book 3 Gaby Title.jpg
Part 97

Time Flies

"Come on Drew, time to get up!"

I didn't exactly snap to it, when I did crack an eye I was momentarily confused by my surroundings.

"Come on son, the girls are already downstairs getting breakfast"

It all came flooding back now. The drive down last night and the look on Brit's face when Dad announced the sleeping arrangements, me sharing with him and the three girls in the other room. Just in case you missed it last weekend, the Walters and Sab have now got it in their heads that I'm actually a girl pretending to be a boy. I know, but they'll be gone in a couple of weeks and they've promised to keep schtum! I've given up trying to disenchant them of the idea. Oh yeah we're here because at two this afternoon I'm competing in the National under 13's circuit race championship at London's Eastway circuit.

I have to admit to being a bit keyed up, this is my first National Championship and I'm feeling some pressure. Mum gave me some tips when I spoke to her on Thursday but to be honest I'm mostly concerned about the weather, I don't want to repeat last weeks 'heroics'! Dad picked my wheels up yesterday and I'm borrowing Mum's club skinsuit seeing as I wrecked mine last week.

I'm feeling pretty fit despite my scrapes and bruises, I've been training most days this week so there's no excuses, it's up to me and I must say, having the Tour Feminin winner for a mother doesn't lessen the pressure!

We left for the circuit just after nine, the fifteen miles down the Lea Valley took over half an hour and according to Dad it wasn't even particularly busy. I'd hate to see London busy! We got parked and went to check out the circuit and other facilities.

"Hey wait up!" I looked around to see who was shouting.

"Wait up man!"

"That's your mate Josh" Dad advised

Josh caught up to us.

"Hiya Drew, I thought it was you"

"Hi Josh, you come down yesterday too?"

"Aye man, Uncle Joe brought me" he gave the girls a look then a questioning glance back to me.

"Er you remember Britney, she was at Harrogate, this is Deb, Brits sister and this is Jules, my sister"

"Nice to meet you" Josh said to them

I went on, "this is Josh Waugh from Newcastle"

Josh chuckled, "can you believe it, I thought this little squib was a girlie"

"Josh!" I hissed but he didn't take the hint

"Uncle Joe says he's only seen one girl ride like Drew here and that's Jenny Bond. Must be in the blood man," he concluded slapping a meaty hand on my shoulder causing me to wince.

"You okay man?"

"I had a crash last week" I admitted

"I might have a chance then" he chuckled, "look I have to go, see you later"

"Yeah, later Josh"

"Sheesh, does he ever stop talking? And that accent" Deb enquired

"Not often" I noted

We went by the HQ complex to use the facilities before returning to the car to get my bike ready. Time was starting to get on and the car park was just about full, with six age groups and up to forty riders in each, well that's quite a lot of vehicles. I gave my bike one last polish before going to the bike check, Mum always says it helps her confidence, and it looks more professional!

I nodded greetings to a couple of my soon to be adversaries, it really is a small world; I spotted people that I recognised from my various trips around the country. Nottingham was in front of me in the queue and I recognised a couple of lads from the Oxford trip.

In some respects today is easier than a local race, or so Mum says. Why? Well the local rivalries often carry through, so much so that some of my fellow competitors will be concentrating on beating their local rivals rather than the race. Not only that but a lot of the riders are pack animals, take them out of their own pack and they tend to flounder, I wish!

At twelve sharp the circuit was opened and I joined Josh Waugh for a ride round and leg loosener. We didn't talk on the first lap, Josh leading the way as we covered the mile long circuit.

"Canny circuit eh Drew?"

I pulled alongside to talk.

"Pretty flat" I observed, "the Sheffield circuit is really steep"

"Aye man, my local circuit at Gateshead is much harder than this," he agreed

"There's the Scarborough lads, come on" I sprinted up to the group in front, Josh hard on my wheel. I had an idea.

"Hiya" I greeted them

"Oh hi it's you two, how's it going"

"Great thanks man" Josh replied

"Look guys, how do you fancy having a proper crack at this?"

"What do you mean? Proper crack?"

