book 3 Gaby Title.jpg
Part 98

A Strange Start

It was with a mixture of relief and exhaustion when we all piled indoors at teatime. No time in Cambridge and an unwanted ride in a car transporter! Damn car, the AA only took a couple of minutes to diagnose the problem, a broken timing belt, not a fix at the roadside hence our ride home in a less than comfortable truck. At least we got back at a reasonable time.

Nothing was gonna faze Dad today though.

"Anyone fancy Italian? We'll take the camper and go up to Worksop"

"Whatever" to be truthful you could have served me anything; I was hungry, not fussy.


"Yes please" Brit enthused

"Well if we're eating out, I'm changing," I told everyone

"Now she decides to be a girl" Sab rolled her eyes

An hour later we were in Salvatore's and Stefani was busy taking orders. Much to Brit's disgust, Dad's relief and my comfort I was in a borrowed pair of Jules jeans, well those hipsters to be precise and a less than flattering baggy top, Mad however insisted I wear those damn shoes from Crystal Peaks. The others had raided both Brit and Debs clothing collections to emerge casual but sophisticated, their words not mine!

We had an excellent meal, I had these dumpling things, well that was what it said in the menu anyway, they were more like football ravioli! Stefani and Guido were very attentive and I'm sure the ice cream didn't get on the bill, Dad's not one to argue with a gift horse! After all the excitement this weekend I was ready to hit the sack as soon as we got home after dropping the Peters contingent off.

Of course Mum chose that precise moment to call, so bed was delayed by an hour. What did Mum say? Not much. No, she got a pedal stroke by pedal stroke version of yesterdays race, the after party and the short version of today.

"I'm so proud of you son," she sounded like she was about to blub


"And when I told the girls, well, anyway they all send their love"

"Tell them thanks"

"I will, look I have to go Drew, speak to you during the week"

"Bye Mum"

"Night Drew"

Urgh! Monday morning. Start of the last full week of the summer hols! Yep we've been off six weeks and next Tuesday we start our third year at Warsop College! Whoopee! So today our American visitors are off to London for the day and finally I might find out what really happened at the Morgan's last week!

"So champ, you recovered," Mad asked when I met her mid morning.

"Just about I suppose, Mum rang after we dropped you off so I didn't get to bed that early"

"Ah! Poor Drewbie" she pulled me into a hug

"Give over, people will see"


"So!" I think I made my point.

We chatted about this and that and we were soon outside the salon.

"So Rhod, what's the deal with Dan?" I asked as we plonked ourselves down under a tree in the little excuse for a park we have.

"Yeah, we thought the shit was gonna fly" Mad agreed

"Well I guess I can tell you lot, you'll find out soon enough I suppose"

"What?" Bernie asked

"Well you know what happened" he started, recapping for Ally and Bernie's benefit

"Dan came back downstairs obviously with something on his mind. So he started 'Okay, if Rhod's not back why is his case upstairs and why is there a dress on his bed'. 'You went in my room!' I realised too late what he'd done.

'Now Dan, we can explain' Mum started Dan's face was like thunder, really purple, 'You're a queer! I thought there was something funny about you!'

Mum suggested that you lot leave but Dan kept at it, 'Why don't you take your pansy girlfriend with you!' Dan shouted. 'Hey ease up Danno' Sab suggested. 'And you can shut up black trash!' 'Dan!' Mum screamed"

"That was pretty scary" Mad admitted

"Well anyway, I ran up to my room and well I er, okay so I cried"

"Hey you were upset" Ally put an arm around his shoulders.

"Well anyway, I heard Mum yelling and Dan answering back then he stomped up to his room and slammed the door. I guess Mum got on the phone then, afterwards she came up to my room and she just hugged me for a while. I mean, I know you guys would find out sometime, and I'd already told Al" he squeezed her hand, "but Dan, it was so unexpected, the way he flew off the handle like that."

