“Right then, how did you think that went?” Caroline asked once we were settled on the grassy bank.
“You mean apart from Drew destroying us?” Mand smirked.
“You need a different technique for climbing on these things,” Geth supplied.
“Yeah, it's like the rear disk doesn't want to go up hill?” Sal observed.
Caroline and Dad exchanged a look.
“Drew?” Caroline enquired, “Any feed back?”
“Like Geth said, you need to sit and spin but Sal's right, the disk feels like a ton weight, maybe we should use standard wheels or even change bikes before the climb gets going too much.”
“Change bikes? A bit radical, what about losing time with that?” Caro queried.
“I reckon it would balance out in our favour still, the bikes are worth what? 10% on the long flat bit but we'll lose that to a road bike on the climb. So say the road bikes take 40 mins for the flat, we do it in 36, the climb is 30 mins on a road, we lose 10% so we end up a minute in hand. If we change bikes we lose maybe a minute but we finish three minutes up.”
“I'll never tell another dumb blonde joke!” Mand pledged .
“We'll have to see if that's allowed.” Dad noted, “So what if we used spoked wheels?”
“Not as much advantage on the flat, not as much disadvantage on the climb.” I offered.
“Could we just do a wheel change for the climb?” Sal put forward.
“Another option,” Caro allowed.
“Maybe we can fit in another go to check out the impact.” Dad suggested.
“Yeah, we'll collar Chris when we get back,” Caroline agreed.
“We should make a move, it's an hour back to the hotel.” Dad advised.
It was a little more in the end, we got held up with traffic in Lenno which meant we just missed the four fifteen ferry so had to wait close on quarter of an hour for the next crossing. We arrived back in Lezzeno just turned quarter to five, surprisingly the others weren't back yet.
“Same as last night guys, dinner at seven, time's yours till then,” Caro told us.
“Great!” Mand enthused. “Meet back here in fifteen?”
“Back to the beach?” Geth queried.
“Could do, or there's shops and stuff the other way,” Mand suggested.
“Okay.” I agreed.
We split up inside the hotel, each of our rooms being in a different floor or direction.
“It's so hot.” Sal complained.
“The others aren't back yet.” Geth observed.
“Maybe they got detention.” Mand offered skipping down the steps to join us.
“Probably missed their ferry too.” I surmised.
“So where to?” Geth queried.
“The town I guess.” Sal allowed.
“Eve said it's that road across the piazza, where it says ‘localité'.”
“Makes sense.” I allowed given that we knew it wasn't the other direction.
It wasn't far, it's not exactly a big place after all, and the shopping isn't exactly H&M, C&A or Debenhams. No it's definitely local shopping, butcher, baker, bank type stuff with one or two like the stationary store stocking a bit of tourist tat, postcards and so on. I selected several cards to send home and for peeps back in England too, I did promise Gran after all.
The shopping options pretty much exhausted we followed a sign for ‘Di Lago', which brought us to a bustling waterfront. We succumbed to the temptation of the multiple gelato vendors, sitting on the quayside to eat our prizes. The activity out on the lake was mesmerizing, we spent best part of the next hour watching the powerboats, yachts and launches criss-crossing the waters of the Lago di Como.
My guess about the ferry was correct, like us the others had just missed their ferry but unlike us where there was no alternative rather than wait they had taken the autostrada to Lecco and the lake road back to the hotel, the only advantage being that they were moving rather than waiting for the ferry. Tonight's gastronomic delight still managed to avoid the expected pasta – chicken and rice, don't get me wrong, it was nice but well, not very Italian.
“So're we going to the beach?” Laura enquired as we prepared to leave the dining facility.
“Can do.” I allowed.
“I want to ring my mum,” Sal stated.
“I think I'll get an early night,” Claire mentioned, “I'm knackered.”
“Go on then.”
The others were already inside; Eurosport was showing some kick ball match or other.
“Ow!” I span around to find Laura with a grin on her face. “What was that for?”
‘That' was her snapping my bra strap.
“I knew it, you're a girl!”
“So how come you're wearing a bra?”