"Well make sure one of us at least has a good crack"

"You I suppose" one of the others grunted

"Not specifically"

"No man," Josh came in, "I reckon any one of us could win this like, but we can't do it alone"

"That's what I'm getting at, if we ride as a team, we all get a better shot"

"I suppose mummy told you that," one of them mocked

"Give over man, she won the tour didn't she?" Josh pointed out to them

"So okay 007, we're in. what do we do?"

I explained how it would work as we slowly rode around.

"Hey Drew!" a girls voice called out

I looked round and spotted a girl waving at me. I recognised her straight off, Kristen from that race at the power station

"Er see you guys later"

"Okay captain" Josh did a mock salute and I eased back so Kristen could catch up

"I thought it was you," she stated

"Hi Kristen, how's tricks?"

"Pretty good, I've been finishing with the boys the last few weeks"


"You guys looked pretty intense," she pointed out

"Team tactics, we all come from the same sort of area - ish"

"You're the only person I know here today," she lamented

I made a snap decision, "how about joining us?"

"Are you serious?"

"Well I reckon you could be a great help"

"If you're sure, I'm in!"

"Okay people" the official announced through the megaphone, his flat London accent giving a few people problems, "the first half lap is neutral, anyone racing before the green flag will be disqualified. You all know the rules..." he started to explain something or other.

"Guys, this is Kristen, she's gonna join us" I whispered to team North, "she knows what to do"

"Hi guys" Kristen mentioned

The others glanced round; I could see that even Josh wasn't exactly impressed by our new recruit.

"If you say so man," he allowed

"...Okay enjoy yourselves and have a good race!" he stood aside and some little fat guy with a big gold chain round his neck waved us away. Twenty-five laps, twenty-five miles, an hour or so's racing! My supporters club were stationed at the top of the 'climb' and they cheered loudly as we passed.

"Time for action!" I mentioned to Josh, "good luck"

"Not luck, planning!"

The race started proper and now it was serious. Our 'team' tactics were pretty simple, stamp on any move without one of us in, and if one of us gets away, the rest of us stop any chasers, like I said, simple. It was clear virtually straight away that nearly everyone else in the race were riding as individuals, they'd fall straight into our trap.

The lap countdown board flashed past again, seventeen, I was surprised when I heard a familiar voice.

"Go on Drew!" Maddy. What's she doing here, I glanced at the stand, and the whole Peters clan were there!

We did another couple of laps without incident, only a few riders were tailed out, mostly the girls but Kristen was still with us although she was starting to show signs of speed fatigue. I had an idea; I dropped back to talk to her. I explained my idea and she agreed to try it.

Eleven to go and time to party! My little team got Kristen in place, and right on cue she made the move onto the front of the bunch and by the line the plan was working a treat. I could see a few relieved faces around me as Kristen led us all over the line to start lap ten. The rest of us hung back a few places as we dropped towards the river and the 'climb', then as the roadway started to rise, all five of us made our move. Most of the bunch was still sorting out what gear to be in and we made a nearly clean getaway, only a couple of others spotting what was afoot.

It was pedal to the metal down the back straight, a total of nine of us doing bit and bit including Nottingham. He gave me a look of appreciation as we passed; he still thinks I'm a girl! The higher pace finally dropped through the finish, the crowd of mostly parents and teamates were quite vociferous in their support. The tannoy blared out, I could hear our names being announced but we were out of earshot before I could catch any more.

The nine of us continued to lap in some sort of order but surprisingly we didn't really make much more impression on the bunch behind us, they were maybe a minute behind but staying there.

"Any ideas boss" Josh asked slipping alongside me.

"Not really, if you want to have a go, go for it"

"I'll sound the others out" he suggested

Seven to go, laps and miles. The crowd has increased a bit as the finish starts to approach only about twenty minutes left. I guess nearly everyone was thinking on the same lines, keep it together, go for the sprint. Could I take the sprint? I looked around my companions, I can take the Scarborough lads I think, Josh is another matter. Then there's Nottingham, I'm sure I'd have got him last week without the crash, that just leaves the other three. Can I take a chance? Dare I?

"Bond!" it was Kevin, one of 'my' team.


"We're all buggered, if you and the Toon want to have a bash, it's okay with us, we'll try to block the others"

"Cheers Kev" well suddenly its all change.

