La Romantica Como
“You do make a cute girl Drew.”
“So I'm told.” I allowed with a sigh.
“So do you do it often, dress up that is?”
Of course, at home I've got a full girly wardrobe, I even go to school as a girl.
“I got tricked for the dance right, lost a bet, I don't do it for fun.”
Nope just to survive day to day.
“Pity, she's good fun, your twin, bit of a ditz mind.”
So I'm blond, okay?
“Okay then, let's get you back on the bikes.” Caroline suggested thirty minutes later.
I was feeling quite rested now, Jemma has been at my calves again, not that I'm the only one getting her attention, far from it. I did a few leg stretches before mounting up, can't be too careful. This time we set off on our own, not timed but at about thirty-second intervals, climbing on your own is different to doing it with others you have to set your own pace for starters.
Muggins started on pole, I think to make sure the others had a chance of a fair crack at the job. There might not be a prize but I've got my pride, I took off like a scalded cat only settling down once I was through the first hairpin. The ride up went fine, steady cadence, relaxed on the top of the bars only reaching for the hoods on the couple of steeper sections.
Through the valley and up into Catasco to start the descent, as soon as the road tilted downwards I ramped the gears up. Which was where things went a bit er tits up ward. The first hairpin was barely 300m away and I'm accelerating, something had to give and it was my tyres tenuous grip on the gravely road surface.
Too late I realised that I was going too fast, I was committed to attempting the manoeuvre but certain I'd fail. I so nearly made it but just when I thought I had I lost the front wheel, going down on my right side and sliding across the fortunately , car free road , com ing to a halt with a thump against the low wall that separated me from a drop onto the road , some twenty metres below. A quick check revealed no apparent breakages of limbs so after a quick evaluation of the bike I set off once more , much more cautiously .
Clear of the bends , I picked the pace back up, my shoulder and hip felt like I' d got sunburn – as if. Much slower through the last pair of hairpins then down into Dongo and team HQ. What I hadn't taken on board was that they'd know about my little tarmac loving before I got there.
“I was just coming up to get you,” Dad stated as I pulled to a halt.
“You came off right?”
“Er yeah.” I admitted.
“A local chap saw you at the side of the road and came and told us,” Jemma added.
“Slipped on a bend,” I told them.
“ Let's have a look then?” Jem requested.
Dad took control of my steed and Jemma of me.
“That's gotta sting,” Josh mentioned a few minutes later.
“He's been lucky, not too much grit, mostly friction burns.” Jemma supplied.
“Lovely.” I observed.
I hadn't really given it much thought when she relieved me of my slightly tattered jersey to tend to my shoulder. By now everyone else was back, sans mishap so I was centre of attention.
“That leg looks nasty,” Mand opined.
“Just a bit of a scrape.”
“He'll be fine in a few days.” Jemma predicted.
“Snap!” Sal exclaimed .
“You wear the same bras as me.” She grinned.
Can things get any worse?
“Okay people,” Chris mentioned to get our attention, “due to Mr Bond's little mishap we'll cut the session here. Once we get back, we've a little treat for you so I'd like everyone out front of the hotel looking smart for six thirty please. Drew, you're riding the bus back, everyone else, five minutes.”
I can't say that I was sorry not to be riding back, besides which I think I've done something to my gears when I kissed the tarmac. Jemma lent me a top so I wasn't travelling in just bra and torn bib shorts ; not that it bothered me now things are a bit more out in the open. No, it was more to continue some pretence on the squad that I'm a lad with some unwanted extras.
I knocked on Dad and Josh's door.
“‘S'open.” Dad advised.
I pushed it open and stepped inside.
“What's up kiddo, why aren't you ready?”
“I'm gonna have to miss it, I can't get my trousers on with the dressing, if I take it off I'll probably bleed everywhere.”
“You moaning again man?” Josh queried joining us from the bathroom.
“Trousers, leg.” I stated.
“Why not go like that?” he suggested.
I looked down, “I am not going to eat with a towel wrapped around me.”
“I don't think that's what Josh meant.” Dad observed.
“What I meant like was wear a skirt.”
“You have got to be joking!”
“No, serious like, I'm shoo-er one of the girls could lend you one like, it wouldn't be tight on your leg, job sorted.”
“So this morning I spring my boobs on them, tonight I turn up in a skirt. No way José!”
