The Amazing Jess
“Jess.” I wasn't sure if I was happy to see her sat with Josh or not.
“Where you been Gab?”
“Josh was telling me you got selection, way to go girl!”
Josh gave me a look, ‘who is she?' he mouthed.
“Right here,” she stated from behind me.
“So you guys fancy celebrating?”
“Celebrating?” Mand queried as she sat down next to Josh.
“You know, a bit of a boogie, a drinky poo mayhap?”
“I know what it is,” Mand pointed out, “what have you got in mind?”
“Wellll there's an under eighteen's dance in Newport every Tuesday, we could like pop along tomorrow?”
“I could do with a bop like,” Josh offered.
“I'm not against the idea guys but two things, we're not supposed to leave the complex without permission and it's like two miles into the town, how'd we get there?”
“Good points Gab,” Mand allowed.
“You could ask and I'm sure we could get a bus in and taxi back.” Jess suggested, clearly unwilling to be deterred.
“No harm in asking,” Mand agreed.
“And this is at the church hall?” Caro confirmed half an hour later.
“Uh huh.” I'd somehow been elected chief petitioner.
“I'm not promising anything but let me talk with Steve, I'll let you know in the morning Drew.”
Well it wasn't a straight no but I wouldn't put money on a positive outcome. We ended up spending the rest of Monday evening in the common room playing computer games and talking about Denmark. They had a Wii with some sort of gymnastics thing on it, which Jess mashed everyone else at; by comparison I sucked worse than Jamie who has two left feet.
I've not really told you the outcome regarding that have I, well all the girls get to go, Manda, Laura and Claire for the road race, Mand doubles up with Sal for the time trial. The lad's team has me and Geth against the clock then I join Mark, Jamie, Dar and Josh for the massed start. That means that John, Steve and David have missed the cut, John was making snidey remarks about the selection but the others were more philosophical – they were still on the squad after all.
“Drew?” Caro caught me as I headed to the breakfast queue, “ A minute please.”
“Sure,” I agreed, “what's up?”
She drew me to one side, “This shindig tonight, I've spoken with the powers that be and you are cleared to go.”
“There are two conditions though.”
I wouldn't have expected otherwise, wished but not expected.
“Firstly we can't restrict this to just the three of you so its open to everyone, we'll take anyone who wants to go in the bus and collect you afterwards.”
“What about Jess and the other skaters?”
“I reckon there'll be room for a few extras.”
“The other condition?”
“I shouldn't need to say it at this point, but it's to act according to your positions as representatives of BC, behave yourselves and avoid any incidents.”
“Go eat, it's a tough day today.”
“We're off to hit a few hills, not exactly the Alps but a little more testing than the roads around here.”
Nice, I think.
“So?” Mand enquired when I joined her and Laura by the window.
“Looks like you guys get to break out the dancing shoes.”
“Re-sult!” Mand punched the air.
“Dancing shoes?” Laura queried.
“If you're up for it there's a dance in Newport tonight.”
“Behave girl,” Manda instructed.
“I was only asking.”
“Yes boys,” I noted, “there're conditions.”
“Don't tell me, no snogging.” Mand suggested.
“It wasn't mentioned, no we have to be on our best behaviour though, Caro didn't say but I guess we could still lose our slots.”
“Lose our slots?” Josh repeated.
“Tonight's on man.” I informed him.
“But we need to be on our best behaviour.” Laura stated.
“Nearly forgot, we get bussed there and back too.”
“Brill, I wasn't looking forward to the bus ride,” Mand told us.
“Just don't like getting on buses all dressed up.”
It sounded like there was more but it's not like I'm as inquisitive as some girls I know so I didn't press it.
I was heading back to my room for my cycling gear when I almost literally ran into Jess.
“What's the rush Gab's?”
“Long ride today, glad you're here tho', tonight's on.”
“It was worth asking then,” she smiled.
“Yeah, we get taxied there and back too.”
“Alright for some.”
“You as well, and any of the other skaters who're going.”
Her face immediately brightened up, “I'll talk to the other girls, I'm sure a couple more will come.”
“No mucking about though Jess.”
“Seriously, we can't afford any trouble.”
“Don't worry Gab, you're Aunty Jessica will look after you.”
“That's what I'm afraid of.”
Unlike previous rides today we were driving out to our playground, the mountains on the Welsh side of the border above Oswestry, well that's what Steve told us anyhow. The drive only took a little over an hour, across to Shrewsbury then Welshpool and up into the hills finally pulling into a car park by the Llanwyddyn Hotel over looking some sort of lake.
“Okay everyone, get togged up, times a wastin'. We'll have two groups, Drew and Josh. You'll be with Caroline and the girls, rest of you lucky souls have me.”
There was the expected groan at that of course. For my part I could have been miffed at getting stuck with Mand and co but I'm sure they have their reasons. I collected my steed, after checking my tyres and brakes I rolled over to where Caro was strapping her Mofa helmet on. Well you didn't expect her to actually ride did you?
We were soon all assembled and ready for action.
“Okay ladies and gentlemen,” Caroline started, “this morning we've got a circuit of about seventy kilometres ahead of us. The scenery might not be the same but the terrain isn't dissimilar to what we'll find in Switzerland, some of these roads are quite narrow and lumpy so please take care. We aren't racing here but I do expect a decent pace and I may be calling some spot sprints.
Drew, Josh, I don't want you destroying the girls; I'd like you to use your experience to encourage your teammates. Everyone bottled and bared?” we all confirmed we were ready, moments later Caro had the Mofa started and we headed out onto the road.
We set off to head clockwise around the lake, quickly forming up into pairs and without prompting starting a single rotation – the road clearly wasn't wide enough for a double and with only six of us it was more sensible. It didn't take us long to shake out the cobwebs and by the time my comp had five kilometres showing we comfortably spinning along at around thirty kph.
It might be summer, August even but this is England, well Wales which for weather is the same thing, where was I, oh yeah weather. Yes it's tolerably warm, we're talking short sleeves and shorts however there's not much blue above us and there are a couple of dark clouds amongst the mass of water vapour passing above us.
“This ah can do man.” Josh mentioned with a grin.
“We've got to go over that I reckon.” I pointed out, indicating the upland ahead of us.
“Don't spoil it like.”
“Whatever turns you on.”
Mand followed me through on the rotation.
“Turns you on?”
“Josh was just saying he was enjoying it.”
“Not for long I bet, it must go up soon.”
“Next left,” Caro called out from behind us.
I'm sure everyone heard but I signalled left turn anyhow and in metres we turned away from the lake to start our first climb of the day. Higher mountains reared in front of us as the tarmac started to climb, not overtly steep but with enough gradient to shut down the chat and reduce the rotation to a six-rider blob.
“Keep it steady Drew.” Caro instructed .
A quick glance through my arm revealed I had several bike lengths over Laura, Sal matching her pedal stroke to pedal stroke. I eased off a little and let the others come up to me, Manda taking over the pace making. I figured it would be better to sit behind for a bit so I slipped to the back.
“Thanks Drew, don't want the girls burning out this soon trying to chase you.” Caro mentioned pulling alongside me.
“It's difficult to hold back.”
“You need to discipline yourself, there will be times when patience will be a virtue you can't ignore in your race arsenal.”
I think I get what she means.
“Car up!” Josh called out.
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 05.05.13