Josh turned and gave me a wink, I nodded in reply. Remember Harrogate, the breakneck descent? As we came through the finish I could see Josh preparing for a repeat, this time I'm going with him! Kev and the others eased the pace along the flat then Josh was off like a scalded cat! I wanged up the gears and set off in pursuit, our pace taking us most of the way up the 'hill' before we needed to drop a couple of sprockets.

"Go on son!"

"Dig in Drew!"

"Keep it going Josh!"

We'd escaped, but not alone, no we had company in the shape of Nottingham!

"Nice move kiddo!"

I grunted acknowledgement as the three of us started to rotate. The Scarborough lads were true to their word and no one else joined our little breakaway. My only chance of winning now is another break, but I'm well knackered, still third is pretty good.

My defeatist thoughts were broken as we passed the stand with two to go "you can do it Drew!" Maddy! What am I thinking about, third my arse! Josh gave me a questioning look, I shrugged back but he gave me the old go-ahead sign with his hand so Nottingham couldn't see. Can I do this? I've got to give it a throw and Josh was telling me to have a shot. In for a penny!

I took the next half lap to assess Nottingham better, yep his weak point is the climb, my small size is a positive advantage here. As we slowed on the slope up to the line for the bell, Nottingham glanced first at Josh then me assessing his own chances. The bell rang as we crossed the line; I spotted a further opportunity, the main bunch. I'd been so caught up in just getting this far I hadn't noticed that we were just short of lapping them. I mean, I know we'd lapped a few of the early bunch departures but I hadn't given the bunch much thought.

We started the descent, me following the others, as the tarmac turned upwards we were almost on the back of the bunch. When the pace slowed a tad I made my move, a quick down change allowed me to keep my momentum going and I bridged the gap as we crested the now silent hill, my cheer squad having moved to the finish.

Kewl! Kristen's still here! She was more on the ball than me clearly.

"Go on Drew, I'll try to slow them down!"

I nodded breathlessly as we descended the back straight. Three corners and a short climb, less than half a mile to go. I got to the front of the bunch and punched on the pedals, dragging Kristen along before the elastic snapped and I broke free.

"Come on Drew!"

"Gaa-bee! Gaa-bee!"

I was now reaching that red haze stage again, the voices became just a mass of background noise and my breathing seemed to slow and everything seemed to be in slow motion. I dragged my lead like legs round, the red flag passed behind and I subconsciously changed my line so that I was on the opposite side of the roadway to the bunch. I broke the rule then, as my head dipped I looked under my arm, Nottingham was out of the saddle with Josh on his shoulder not ten metres behind and the bunch right behind them.

But there was the line! It was mine! I punched the air as I crossed the line, finally breathing again as I freewheeled along the flat. The bunch swept past, Kristen still comfortably sat mid bunch.

If I could remember much of the next half hour I'd tell you but I don't so I can't. Perhaps the highlight though was when Nottingham realised that I wasn't a girl, he thought he'd won the boys category when he just edged Josh for the line. I guess it was okay if a girl beat him as long as he won too. In fact Kristen Oakley was the winner of the girls prize.

When the finish list was posted it was clear our little northern mafia had been a success. Besides Kristen, and me Josh got third and the Scarborough lads got fourth, fifth and eighth. I hadn't seen John so far today, turns out he was Chief Commissar today and was ensconced in the judge's booth. John must know I'm a boy, so why does he keep insisting on calling me Gaby? A question for another time.

"What are you guys doing here?" I asked Mad when the fuss abated a bit.

"My Mum and you're Dad organised it on Tuesday"

"Thanks for coming"

"No problem champ" Mad planted one on me and gave me a good, hard, unexpected hug.

"Why aye man, seems like you've got a big fan club!" Josh stated joining us.

"Thanks Josh, I couldn't have beat you or Nottingham in a straight sprint."

"Well I'd rather it was you than him"

"Whatever, thanks, and you" I gave Kristen who arrived just then a hug too.

"Way to go Drew!" Kevin called over

"Thanks fellas"

"Don't expect it every time" he retorted

Mad's Dad, that's Uncle John, suggested everyone go for a celebration dinner, well I'm not one to pass up free nosh and neither it seems were any of the others. Kristen went to find her parents and Josh and I went to get showered and changed. By the time we re-emerged everything was organised.