So of course it wasn't even a plain skirt, oh no, when I joined the others on the veranda I was wearing a knee length floral number albeit with a plain white t-shirt. Apparently the only plain ones any of the girls had were tight and no better than trousers for my battered hip. I could hardly wear this girly girly skirt and even think I looked remotely boy so of course Mand had an ‘idea' and so here I am masquerading as a girl again.
“I wouldn't've believed it.” Mark had observed when I made my way out.
“Me either.” I sighed in resignation.
“Well I think he looks cute.” Claire put in.
“Miss Bond?” Chris enquired when he spotted me.
“Er yes sir, look I can just stay here, this wasn't my idea, I don't mind.” I jabbered.
“Your dad did warn me, can't say it's the solution I might have thought of but I guess it works.”
“We are a all a ready, no?” Giovanni suggested as he joined us outside of the hotel.
“I think so,” Chris allowed.
“So we go then, come.”
Our host led the way first heading towards the town centre before turning us down a gennel, which popped us out on the waterfront. Have I really put a skirt on just to have dinner a few metres from the hotel? However we continued past the restaurants and so on for another fifty metres before we came to a halt.
“She 's a beautiful no?” Giovanni offered.
‘She' when I looked over the quayside, was a fairly vintage looking motor launch.
“Come, come, is a plenty * room.”
Well this is different. Of course the lads just clambered aboard but Giovanni insisted on helping all of ‘us' girls including Jemma and Caroline who surprisingly was wearing a nice frock. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bitching but I think I've seen her in a dress like once before and that was for some fancy dinner she and Mum went to years back.
The boat's engine spluttered to life and soon we were heading out across the waters of Lago di Como.
“Where're we going like?” Josh enquired of no one in particular.
“We go to the restaurant of my wife's brother Luigi in a Sala Comancina, he make a you special meal.” Giovanni supplied.
“My money's on spaghetti.” Geth whispered.
“As long as it's not pizza,” Sal opined, “that stuff we had yesterday was like cardboard.”
That's what happens when you export cheese on toast around the world, some like it crispy, others want extra topping; only the name stays the same.
Of course Mand was alright about my sudden sex change, she has after all seen Gaby before but the other girls were clearly not quite so at ease with it. The guys, after a few crass remarks, seemed much more at ease with the whole idea, Josh of course has seen ‘her' before but I was surprised by the others.
The tiny launch chugged out across the lake affording us views along the lake and of Mount Calbiga up above our destination. By the time the distant shore was no longer distant I'd pretty much forgotten about my current attire and I guess as it wasn't mentioned, so had my companions.
“Come on girls, stop dilly dallying.” Steve prompted after we disembarked.
“Drew lost a shoe.” Sal advised.
“Found it?” Steve queried.
“Er yeah, the heel got stuck.” Oh I didn't mention that did I? No one could find any spare shoes could they; apart that is from a pair of one size too big strappy sandals with a five-centimetre heel. Grrr!
“Well come on then, don't want to miss the food,” he chivvied.
Too right, I've not dressed like this to then miss the main event!
La Romantica Como is located maybe twenty metres from the landing stage that Giovanni had landed us at, twenty metres up a set of steps from the lakeside to the already busy restaurant garden.
“Hey Luigi!” Giovanni called out from above.
I'd love to tell you what they said but like my Italian doesn't go much beyond ‘Prego!' whatever, we were herded to a corner where seating for seventeen was accomplished via two tables for six and a third for five. It must be some sort of herd instinct as the lads distributed themselves across two tables, the girls homing in on the other taking me with them. When the dust settled Jemma had joined us as we were on one of the six place tables.
“This is all a bit posh,” Laura noted as she checked out the silverware.
“There probably won't be much chance later, so make the most of it.” Jemma suggested.
“Did we need to dress up?” Sal moaned.
“Not essential,” Jem allowed, “but think of it as a team building exercise, not just the riders but the coaches, mechanics even li'l ole me.”
“Wish I'd known, I'd have brought something better than this.” Claire observed.
“We know now, so we can be prepared next time.” Mand stated.
“You're not saying much Drew,” Jemma observed .
“Just hungry really and like my side and shoulder hurt a bit.”
“You certainly did a number on them.”
“If it's worth doing…” I allowed.
“Even if it means you have to get girlied up?” she questioned.
It's not that I wanted to crash, is it?
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 08.07.13