“Wondered where you'd got to.” Claire mentioned as I caught the rest up.
“Talking to Paula, ” I allowed.
That wasn't apparently enough to chase the subject fortunately.
“We find out who's riding this weekend after lunch,” Manda reminded us .
“How'd you know that?”
“Steve and Caroline were looking at the lists while we were prancing about.”
“It was this time last week,” Claire observed.
I guess it was.
The lunch menu avoided what I'd describe as ‘main meal' stuff; so quiche, salad, pasta and baked potatoes made the bulk of the offerings, I settled on the Tagliatelle carbonara with a mixed side salad.
“Wish I'd gone for that,” Mand looked enviously at my plate .
“What's up with that?” I poked my fork towards her spud.
Well I guess it did look rather er plain, a splodge of tuna decorating a crispy skinned tuber.
“You could whack some mayo on it,” I passed her a sachet I'd picked up for my salad.
A bunch of girls noisily descended on the cafeteria, skaters but no Jess.
“Looks like word has got to Paul,” I mentioned quietly.
Indeed our National Champion was being less than subtle in his observation of the skater gurlz.
“Hook, line and sinker,” Mand agreed with a grin.
Telling Claire this morning was as good as handing him a note in person, she's a full on gossip, I bet he'd heard before we finished running!
My lunch was okay, I've had better but it was passable, wouldn't have minded a slice of cake but that did look terrible.
“People, ten minutes in the conference room,” Sgt Brown instructed.
As we'd all pretty much finished eating we were all assembled well before the deadline.
“Ye shud get a ride this week Drew,” Jamie offered.
“Hope so,” I agreed, Caro said I would be and Mand too.
“Wonder where it'll be?” Darren mused.
“Somewhere obscure no doubt,” Geth suggested.
“Back of beyondsbury,” Mand dropped in.
Our musings were interrupted by the arrival of our leaders.
“Everyone here?” Caro enquired.
With just twelve of us a head count takes seconds.
“Right, I'm sure you've all worked out that it's team pick day,” there was a general rumble of agreement so Caro continued, “unlike last weekend when Drew and Amanda missed riding this week everyone will be competing. On Saturday some of you will be travelling to Northampton to ride the two stage Nene Valley Cup, a short time trial in the morning with a road race in the afternoon.
The ‘B' event for the rest of you is the Cosford Cup on Sunday, who's riding what you'll find out in a few minutes. Before that though we, Chris, Steve and myself, thought you might appreciate some insight into our decisions.” She paused to gauge our reaction.
I'm pretty sure most of us had some idea of how the week ha d gone but hearing the boss's point of view will be interesting.
“Okay then, a few general points. We know that last weekend was something of a baptism of fire for some of you, whilst the results have been taken into account it's what you have done this week, the commitment you've each shown which has been the biggest influence in our decisions.
There is a chance that some of you may be going home next week based on this weekend's performances and how you have performed over the last couple of weeks. That doesn't mean that anyone is a failure, it won't bar you from future inclusion in the programme, we hope it will allow anyone so affected to re-assess their commitment to racing at the highest level.”
Once again she paused to allow the portent of those sentences to sink in. I didn't think I was in danger but even I could see that one or two, possibly more weren't 100% committed to the team.
“We'll have a guest rider in the team on Sunday, that rider is as keen to get on the squad as you lot, I hope, are to remain so. He may join us regardless if he lives up to the hype so I hope anyone riding at Cosford will welcome him to the team.”
Steve meanwhile had been transferring names from paper to the big wipe board on the back wall.
“Everyone okay?” Caro queried.
We all waited mutely for her to continue.
“Right then, I think Steve's just about done, once you've seen your selections you've got twenty minutes before our next session which is in the main sports hall.”
“Okay everyone, all yours,” Steve stated as he capped his marker pen.
Of course it was a mad bundle of bodies each searching the lists for their ride.
“Saturday,” Mand stated happily.
“Cosford,” Claire sighed.
I scored Saturday too, along with Jamie, Geth and Laura, five of us, which left seven for Sunday, plus the ‘guest' Caro mentioned split into two teams of four. A two stage eh? I bet I got the gig because of last Sunday and a four-lap uber crit to follow, yeah I've had some success on the short circuits, Aachen and Trier are particularly memorable.
