book 2 Gaby Title.jpg
Part 74

Over The Edge

It was with more than a little trepidation that I set out Monday morning for a training ride. Was it really only last week that I had the accident? I deliberately chose a route that didn't go along the Worksop road and just took it steady, yesterday's race was ridden on adrenaline and I'm still quite sore. At least it looked like the weather would be better today, not that we'd got much planned, not much more than hanging out really.

I pootled along, being exceedingly cautious at any side roads, and contemplated just why I did this. Of all the sports out there, why did I pick on one of the most dangerous sports going? Well it's not the cycling that's particularly dangerous; it's the interaction with other traffic really. If I really thought about, I was fairly immune to the 'close calls' that I have nearly every time I go out, cars cutting in, pulling out, drivers on their phones or just driving too fast for narrow lanes.

So why do I do it? Mum's influence? Well although she encouraged me when I started, she never pushed me into it; it was more a natural progression from our family bike rides. Did I mention before that I hate football? And I'm hardly rugby material, I get bored running and I have trouble hitting small balls approaching at high speed. So I picked something I enjoy doing. Am I having second, nervous thoughts? You bet! I mean I could do track, I really enjoyed that session at Manchester but even they go out on the roads to train. Mountain biking? It wouldn't be the same and there wouldn't be any cars, just big rocks to hit!

I chortled to myself; all those Beckham wannabes would shit themselves doing my 'sissy' sport. 'Ooh it's hard, that car was close, you mean push harder?' the national obsession, a sport worth millions, and it's kids kicking a ball about! And if they hurt themselves they kwai and make a fuss, bike riders, even plebes like me, just get back on and keep going - now who're the wimps?

A particularly bumpy stretch of tarmac made me concentrate on what I was doing a bit more. I heard a car behind me and with the oncoming coal truck imagined it would wait the ten seconds the truck would take to pass. No way Jose! Dive past me and then cut straight to the kerb to avoid the now hooting truck. Me? Oh I'm just the bike that has to jam the brakes on and almost end up in the ditch to avoid the now almost stationary car! See? Hopefully that's today's attempt to kill me done with. Ha! I laugh in the face of danger!

I remember Mum once telling me of a similar incident back when she first started riding. She was out with her club one Sunday and a car did a similar trick forcing several riders onto the verge. One old geezer came out smiling though, it was before click in pedals, so every one had what Mum called quill pedals, you know with toe clips and straps. Anyway this old bloke was gleeful because the car came so close that his pedal made contact and left a great spiral motif in the paintwork! Well they say every cloud has a silver lining!

I turned back into our estate and was soon in the shower. All this excitement, and before breakfast too. I checked my various aches and pains out while I dried myself off, the bruises were now mostly in the more yellow phase although a few darker patches stubbornly remain. Dressed, I joined my sister in the kitchen to get some breakfast.

"Morning Drew"

"Hi Jules"

"How did your ride go?"

"You mean apart from the mad assassin?"

She raised her brows at me. I went on

"The ride was okay I guess, I don't hurt as much as yesterday anyway"

"That's good. What are you doing today?"

"Just going to Mad's, hey did you know we're related?"

"'Course, didn't you?"

"No, Dad told me last night"

Before I go on, I think I need to explain something for you. I know it seems that the gang spends a lot of time at the Peter's house, even more this summer. Well there is a reason; Aunt Carol has sort of assumed 'baby sitting' duties as the only non-working parent. Bernie's Mum works shifts at Sainsbury's in Worksop, her Dad is on the council works, I think he's an electrician. You already know what both Rhod and my parents do which just leaves Ally's Olds. Her Mum works in an office somewhere and her father runs a garage over at Langwith Junction. So, although she's not there 100% of the time, she is our 'responsible adult', remember she was first to the hospital last week? Any way, back to this morning.

"I thought you were at Charlie's last night?"

"I was but I decided to get a lift home with her Dad this morning, there's some stuff I need to do here today"

Sounded like they'd fallen out to me!

"Anyway, what brought up the rel's?"

"Oh we were just talking" I didn't really want to enlarge beyond that, "what's so urgent here then?"

