Tuesday was back to the daily formula of ride, lunch, lecture, gym that we've so easily got used to. It was after dinner that our (tor) mentors threw the proverbial spanner into what we expected.
"People!" Caro bellowed above the din.
It took a minute or so before the melee receded to a respectable level.
"Okay now that I have your attention, we have a bit of a treat in store for everyone."
"Chips?" one hopeful voice called out.
"No not chips Darren, it's nothing to do with food, no tomorrow we'll be leaving Manchester for a week."
That got everyone's attention all right.
"After lunch tomorrow we'll be leaving for Lilleshall so we need everyone's bags down in the lounge straight after breakfast."
Several hands went up no doubt to ask the question I needed answering.
"What do we need to bring?"
"Riding kit, gym stuff, race kit and something for off the bike too," Caro supplied.
“What about our other stuff?” I queried.
“We'll be back next Wednesday so you don't need to pack everything up, do not leave any valuables, if there's stuff you don't want to take that falls into that category bring to Steve or myself and we'll get stored someplace secure for you. That it?”
I'm sure we all had a bunch of questions but no one ventured anything further.
“In that case we'll leave you to it.”
As you may guess the chief topic in the lounge was tomorrow's departure from Thameside.
“So like where is this Leeshore place then?” Mand enquired of those gathered.
“Don't ask me,” I shrugged.
“I think it's Southampton way,” Darren offered.
“Nah, more Burminam by the sound of it,” Geth put in.
“Guess we'll find out tomorrow,” Claire predicted .
“Yeah,” I agreed sagely, “what do you reckon we'll be doing there that we can't her e in Manny?”
“Sounds a bit hush hush to me,” Jamie noted.
“That'll be it, bicycle ninja training,” Laura suggested.
“Ah so glass hopper,” Gethyn started.
“Riding in a half shell sensei,” Sally added.
“Eh?” Claire pull ed a weird expression.
“Ninja Turtles.” Paul threw in from across the room.
“Awesome buddy!” Darren stated.
Clearly Claire wasn't a fan of martial art TV and film as she still had a look of incomprehension on her face. “Whatever.”
“It'll be some diabolical training regime just to torture us into submission,” Geth volunteered with a smirk.
“Yeah it's just a change of gulag,” I agreed.
“Well I'm going up to pack, you coming Claire?” Mand announced .
I got up and stretched, “ Think I'll do the same, don't want to forget anything.”
“Yeah, sounds like a plan,” Jamie stated.
“Back here after?” Laura suggested.
“Hot choccy?” Claire promoted.
“Hob Nobs?” Darren put forward.
“I've got some Eccles cakes*,” I offered.
“Deal,” Mand confirmed.
I guess I'll need to get used to living out of a suitcase if I'm to pursue my chosen career path. I don't have to like it, Mum I know hates it but what alternative is there? It's not like you can travel from home every day, even the stuff I've been doing this year has meant regular overnights away, Hamburg, Stuttgart, that thing over near Gret's place, there was that flippin' cold do the other side of Kassel and Celle of course, how could I forget my ‘coming out' to the team? No I guess I need to get my act together on this aspect of racing.
In truth I haven't exactly unpacked from the weekend, our riding kit gets washed daily of course and I've got plenty of underwear – even without the stuff Mand twisted my arm to buy in Nant' on Saturday. I checked my race bag, shoes, mitts, best helmet, spare bra, towel, wash kit, embrocation – yep everything there. Some stuff like overshoes, arm warmers and so on are pretty much fixtures of course although I don't think I'll be wearing my Apollinaris strip.
My other stuff would need a bit more work to which end I tipped everything out onto my bed. Now contrary to popular belief I'm not really a messy person, my manga is all neatly arrayed on the bookshelves, most of my clothes are hanging neatly in the wardrobe and most of the time I can find clean underwear in my drawers. The piles on the floor? Well of course there's stuff on the floor, I haven't got time to put everything away have I?
To get to my point, I thought I knew what I've got with me but apparently my ‘wardrobe' has grown since I left Dernau just over a fortnight ago. I know I didn't bring any skirts or other girly stuff but somehow I now seem to have a summer frock and a denim mini, well they most certainly are staying here, and that new bra wherever it is. I bet Mad slipped them in when I wasn't looking, what's this? Tights as well oh and Bern's flowery all in one, daft moo, as if I'm gonna go all Gaby here.
