“Fancy a change of pace next weekend?” Dad enquired.
“I thought it was the Three Countries.”
We were sat, as we had been for twenty minutes, in a traffic jam at Leverkusen, Dad having elected not to hang about too long after Angela had fed us.
“That's Saturday, how'd you fancy doing a time trial on Sunday?”
“Instead of the RTF?”
“Unless you'd prefer that?
“Forty I think it is.”
“Count me in!” I enthused, “is Ron doing it?”
“Possibly, its not part of the programme so its her call.”
Thoughts of me demonstrating my masterly time trialling technique flashed through my head, after all it's in the genes, Mum did finish second in the Mexico Worlds trial two years ago after all.
The frikadel were repeating a bit, not that there was anything wrong with them, but maybe combined with salad and followed by not chocolate cake but a rather pleasant strawberry torte topped off with cream. Hmm maybe it isn't just the frikadel.
“Good ride out there today.” Dad mentioned as we inched forward.
“We both kind of misread it though.”
“We thought we were away clear but the bunch came back up to us.”
“Right, but you still won.”
“Yeah but Ron missed the podium probably because we had to attack so near the finish.”
“You might be right,” Dad allowed, “so what could you have done differently?”
“Not sure, maybe attacked harder at Linz, we pretty much rode the climb at our own pace, we could have had a bigger buffer at the top and still recovered enough for the descent.”
“That might have worked, what about if you'd stayed with the main bunch and kept things together until the last climb?”
“Difficult to do with just two of us.”
“I'll give you that.”
“Might also have left more of the opposition fresher.” I suggested.
“Well if it makes you feel better, if I'd been handing out orders today they would have been pretty much what you did, I expected your break to have more members which would in turn have weakened any chase. There are too many variables to get it right every time.”
“Soo Gabriela, when are you and his Baron ness seeing each other again?” Anna asked.
“We are not seeing one another.” I stated through gritted teeth.
“‘S'not what I heard.”
“Look, we just happened to be at the lido at the same time, ask the others.”
“Already did – I was sure you'd crack.”
“Let her be Anna.” Steff chided my interrogator.
“You're no fun.” Anna pouted.
“By the way,” Brid started, “I managed to book the rooms for next week.”
“Go on, how much?” Nena enquired.
“Sixty five a night.” Brid supplied.
“Sixty five!” Pia screeched.
“That's for the room not each.”
“Hmm, I guess that's not so bad.” Con allowed.
“I reckon if we all chuck in sixty five it'll cover breakfast too.” Brid suggested.
“Oh yeah, I asked Dad yesterday, he'll take us up on Friday afternoon in the team bus.” I added.
“That saves a bit.” Steff noted.
We sailed through the gate and down to the bike park, our arrival at school halting further discussion.
With the school year drawing to a close, we finish next week, a lot of our courses are either drawing to a conclusion or winding down with assurances that there'll be plenty of homework coming our way in short measure.
Its not just school that's winding down, Friday will be my last day as Weinkönigin; we are all off up to Pia's for the announcement of the new incumbent of the title. Of course there's no escaping having to get gussied up for it either but at least, in theory, I can drop the pretence of being a girl.
So as you might expect the rest of the week was fairly uneventful, a bit of teasing over Saturday but for those living in the upper valley, Fridays approaching festivities were the main subject of conversation.
“Six thirty.” I confirmed before ending the call.
Geez this sucks, if I remember from before, the carriage ride is hardly the most comfortable journey and I have to wear a ridiculous dress too. At least I won't be alone; Connie and Analise get to suffer with me, all the way from Dernau to Rech, clippity clop.
“Can you give me a hand Jules?” I shouted down the canyon of the stairwell.
“If I must.” She moaned back.
A minute later Goth Gurl was stood in my room having hysterics.
“You've got to be kidding.”
“Hey I didn't get to pick it!”
“It looks worse than what Charlie had to wear at her cousins wedding last year.”
In truth it wasn't so much the dress itself, quite an elegant floor length sheath that doesn't show too much of my assets, no it's the colour, a rather unforgiving lime green with a sort of purple fleck.