"I suppose we've sort of got used to Gaby and you did pretend for the dance," Bernie told him

"Yeah, not everyone can cope with people who are different, which reminds me, we saw this right weirdo yesterday" I started

"Drew!" Mad admonished

"Oh right. Go on Rhod"

"Well anyway that Miss Bell came round a bit later."

"She's pretty cool" Bernie mentioned

"Yeah well, Mum told her about me, about Mfanwy then explained what happened earlier. So Miss Bell went upstairs to talk to Dan, I don't know what she said to him, she didn't shout or anything."

"And?" Mad encouraged

"Well when they came back down, Dan was real quiet but he apologised to Mum and me. I think Miss Bell told him the basics. So anyway he's been sort of okay all week, not like before but all right I guess. I think he's on some sort of probation"

"Wow, I miss all the action" Bernie stated

"Mark my words, you didn't want to be there," I pointed out

"It's a good job he hasn't found out about Gaby here" Rhod mentioned

"Why? Like I know that would be bad" Mad wasn't making much sense

"Well he thinks you're some sort of super hero, he keeps going on about Drew this and Drew that." Rhod explained

"At least someone thinks I'm a boy," I pointed out, "you should see what I had to wear yesterday! And you can stop smirking Madeline Peters!"

"Sorry Drew, you look so..."

"Cute" Al suggested

"I wasn't gonna say that, but it'll do, cute when your angry"


"Okay" she sat back to avoid my swipe.

It seemed more than a little odd to be talking about Dan like this, after all before last weeks incident we'd all been getting on really well, especially Dan and Rhod! I suppose that's what makes this whole situation even weirder. How would any of us have reacted? I suppose we all take what Mum calls the 'moral high ground' in these situations but I for one think I understand Dan's reaction even if I don't agree with the sentiment, I've spent far too long this year as Gaby for that! I kind of feel a bit sorry for him really.

"I said, are you coming back for tea?" Mad finally broke into my reverie some time later

"Er yes I guess"

"See you in the morning!" Bernie stated

"Bye Drew" Rhod added

"Bye guys" Ally waved

"Yeah see ya" Mad replied

"Later" I concluded as I joined Mad for the walk back across town

"You were quiet back there?"

"Um yeah I s'pose. I was thinking"

"What about?"



"Well, don't you think it's strange how everyone has been bitching about Dan but no one has mentioned what Rhod, I mean Mfanwy has been doing. I mean I know Dan over reacted,"

"You're not kidding!" Mad interrupted

"Okay but what if everyone thinks like that? Or nearly everyone. I mean it is Rhod doing something a bit, er weird"

"You mean that Dan's a victim, it wasn't his fault?"

"Maad! You know I didn't mean that but I reckon most of the boys and a lot of the girls at school would react the same."

"Humph! I suppose you're probably right, still it's not right"

Well Tuesday we all got together, well everyone except Rhod and Dan, at Mad's place and I had to suffer the indignity of cheerleader practice! I had to wear that damn badminton kit again and I felt a right berk! I suppose it wasn't so bad once you got the hang of it, the Americans seemed so enthusiastic and 'my' gang were getting reasonably proficient even if I wasn't!

Of course, as you've come to expect, Tuesday is Cuckney and this week it's the last one of the season. Mad came over to my place after tea so that we could ride out; her Mum was coming later with Sabrina, picking up Dad and Brit on the way as our car is still at the garage!

We took our time riding out and got there in good time, just as well because there were already over twenty riders signed on.

"Hiya kids, ready for a last bash?"

"Yeah" I agreed

"I didn't really get a chance to talk Saturday, but well done, your mum must be made up!" John stated as I sorted out our numbers.

"Yeah she was pretty chuffed when I told her" I agreed

"Have a good ride tonight you two, are your parents coming tonight?"

"Mum's driving out later with Mr B"

"I need to talk to them, if you could let them know"

"Yeah sure" I agreed.