There were fourteen of us at the restaurant all told and we had a brill time! Kristen and Mad, after an initial bit of frostiness got along like a house on fire, Josh it turns out, thinks he's a bit of a comic and Brit and crew just chilled. There was quite a bit of photography and medal waving, it was an all round kewl evening. All good things have to end and the party broke up about half eight.

I managed to corner Josh's uncle as we left. "Mr Waugh,"

"Joe lad"

"Er Joe, why did Josh do it? He had a good chance himself"

"Remember what I told you at Harrogate? Well he's just repaid the debt. Without you he wouldn't have been here today, he owed you one okay"


"Leave it at that man. Just remember for the future eh?"

"Okay. Can you tell him I appreciate it? A lot."

"I will lad, I will. I'm expecting big things of you two in the future and I reckon you make a good team. I don't know how you got the others to help, but that was well canny. Go on now, your Dads waiting"

"Thanks Joe"

"Away with yer"

"Joe!" Josh's voice barged across the car park

"See you Josh!" I waved across

"Bye Drew!"

"There you are Drew, we've been talking and we're having a change of plan." Dad mentioned

"Me and Sab are gonna stay with you tonight!" Mad enthused

"Erm, how?"

"Your sister and Debbie are coming back to Warsop with us" Aunt Carol supplied

After today nothing surprises me! I gripped my medal, whatever happens, I won!

"I thought we'd stop off at Cambridge, get some lunch, look around the university maybe get a punt. How's that sound?" Dad asked as we loaded the car. Sabrina and Mad had raided Brits bag for today's outfits, as they hadn't planned on an overnight stop.

"Sounds pretty cool" Brit agreed

"Drew?" yeah fine.

We clambered on board and Dad headed us in the right direction. Onto the M25 then the M11 towards Cambridge, we were just past Stansted airport when my phone rang.


"Hi Drew, it's Mum. How'd you get on?"

"Mum, where are you?"

"Nice airport, so?"

"I won!"

"Well done son"

"Tell your mother hi" Dad mentioned

"Dad says hi, we're on our way to Cambridge for the day"

"Beeeeep, oh damn, my battery's going. Look Drew, have a good time and I'll ring home later for a longer.... Beeeeeeep"

"Damn her phone cut off" I mentioned, "she's gonna ring home later"

"Best not get back too late then" Dad pointed out.

"What's that?" Sab asked as we cruised up the concrete

"Looks like an old bus, must be going to a rally or something," Dad informed us

"I thought the Imperial War Museum was in London?" I mentioned

"Where did that come from?" Dad asked

"There was a sign for it just now, Imperial War Museum, Duxford"

"Fancy a look? We've got plenty of time," Dad suggested

"Sounds a bit grim" Brit put in

"Could be cool, my Uncle Joseph is in the Air Force back home, it's not all guns I bet" Sabrina added

"Mad?" Dad asked

"Okay by me" she agreed

We continued north and passed a couple more old buses with boards in the front for something called 'Showbus'. We spotted the sign for Duxford and got in the left lane that for some reason had a queue.

"Looks like there's an event on" Dad stated

"There's some more buses in the queue," Sab pointed out.

The queue moved along quickly and we soon reached the pay booths

"One adult and four children for the museum" Dad requested

"Twenty pounds, gets you in the museum and the buses"

Dad paid and received a flyer and tickets in return.

"What's that Drew?" Mad asked from behind my head

"Dad was right about those buses, they must be coming here for the bus rally thing"

"Weirdo's" Brit voiced the thought at the back of my mind

We parked amongst the hundreds of cars already there.

"They probably think riding a bike's weird" Dad pointed out.

Point made, different strokes.

We walked over to the biggest hanger, just behind where we were parked.

Maddy read off the board

"'The British Aircraft Collection, A selection of military and civil aircraft for you to browse. The Normandy Experience looks at the dramatic invasion of Europe on D-Day, June 1944, and the events that followed in Normandy and NW Europe until the end of the war. The Land Warfare Hall houses Duxford's collection of tanks, trucks and artillery. The Battle of Britain Exhibition looks at the people and machines involved in the Battle of Britain and the Blitz of 1940-1941. The American Air Museum houses the finest collection of historic American combat aircraft outside the United States.' Where first?" she queried

"Start in here I suppose" Dad suggested.

