A Cheering Thought
Being a ‘fish and chipper'*, the event uses a smallish circuit of about 26km covered four times with about another ten getting to and from the circuit from Julich. To get to my spot I can ride ten kilometres across the middle of the circuit directly to Titz – no I'm not making it up, that's the name of the village, honest. Maybe twenty minutes if I get my head down, that means I should get there as the race starts which should give me a clear twenty minutes to get organised.
The countryside hereabouts is pretty flat apart from the immense spoil heaps and huge brown coal excavations that caused them, my route barely moved from level. I've opted to wear summer weight cycling tights, I'm glad I have as the roads are still a bit damp and its spraying up my legs a bit despite putting my Race Blades™ on. I was researching this with Goggle Earth last night, and the bus shelter was exactly where it should be, a semi enclosed wooden shed type thing just outside the village.
Ten o'clock, they'll be starting now so I've got to get a move on. I stowed my bike and started to strip off, I took the precaution of putting my cycling kit over my other stuff before I left home. Trainers on, pull the skirt up, fix my hair, check the time – quarter past, pull out the accessories, a couple of quick stretches, ready. From my hidey-hole you can see the road for about a kilometre so I'd have plenty of warning of their approach.
‘Goodness knows what Drew's got in that bag.' Roni thought to herself as her diminutive friend set off for the circuit, especially as his Dad would be parked on the course.
She lined up with the smallish field, as usual there were a couple of familiar faces but the majority of the field were definitely smaller beer to the point of staring at her in her Apollinaris strip, their club jersey's looking bland and distinctly amateur: their problem not hers. For the first time since signing with the team Ron was starting a race alone, which was a bit weird, but the Direktor was still here and Drew would be on the circuit too.
A starting pistol set them off and they peeled away from the school forecourt, the race neutralized until they left the town proper. Ron stayed out of trouble towards the front of the peloton , the pace decidedly steady until they reached the circuit proper. One of the local lads had a go off the front but in true amateur style even his teammates worked to pull him back!
The other more experienced riders kept out of the way, no doubt harbouring similar thoughts to Ron, let them get it out of their system then blow them out.
“Stay with it Ron!” Dave encouraged from the roadside – yeah this level of event didn't run to following cars, a local shop is supplying neutral service.
The road slipped under the motorway and she suppressed a giggle at the sign for the next village – I mean Titz, it's got to be a wind up!
There they are, the flashing light of the lead car tracing their progress until I could see riders behind, here goes nothing. I stepped out to the roadside.
“Go ‘pollinaris, go ‘pollinaris, you're the ones, Roni's the one, the queen today, go Roni, yay!”
With a final flourish I leaped in a star jump shaking my poms as the bunch perambulated past. I watched them head towards the huge mound that the circuit skirts, once out of sight I returned to ‘my' hut. Yeah, I felt like a right prune out there but the look on some of their faces was more than worth it!
I pulled my trackie top back on, they won't be back for forty minutes and there's no point in getting cold. Well cold is of course subjective, the sun's trying to break out but it's hardly t shirt weather even so. Of course the inspiration for this morning's antics came from telling the girls about my cheer squad back in the UK, I dunno why but I thought it'd be a bit of a lark.
So here I am in full Foresters** uniform, my hair in pigtails with an Apollinaris shirt pulled over the top – yup I look a right dork. The wait wasn't too bad, a flask of coffee and a pack of Choko Liebnitz™ biscuits occupied my time.
“Go ‘pollinaris, go ‘pollinaris, you're the ones,” what the heck? “Roni's the one, the queen today, go Roni, yay!”
She had to shake her head to convince herself she really had just seen and heard an American style cheerleader at the side of the road, cheering her and wearing an Apollinaris shirt – nah, couldn't be, that was most definitely a girly girl, pig tails and all. There were some murmurings around the bunch as they headed towards the looming mountain ahead.
They were nearly around the initial lap when the first serious move was made; a tall lad Ron recognised from the trip to Aachen at the beginning of the year took a bit of a flier. Well it was getting a bit pedestrian; she snicked into a higher sprocket and accelerated in pursuit.
‘Be here soon.' I told myself checking the time on my cycle computer, ‘ W onder if anyone's made a move yet?'
I got up and did a few stretches again before slipping off my trackie and picking up my pom poms.
‘What was it now? Oh yeah, do do Ron Ron, go Apollinaris, dig in Ron!'
I ran through my chant a couple more times before I spotted the flashing lights again announcing the race's return to Titz.
‘Do do Ron Ron, go Apollinaris, dig in Ron!'
Ron grinned to herself at the little blonde's antics, it was definitely Drew – go girl, go!
“Was that real?” one of her breakaway companions asked no one in particular.
“Looked real to me,” another lad confirmed, “not only that, she was damn cute too.”
“Not many.” A third added.
In all they numbered eight, Ron and seven lads, four of which she half recognised but they all seemed to know each other, she was the outsider, the outsider with maybe an ace in the hole. The pace was faster now, almost five K faster, the bulk of the race now scattered to the winds behind them.
‘Hmm, I wonder.'
Dave realised the second time Roni passed him that he hadn't seen Drew yet, surely he'd have at least give him a shout? There had been a couple of groups of riders go past, maybe Drew had tagged onto one of those and not seen him? If there was anything up he'd call wouldn't he?
