“Drew! Über hier!” Ron yelled out.
“Not exactly shrinking violets.” I mentioned to Mand.
“Wish I was right now.” She whispered.
We crossed to where Claire, Gret, Ron and Tali occupied a table.
“Guys, this is Mand, Mand meet Roni, Talia and Greta.”
“Nice to meet you.” Mand offered.
By this time Claire's jaw was nearly on the floor.
My German friends were unaware there was anything amiss of course having never met Mand before.
“We've er had a little hair dye incident.” I mumbled .
“It was only meant to be a couple of shades!” Mand groaned .
“The Boss is gonna go ballistic.” Claire finally got out.
“Not helpful,” I observed, “we can't dye it darker for a couple of days, any ideas?”
“I thought perhaps you were albino,” Ron considered.
“How about one of those highlighter sprays?” Tali suggested.
“Isn't that going the wrong way?” Gret queried, “We need darker not lighter.”
“They do them for dark hair, a few shades lighter than your natural.” Tal seemed to know plenty about this stuff.
“Sounds good, what do you reckon Mand?”
“‘S worth a try,” she shrugged.
“There's a store just up the street, I'll see if they've got some if you like?” Tal offered.
“I'll come with you,” Mand stated, “I need some dye anyhow.”
“We'll wait here, you want coffee Claire?”
Tal led Miss White off down the street.
“What was she thinking?” Claire enquired.
“She said she wanted a change.” I supplied.
“It's certainly that!”
“Don't go on about it eh? She's bound to get an ear bashing anyhow.” I pressed.
When they returned, Mand's hair, whilst still very blonde did at least have some colour to it and she had eyebrows again – a definite improvement.
“The assistant,” Tali mentioned, “she thinks better to wait longer before the new colour.”
At least Manda looked more like herself than an anti Goth, a definite improvement. We finished our coffee and prepared to move on.
“What's the time?” Claire asked.
“Er, just turned five.” I supplied having spotted the Rathaus clock.
“We need to be back and changed for seven,” she noted.
“You guys are out on the town tonight?” Gret queried.
“Nah, the hotel is a garni so we have to eat in town somewhere.”
“We are staying in student accommodation, we'll be enjoying the canteen,” Roni sighed.
That could've been me if BC hadn't got me first.
We wandered along the street to the Reuss then back towards the lake.
“So who else is on Team Deutschland?”
“Just us three on the girls,” Tali advised, “there should've been another but she had to pull out.”
“What about the boys?”
“You know most of them Drew, I think maybe Paul Innerthausen not, he rides mostly in the former east.”
“Doesn't ring any bells.” I agreed. “Did you know Dad's here?”
“With you?” Gret clarified.
“With the team, he's been in Italy with us too.”
“Pah, no slacking then ladies.” Roni grinned.
All too soon it was time for us to go our separate ways, Claire, Mand and I were nearly back to the Löwenplatz Plaza before I realised why it felt strange. Normally if I'm with Ron and co we're staying in the same place – and racing on the same team. Racing against them is gonna take some getting used to.
Dinner was unremarkable, we used a place on the Weinmarkt, everyone having the set menu of tomato soup followed by pork medallions with the trimmings – even that was twenty quid a head. The conversation was mostly about what the others got up to at the Lido and the big museum they'd passed to get there, some sort of railway collection – Mand's hair was surprisingly not mentioned. As usual Chris stood to give us tomorrow's programme.
“I hope you all had a good afternoon, it's back to the bikes tomorrow! So after breakfast we'll go down to the event HQ to get you signed in and get your race numbers etc. then we'll be doing a steady ride straight from there. We'll have a team conference before we go to dinner – there's a reception for all the teams in the town hall so make sure your smart gear is er smart.
That's it, I suggest an early night is in order, questions?”
There being none, he sat to finish his drink while we all started making departure moves.
“Amanda? Could I see you before you leave please?” Caro requested .
I guess the fan and excrement combination was inevitable.