"We went down to 'our' bench, I got a few back slaps and so on on the way.

"I wonder what John wants with the olds?" I mused while Mad attacked my legs with the baby oil.

"Sounded a bit mysterious" Mad offered, "there you go, my turn"

We swapped places and I had the pleasure of rubbing oil onto my girlfriend's smooth legs!

The Peters car passed us as we rode up to the start so the message passing would have to wait. As usual Mad was drawn in front of me but only two minutes this week. I watched her set off down the hill; she was already developing a good style even after so few rides.

"Twenty three"

That's me; I managed to miss my minuteman starting.

"Good luck young un, fifteen seconds"

"Thanks" I clicked into my pedals with a firm 'Click!'

"Ten...five, four, three, two, one, go!" and I was off on the last Tuesday ten of the year.

It was a typical late summer evening, bright but not too warm with a light breeze stirring from the west. Dad and the others gave me a cheer as I passed the finish area and I settled into a comfortable cadence. I'm sure I could see Mad as I dropped towards Lady Margaret's Hall but I lost her from view on the stretch up past the garden centre.

I burst out of the trees onto the long straight and I could see not only twenty-two and Mad but a couple more in front of her. The gaps were closing and Mad was passed by my minuteman on the last climb before the drag up to the turn. By where we passed, I reckon I was only about forty seconds behind Mad and under a minute behind twenty-two.

Out of the turn I wanged it into the twelve and started chasing Mad down with a vengeance. I actually caught up to her as we dropped towards the long straight again.

"Dig in Mad"


I eased past and concentrated on getting up to my minuteman, now only fifty metres ahead of me. It was only when I checked it was safe to pass him that I discovered that Mad was managing to keep almost apace with me. Sugar! I need to step on the gas! When the road turned slightly at the end of the straight, the breeze just gave me a little kick and Mad's elastic broke! Two miles to go! There was a good chance I'd catch the two riders I could see in front so I dug a bit deeper in that hope.

Cuckney white line

I concentrated on following the white line and barely felt the draft from the artic going the other way. My endeavours paid off as I caught both of them within metres of where I passed Mad last week. I settled back into the saddle for the last downhill then I was there!

"Twen' three!" I stopped pedalling but I was still nearly at the Cuckney sign before I got turned around. I saw Mad finish; she was in front of twenty-two! Strewth!

I'd barely collapsed onto the verge when Mad pulled up with a Cheshire cat grin on her face.

"Good ride Mad"

"I enjoyed that," she declared joining me on the grass.

"You two okay?" Sab asked

"Uh huh" Mad allowed

"So what time thing did you do then?" Brit enquired

"Dunno, I forgot to switch the computer off at the finish"

"Where're Mum and Mr B?" Mad enquired

"Talking to that John guy? Hey we're going to that pub again!" Sab enthused

Although Mad and I were riding, that's what we did after the olds return tight-lipped from their chat with John. Oh our times? I got 24.12 and Mad finished with 27.04, I really am gonna have to watch my back! By the time we got back to the Bond residence the light was going and it was starting to feel quite chilly.

Well the rest of the week followed a similar pattern to the previous couple. On Wednesday we all got to go to Hull for the day, we visited the Aquarium and the Transport Museum before coming home via the Humber Bridge, which used to be the longest suspension bridge in the world. Thursday we were all set to go to Meadowhall again but Brit was feeling a bit off colour so we just went down to Mansfield instead.

It's perhaps just as well we missed Meadowhall on Thursday because on Friday Mrs P took us to Manchester, that is me, Brit, Mad and Sab. Well you know me and shopping, I hate it, well mostly! Of course I had to go as Gaby, Brit insisted that her 'girlfriend' make some effort. Luckily or not, Mad had returned the bag of Gaby's stuff on Tuesday so at least I could wear 'my' own stuff! I think Brit was mollified, if she wasn't, tuff!