"I thought I'd get the spare room ready for next week"

"Next week?" a blonde moment!

"We have guests. From America!"

"Oh yeah, who's sleeping where?" already having some idea what was coming.

"You get the spare room, Debbie and Britney go in your room" she stated

"Why do I have to move? Couldn't they use the spare room?"

"Hardly. Where do you propose two of them sleep, there's barely room for one bed, your room has plenty of space to put the pullout."

"Debbie could share with you, you've got a double bed"

"As if! If you think I'm sharing with a stranger!"

Looks like I was going to be evicted.

"Need any help?" I half-heartedly offered

"No, it's mostly tidying stuff up so you can get in, but you can do the washing up"

"Okay" I sighed

"And you could run the hoover round down here"

"Yes mistress" I mocked which got a strange look from my sibling.


It was getting on for ten when I grabbed my mobile and headed out to Mansion Peters. On the way over I thought about whether I should mention my newly found information regarding our families. Does Mad know already? If I didn't, why would she? I was still undecided when I arrived.

"Morning Drew"

"Hi Mad"

"Everyone else is already here" she told me as we walked through to the back garden.

"Hi Drew" Rhod mentioned

"Hi guys" I greeted them collectively

The girls chorused a "hi" in reply

"What's doing then?" I asked

"Not much, Rhod was just telling us about his Gran's cat getting run over" Bern advised me

"Don't let me interrupt then" I sighed

"Go on Rhod, it landed on the bonnet" Ally prompted

"Yeah bonnet, that's right, it landed legs out like this" he sat back to demonstrate for us. "Sort of Tom & Jerry style! By the time the car stopped, Ging was off across the road"

"Wasn't she hurt?" Mad enquired

"Probably, she only reappeared just before Dad and I left to meet Mum, Gran was going to take her to the vet this morning" he concluded

"I hope she's okay Rhod" Ally offered

"I don't suppose there's too much the matter, I mean she took off like a Ferrari"

"Still" Ally mentioned

"Talking of relatives, did you know me and Mad are related"

"'Course we do" Bernie replied

I was stunned. Did everyone else know but me?

"Yeah we all know Gaby is Mad's cousin" Rhod put in

"No, I mean really related"

"You mean like for real?" Ally asked

"Did you know Mad?" Bern asked her

"Yeah, Mum told me a while ago but it's not like we're close family, my great great aunt Doris was Drew's great great Gran. I think Mum said we're fourth cousins or something like that" Mad explained, "what brought that up Drew?"

"I just found out last night, that's all"

"Well Cousin Drew you fancy going up the village?" Mad proposed

"Sounds good" I replied

"I need the chemists" Ally mentioned

"We gonna be long?" Rhod asked

"Dunno, we need to be back for lunch anyway. Why" Mad queried

"I was gonna ring Gran about Ging"

"Do it before we go" I suggested

"You're not just a pretty face are you?" Ally riposted

I just blushed. Rhod and Maddy went inside to organise the call.

"Are you three coming or what?" Maddy called from the back door

"What" I reflexively replied. Well I thought it was funny.

We joined the others and set off with a shopping list from Mrs P, Aunt Carol as well as our own errands.

"So how's the cat?" Bernie asked Rhod

"She'll live, nothing broken and the vet couldn't find anything else"

"Only eight left then" I mentioned

"Eight what?" Rhod queried

"Dur. Lives of course"

"Oh yeah, I guess" he replied absently

"Something up Rhod?" Bernie suggested

"Not really, Gran just reminded me that I'm going again this weekend"

Knowing how Rhod felt about his visits to his Dad we all let the subject drop. We were soon in the great metropolis of Warsop and our first stop was the chemist's for Ally. Rhod elected to wait outside citing the limited space in the little shop. I elected to join him after a couple of minutes inside; they were looking at women's stuff. Rhod was muttering to himself when I returned to the street.

"Mfanwy tidy your room, Mfanwy put on a dress, Mfanwy this, Mfanwy that" his tone was mocking

"Hey Rhod what's up?" I interrupted, "who's Merfanwee?"