“Drew, Jamie, a moment please.” Chris requested after we'd done with the formal signing on business next morning.
“Sure Boss, what's up?” I can't believe I've finally got here, riding for BC in a proper international race.
“The race organisers want to borrow you two for some publicity stuff this afternoon so after our ride Mr Bond will bring you both back along here.”
Maybe we'll get a chance to look around the museum, that'd be cool.
“You both okay with that? I think they've asked for a couple of riders from all the bigger squads.”
“I guess it goes with the job,” Jamie noted.
“Maybe we can get a sponsorship deal with Swiss cheese.” I grinned.
As we were at the Verkehrshaus, the Swiss transport museum, our training ride quite sensibly headed east from there to Zugersee, which we then circled before looping around the airport towards Rothenburg. From there it was back into Luzern, it was a little over a hundred kilometres, not at race speed but not hanging about too much either. I think we were all feeling quite good and the coaching team looked pretty happy too.
It wasn't the hardest ride or the most difficult terrain; in fact it was pretty level for most of the time. Compared to our time in Italy it had certainly been much easier terrain but I think we were still all quite happy to stop.
“Jamie, Drew, quick shower back here in fifteen minutes please.” Chris instructed, “rest of you thirty minutes.
“Come on you two, we were supposed to be there ten minutes ago,” Dad chivvied.
“We got to ride?” I queried noting the bikes on the Mercedes' roof.
“I doubt it,” Dad supplied pulling out into the traffic, “most likely just standing with them.”
“Ah think even ah can manage that.” Jamie offered.
“So what are the others doing this afternoon?”
“I think they're having a boat ride,” Dad mentioned.
Once on the lakeside road it didn't take long to cover the couple of K to the Swiss Transport Museum, Dad parked us up opposite and we were soon pushing our steeds through a side entrance into the complex.
“Abend, Team GB.” Dad told the pleasant looking woman with the clipboard who greeted us
“Gut, you are the last to arrive.”
“Sorry we got a bit lost on our training ride , ” Dave supplied.
“Come, they are just setting up.”
We followed her out into the main courtyard where another couple of dozen of our fellow riders waited their turn to be ‘arranged'.”
“Please the race jerseys.” Our guide gave instruction – in German, as that's how Dad had addressed her.
“What's going on Drew?” Jamie queried.
“She wants us in our race kit.”
Dad held the bikes while we stripped down to our riding kit before we were all ‘artfully' arranged for a group photograph.
“Wonder why they didna e have one o' the girls, most of the other teams have a lassie here.” Jamie observed.
I hadn't really thought about it, Tali was here with some long streak I vaguely recognised but I presumed the organisers had chosen randomly.
“No idea, maybe they picked the best looking.” I joked.
Once the group stuff was done with we had ‘per team' photos - which I wrongly assumed would be the end of it.
“What now Dad?” we had found a bench to sit on out of the direct glare of the sun.
“No idea kiddo, oh looks like our minder is back.”
“Hallo,” she greeted in German once again, “would it be possible to borrow the small one for a while, the tourist office would like some extra pictures, you two gents can explore the museum.”
“You okay with that , Drew?” Dave asked his offspring .
“Great, if you bring your bike.”
“What's happening , Mr Bond?” Jamie asked.
“We, young man get to explore the museum, Drew's doing more photos.”
“Ha, wheedled the ugly ones out of the running,” he grinned.
“Guess I'll see you later.” I noted as my guide led me off.
“Later,” Jamie allowed.
“So, Drew, yes? I'm Adelheid.”
“Too long,” she moaned, “most people call me Heidi, you too eh.”
“So what am I doing now, Heidi?”
“I think they have some traditions costume, they don't tell us so much.”
“Like lederhosen and stuff?”
“I think yes, it is Schweiz, it is expected.” She observed.
Well I guess I'll survive wearing the leather, done a lot worse after all.
Another girl took me into a makeshift changing area where an assortment of clothing was hung in bags waiting for wearers.