I'm not really into planes and that sort of stuff but there was some pretty neat stuff, everything from bi-planes to jets. The heat of the exterior replaced the cool of the hanger; it was turning into a real scorcher!

"I can't believe how many people are here"

"Yeah, to look at buses" I scoffed, "you can do that in Mansfield"

"Drew!" Dad admonished

"Yeah okay"

"Come on, I want to see the American stuff" Sabrina encouraged

We set off along the roadway; there were hundreds of people, families, bikers, nerds and us.

"So Gab, what's normal now?" Brit asked

"Alright, you win"

We walked along amongst the crowds, apart from the setting it could have been anywhere on a Saturday. There were sales stalls, a couple of marquees, and lots of people! Despite Dad's admonishment there were some people who were just strange.

Sab pointed to a couple in front.

"Check them out!"

It was hard to miss them; the bloke was dressed like a Teddy boy, lime green jacket, quiff and winkle pickers. The woman was wearing what I thought looked like something out of Grease! I guess they dress like it all the time.

There seemed to be a lot of nerds walking round with loads of cameras and carrier bags and jam jar glasses are obviously today's fashion accessory! Dad dragged us off the main roadway to look at something in a small side building.

"Tell you what kids, why don't you go and look on your own, we'll meet back at the car at, lets say one?"

"Okay" I agreed

"See you later Mr B" Sab waved

"Later girls"

"Come on guys, there's the American Hall" Sab enthused

"That skirts a bit short," Mad pointed to a woman stood at one of the stalls"

"You wear shorter," I pointed out

"Yeah but she must be at least forty"


"Gabee!" all three girls exclaimed. So apparently there's an age limit on short skirts!

We reached the impressive American hall and went inside.

American Air Museum

"Wow!" was our group description. The main thing to meet our eyes was according to our new found military expert, Sab, a B52 Stratofortress, now that is big! There was all sorts of stuff, an F-111, a Flying Fortress, some sort of helicopter and a Mustang; I thought that was a car. A lot of them were hanging from the ceiling so you had to go up to the balcony to see them. Around the walls, various displays explained the American presence in the UK, what the planes did, well you know the sort of thing.

Once back outside we rejoined the throng. The first of several hundred assorted buses were parked opposite the hall, a selection of old London buses. None of us were particularly interested but we did a bit of people watching as we walked towards the Land Warfare Hall.

The Greaser couple were examining stuff on a stall and I noted with amusement a bloke of about thirty going along the rows of buses just writing something down in a notebook, probably the bus numbers. We passed a couple wearing loads of leather and with lots of piercings, I'm sure you could get a finger through the huge holes in the mans ears! It takes all sorts I guess. The woman with the short skirt seemed to be as bad as some of the geeks with their notebooks. I guess you only wear an outfit like that if you want to be noticed!

The next hall was pretty quiet but there were all sorts of neat stuff inside. There was a whole bit on jungle war as well as tanks and trucks, the reconstructions were really excellent. We got ourselves some drinks and sat on the bank outside looking out over the airfield where some old planes were sat waiting to take off.

"That ones called a Dragon" Sab pointed to a cream and brown plane taxiing along the concrete, "it does pleasure flights," she read from the guide she'd picked up earlier.

"You wouldn't get me in that" Brit stated

"It must be safe or they couldn't fly it," I pointed out

"Whatever, I'm not that keen anyway," Brit answered.

"My uncle says that the only bit to worry about is landing" Sab told us

"Well yeah" I agreed

"Yeah, he said landing is a controlled crash"

"That's really comforting!" Mad pointed out

"Come on lets have a walk around a bit," Sab suggested

So we ambled aimlessly along the rows of buses. There were people taking photo's, I think we annoyed a few by getting in their shots, mind you the nerds standing three inches from the information boards were probably worse! We looked at a couple of stands out of curiosity, photographs, hundreds of them, model buses, books and a bloke who looked like a tramp, you know big beard, long hair and worn out togs. The worst of it though was he stank of pee. Not just a mild old man smell, no this was like he bathed in the stuff - yeurgh! Even the other bus nerds kept away.