So that brings us to Saturday. Remember I said that the car was sick? Well apparently it was very sick! The girls went off to Worksop and I joined Dad on that bizarre ritual called 'looking for a new car'! I should point out here that whilst we are a two-car family, the camper is not exactly in its first flush of youth and Dad's car is nearly ten years old.

New was out of the question but Dad reckoned something about three years old was do-able. After the first two dealers I realised that the make doesn't matter, one saloon is much like any other, they might look different on the outside but inside, well who can see the outside? Of course I had my eye on some of the flashier machines but Dad was more practical. Today we were looking; next week will be buying, while I'm away in Germany.

By the time we got home, Dad was veering towards a people carrier while I favoured a bright yellow MG. As Dad put it, when I'm paying! Ah well.

After last weekend's excitement, my race excursion this weekend is a bit more mundane, a 25 miler over at Lincoln. Oh yeah, sorry if I'm rabbiting on a bit but there's not really much been going on this week, not that would interest anyone else! Where was I? Oh yeah the twenty-five. Well when Dad mentioned what time we were leaving in the morning, the girls all decided on a rain check, not that I can blame them, six o'clock starts are not exactly my favourite either.

"You all right Drew?" Dad asked as we climbed away from Markham Moor roundabout

"Just tired"

"I did tell you to go to bed earlier"

"But the girls..."

"You knew you were getting up early so don't try blaming anyone else"

"I wasn't! And we're gonna be well early" I pouted

"You've got a long ride to the start remember"

"Couldn't we just park near the start?"

"Hmm, we'll see"

Well common sense prevailed and the camper found a slot in a lay-by about a quarter of a mile from the start. Dad walked down for my number and I grabbed a few minutes shut eye while he was gone. After my PB the other week I can expect better start numbers and my number 31 put me in the third rank in this mornings full 120 rider field. I suppose you want to know how come? Oh alright, well to start with the fastest riders start on '0's, the fastest rider is usually on the last '0', so today that's 120, the scratch man. With me so far? Well, the second rank riders then get the '5's in the same way, then the 1's, 6's and so on. The only break from that is that number one is traditionally from the promoting club. Mum once told me that it was in case there was a marshal missing, I guess it makes sense.

So anyway, I got kitted up and headed away from the start for a warm up, Dad had the turbo in the van but I prefer to use the road if I can. I got back to Dad with fifteen to go; stripped to my skinsuit then Dad pushed me along to the start, arriving with just two minutes to go.


I was off, the first leg on the A57 follows the Foss Dyke, the old Roman canal from Lincoln to the Trent, and there's not much shelter! This morning I was pushing into a stiff breeze and although the road is pretty level, it's also quite straight so no wind relief. Over Saxilby bridge and the drop back to canal level relieved the tedium. Lincoln Cathedral in the distance slowly grew and by the time the road left the waterway I was making good inroads into twenty-nine, starting two minutes ahead.

At the Lincoln bypass the course turned south onto the wide semi dual carriageway. I felt good and I took 29's scalp before the next roundabout. Riders coming the other way looked to be having an easier time of things, I hoped so as a glance at the clock showed thirty-one minutes and I wasn't at the turn yet. Mind you the return leg is nearly a mile shorter!

I spotted number 30 as I approached the turn, I think he was quite a bit up, still we'll see. Even at just after eight there was a lot of traffic, I reckon the boot sale that I saw signposted was to blame. Well anyway, the result was me having to nearly stop on the island, but after a quick curse I was back on my way. I checked my time where I saw my minuteman; he was almost two minutes up! Ah well. It certainly was easier going this way and my 24 mph out rose to 26 or there abouts.

A rider that I guessed was 28 came into view; I was surprised to find it was actually 27 when I caught him just before the A57. The computer was showing a gradually improving average, 24.9mph now with a little over four miles to go, looking good! As the road swung back alongside the canal I could see a string of riders in front and I dug in with renewed vigour. Three to go and fifty-two minutes gone, it's do-able, that is I think I'll get sub hour again!

