After the tunnel transit it was a fairly level ride back to Lezzeno first up the side of Lago di Lecco (really just a leg of Lago di Como) back to Bellagio before following the lakeside road we set out on this morning back to base. As a ride it certainly opened everyone's eyes to what the next few days will have in store for us. It certainly wasn't the easy ride we thought we were having; the Esino Lario climb destroyed that fairytale and then some.
“Leg okay, Drew?” Jemma enquired, catching me as I headed towards the hotel after handing my bike to the mechanics.
“Think so, I get a niggle now and then.”
“After dinner this evening, room 23, we'll see if we can make it more then than now.”
“Er sure, twenty three.”
I climbed up to my room and sagged onto the bed, hot, tired but happy. I've found a chink in Mark's armour, not sure how I can use that information but I'm sure I will. I reached out for the map we bought in Manchester, somehow I've become the custodian, and opened it to trace today's ride. Okay compared to the mountains north of us we've been playing on a molehill of a mere 1000m!
I lay there for a few minutes before the ickyness of my kit moved me to head for my tiny en suite and a shower.
“Hey, Drew, fancy a swim?” Laura enquired when I returned to the ground floor.
Hmm, it would be nice but 1) I don't have a cozzie, 2) I don't have a cozzie and 3) my er condition would be revealed.
“Didn't bring any togs but I don't mind hanging out at the pool or whatever.”
“Eve says there's a beach just round the head.”
“Sounds good, who else is going?”
“Nearly everyone I think, we're meeting out front in like ten minutes. I need to change.”
“See you in a bit then.”
Laura dashed up the stairs while I headed out to the veranda. Hmm looks like I'm the first here.
“Wotcha, spud.” Dave greeted taking a seat.
“Hi, Dad, this place is pretty cool huh?”
“Not too bad, how about you?”
“Okay I suppose, Jemma wants to fondle my legs after dinner.”
“You okay with that?”
“I guess, if she can sort out the cramps that'd be good.”
“So what are you up to now?”
“Apparently there's a beach, we're all going for a splash.”
Dave's eyebrows shot up, “Swimming?”
“Not me, might have a paddle I guess.”
“Hi, Mr Bond.” Mand offered joining us.
“Hello, Amanda, well I'd best get on, catch you later.”
“You not swimming?” Manda queried.
“One word, breasts.”
“Breasts? Oh right, I hadn't thought about that.”
The arrival of first Darren then the rest of the team halted that particular line of conversation.
“So which way?” Mark queried.
“We follow the path?” Claire offered.
“Let's boogie like,” Josh suggested.
I'm pretty sure there was a shorter route but the walk along the lakeside was nice, a slight on shore breeze taking a bit of the sting out of the, by now quite warm air. We heard rather than saw our destination; clearly we wouldn't have the beach to ourselves.
“Maybe I'll find some Italian hunk?” Sal mentioned.
“Hey, we nae good enough?” Jamie mentioned with what I think was mock indignation.
“Ooo those tans.” Claire put in.
“Those pasta bellies,” Mark added dryly.
“You're only jealous,” Sal retorted.*
The beach wasn't as highly populated as it sounded, the little bay it occupied bouncing noise around. Those already occupying the mixture of sand and pebbles looked to be locals, mostly younger teens and kids, the older occupants away to one side. A few bodies splashed about in the water but most were either playing kick ball or some other beach activity.
“Not exactly rich pickings,” I observed.
“You looking then?” Mand whispered in my ear.
Our arrival hadn't gone unnoticed; I think the ‘bon giorno' from one of the older lads was aimed specifically at the girls by his tone and the elbow in his ribs from his mate. The look the girl they were talking to gave us was pure venom so I'm guessing some potential competition wasn't welcome in that quarter.
“Where're we putting our stuff?” Geth enquired.
“What about over by the wall, it'll be in shade soon.” I supplied.
“Yeah looks good,” Laura agreed.
“You not going in?” Mark enquired as the others started splashing about in the waters of Lake Como.
“Not really my thing.”
“Mine either, looks like that's something else we've got in common.”
“Look, I think we sort of got off on the wrong foot, I was all brag on the way here, trying to impress I guess. You guys, well you've been doing stuff together for a few weeks and I get dumped on you.”
“I wouldn't call it dumped.”
“Whatever, what I'm trying to say is, before I turned up you were like top dog, and that race last week I shat on that. Not a good way to make friends but that's just the way I am, if I get beat, I train harder so I win next time.”
“So what are you saying?”
“I'm saying I'd prefer to be your friend than enemy, I need help to be in with a shout at the finish. That climb this morning, you were making a point weren't you? You can sprint but you can take the race on too, I told you I don't climb well and you used that to rub my nose in it.”
“Erm, I wouldn't put it quite like that and you climb as well as Geth and Daz.”
“Yeah, shite. So what do you reckon? Start again?”
Damn, he's won again, brokering the peace; I should have done it earlier. It's not that I even dislike him, and maybe he's right, I was trying to put him down today. Chris and Co clearly think he should be here and we are supposed to be batting for the same side.
“What are you two looking so stern about?” Laura asked.
“Man talk?” I offered.
“Squirt more like,” Mark grinned.
He was already up and running, I was soon chasing him towards the azure waters.
“Engleesh?” the youth enquired.
“Um yeah,” Laura admitted.
“My friend, he think from Nederland.”
“Guess you won that one.”
“Sorry, my Engleesh is not so good.”
“My Italian runs to ‘spaghetti,'” she allowed.
“Your blonde friend, she a make up with the boyfriend, eh?” He pointed to where Drew and Mark were splashing the bay's waters at each other.
“He's not…” she paused as her brain tried to compute what she was seeing. If she didn't know, she'd think it was a cute girl larking about with Mark not the cycling wunderkind, Drew Bond. The hair, was that a hint of breast, that's not exactly a boy's behind is it? If it looks like a duck… “Her boyfriend,” she finished.
“Ah but I see amore in hees eyes, I theenk soon. Sorry we talk of your friend, I'm a Toni.”
It was close on six before they gathered their stuff and set off for the Hotel Como once more. Laura had spent most of the time with Toni, only coming up for air when Mand and Josh threw some of Lake Como over the amorous pair. Drew had ended up as wet as anyone after landing on his rump in the water, he'd pretty much forgotten why he wasn't in a bikini like the other girls, still with the temperature in the low thirties his tee and shorts soon dried. At some point a raiding party had gone for gelato and drinks but all too soon it was time for dinner.
“Bleh!” Josh allowed.
“You're only jealous.” Laura opined.
“He's all yours,” Josh stated.
“Don't worry, Josh, Tali will probably be down at the race.” I offered.
“Aye she will man, she texted last night, Ron and Gret too like.”
“Who is Tali?” Claire asked.
“Josh's girlfriend, she's on the German squad.”
Toni had given us directions back more directly to the hotel so instead of twenty minutes we were back in a little over ten. The veranda was well peopled with early diners; it'd be nice to eat out here under the vines and blue skies.
“What time are we eating?” Daz enquired.
“Seven.” Mark supplied.
“Loadsa time.” Geth noted.
“Come on, Drew, you can't go to dinner in that stuff.” Mand stated dragging him towards the stairs.
“Well duh!” Mand mentioned before they disappeared around a corner.
‘No,' Laura thought to herself, ‘your bra is showing through your t shirt, Drew.'
*I guess most of you have seen Mark's picture by now, he could pass for Italian!
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 24.06.13