The trip to France had been brilliant, Dave and Josef hit it off and the pair of them ha d spent both evenings in the hotel bar, Drew occupied himself by wheedling his way into the Tour ‘enclosure' a couple of kilometres along the road . The second day of their visit was a mountain time trial back up the Tourmalet so it was a rare 2-night stop for the caravan.
"So you ready for England?" Dad asked as we headed back to the airport.
"I guess so, could probably do with a few more miles though."
"I think you'll be okay, a few days to adjust to the food and weather and you'll be up and at 'em."
"I hope so." in the back of my mind I'm having some doubts though.
"You'll be fine kiddo, Caroline will look out for you and you're staying with the Peters next week."
"I know so, bum, I think we should've turned left."
The rest of the trip home was pretty uneventful, 'Juliette' passed through check in and passport control without issue and all too quickly we were searching for our car at Bonn airport. And search again.
“I'm sure it was on level three.” Dad huffed.
“It's not here now.” I observed.
Dad fruitlessly clicked the key fob again, nada.
“Looks like it's been nicked,” Dad allowed, “guess we need to report it and work out how to get home.”
To be fair, the car park people and police were pretty good and sympathetic; apparently our car had been removed on Sunday, just a couple of hours after Dad left it. It isn't any consolation but we weren't the only victims, two other thefts had been reported in the last week, both Saab's. What can you do? The car park is ‘secure' but there are ways to get around it – bring in an old junker and drive out something, er newer.
We weren't exactly overloaded with cases so rather than hire a car Dad rang Henryck Pinger who agreed to come pick us up. It'd be about an hour so we headed back into the concourse to get something to eat, as it was now eight hours after breakfast.
“Er, oh, um,” I surveyed my options, “that Gulasch?” I pointed at a pan of something vaguely food like.
“Two please, one with rice, one with frites.”
It didn't look any better after it landed on the plate but the rest of the menu was even less appealing. I got some drinks and parted with best part of twenty euros before heading to where Dad was having a slightly heated conversation on the phone. I'd delivered the food, lost the tray and sat down before Dad ended the call.
“Flipping insurance company,” He spat, so what's this?” he went on poking the food on his plate.
“Supposed to be Gulasch, tastes better than it looks.”
Understandably he wasn't in the best of humors, I stayed schtum, he'd likely give me an ear bashing if I said the wrong thing.
“Heya , Gabs!” Kat yelled when we got to the short stay parking.
“Hiya , Kat, I didn't know you were home.”
“Exams and the team's riding in Italy too.”
“How is everyone?”
“You two getting in?” Henryck enquired.
“Yes , Dad.”
We climbed into the Pinger's Passat and started the journey back to the Ahrtal.
“You really stirred things up the other week.” She mentioned after I'd spent ten minutes raving about the last couple of days.
“You know, when you went out with the team?”
“Yeah, boss man said the team was getting predictable.”
“Just because I guessed what they'd do?”
“If you could, the other teams could.”
The familiar tones of Drew's phone chirped from his desk.
“Don't you ever check caller ID?”
“Not usually, s'what's up?”
“What do you mean ‘you'?”
“You did go to that thing in Cologne the last week end right?”
“You know I did, what about it?”
“There's a report in this month's ‘Cosvention'.”
“So? You would kind of expect it.”
“‘Despite the thousands attending everyone I spoke to was agreed, the best player of the weekend had to be the tiny German girl doing Kamikaze Girls' Momoko.'”
“I never saw her.”
“They're talking about you , dumbo!”
“Me? I'm not German.”
“They don't know that, it's definitely you, you're on the front cover too – nice outfit by the way.”
“Don't believe you.”
“Your computer on?”
“I'll scan the cover and mail it.”
Seems that what started off with a few shots for the pimply Freddy had resulted in a thirty-minute session that had blocked up half of one hall. Drew's thoughts had been elsewhere as he blithely posed for the cameras, the picture his cousin emailed to him really brought home to him how others now saw him.
“You want more?”
"Nah don't bother, I'll be there on Sunday anyway."
"Nearly forgot! I'd best brush up on my German."
“If you say so, look I have to go, I'm working the early shift at Thesing's in the morning.”
“I'll ring tomorrow, tschuss.”
Why on earth did I volunteer to get up at stupid o'clock to work in the bakery for half the day? Answers on a postcard please. I suppose it is only for a couple of days and the money is always useful – have you seen how much decent mascara costs these days? I slapped the button my alarm to silence the incessant beeping, I suppose it's good that it does wake me so thoroughly, but six o'clock!