After such a flat course, the Saxilby bridge seemed like a mountain looming ahead but I just dropped a sprocket then changed back up on the drop to the finish. Damn forgot to shout my number! The computer told the story, not a PB but a pretty handy fifty-eight! Phew! I made my way to the recreation and sports ground where our camper now sat but with no sign of Dad, must be in the hall. I rode over and propped my steed against the wall where several other machines were parked.

"Excuse me. Miss!"

I turned reflexively at the intense voice.

"Can you take your shoes off, the cleats damage the floor" the woman was talking to me!

"Er okay" I stooped to undo the Velcro fastenings, then padded over to where Dad was appraising the results.

"Good ride Drew, 58.50, where's your bike?"

"Just outside, I'm knackered" I plonked myself onto a plastic chair, no comfort but at least I was sat.

Not being in a particular hurry this morning, we hung about, well I got changed, the bike was locked in the camper and we chewed the cud with riders and supporters waiting for the times to be radioed over from the finish. As the morning wore on my time dropped down the league from fourth when I finished to eighteenth when the last fast man got home. Not bad, not bad at all! The winner? Well he beat me by over five minutes with 53.24.

Instead of going straight back over Dunford Bridge, Dad took us up to Gainsborough and over the river there for a late breakfast at Beckingham. Once we were sat, under that picture of Mum, Dad started with the twenty questions.

"Britney and Deborah really do think you're a girl don't they?"

"They seem to" I agreed, "I've no idea where they got it from, well like originally"

"You realise there might be repercussions down the line?"

"There you go lass, beans and egg on toast and full English for your Dad" the waitress plonked our plates down.

"Er thanks" I stammered

Once we were alone again, Dad went on.

"If they think you're a girl now, what's going to happen when you go over there? I'm not always going to be around to help"

"I dunno, we'll get it sorted by then"

"How? They won't believe me or you, I can only see one option"

"No way!" I stated as the penny dropped

"I agree, but I can't see that they'll be convinced any time soon"

"I guess not. At least it's a bit better than the truth"

"The truth?"

"Yeah, you know, me dressing as a girl"

"At least I'd still have a son that way"

"You do now!" I declared, "well sort of"

The rest of Sunday was less controversial, well it seemed Bond HQ was designated cheer centre for the day so we got back to a houseful of scantily clad girls. As Darla and Amy didn't know that I'm Gaby I managed to stay in boy mode, even if I did have to join in with Brits terror brigade!

Monday arrived far too quickly; the last day of the big hols was here!

I think all the olds had similar ideas, Dad had us cleaning the house and doing the washing. Memories of last year came back; Mum blew her top when I presented her with my still muddy PE kit to wash at eight o'clock the night before I needed it. I mean it had only been mouldering in my bag for three months!

All of the gang, and our guests met up to go to the cinema in the afternoon, even Dan and Rhod who seemed to have arrived at a slightly uneasy truce. So that was that. The hols are finished, tomorrow it's school.

It was a strange start to the school year for us. For starters we are now officially middle school, third years, we get to sit further back in the assembly hall and there are loads of frightened little first years. Not only that but Mr Wood has arranged that the Americans, join our classes for the last two weeks of their stay, so that's like this week and next. Although small in number they stuck out like a sore thumb, their 'uniforms' being somewhat different from the other nine hundred and odd students arriving for the first day of the 2002/2003 school year.

Of course today was mostly taken up by sorting out timetables, presentations by the teaching staff and generally getting back to grips with school life. Tomorrow we have a big assembly then it's into lessons proper. I'm exhausted now, the girls are watching MTV, Dad's poring over the used car ad's and I've just put the phone down with Gran. She's coming over on Wednesday afternoon so she can spend the night; our flight is at eleven thirty Thursday morning from Luton!

Maddy Bell 20.05.04 Secret © 2004

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