“Badminton?” Redding almost sneered .
“Yes, badminton Mr Redding,” Steve Brown confirmed.
“What's that got to do with riding?” Reddy pressed.
I must admit I was asking myself the same question.
“Who said it has? You can sit it out if you want,” Steve observed in tone that left little doubt as to the black mark that course of action would attract.
“Just curious,” Our self-proclaimed spokesperson said with a little more circumspection .
I'm actually quite good at badminton*, Jules was much better of course, at least until she gave it up for boys! Anyhow my point is I was quite looking forward to bashing the shuttlecock around the court a bit. We had two courts and the bosses had drawn up a sort of league where everyone played each other, best of three.
The supplied racquets weren't exactly top of the line but they were at least well strung, after a few minutes knockabout I had the feel of my example. Badminton isn't like tennis where strength is as important as technique; in fact to some extent lighter faster players have the advantage on court.
Sal was my first victim, Darren my second, John from over Norfolk way just got the better of me in my third match but I took out Jamie, Gethyn, Darren, Claire and Mand in straight games before losing to Laura. Steve took me to the third game that left me with Reddy.
“Get him Drew!” Mand encouraged.
Reddy sneered at me, “Come on, Bond, let's see how good you are against an expert.”
Ex-something, gob a lot.
His game was nothing to do with skill and all to do with fairly aimless slamming, my more delicate approach drew him into the net which stifled his technique but allowed me to deal the killer blow almost at will.
Yes! Game one to me. My opponent looked at me daggers as we changed ends, got you now show off.
He was more tenacious than I thought, smashing the second set straight without me scoring a single point, bum. No way is he gonna win the decider, no sirree, not if I'm playing.
Yay! First point to the Drewmeister.
It was tooth and nail, his power drives kept me on my toes, my more delicate touch pulled him into the net. It was tight but when I won the forth point it was pretty much all over. He seemed to sense his impending defeat and I was able to take the last point with only two thwacks of the ‘cock.
I hadn't really been keeping score but my 9-2 tally was well clear of Laura's 7-4 and Reddy's 6-5. Bond wins again!
The badminton had eaten into our last session by quite a chunk so Steve decreed a slight change of plan.
“Okay you lot, six aside, two girls each, fifteen minutes each way.”
Football! Yeugh! As you might guess I'm not exactly a fan of the game, maybe rugby but most footballers struggle to sign their name on the stupidly big contracts.
Much to my surprise I enjoyed the game even if my side lost 3-1.
“Bike kit in the morning,” Caro instructed, “nine o'clock out front."
Today has been – different. Intense at times, exhausting at others and great fun for a good lump of the day.
“What time's Jess coming?” I asked Mand as we headed towards the accommodation block.
“A bit after six she said.”
“'Kay, I'll get showered and come up to yours."
I'm sure Jess has a plan for operation Reddy; I don't think I want to know all the details. My legs felt more than a little rubbery when I climbed into the shower, the hot water only slowly easing the knotted muscles. I threw on a clean T and hauled my cargo shorts up into place before trotting along to Mand's room.
“Why not?” Mand posed.
“Because,” I insisted.
“Oh come on Drew, no one recognised you last night.”
“Pure luck, where's Jess anyhow?”
Right on cue there was a rap at the door.
“Who is it?” Mand enquired.
My host opened the door to admit our protagonist in chief.
“Whoa!” I exclaimed.
“What she said,” Manda added.
“You like?” Jess queried, “Think Redding will go for them?”
The ‘them' in question were a rather impressive pair of boobs that Jess had sprouted since breakfast; they must be like a D cup.
“They are erm quite … big.”
“Glad they're not on me,” Mand noted.
“They do get in the way some, you going like that Gab?”
“No she's not, I've got her stuff in the bathroom.”
How can I refuse now? Anyhow I want to see how Reddy reacts to Jessie's Big chest.
“Come on Gab, we need to shake a leg to catch him in the canteen.”
* See Book 2, chapter 16
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 09.10.12