"What did I tell ye, Vic?" Chris grinned at the dark haired woman slumped over her bars.
"All right, you win," she gasped.
"Pity we canna take th' lassie wi' us."
"Thanks for the support."
"Och ye ken I didna mean it that way, ye haf tae admit she has thae legs."
"No doubting that, big boy."
"You won, Drew!" Laura was nearly bouncing.
"Good," I panted.
"You beat Vicky Pendleton and all you can say is good?"
"What do you want me to say? She's probably saving herself."
"Look after that one, Steve," Dave Brailsford suggested.
"We will," Steve agreed.
"You realise that both of them were inside the record for that last lap?"
"You don't think we should swap the kid to the track squad?"
"No let's stick with plan A we can assess how its going when I get back from Athens, if young Bond takes after the mother we might just have found our catalyst."
"I dinna think ye can learn much from me." Chris suggested as we circled the track a while later.
"That's not true, what about the tactics an' stuff?"
"Ye learn that frae experience not books, ye have a canny mind in that head of yers, ah've seen you riding and ye've some to learn but not from me."
"So like why are we doing this then?"
"Ma boss wants tae see whit ye can do one on one, if yer up fa' it?"
Up for it? You kidding, me against the Chris Hoy, not many!
Shreeeee! The whistle set us off, Drew and Goliath I felt like a doll next to CH. Chris led off and even I know enough that that gives me the upper hand. We rolled around the boards at not much more than a snail's pace, Chris watching me over his shoulder.
“Come on, Drew!”
I feinted towards the inside, my foe was moving before I'd completed the thought, sugar he's good. No point in going for a long one, he's far more powerful than me, no my best bet is to hold off for as long as possible.
DING DING DING!
One lap left, I moved up the banking, Chris matching me, lessening any potential gravitational advantage I might gain. If Chris took off I'd likely struggle to get on terms and I could sense that he was getting twitchy, okay, as soon as he turns away. I was perhaps a little too quick, he must have caught my movement out of the corner of his eye, I had that fraction of a second though and I was committed.
I surged forward trying to take as much advantage as possible from my slightly raised starting point. Chris was no slouch either of course, which actually allowed me to drop into his inside, which was all I needed. Team GB's top sprinter now had everything to do, not beyond him by any means but it gave me the slimmest of chances.
Out on the road this would be the point where I'd flick up a gear but on the boards all you can do is pedal faster and ultimately it's balancing the gearing to your optimum pedalling rate that'll win the race. I stayed seated as long as I could, Chris breathing down my neck only standing as we came out of the bend. I was vaguely aware of some shouting but I was already heading into the red fog, all my concentration going on punching the bike forward.
Chris was coming around me, was level with me even – not so fast buster! One last effort before my legs drop off, I felt rather than saw us go into the bend, sitting back down I started breathing again. I let my momentum carry my legs around, by the time I could focus on stuff again and my brain could take in my surroundings I was almost off the back straight.
There was a lot of hollering, whistling and clapping filling the late evening air of the velodrome as I caught up to Mr Hoy.
“Giz yer hand.”
I offered him my right which he raised up, effect of which was a further increase in the cacophony. We rolled to a halt on the infield where we were each helped from our steeds, my legs buckled as I went to stand up.
I was caught by a strong pair of clearly female arms.
“Er sure, just you know…” I was surprised to see my helper was Vicky P.
“Two to nil, eh, Chris?” she called over her shoulder.
“Call it quits?” he replied with a grin.
“You realise Bond that no one's been that close to the mighty Hoy for months.” Vicky observed.
“How much?” I was still a bit out of breath so long sentences were out.
“Dave? What d'ya reckon?” Chris enquired of his manager.
“Half a wheel? Here you go kid, get that down you.” He thrust a bidon into my hand.
“Wait till I tell Dad I was only half a wheel behind Chris Hoy, and Mum,” I enthused after a swig.
“Behind? No, girl, you won, Chris was half a wheel down not you,” Dave Brailsford supplied.
“What happened?” I asked the blurry shape above me.
“You fainted.” The familiar tones of Caroline's voice informed me.
“Urgh,” I allowed.
“How're we doing?” Steve's voice enquired.
“The doc wants to see the patient before we leave, we are at least awake again.”