Mad, I've hardly given her or the others in Warsop, let alone the girls at home in Germany a thought since I came to Manchester. I wonder how Bern is getting on with little Andrea? I wish I could've seen more of them both before I left, I'll have to ring, maybe in the morning. I wonder if they have postcards at this Leeshore place, I could get some to send to the girls, be cheaper than ringing.
My musing was disturbed by a rapping on my door.
“Drew? You done yet?” Mand enquired.
“Pretty much, what's up?”
“You promised food?” she hinted through the wood.
The Eccles cakes, sugar why did I have to offer them out?
“They're just on the side.”
“Why shouldn't I be?”
The door opened and she stuck her head around the edge.
“Thought you were done?”
“I've just got to chuck this lot back in my case.”
“Ooh, nice dress,” she enthused grabbing the summer frock.
“Oops! Sorry Drew, I thought you didn't bring any girl stuff, that's what you said at your Gran's.”
“My cousin seems to have slipped some into my case,” I sighed.
“Likely story,” she snorted.
“Well it's true whatever you think, cakes are behind you.” I huffed grabbing the dress from her grip.
“Oh don't be like that Dee; I didn't mean anything, come on, let me help you pack.”
I know that she meant well, but like it's erm, well if I wasn't on the Pill it'd be Mrs Moon time for me . That is just so wrong saying that.
“Okay,” I sighed in agreement.
“I wish I had a camera,” Sal observed.
“It'd be great blackmail material,” Mand agreed.
“I've got one on my Handy,” I volunteered.
“What's a handy?” Laura asked.
“Wireless telecommunication device?”
“She means her phone,” Darren translated.
Hey! What's with the ‘she' stuff?
The victim was Gethyn who having lost the crisp eating competition was currently sporting a very fetching makeup job (not!) courtesy of Laura along with Claire's skirt after being stripped of his jeans; she had shorts on underneath it for some reason. Quite how things had gotten this far I'm not sure, there had certainly been a very enthusiastic crowd encouraging Geth's humiliation. The photos taken and our victim released.
“Can I take this off now?”
“We said till curfew,” Laura noted.
“It's flippin' draughty,” Geth complained.
“Och yer nesh Sassenach!” Jamie chortled.
“It's alright for you Jock, you're used to wearing skirts.”
“Kilts and ah dinna wear the tartan much.”
“Oo-oo!” Claire offered.
“Please girls? Pretty please?” Geth pleaded.
“What do you reckon girls?” Mand asked.
“We've got the evidence,” I crowed.
“So come on then, let's see,” Sally prompted.
“Yeah yeah, I need to go through the menu.”
Geth, now back in jeans and the other lads were killing something on the games console; the girls and I were on a second cup of cocoa.
“Wish my phone had a camera,” Claire moaned.
“It cost an arm and leg,” I supplied.
“Hah so we knew you weren't human, you had extra bits!” Mand gleefully exclaimed.
“You said the phone…”
“Cost an arm and a leg.” I finished rolling my eyes. “Ah, here we go.”
David Bailey I'm not, the images on the tiny screen of my phone weren't exactly high definition either but the novelty factor outweighed the deficiencies in quality. My precious handy, it's one of those new Razors from Motorola™, I got it after I broke the old one after the TdF trip, did the rounds as everyone wanted to see Geth in drag.
“Who's this?” Laura asked, flashing the screen towards me.
Of course there's always this potential, curiosity encouraging a bit of snooping.
“Let's see,” I took the handset from her to look, “just my friends in Warsop.”
“Ooh, me, me, me,” Mand demanded, I told her about the gang at the weekend but I never thought to show her the pics.
“So whose baby is it?” Sal asked looking over Manda's shoulder.
“Bernie, the red head?”
“She's tiny. What's her name?”
“Andrea, she was named for me,” I boasted.
“You aren't the er you know?” Claire suggested.
“Ut uh,” I started to gain my trademark flush, “no I helped deliver her.”
“Really?” Laura queried.
“Yup,” I clarified, “she took half the night to pop out, there was like blood and stuff all over the carpet.”
“Ew, gross!” Sal groaned in disgust .
“So like, she was named after me ‘cos of that.”
“It's kind of cool, I doubt if anyone'll ever be named after me,” Mand sighed.
“I didn't expect it but yeah it is pretty cool,” I agreed.
* Not strictly a cake, rather flaky pastry infused with raisins and topped with sugar to glaze, Chorley cakes are very similar. Messy to eat but a good source of energy for starving cyclists!
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 27.09.12