We headed back towards the runway and Sab took a few pictures of different planes before we made our way through a group of foreign buses, from Holland I think and back to the main roadway.

"Hey guys, over here!" Brit called out from one of the stalls.

We joined her at the makeshift tent that was selling all sorts of stuff.

"Look" she held up a strange bit of material, all crinkly and in a swirl of pastel colours.

"Neat" Mad agreed

"What is it" I had to ask

"Dur!" Brit stated

"It's a top, Gab" Mad advised me

"Come on girls, three pounds each, two for a fiver, one size fits all" the stallholder made his pitch.

"I'll wait over in the shade," I told them when it became clear they were buying.

"Okay" Brit replied

"There you are Gab, we're gonna find some toilets" Sab told me

"I got you one" Mad went on


"Come on girl, we're all gonna wear them!" Brit advised me

Ten minutes later I was. Gone was yesterdays hero of the track, nope today my friends had me as a bona fida teen girl! What's worse was that it's pink! Urgh!

"Come on it's nearly one" I mentioned to the others, feeling somewhat naked in this bizarre top.

"There's that tart in the short skirt again" Mad pointed to the subject of her ire.

"Whatever" I noted as we walked towards her

"Guys!" Sab grabbed my arm

"What" I asked

"That's no lady," she stated

"No I said, she's a tart!" Mad replied

"No! She's not a she! That's a man!"

"Get away" I retorted

"Where?" Brit asked adjusting her top

"Over there, by that stall"

We had to do a sort of loop to approach the stall.

"Oh my god" Mad exclaimed, "you're right"

"Shush!" Brit told us, "He might hear us"

It was true, the wearer of the short skirt was a bloke, and there was no disguising it either! From this distance we could see that his chest was flat and the fishnet tights were doing little to disguise a pair of truly horrible looking pipe cleaner legs! What's possibly worse than that was he was old enough to be someone's grandfather.

"Come on guys, stop staring," I admonished

I dragged them away, Sab kept looking back

"I can't believe it," she said again

"What a perv!" Brit stated

"I think it's kind of sad," Mad told us

"Huh?" I managed

"Well like he obviously wants to dress like a woman and everyone just laughs at him"

"He obviously doesn't have any friends either," I pointed out

"How'd you figure that?" Brit enquired

"Well any friend would tell him to wear something a bit less tarty"

"For someone with no fashion sense yourself, that's pretty profound girl" Sab mentioned.

"That's what you lot are for, to keep me from my fashion mistakes, like this" I plucked at the ridiculous top I was wearing.

"There's your Dad" Brit pointed to where my old man was sat at a picnic bench

"Hi girls, have a good time?"

"Yes thanks Mr B, do you like our tops?" Brit asked

"Erm, very nice" he gave me a look and I just shrugged, "did you go on Concorde?"

"I didn't even see it," I told him


"That'd be pretty neat" plane spotter Sab agreed.

Dad led the way to where a separate enclosure held a couple of old passenger planes including a Concorde. There was a separate charge of fifty pence each and we joined the queue to walk through the famous supersonic airliner. It seems so small, dwarfed by the Tri-Star parked next to it. Eventually we reached the cabin and shuffled through, this thing really is small, Dad could almost touch both sides when he stretched his arms out and the bloke in front had to duck his head to walk through. It was like a bus inside really, nothing like I expected. As we'd paid, we went through the Tri-Star and another even older plane before heading back towards the car.

"Lets eat here, it'll be easier than in Cambridge" Dad suggested

So that's what we did, in the 'Officers Mess' no less, well that's what it used to be!

"There's that couple in fifties stuff" Mad pointed out as we finally headed for the car.

"Nice car" I added

"'57 Bel Air" Britney supplied much to everyone else's surprise

"How d'you know that?" Mad queried

"My Dad's friend had one last year, he deals in old autos, there's big bucks in something like that"

So I suppose you want to know about Cambridge now eh? You and me! We left Duxford and followed the signs towards the city centre but before we got there we ground to a halt.

"What's up Dad?"

"Not sure, the engines going but there's no drive"

Maddy Bell 16.05.04 Secret © 2004

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