The plan was to see Ron through on the next lap then head counter clockwise around the circuit back towards the finish, to that end Drew started organising everything for a quick change and getaway. A last cup of coffee emptied the flask, the final couple of biscuits allowed the packet to become the property of Titz refuse disposal, the ride back would be with less weight and bulk.
Ten minutes until they are due again.
‘Lets see now, Go for it Ron, you're the one, Apollinaris, one, one, won!' it seemed like it would work, he ran through the moves a couple of times before jigging about to keep warm as he waited.
“Nice one , Ron, keep it up girl!” Dave shouted to his squad's representative as the leaders slipped by.
‘Come on Ron, don't just sit there, take it to ‘em.' He thought to himself as the rest of the race started to filter past.
‘I hope he's still there, wish I could tell him my plan.' Ron thought to herself as they headed towards the bridge under the autobahn.
‘Here goes.' Drew whispered under his breath as the lights once more indicated the race's imminent arrival.
‘Go for it Ron, you're the one, Apollinaris, one, one, won!' I sang out shaking my thang in the direction of the riders.
“Talk about a babe!”
“Wonder who she's cheering?”
“She's certainly cheered me up.”
“Look at those tits!”
The break were to a man concentrating on the cute blonde jigging her stuff at the roadside. To a man but not a woman! Ron took her chance and put the hammer down taking over twenty metres before her fellow breakaways noticed. She had been taking notes on tactics all season, usually taking her cue from her unwitting accomplice back in Titz.
She wasn't a great triallist but she was improving, this was a chance to see how well she could do the job. Head down, hands on the drops, she concentrated on a steady cadence and on getting the speed into the forties and keeping it there. Behind her was apathy, after all it's only a girl, she'll never stay away so why bother chasing.
Drew watched the rest of the race go by before starting on the quick-change element back to cyclist. Off with the skirt, tights on, undo hair, shoes on, stuff everything in the rucky, helmet, ready.
I slipped onto the road and after clipping in stood on the pedals to get up to speed. I hadn't noticed earlier but there was a bit of breeze blowing across the flatlands, enough to get me hoping that the motorway embankment would give some shelter! Beyond the motorway the road turned enough to put the wind on my rear quarter and I relished the extra bit of speed it afforded. I was lost in thought as I approached the next village.
I slammed the brakes on and did a quick loop back to where Dad was standing .
“Geez, kiddo, no wonder I'm always changing brake blocks.”
“I don't usually use them.” I countered.
“Where've you been? I thought you were riding round?”
I gave a shrug, “I found a bus shelter a couple of K back, thought I'd camp out for a bit.”
“Not exactly exciting is it?”
“Dunno, Ron's in the break.”
“I guess she's fairly handy in a sprint,” Dad conceded, “you want a lift back, I doubt you'll get to the finish before them from here.”
Dad stowed my steed while I put my trainers back on, we'd barely finished when the lead car hove into view.
“Looks like there's an escapee.” Dad noted.
“It's Ron! come on Ron, dig dig!”
“Hold it together Ron!”
Our girl zipped through, a look of grim determination on her face although I swear she winked at me. The chasers, well followers , were best part of a minute down, we waited for them to pass before jumping in the van. We pulled onto the road and set off in the same direction, turning onto the motorway slip just before we caught them.
We only went one junction; at a high rate of knots it has to be said, then off and into Julich once more. The road was already closed for the finish so we couldn't get in the car park; Dad popped the van onto the pavement. We quickly locked up and jogged down to where a reasonable little crowd awaited the finale, unaware of what was going on out on the road.
Ron glanced at her comp, four to go if they were accurate, she'd risked a quick glance behind on the long left hander past the man made mountain, the chasers were still coming, there could be no relaxing. The turn off the circuit was a tight right-hander that spat her out onto the almost straight approach to the finish. The chasers crossed the overpass as the lead car went under, maybe four hundred metres in it.
“Do you reckon she'll make it?”
“Even if she doesn't she's given it a fair shot.” Dad allowed.
Everyone turned their attention up the road towards the approaching lead vehicle. You couldn't see any riders yet then I spotted a bunch further behind the car than you'd expect.
“Looks like they caught her.” Dad sighed.
“Yeah,” I agreed watching as the car pulled off the road, “no they haven't!”
There, ploughing a solitary furrow along the road was Ron.
“Keep it going Ron!” Dad hissed.
“Come on Ron!” I shouted towards her.
“What're you doing girl? Don't sit up now!”
Ron wasn't sitting up, far from it; she straightened her jersey and came at us with renewed energy. Behind her the lads were winding up for the sprint but it was too little too late. With a last look behind Ron sat up and punched the air in delight crossing the line with a good ten metres to spare.
The partisan crowd hadn't been silent of course, it felt strange to be on this side of things, shouting to encourage ‘your' rider, the cheering is just a wall of noise. We caught up with Ron a little beyond the finish area slumped over her bars.
“You okay, girl?” Dad asked as he draped a jacket around her.
“Gott that was hard.” She puffed.
*A local event, not part of any important series. The name derives from the custom in the UK, before cash prizes were allowed, of getting local businesses to sponsor the events, often with vouchers for their business.
** In case you've forgotten, that's the Warsop College cheerleading squad.
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 08.11.2011