“I'll take the others back then, speak to you later.”
“Sure,” Caro agreed, “so you okay to sit up?”
“Think so, guess I'll be off the squad now.”
“Off the squad? Whatever for?”
“I did faint.”
“Drew love, you are so not off the squad, on tonight's showing any doubts of your place have been banished to at least Mars. You not only beat Vicky with a world record speed lap but then you took Chris Hoy in his specialist event.”
“Did I hear my name being banded aboot?”
“Chris, it did come up.”
“Hoo's the patient?”
“Better.” I got out, sitting up.
“Ye gave us a wee fright there, lassie.” He mentioned coming over to join us.
“It shoulda been me fainting away, that was some canny riding oot there.”
“Thanks, you weren't so bad yourself,” I grinned back.
“I try, look I hae ta be away, early flight in the morning, you look after yer se'n ye hear.”
“I will, good luck in Greece.”
“Luck is only part of the arsenal eh?” he ruffled my hair, “I get first call on a rematch when I get back, eh?”
“You're on.” I agreed, like that's ever gonna happen.
The doc signed me off a few minutes later allowing me to rescue my kit and for Caro to chauffeur me back to the hostel.
“That was quite a show this evening.”
“I didn't mean to show off.”
“I doubt if anyone thought you were, I think you supplied a needed rump kick to the team, they're not used to being pushed so hard.”
“If you say so but I made a bit of a fool of myself.”
“By fainting? Poppycock, one of the girls throws up after every race by comparison fainting is at least clean and odour free.”
“Seriously, Drew, you are taking your medication?”
“Of course, I don't want a repeat of Hamburg.”
“Yeah that's where my erm, condition, came to a head.”
“Ah, of course, you're Dad did tell me what happened just not where.”
“In the shower of all places,” I supplied.
“Nearly forgot, you're excused tomorrow morning's ride.”
“‘Kay.” I noted without enthusiasm.
“Hey it's not a punishment, we just want to make sure you're okay after tonight.”
Manchester is never the most appealing of places and a damp midsummer night did little to change my view as we made our way back to our HQ. Geez, why did it have to be the wettest place in the country, Cornwall would at least be warmer!
Inside the hostel all was quiet, our curfew was well past, the lights were off in the dining room and lounge only the glow from the snack machine illuminating the spaces which I'd previously only seen filled with my team mates.
“Good night, Drew, see you in the morning.”
“Nite, Caro, thanks for staying with me.”
“No problem, kiddo, no problem.”
Once up in my room whilst the temptation was to crash immediately instead I did the shower thing first, it was nearly eleven thirty before I fell into bed. I'm not addicted to my Handy but I have got into the habit of checking for texts last thing – the girls often have a late night text conversation. Hmm, two messages.
‘How r u? M ing can u ring? Bye Con'
I quickly typed a reply, ‘im ok crp wet. ? want 4? G'
The other message was from Roni.
‘Hi G, we made the cover of Radrennen this monat cool huh? C u soon Roni.'
She hasn't really got the text thing down yet; often I only get half a message they are so long. I guess that is pretty good, Radrennen is a bit like the Comic only monthly so it's more difficult to get on the cover.
‘Neet. Btw beat Hoy 2nite! Tell u mr ltr. Ttfn G.'
I hit send and put the phone down. What an evening.
I must have dropped off straight away as the bedside lamp was still on when I woke to the sounds of teens being teens in the surrounding rooms. Sugar, I missed my alarm. It takes practice to go from nightdress to cycling kit in two minutes – I practice the manoeuvre far too often.
“Steve said you weren't riding this morning,” Manda mentioned when I sat down with my breakfast.
“No reason not to.”
“You did collapse last night,” Claire pointed out.
“Fainted, I fainted that's all; it was like a shock to beat Chris like that.”
“Well whatever it was caused it you made quite a stir,” Geth observed.
“Just dinna show us up tae much,” Jamie chuckled.
“It was a fluke, he must've been holding back.”
“If that's holding back I pity anyone else when he does let fly,” Darren put in.
“And what about Vicky?” Laura called over.
“What about her?”
“There is no way she was holding back, Steve said you both beat the world record time for that last lap.”
“I er um.” My usual articulate self was back.
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 21.06.12