“Dur, same reason as you,” Mand offered in my defence.
“So he is a girl.”
“I am not a girl.” I mentioned through gritted teeth.
“If you aren't a girl why are you wearing a bra, I bet you've got knickers on too.”
I started to colour up.
“Don't be so mean Laura!” Mand shouted. “You don't know anything.”
“I don't know why a girl would pretend to be a boy.”
“I'm not.” I muttered as the first tear dripped down my cheek.
“Now look what you've done!”
“Me? Huh, it's not me trying to fool everyone.” Laura spat.
“Well so what if she is, she's the best rider we've got.” Mand stated.
“Oops, sorry Drew.”
“I bet your name's not even Drew is it?” Laura pressed.
“‘Tis.” I whispered as the eye hose was turned to lots.
“Laur, now look what you've done.” Manda angrily opined, pulling me into a hug.
I sniffled into Mand's shoulder. I thought we were going to the beach so Laura could meet up with Toni, not for her to lay into me like this. I mean it's not like no one would ever find out but I never expected it to be like this, I thought we were friends.
“So if Drew's a girl how'd ‘she' get on the boys team eh?”
“Her Dad's a coach, I'm sure it'd be easy.”
“Tell her.” I snuffled.
“What choice?” I observed sniffing through the tears.
“Tell me what?” Laura demanded.
“This goes no further Laur.” Mand stated.
“That depends.” Laura demurred.
“Not good enough, promise.” Manda demanded.
“Okay I promise, so just why is this, this girl pretending to be a boy?”
“You sure about this , Drew?” Mand enquired again.
“Just tell her, I'm gonna sit over here.”
There was a seat overlooking the still glittering waters of the lake a few metres along the path, I plonked myself down and did my best to pull myself together. This is it I guess, I'm gonna be exposed as a fraud, everything I've been working for is in ruins. Not just that but Dad'll be dragged into it too, it's not his fault I'm a freak.
I couldn't really hear what Mand was saying but they got quite animated a time or two. I adjusted my bra strap – no it's not some frilly lift and separate number, it's a sports bra right! I thought it was doing a reasonable job of keeping these, these things under control but Laura spotted it and if she has who else has? What do I do now? I'll have to give up racing for sure; I'll never be able to show my face at a race again.
“If this gets out Laura we're all gonna look stupid.” Mand stated.
“I guess you're right, honestly Mand until I saw the bra last night I thought he was gay, I mean he always hangs with us girls, he hardly ever talks with the lads or does stuff with them.”
“So you keeping schtum or what?”
“I guess so.”
“Better tell Drew then. Where is he?”
“On that ben..ch.” Laura's gaze fell on the now vacant seat.
“DREW!” Mand shouted.
“DREW where are you?” Laura joined in.
I hunched down against the rock, so okay running away never solved anything but I want ed to be on my own. I wrapped my arms around my knees, resting my teary face against them. Hmm, I've got my wallet, must be a couple of hundred euros in there, should be enough to get back home, I can always get more out once I'm in Germany. What then? Caro's got my passport and ID card so heading to Gran's is out.
The sun dipped behind the mountains almost instantly turning day into night and causing the temperature to drop. Lights popped up across the lake, even from this distance the lights of Lenno looked entrancing, strings of fairy lights along the lake edge, the church tower floodlit. My tears were all cried out, I sat in silence staring out across the waters.
“Amanda?” Dave Bond enquired cracking the bedroom door open.
“We've lost Drew.” She blurted out, clearly distraught.
“Who's we and what do you mean lost him?”
“Laur and me, we were going to the beach and there was an argument and we've searched everywhere.”
“Wait in reception, let me get some clothes on.”
“What's up Mr. Bond?” Josh enquired as Dave quickly pulled trousers and a shirt on.
“Drew, he's gone missing, I need to find him.”
“I'll come too, the daft bugger.”
“So what was this argument about?” Dave asked the two frightened girls.
“Drew being a girl.” Mand allowed.
“Oh shite!” Josh intoned.
Shite indeed Dave agreed, he checked his watch, just turned eleven. Drew, what are you up to?
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 30.06.13