“Could you like zip me up, I can't reach.”
“Well you wouldn't get me in something like this full stop.” She opined pulling the zip into place.
“At least it's the last time they get to do this to me.”
“Given your recent track record you don't need help, I suppose you want help with your hair too?”
I tottered around to the town square in my revolting frock and strappy sandals to join the others who got to wear slightly less revolting dresses. Frau Sebenschuh was on hand to do the final primping, fixing of tiaras, fitting of sashes and so on.
“Nice dress Gaby.” Analise offered with a smirk.
“I swear the committee go out of their way to dress us like clowns.”
“But you make such a lovely clown.” Con offered joining us.
“Okay ladies, if you can just stand over by the pferde, Gaby in the middle.” Herr Sebenschuh requested.
We posed as requested while the official photographer took more shots of us to add to the hundreds all ready on file from the last year. Pictures of us in dirndls, ball gowns, me in running kit, at the old folks home, the Rathaus, last years presentation – the whole nine yards.
After ‘David Bailey' * had finished we were helped up into the open carriage where we posed for more photography before the horses were encouraged into action.
“It'd be quicker walking.” I noted waving to some folk on the roadside.
“Not in these shoes.” Con mentioned.
“My feet already hurt.” Analise supplied.
The horses clopped steadily up the road towards Rech, the centre of our local wine producing industry. The ride took nearly half an hour and my posterior didn't enjoy a centimetre of it.
“And here they are the outgoing Weinkönigin, Gabrielle Bond and her court Constance Thesing and Analise Freiholz.” The MC announced our arrival to the sizeable crowd gathered in the Sebenschuh's car park.
We were helped down from our transport and escorted to the stage area.
“So Gaby, have you enjoyed your year as Weinkönigin?”
“Its certainly been interesting,“ I allowed, “and very enjoyable.”
Well you have to ham it up a bit at these events.
‘Are you sure?'
‘I'm telling you, she's the spit of her if its not.'
I looked around to try to identify the whisperers but in the see of faces there was no chance.
“And this years Weinkönigin is – Charlotte Olberg!”
The poor sacrificial cow almost skipped onto the stage to join her new entourage. Of course as outgoing title holder I had to crown the new queen, not as easy as it sounds given she was nearly ten centimetres taller than me. Still job done, I was now officially retired from office.
“Hmm?” the presentation was over, well my part of it and I was all but forgotten.
“Over here.” Pia's voice encouraged.
I looked about and finally spotted my friend waving me over. Well my curiosity was piqued so I sidled my way through the crowd.
“Come on, we can have a little drinky poo.”
“I've got a couple of bottles stashed.”
I'm not usually a drinker of more than a few mouthfuls of fermented or brewed product but for some reason, well heck, I deserve a drink!
“Come on.” She encouraged so, stopping only briefly to remove the torture devices on my feet, I followed her into the labyrinth of cellars that inhabit the hillside behind the family business.
“Where're we going?” I got out after a couple of minutes.
“You'll see, nearly there.” P replied.
We moved out of the main areas of wine production and into smaller and less travelled areas.
By now my shoeless feet were getting quite cold and I was ready to give up on this fools errand.
“She coming?” a familiar voice enquired.
“She was behind me, Gabs?”
“Here.” I allowed joining the small group in the cellar we had arrived at.
All my girls were here, Analise too, Pia's sister Ingrid and more surprising, my own elder sibling.
“We've already opened one.” Ingrid advised.
“Here you go ladies.” Anna handed each of us a small glass of what I guess was fermented vine juice.
“Are you sure this is okay?”
“Sister mine, you can be such a square.” The dark one pronounced.
“Am not.” I huffed and promptly knocked back the contents of my glass.
“Plenty more where that came from.” Ingrid stated dashing some more into my empty glass.
“Take it steady Gab, we've got all night.” Con mentioned.
* Iconic British Photographer (or Maddy Bells uncle!)
to be continued....
Maddy Bell 13.06.11 © 2011