankle recovered enough that I even went to the Garde on Friday evening. And so another weekend is upon us.
“Who's that?” I'd picked up my squalling handy without looking at who it was.
“Me of course.”
“Fancy the pool today?”
“Thought we were shopping?” I countered.
“It's too nice to traipse around the stores, Pia and Steff are up for it, not tried the others yet.”
“'Kay I guess, what time?”
“Ten at the Bahnhof, we can go to Remagen.”
“Ten it is, tschuss.”
Hmm, a lazy day at the pool, sounds good to me.
Of course even a lazy day needs plenty of organising, what to wear, sunscreen, food, what not to wear! Unlike my friends, I was certainly not dressing to catch the boys, far from it but hey, I can look good if I want to. And if people think I'm a girl I guess that means I dress like one for the pool too.
“And just where do you think you are going dressed like that?” Dad enquired.
“Don't you think it's a bit, ahem, revealing?”
Geez, parents, its not like it's a micro bikini, I like to be fully covered thank you!
“Da-ad.” I moaned in true hard done by offspring fashion. “I've worn it before.”
“I'm not gonna walk down the street in just this.” So okay I was only wearing my white bikini.
“I should hope not, in fact I know not.”
“I'm gonna wear a sun dress over this okay?”
“I suppose so, I don't want to be responsible for any RTA's.”
“Just saying, now get dressed.”
We looked a right group of sirens as we waited for the Ahrtal Express to arrive. In the end there were just the four of us, Pia, Connie, Steff and me, all of us looking the height of teen sophistication – well we thought so.
Is it really only a year since I first made this trip with my then new friends? How things have changed, back then I was just about press ganged into wearing a girl's cozzie, well okay they did think I was a girl. Now here I am choosing to wear girl's stuff to go with them – what difference a year can make, especially a year of being Gaby just about 24/7.
“You girls look nice - the Lido?” Myleen cheerily greeted us.
“Yeah, need to top up the tans.” Steff replied.
“Well don't get burnt.”
“Factor thirty.” I brandished a large bottle of the stuff.
“Have a good day, looks like I've got some customers.”
The Express eased into platform three and not having a connection to make we took our time exiting the Bahnhof. It's a fair walk to the pool, maybe twenty minutes so the four of us ambled through the town and out towards the leisure complex. The air was rent by much juvenile shouting and general excitement, clearly we weren't alone in our thoughts, and an already full bike park confirmed that.
“More eye candy.” Pia grinned.
“You've got a one track mind.” Connie noted.
“And you haven't?” P suggested.
“I have Gaby.” Con grabbed my arm in dramatic fashion.
“I didn't know you cared.” I hammed.
“You two!” Steff declared.
We paid our entry and joined the throng inside.
“Over there, by the fence?” Connie suggested pointing to a patch of grass on the far side of the enclosure.
“Looks good.” I agreed.
The main pool was fairly packed with people enjoying themselves, not the rigid structure of swim or not that pools at home tend towards. Several volleyball courts had games in progress and the grass was pretty busy with people, mostly girls, sunning themselves under an already warm sun.
Our selected spot wasn't in a prime location of course but it would benefit from less direct traffic and by my reckoning, some shade in a couple of hours. We made ourselves comfortable, blankets, supplies and of course removal of outer garments. (Don't be daft; we all had our cozzies on underneath what we'd travelled in.)
“Geez Gab.” Steff declared.
“Your back, you have some lovely bruises.”
“You should have seen them last week.”
“Nice costume.” Pia offered.
“You certainly have an interesting tan Gabs.” Connie observed.
And indeed I go from pretty much white to quite a deep tan delineated by assorted lines from cycling kit, running kit and softened in places by occasional wearing of skirts and dresses.
“Best get some cream on her ladyship.” Steff noted.
For the next ten minutes or so we took turns slathering each other in protective gunk before taking station to catch a few rays. Even though I wear glasses most of the time when I'm riding, the ridiculously oversized, white-framed things on my face now made me feel a bit daft.
There's kind of a protocol at the lido and we were following the expected moves. First you let everyone see you, then you maybe take a dip, go for a drink possibly to be seen after which you might either get involved with some sort of activity that might provide interaction with the opposite sex – and then, well I'm not going any further. Leastways that's what the girls do – not that I'm interested in stage three particularly, no, at all.
“He looks alright, in the red shorts.” Pia suggested.
“Got a girlfriend, that blonde on the lounger.” Steff noted.
How can she tell? I'll never work out how girls know these things.
And so the day started, a chance to relax away from school, bike racing and the daily grind in general. I let the others discuss the boys; I laid back and let the conversation wash over me, soon falling into a happy doze.
to be continued....
Maddy Bell 08.06.11 © 2011