Rhod jerked to attention at my voice.

"Oh hiya"

"Who's Merfanwee?" I repeated

Obviously a bit flustered, Rhod replied

"My er, ah, cousin. In Wales."

"You never said you've got cousins and stuff"

"Never came up" he mentioned

"Guess not" I shook my head

"What are you two up to?" Mad queried

"Rhod was just telling me about his cousin Merfanwee"

I wasn't quite sure, but I thought Ally shot Rhod a look.

"I wasn't really, I just said she was my cousin" Rhod stated

"Where next?" Bernie asked

"Bakers and the supermarket" Mad told us looking at her list

We trooped along the pavement to the crossing, waited for the lights to change and dove into the bakers on the other side.

"Hi girls"

It was Mrs Jenkins from the bank, just my luck!

"Oh hi" Ally replied

"Didn't hardly recognise you Gaby without a skirt on" she joked

I blushed again, embarrassed and relieved at the same time. Maddy quickly picked up the conversation.

"Shorts are more practical for doing stuff"

"I suppose so" Mrs Jenkins allowed, "still, you always look pretty, whatever you're wearing"

Rhod and Ally started to smirk and Bernie decided the contents of the hot cabinet were very interesting. Me, I was even redder now.

"Er thanks" I replied

"Well I have to get back, early lunch" she indicated the cup and bag she was holding, "bye girls".

"Bye" we sort of chorused as she left

Mad got the bread and pastries on her list and we headed back towards the supermarket.

"Why me?" I mentioned to no one in particular

"It could have been worse" Ally suggested

"How?"

"Well she could have spotted you for a boy" Ally went on

"You'd be in deep doo doo then," Bernie added

"I guess"

For once being mistaken for a girl has a plus side!

Well I have to say that after the trip up the village, the rest of the day was pretty normal! We got back to Maddy's just as Mrs P was serving out our lunch, sandwiches, crisps and stuff followed by home made fruit salad with ice cream - not gourmet stuff but enjoyed just the same! The afternoon was spent playing badminton; I tried to emulate my skills of the school tournament a couple of weeks ago, however it seemed that as a boy I suck at badminton!

After tea we variously got collected, dropped or otherwise returned home where I, for my sins set to polishing my new bike, again!


Tuesday morning. Was I hearing Mad right?

"You want to ride tonight?" I clarified

"Why not? She asked defensively

"Hey, if you want to ride I'll come and cheer you on Mad"

"Aren't you riding then?" she probed

"I thought I'd give it a miss after last week"

"Pity"

"Why?"

"I wanted to compare our times"

"Yeah well"

"It's that road isn't it?"

"That obvious?"

"Well you'll have to get over it sometime" Mad mentioned in a softer tone

"I know, but not just yet"

"Do you think you could check my bike then?" she asked

"Sure, you coming over?"

"Half an hour?"

"See you then"

"Byee"

I put down the phone. There I'd admitted it. I was afraid to go down that damned road, past that junction. Logically I know the chances of a repeat are zillions to one, but still...

Maddy wheeled her bike into the bicycle land that is our garage.

"Hiya Drew"

"Hi Mad, you want to get a drink while I do your bike?"

"Thanks"

"You know where"

Mad went into the house while I put her bike into the stand. I'll be straight; Mad's bike is not a racer, not by any definition! I was checking that her gears were working when I got the idea.

"How is it?" mad asked returning with two cans of pop

"'S okay but it's never gonna fly" I joked

"Well it will have to do for my short race career"

"What if I had an alternative?"

"What do you mean?"

"Another bike"

"Eh?"

"What if you borrowed a bike for tonight?"

"I suppose," she creased her brow in thought a moment, "you don't mean yours?"

"No not mine, Mums"

"Get real Drew, it's right fancy with all those gears and stuff, and it's your Mum's" she stated

"Humour me eh? Just try it, Mum wouldn't mind. It's only collecting dust at the moment."

She contemplated the idea a while as I opened my can.