“You have worn the dirndl before?”
Dirndl? What is she on about?
“Not even for the Heimatfest? Ah well, please your cycle clothing remove.”
I was half undressed when a familiar voice broke into my thoughts.
“Drew? That you?” Tali queried.
“In the er flesh so to speak.” I allowed, “Where are you?”
“The other side, so they got you too eh?”
“Looks like it, what've they got you wearing?”
“The full landeskleidung, I'm just waiting for someone to do my hair I think, what about you?”
“Lederhosen I guess, the girl from the tourist people muttered something about shoes and disappeared.”
Of course at that moment she reappeared.
“Not you too, do none of you wear proper underwear? Obviously not.”
What is she on about; oops I forgot about my erm, vest.
She started rooting around in a box and after an ‘aha!' and ‘these'll do' she returned to where I was trying to cover myself up sat in just my skivvies.
“Here we go, hurry up now, we've a lot to do and not so much time.” She advised handing me a couple of bags of – you've got to be kidding.
“But I'm a..”
“Come on, we haven't time to discuss things,” she insisted.
I should've smelt a rat earlier when Heidi referred to me as ‘the small one' and dur, my tormentor here was on about dirndl's – that's like the landeskleidung that Tali said she's wearing – sugar, they think I'm a girl.
“Please hurry, the boys are waiting.”
“Go with it girl, no one's gonna recognise you.” She'd obviously been listening in.
“Got Drew, it's not like you don't wear dresses at home.”
“You think I'm overjoyed either?”
Fifteen minutes later, my hair braided and pinned, exposing more chest than is really necessary, my skirts swirling about my knees, I followed Tali and our dresser across into the main railway hall to start the photo shoot. Apparently my costume is typical of Graubünden, which is southeast Switzerland, Tali has the Valais variation, the difference mostly being the headgear and lace patterns. I felt a right prawn wearing this stuff and especially here and in this context.
We met up with the rest of the ‘models', a French lad called something Roland and Czech kid who's grasp of German was on the level of ‘ja' and French no better. The ‘artistic director' soon had us posing in groups, singly, with bikes, without bikes, on locomotives, in carriages. Tali kept pulling silly faces, which had me giggling and totally forgetting that I'm not a girl, and should not be dressed as some sort of Alpine Lolita posing around a museum.
After exhausting the opportunities in the rail halls we moved to another building where we repeated the process with an assortment of cable car gondolas and other bits of tourist moving equipment. Of course the museum is open to normal visitors so we often had a bit of an audience, we'd just moved outside where an old post bus awaited the photographic treatment when I spotted Dad and Jamie.
“Looks like Tali got nabbed too.” Dave observed watching the photographic shenanigans.
“Tali?” Jamie queried.
“The dark haired girl, one of my other charges on the Apollinaris squad, she's riding for the German Federation this week.”
“Ah, one of the girls Manda and Claire were talking about last night.”
“Can't see Drew there.” Dave noted.
“He'll be hiding somewhere, the other girl's a bit of a looker, if she rides a bike as well as she looks in that outfit we'll all be beat before we start,” Jamie chuckled.
Dave gave the smaller girl a bit more attention – no, it can't be, but it must be, how the… “I er guess we'll find out tomorrow.” What the hell is the kid up to? First there was Wednesday night, creeping around in Gaby mode then returning like the cat with the cream and now this.
“Hey look, it's your dad, with the red haired boy.” Tali observed, “Mr Bond!” she waved at Dad who waved back.
“That's Jamie, he comes from Schottland .” I supplied.
“Please, your attention ladies!” the AD snapped.
“Er sorry,” Tali apologised .
“We are nearly done, one more set outside of the museum then we are finished.”
It was closing on five when we returned to the dressing room to change out of our landeskleidung and back into our own stuff. By now, after something like three hours I'd completely forgotten that I was supposed to be in boy mode. I have seen most of the museum for free and it was sort of fun in the end.
“Tal, do us a favour, take a picture on my phone?”
