TG Universes & Series:
The training had gone so well at Manchester, and Drew–as Gaby–to avoid confusion with his previous identity and palmares, was now faced with his biggest dilemma in his short racing career.
The Elite Women’s Road Race championship, he’d been entered for the experience of racing on closed British roads against adult women, some of whom were very experienced–hell, his heroine, Nicole Cooke was racing–and um–so was his mother.
How did he get himself into these situations, or should that be herself, seeing as he was in full Gaby mode–his mother had seen to that–“No daughter of mine is going out looking like a refugee from Oxfam!”
“Mum, we’re in a bike race not a fashion show.”
“I don’t care, you make sure your hair is tidy and those nails aren’t chipped, and clean those shoes.”
“Yes, Mum,” Gaby sighed. So she’d turned up in best sports bra and skins with clean cycling shoes and freshly painted nails, hair neatly plaited and her best waterproof mascara–for what–to spend three hours getting all hot and sweaty and breathless–hardly somewhere that needs full glamour treatment. Still maybe if he could sell the idea that he was a bimbo, all lipgloss–damn he forgotten to do that–and hair lacquer, maybe he could pull one of his tricks and show them he wasn’t what he appeared to be. Well he knew he wasn’t what he appeared to be–or was he–nah not time for self doubt–he was Gaby Bond, the wunderkind–son–um–he meant–daughter of cycling phenomenon, Jenny Bond.
He remembered the lipgloss before he left the changing room, and while he was applying it, some of the other women were smirking–he hoped they’d be laughing on the other sides of their faces when he finished the race.
The eighty or so entrants had set off behind the race director’s car, and Gaby tucked in behind her mum–‘stick close at the beginning or you’ll get sidelined in a field this size.’
The barriers keeping the good people of Abergavenny off the course came dangerously close as riders jostled for position leading up to the start proper. Then all hell let loose and Gaby understood what Jenny had been on about.
The pace rose and the main contenders moved forward to the front of the field and the pace rose again. Twenty miles an hour became twenty five and suddenly a group of about thirty, including Gaby and her mum, began to pull away from the club cyclists who made up the rest of the entrants.
So the race had proceeded, slowing down as it went up the notorious Tumble, the hill climbers like Emma Pooley starting to stretch the elastic on the heavier sprinters. Gaby, being light of body–even with lipgloss and mascara weighed less than seven stone–found it easy to stay with the leaders although her mum was struggling.
Pooley broke away with Cooke struggling after her, Gaby gave chase leaving Jenny behind. They couldn’t let Cooke escape, once she got the bit between her teeth no one would stay with her, especially in front of a Welsh crowd.
Pooley, Cooke and Bond G, managed to gain a minute over the others and set to working as a group, the chase being led by Bond senior who began to wonder if it was time to hand over to the younger tyros–although Nicole Cooke could hardly be seen as such, having been a junior world champion in mountain biking and European champion in road racing.
Then, Jenny, thinking about her own daughter in the leader’s group wondered if she should just hold back and give Gaby a shot at the real big time. Then the counter argument arose–what would the press do when they found out–and they would.
With a supreme effort she and two others managed to bridge to the lead group, there were now six riders and four more laps through the town to do. Gaby felt glad her mum had caught up and managed to share a smile.
They kept drumming out a constant speed which meant none of the other riders had a chance to catch them, and they took it turn and turn about to keep the speed and rhythm up. Gaby had ridden with her mother, but never really against her and as they were riding for the same team–they were riding for each other.
That was it, three of the laps went with each one getting faster, then suddenly on the final one, things slowed down for just a second and Cooke was gone–like a rocket leaving the others left behind like pedestrians. The crowd loved it.
Gabs was first to react, “Follow me,” she called to the startled Jenny, and tucking into time trial position sprinted off after the Welsh champion, Jenny hanging on to her wheel.
They sped into the main street, the two Appollinaris riders in hot pursuit of Nicole Cooke, and Gaby was closing her down, Jenny tucked in behind. Then with two hundred yards to go, Gaby, who was now exhausted, peeled off and Jenny flew from behind her and took the race by a tyre’s width from the surprised Cooke.
The other three riders in the lead group came in led by Pooley overtaking the flagging youngster just before the line, Gaby finished sixth, Dave catching her as she almost fell off her bike at the race’s end.
“You sacrificed yourself for me, you silly goose, why didn’t you go for it yourself?” said Jenny engulfing her daughter in a monster hug.
“Seemed like a good idea at the time,” gasped Gaby her chest still heaving from the effort.
“But why didn’t you go for it?”
“You’re my mum, couldn’t do that to you, could I? Besides, I didn’t have the legs to catch Nicole, but I thought you might.”
Jenny took the podium while Gaby stood and watched with her dad. “That was a very mature race you rode this morning, young lady–I’m really proud of you.”
“Be proud of Mum, she actually won it, not me.”
“No, you won it, she just crossed the line first,” he said hugging her and she felt her eyes moisten up just a little.
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