"Okay, but if I don't like it I ride mine"

"Deal"

I took Mad's clunker out of the stand, retrieved Mum's bike from it's hook and gave it the once over, just a little more air in the tyres and it was ready. I stood it on the floor next to the workbench and indicated for Mad to get on.

"The saddles a bit high isn't it?"

"Stand on the pedal and push up"

She was soon perched atop the machine but not looking very comfortable. A couple of minutes with an Allen key and at least her position was right.

"I'm not sure about this" Mad stated nervously, "and I can't use these pedals"

"If I put your pedals on will you give it a go?"

"Okay"

So that's what I did. Ten minutes later, with me riding alongside, Mad was getting to grips with Mum's race bike. Half an hour later she had mastered the Ergo levers and was starting to enjoy herself! We returned to the garage.

"Okay I'm convinced" she enthused as she carefully propped the machine up.

 Maddy looked the part, if a little retro!

"If you're riding that you need to look the part too"

"I am not wearing one of those suit things!" she stated

"Let me have a look to see what I can find"

"Okay"

An hour later we both rode over to Mad's place.


"I thought I was seeing double" Aunt C mentioned

I had managed to round up a full set of kit for Mad, mitts, shorts and jersey and convinced her to try toe clips without the straps. She looked like she'd been doing it for years.

"Drew leant me some kit for tonight" Mad pointlessly told her

"And a bike?"

"It's Mum's, she gets a team bike now so I said Mad could use it tonight"

Mrs P, although not a cyclist was obviously aware that the sparkly machine her daughter was parking was not a Halfords 99 special!

"You take care of that, remember it's not yours" she told Mad

"Yes Mum, I know"

"So you're both racing tonight then?" Aunt Carol asked

"Just me," Mad replied, "Drew doesn't feel up to it"

"I'm the support tonight" I informed her

I was nervous as I followed Mad along toward Cuckney but by the time we passed the site of my accident I was busy alongside her giving her tips.

"Hello young Bond, feeling better?" John greeted me

"Yes thanks, a bit sore still"

"You both riding?"

"Just Mad tonight, I'm the masseuse" I joked

Mad sorted the paperwork and joined me at 'our' bench. I returned the favour that I'd previously received from Mad, her legs felt really nice, I think I like rubbing girls legs! I kept enviously looking at everyone else getting ready, but I'm not riding. John had put Mad off number three so she nervously rode off towards the start. I could stand it no longer, I mean I had all my kit, heck, my girlfriend is riding, why wasn't I riding?

"John can I get a ride please?"

"Sure Gaby, you're just in time"

I got twenty-nine, last off. By the time I was fully ready I was just in time to cheer Maddy past. For a complete novice she was looking pretty stylish even if she wasn't going that fast. I made my way to the start and waited my turn.

"Go!"

I was quickly up to speed and in just over a minute I was past my bogey junction, Maddy riding had just taken me over the edge, giving that extra push that I needed. Well I concentrated on turning the pedals and I only just spotted Mad as she headed to the finish, I reckoned she had about a minute to go, so that's under thirty minutes! Pretty cool. By the time I reached the same spot, my earlier fears were long gone and my computer was still running in the 23's.

"Come on Drew" Mad shouted as I passed her about a hundred metres from the line.

I heaved myself over the line unable to even gasp my number. Mad was waiting when I got back to the 'HQ'.

"I didn't think you could resist it once we got here" Mad told me

"What did you do?" I managed between gasps

"I don't know yet, it was so much easier on your Mum's bike"

For once the bike did make the difference!

"Gaby!" John called out

"Ye-ss"

"Ah there you two are," he mentioned coming over to us, "well done both of you. Madeline, you've done 29.31 and Gaby another excellent ride, 24.45!"

"Thanks John"

"Pleasure ladies"

"Weee!" Mad mentioned

"Well done Mad, that's quicker than my first go"

We celebrated with a bag of chips and a pickled onion on the way home. I've got a sneaky feeling that Mad riding tonight was a ploy to get me to, if it was she certainly didn't spare any effort. I'm pretty impressed with her time; perhaps it's in the family genes? Back home things were not gonna go quite so smoothly!

Maddy Bell 04.01.04 Secret © 2004

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