She took several and I did the same for her.
“So who you sending that to?” she enquired as I fiddled with my handy after getting out of the costume.
“Just Mum, she'll get a kick out of it.”
“Yes I think so too.” Tal agreed.
My fingers flew over the keys:
Hi Toni, missing you, tht u'd lk this pic, H&K, D
I pressed send before Tali could see the message.
“You going like that?” Tali suggested as I gathered my stuff.
Our borrowed underwear had been ‘given' to us so I hadn't bothered changing my BH or undoing my hair from the twin pretzels I'd worn most of the afternoon.
“I thought you said it was Drew you were being for this racing? It is most certainly Gaby I see before me.”
Oh bugger! I' d been that carried away that I'd forgotten about it .
“Ah Drew,” Heidi got my attention before I could take any action, “your manager has taken your bike, he said to meet at the Mercedes?”
“Er yes, um okay, thanks Heidi.”
“I need to get on, thanks for doing this today, I'll see you girls at the start tomorrow.”
“Yeah, bye Heidi,” Tal agreed.
“Bye Heidi,” I added.
Sugar! Even more complications.
“Your mess Gaby.” She smirked.
“Please?” I begged.
“You know I'd help you.” I whined.
“So what am I doing?”
“Talk to Dad while I sort myself out, we'll give you a lift back.” I offered, she'd been left to find her own way back into Luzern as the rest of the German squad were training this afternoon.
“Okay, you got me.”
When I got back to room 416 Josh was lying on his bed with the TV on, looked like the local evening news.
“You were a long time like.”
“Er yeah, lots of pictures and we got to go around the museum?”
“Whatever, we've been out on the lake and up that big mountain, Piltus or something, awesome or what, you can see right over the lake from up the-are man.”
To be honest I wouldn't've minded doing that myself.
“I'd best shake a leg,” I allowed.
“Aye, the Boss wants us doonstairs in like ten minutes,” Josh supplied.
I was halfway through re-dressing for this reception thing when my handy started buzzing at me with a message. I flipped it open and hit read.
Bella thx 4 the pic, u lk mor buty thn evr. Is pic of Toni eh! Ciao Bella, Toni
The picture was one of those cheesy self portraits, not exactly straight, odd expression, the whole nine yards but it was a picture of Toni, my Toni – I started to get squidgy.
“Hey Drew, they've got a piece on the race man.” Josh called towards the bathroom.
“Coming.” I replied pulling my shirt closed over my chest as I sank onto my bed to watch.
‘Tomorrow sees the start of the eighth edition of the Helvetica Cup from the Verkehrshaus here in Luzern. Over the next five days some of the top junior riders from around Europe will pit their bike handling skills against the testing terrain of the Mitteland.'
The picture changed from the studio to what appeared to be footage from this afternoon.
‘This afternoon some of the stars of tomorrow posed for photographs at the Verkehrshaus with some really getting into the Swiss experience by donning local costumes.'
Oh sugar with extra erm, sugar! How comes I hadn't seen the TV crew? There I was, on screen with Tali, in a flippin' dress mugging for the cameras as we sat on the old post bus.
‘We'll be following the progress of these girls and the other competitors with daily bulletins and live coverage of Sunday's mountain time trial. And now the weather.'
“That was Tali!” Josh exclaimed.
“Well I did tell you we saw the girls yesterday.”
“But you didn't mention you saw her today.”
“Didn't think about it,” I admitted.
In case you've missed it, Josh and Tali are sort of an item. But did he recognise me ?
“She looks a fair bonny lass in that dress like.”
“Er yeah.” I agreed crossing my fingers behind my back, “We should get to this meeting thing.”
“Aye.” He agreed silencing the idiot box, “Don't wanna be late.”
He didn't recognise me, he didn't recognise me . I repeated as a silent mantra.
“Not that your dress wasn't nice, man,” he added after a brief pause.
I'm dead, everyone'll know, it's not like you dress like that by accident is it?
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 19.07.13