A quick shower had me feeling considerably more awake if not in better mood, a quick bit of slap, uniform on and I'm ready. Breakfast I'll get at the shop so at twenty to seven I'm pushing the Schauff out onto the drive.
“Morning Gaby.” Con grinned.
“Urgh, how can you be so cheerful at this time?”
“We on our own?” I enquired not seeing her parents about.
“Uh huh, Dad's doing the deliveries and M um's having a lie in.”
“Nice for some. I'll get the coffee started.”
And so starts another day of menial labour for yours truly. So okay it's not that bad and it's not like it's heavy work or anything, must be my mood. Of course it might well be, let's see now, one, two, three, oh bum, it really is that time again!
As I'm doing a full shift tomorrow, that's Saturday, the girls and I are going down to the pool at Remagen this afternoon.
“You got everything?” Steff asked seeing me scrumming through my bag.
“Yeah, just finding my purse.”
“She could lose her head if it wasn't attached.” Pia noted.
“A ha!” I brandished my money container.
The Express arrived and we joined a fairly heavy load on the journey down the valley.
“You look a bit green , Gab.” Anna mentioned.
“I don't really feel that good.”
“You sure about the pool?” Con enquired.
“I'll be alright, I've got some painkillers here somewhere.”
“Ah, that sort of unwell.” P stated.
So okay I'm a wimp where this stuff is concerned! To be fair the Doc did say this might happen, I might even get a little discharge but nothing like that time up in Hamburg.
“You going out?” Dad asked.
“Yeah, I thought I'd have a quick leg stretch, doubt I'll get a chance until Tuesday otherwise.”
“Okay, but don't be out too long, we have to leave for the airport at twelve.”
“I know, I'll be back in plenty of time.”
“Just make sure you are.”
“Yes Dad.” I sighed before slipping down to the garage.
My race bike was already in a flight case so I pulled out my training hack, scooted out of the door and turned left to go up past Anna's. It still seems a bit strange that I won't be riding through the vineyards, climbing these hills or chasing the Ahr Express for the next six weeks. I suppose it will give me, and the other squad riders, a taste of a pro rider's life on the road but it is a bit daunting nonetheless.
At least the weather was still dry; the forecast reckoned we'd be getting some liquid sunshine before now. The climb out of the valley is never easy but I made relatively light work of it and was soon heading across the rolling fields towards the Bonn road. I hadn't realised that there was much air moving until I turned towards Altenahr when I felt a decent push from the wind on my back.
As I said I haven't got enough time this morning to go all the way down the new road to the top of Altenahr, besides, the old road is good fun. I flipped across the traffic and clicked up a gear to start winding things up, there's no fun in going downhill slowly! Some traffic insists on using the direct route and I was on the rear bumper of the first before we reached the first hairpin.
There is no way I'm sitting behind this plonker down through all the nice bends, so as he exited the curve I looped past with the knowledge that I can out corner just about anything except a two wheeled Mad Max. It's always useful to be able to corner at speed and knowing the road means it's a bit safer, still you need to keep on the edge to keep the adrenalin flowing. Sprint, pick a line, heave on the brakes, smoothly does it, sprint again and repeat, I counted the corners once, I think it was fifteen before you hit the long straight down into the town.
Another car and a van fell to my cornering speed, up above us I could hear the angry growl of a motorbike as the rider repeatedly braked then revved through each bend - there is no way he's beating me to the bottom! By now the eleven sprocket was already engaged and with the speedo hovering around sixty on the straights, my options for more speed were as much aerodynamic as strength. The last couple of bends were more brake, pedal through, sprint then tuck.
As I pelted out of the last bend I could hear the motorbike braking into it, come on Drewbie, you can do it. With no bends to slow me the speedo got up to seventy five at which point only more mass or a steeper drop would push it upwards. Then there it was, the town sign and the road tilted maybe a degree or two more allowing me to gain that extra five kph to hit eighty.
Now let me tell you, anything much above fifty K gets exciting, on an un-powered machine that contacts the road with a total of maybe four square centimetres, possibly less, eighty is darn right scary! Of course I'll need to drop some speed in a hurry, it goes into a fifty zone at the sign. Determined to beat the funky moped, I kept pressing it all the way, punching the air as I passed the sign at eighty-two kph.
I sat up to use myself as an air brake; at this speed the actual bike brakes are pretty useless so I need to scrub some speed before hitting them. Wheeeeeee! ABS braking then to at least get below the limit. The bright lights of the petrol station caught my attention and with it I spotted the car. Even as I saw her, I could see what she would do, question is, what am I going to do.
Right on schedule she leapt off the forecourt at all of twenty kph, blocking my road space and leaving me few options to avoid a messy impact, shitza!
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 19.12.2011