Steve's statement threw me for a complete loop. Has someone been into my room without me knowing? No that can't be it.
“Yes looked like one of the Skating girls? Cute little thing with pigtails?”
Shite, he must've seen me when I fetched the camera last night.
“Pig tails? Oh that was er Sammi, I gave her my key thing so she could fetch my camera.”
I hope he didn't spot my hesitation.
“So you weren't in your room?”
“No, a bunch of us were hanging out downstairs.”
“You know the skaters?” Steve pursued.
“Not all of them obviously, I've known Jess for a few years, Lily and Sammi a bit less.” No kidding. It's a good job I haven't been seen going into Manda's room.
“So you haven't invited any of them to your room?”
“Like I said, we were downstairs, you can ask Manda.” There, my alibi is set now, I think I've got away with it; just you wait Amanda de Vreen!
“You ever used tri bars?” the change of tack took me by surprise.
“Tri bars, er sure, I've got some on my testing bike.”
“Good I've arranged for Darren to bring some tt bikes down to Northampton in the morning for you, put you on a level playing field with the rest of the field.”
It was a good bit after one that I joined Laura, Mand, Geth and Jamie at a table for lunch, we just sort of gravitated to the same table.
“What'd Steve want earlier?” Laura asked around a forkful of pasta.
He was trying to find out if I was up to stuff with a girl. “ Just checking some stuff for tomorrow, we'll have time trial bikes for the morning stage.”
“How's that?” Jamie enquired.
“From BC stock I guess.”
Of course we've all brought our own race bikes to this ‘camp', I've got my team issue Pinarello. I've never really told you much about my bike have I? Whilst the junior squad bikes look like the senior teams, ours are those fancy new fluid form aluminium frames with Campag Veloce gears and stuff whilst Mum and the girls get carbon frames with Record stuff – very swish! I'm not so keen on the colour though, that sort of creamy colour Apollinaris use with silver, red and blue detailing – not pretty but distinctive.
“They gonna have tri bars on?” Laura enquired, “I'm not very good on them.”
“We should have time for a practice,” Geth opined.
“I hope so,” I agreed, “I've not been on my testing bike for ages, in fact Sunday was my first proper trial this season.”
“Sunday?” Jamie queried.
“Drew!” Mand spluttered, “no one's s'posed to know!”
“Know what?” Laura put in.
“Now this I've got to hear,” Geth grinned.
Sugar! “We promised Caroline we wouldn't tell anyone.” I responded.
“Bit late now,” Manda sighed, “while you lot were swanning around with the team we had to make our own entertainment…”
I let de Vreen tell the tale; I don't want to sound big headed do I?
“Bit more impressive than our performances.” Gethyn observed when Manda had finished the tale.
“D ae y e reckon they were serious aboot sending slackers hame next week?” Jamie offered.
“I reckon so, it's not like we'll all get a Worlds ride anyhow,” I pointed out.
“Well we knew that,” Laura sighed .
“I think there are some not present at this table who thought getting on the team was a one way ticket,” Manda pragmatised.
“Yeah,” Geth agreed, “I'll admit I've found it pretty tough at times, like that flippin' climb this morning.”
“You can learn to climb,” I replied.
“Says tha mountain goot!” Jamie hooted.
“Baaaa!” Laura added.
After lunch we returned to the pattern that we've got used to up in Manchester, the difference today being that instead of being restricted to the gym we could do pretty much what we wanted. The lecture was quite topical given tomorrow's race – how to ride a prologue time trial, most big stage races start with one so knowing how to get the best out of the generally short effort can be crucial.
“So what are you gonna do?” Mand asked as we filed out of our cavern of learning.
“I don't usually do anything, rest up like.”
“Dad always has me doing something unless I go to Garde.”
“What's guard? Shooting stuff?”
Me and my big mouth.
“No it's sort of like a cross between aerobics and er line dancing?”
“You have to be kidding me.”
“Think I'll go swimming.”
“Oh no you don't , Drew Bond, I want to see this guard thing.”
Well I managed to deflect that request, not having the music or a dozen other Garde instead we ended up joining an aerobics class. You get hot and sweaty and providing you don't go mad you don't burn thousands of calories, for a cyclist it helps condition the muscles that don't tend to get used a lot sat on a bike.
“Here you go Gab.” Jess stated passing me my camera's memory card after joining us in the dining room.
“You got it done?”
“I'm still not sure about this , ” I allowed.
“Give over you wuss,” Manda chided.
“I'll post them up tonight,” Jess giggled.
“Count me out on that I was seen last night.”
“Seen?” Mand queried.
“By Steve when I went to fetch the camera?”
“He saw ‘Sammi' then,” Manda observed.
“So what's the problem Gab, it's your room?” Jess pointed out.
“Er yeah, look Jess it's complicated I think ‘Sammi' should go into retirement.”
“We need to get an early night tonight Jess, we're racing tomorrow,” Mand offered.
“I need to set my alarm,” I groaned.
“You're not going to bed at seven o'clock?” a wide eyed Jess stated.
“Course not, half past,” I grinned.
In the end we commandeered a ping-pong table and the early night wasn't so much early as less late. I packed my race kit up, set my alarm and crawled into bed. Not that I could get to sleep of course, you never can when you need to can you?
I lay there staring up at the ceiling, tomorrow I finally pull on a Great Britain jersey in anger, my first race representing BC and not my club or team. Oh I've ridden in different jerseys before, my National Champions jersey of course then there's that hideous Jüngere League leaders thing. This is different though; I can see why Mum gets so hyped.
We were on the road just after six, Caro wasn't leaving anything to chance, we'll be in Northampton about eight, well early. No one was particularly talkative thankfully so I wadded up my jacket and curled into a corner. By the time we reached the M54 I was into a semi conscious doze.
My eyes might have been closed, I might not have been aware of my surroundings but my mind was still firing information around my head. Northampton – last time I was there it was in the hospital after that finish line crash at Milton Keynes. Don't think I've been there apart from that.
I woke, well , returned to full consciousness when we turned off at junction 15 M1, Northampton South. Of course Saturday, busy county town, the event isn't actually in Northampton but a bit to the south based at some place called Horton. Caro took us around some newish roads, all roundabouts and wide grassy verges and our arrival at Horton village hall took place barely ten minutes later.
This morning's time trial is only 10km then after lunch we've got four laps of about 16kms . Normally in the UK I'd be barred from this because I'm not 16 and it's on open roads but BC can pull strings and it's not like I've not done it before! Welcome to the Salcey Forest Junior 2 stage race.
“Okay you lot as Darren isn't here yet you can use your road bikes to loosen up around the time trial circuit, Jamie you're in charge, you know where you're going?”
Caro was certainly taking her managerial position seriously.
“Aye, up this lane ta e the end, left then next left back tae here.”
“Great, back here thirty minutes.” Boss lady instructed.
“Urgh it's too early,” I moaned as we left the village past where the start of our morning endeavour will be starting.
“Give over , Drew, you were asleep all the way here , ” Mand pointed out.
If you look at a map the tt circuit is an almost flat triangle but it is a bit more exciting than that, a slight climb for the first kilometres then a couple of k down slope to corner one. After that, there are a couple of dips, the first quite steep before turn two and a three-kilometre climb before the final kilo or so down hill to the finish. Nothing too punishing then and we rolled back to the bus in under twenty-five minutes somewhat more awake than when we departed.
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 18.10.12