I woke to the incessant buzzing of my alarm and someone banging on the door.
“Come on Drew, you'll miss brekkie like.”
It took my addled brain cells a moment to identify the voice.
“It's early yet.”
“Finally, I've been knocking for ten minutes man.”
“What's so urgent? It's only half past.”
“Aye, half eight, were you not listening yesterday? Steve wants us loaded up in an hour.”
“Half eight!” I squealed, “It can't be, the alarm was set for seven thirty.”
“Everyone else is in the refectory eating like, so you coming or what?”
“Be there in ten minutes, could you like get me some food and a coffee?”
“See what I can do man, ten minutes.”
I scrambled out of bed, lost my jim-jams and crashed into the shower banging my toe in the process. It was only when I got to the mirror to sort out my hair that I discovered the remains of last nights makeup still on my face, not only that but my nails, my nails are painted a sort of dark red, hmm nice colour – but not on Drew's hands! Don't panic, phone, where's my handy, hope she's got it with her.
“Where are you?”
“You got any nail varnish remover?”
“Sure, what for?”
“Dur, last night?”
“Oops, meet me at my room.”
I managed to use a trick that Goth Gurl passed on to me using baby oil, a staple in my kit bag, to get the makeup off before dragging some clothes on and almost flying out of my room.
“Think that's got most of it,” Mand stated.
“Yeah, stained a bit though,” I observed.
“No one's gonna notice, you'd best shake a leg.”
“Bum, yeah, thanks Mand.”
I made it to the now cold coffee and scrambled egg breakfast only a little before five to nine.
“Long ten minutes.” Josh noted.
“A um wardrobe malfunction.” I'm not gonna tell him what. “Thanks for brekkie.”
“Probably a bit rubbery by now.”
“It's okay, why's everyone wearing riding kit?”
“You really weren't listening yesterday were you, we're riding a chunk of the way to Manchester like.”
Mand returned to the table and drained her own coffee cup.
“Yeuk, anyone want another?”
“Aye please,” Josh nodded .
“Thanks.” I added passing her my cup.
“Bags to reception in thirty minutes.” Caroline stated as the refectory clock turned into the tenth hour.
“Sugar! Anyone seen Jess?”
“Not yet,” Mand answered.
“I um need to get some stuff from her.”
“And get ready,” Josh suggested.
“That too,” I agreed.
Packing's easy, scoop and dump – not pretty, not very girl but quick and effective. Grabbing my borrowed shoes and bra I hurried to Jess' accommodation.
“Jess? You there?”
Bum, where is she. I was running out of time, I checked to make sure no one was about and placed the shoes and BH by the door and was about to leave when Jess appeared at the other end of the corridor.
“Morning Gabs, great night yeah?”
“Not bad,” I allowed, “I brought your bra and shoes back.”
“I've got your stuff in a bag, hang on I'll get it.”
The thought of having to abandon my chinos and shoes had crossed my mind, not something I wanted to do.
“There you go girl, why you've got such ugly stuff though.” Jess handed me a carrier bag.
“Thanks, I um quite like them.”
“Guess you guys are leaving soon.”
“Uh huh, few minutes.”
“It's been a blast having you here.”
“Yeah it's had its moments.” I granted.
“I'm gonna miss you girl.”
“We can text and stuff.”
“I s'pose, tell everyone good luck with your racing.”
“I will and your skating, hope it turns out okay.”
“We'll see, come ‘ere.”
She pulled me into a hug.
“I meant it Gab, I really will miss you.”
“I was about to come find you Bond,” Steve pointedly observed.
“Sorry, had to go back for my lid.” I waved my helmet.
It might not be the real reason for my tardiness but I'm hardly gonna admit that I was late due to having borrowed the outfit I wore to the dance last night, as far as he knows I took a rain check. I'm glad I didn't and although I got through the evening undetected, I would've preferred Drew rather than Gaby to have gone.
“Okay, now we're all here, just a reminder, we'll be using some busy roads today so take care and be sensible. It's about seventy kilometres up to Knutsford so we should be there about lunchtime, we'll transfer by bus up to Droylsden then you've got the afternoon off.”
“Yay!” Laura offered.
“Right then, when you're ready Caroline.”
Caro had clearly drawn the short straw, getting to ride the moped behind us while Steve slacks off in the bus.
Pee-ut, put, put – the little two-stroke burst into life and suddenly our time at Lilleshall was over.
“Bye guys, bye Gab,” Jess called out as we set off.
“Bye Jess,” I waved as I got my cleat engaged.
It's become second nature to form into two columns, even new boy Josh dropped straight into formation, and under cloudy skies we headed out of the grounds and away from Lilleshall Hall.
We headed straight over the bypass and through Newport, passing last night's venue before crossing the river and starting the journey proper. Caroline encouraged a greater pace and by the time we reached the A41 we were warmed up and rotating at a steady thirty-five kph. Joining the relatively quiet trunk road Steve caught up to us and followed until we turned onto the Market Drayton road.
It was fairly busy through the town but once across the bypass we lost most of the traffic and Caroline was able to institute some training patterns, the sort of things we do when I go out with the Apollinaris riders back in Germany.
“Isn't that where your Gran lives?” Mand observed as we negotiated our way through Audlem.
“Nantwich, it was on the sign back there.”
“Yeah, I didn't realise we'd be going anywhere near there.”
“I could fancy one of her teas,” she suggested.
“Yeah.” I sighed, who knows when I'll next get to see her, Christmas I guess.
“So what're we doing this afternoon?”
“Well I don't fancy sitting in that dingy lounge at the hostel watching afternoon telly.”
“Hadn't given it any thought.” Not beyond maybe catching up on my sleep.
“We could go into Manchester?”
“There's supposed to be some good shops.”
“They're okay I guess.”
“A few times, don't you go up to London, I'm sure the shops are better there.”
“Not very often, Mum doesn't like us going up the West End on our own so we usually go up Lewisham or out to Croydon.”
The place names didn't mean much to me but I gathered that neither was exactly considered top shopping destinations by the Capital's teenage population.
“I thought everyone went into London.”
“Ut uh, did the Nationals at Eastway a couple of years ago but that's the only time I've been that way.”
“They're gonna close that if London gets the Lympics.”
“That's a pity, I enjoyed that.”
“How'd you do?”
“Josh was second.”
“I didn't know he was that good.”
“Yeah, us northerners teamed up, you know Kristen Oakley? She comes from Oxford way, well she helped us too.”
“Um, I think she's taller than me.”
“Most people are.” She giggled. “What about you? Where'd you come?”
“First? You never said you were National Champion, geez Drew.”
“Did you not notice the stripes on Drew's jersey sleeves?” Caro slipped in as we were now at the back of the train.
“One day they'll be rainbows like Mum's.”* I stated.
* National champions have the right to have the national colours around their jersey sleeves, of course if you become World Champion the same option but in the rainbow stripes is permitted – Check out Cav's jerseys post 2012!
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 21.05.13