Maddy Bell asked me to post this for her. I do so with reluctance and sadness, for reasons which will become clear.
Dernau 1st January 2005: Jenny put the book she was reading down and went to answer the door.
“Frau Bond?” the policewoman enquired.
“Yes, what’s happened?” policemen at your door were never bringing good news.
“May we come in?”
“Oh sorry, please.”
The two upholders of the law entered the Bond’s kitchen and waited for Jen to join them.
“Your child rides a race bicycle?”
This was not going to be good.
“A red Schauff, why?”
“Would you like to sit first?”
“No just tell me, he’s in hospital, is he okay?”
“I’m sorry Frau Bond, he’s not in the hospital. A bicycle was found on the Radweg south of Remagen an hour ago.”
“Oh no! Not Drew!”
***---***----****REUTERS BONN****JAN 1ST 2005****17.35****----*****
Body found in Rhein — thought to be missing teenager — extensive search called off — more.
Kripp 1st January 2005: It was always good to get out on the bike for a bit and start the year as you mean to go on. Drew turned onto the river front - not even a ferry running he noted seeing the ‘Linz’ tied up by the ramp. Geez the river was high this morning, as high as he’d ever seen it in fact. Well he’d ride down to the deer park and cut over the hill back home.
Drew being Drew he slipped up a couple of gears and picked up the pace, hmm better watch out, I’m sure that looked like ice back there. The trail was a mixture of paving slabs with the odd patch of tarmac ‘repair’ and the river was barely a metre below him, swirling and gurgling towards the sea.
Yup, that was definitely ice, hmm have to be a bit more careful, don’t want to deck myself. The river turned lazily towards Remagen, he could see the remains of the bridge on the opposite bank. At that moment the sun chose to break through the cloud.
It happened so quickly — the glare from the ice caught him straight in the eye — by reflex he grabbed the brakes but he was already on the ice. Rider and bike slewed dangerously, the front wheel finally catching an edge that flipped Drew over the bars. SHIT!
CYCLING WEEKLY Jan 5th 2005
We are sorry to have to announce the death of one of the UK’s best hopes for the future in an accident near the family home in Germany. Full story next week.
Dernau 1st January 2005: “Where is he?”
“I’m afraid we don’t know Frau Bond, we have the river Polizei searching and teams on each bank.”
“Drew!” Jen wailed.
“Is your husband in?” the other cop enquired.
“He, they, they’ve gone for a walk.” Jen managed between sobs.
“My other daughter and my mother, Dave’s taking them to Rech.”
“We’ll find them,” the female officer stated, “Dieter.” She signalled her colleague who departed to start that search.
“Is there anyone you’d like me to call?”
“Oh Drew please be safe.”
PROCYCLING, FEBRUARY 2005
Drew Bond. The year started on a bad note for UK cycling with the death of Olympic hopeful Drew Bond on January 1st. Still only fourteen, Drew was following in his mother’s illustrious footsteps having secured a place on both the British Cycling development squad and the German Apollinaris youth team. He shot to fame in 2004 by winning the schools circuit race championship in the face of older and more experienced competition. This was followed up with a string of impressive rides at both hill climb and ‘cross resulting in him securing a second national title at hill climb.
2004 saw a move to Germany to join the Apollinaris squad where he again had an impressive season competing at Junior Elite level across Europe with six wins to his credit. He returned to the UK in August when he took an impressive win to secure a second under 16 title at Bristol.
On the morning of Jan 1st he was out training at the side of the Rhine when its thought he lost control and left the path landing in the swollen river. His body was found later the same day 10kms downstream.
The funeral was held in Dernau near the family home on January 10th and was attended by many of his friends as well as representatives from teams and organisations across the cycling world.
Church Warsop 2nd January 2005: “hi Aunt Jen,” Mad bubbled, “Happy New Year!”
“Hello Maddy, is your mother there?”
“Yeah sure, hang on — MUM! It’s Auntie Jen — she’s just coming, give Drew a kiss for me.”
Jen lost it then and Dave rescued the phone passing his wife to her mother.
“Carol, it’s Dave.”
“Everything okay? Its bloody cold here.”
“Its Drew, he’s gone.” Dave struggled to not break down himself. These calls needed to be made; he owed it to Drew to do it himself although Josie had offered.
“What? Run away?” Carol was confused now; Drew wouldn’t do something like that.
“Nnno, he’s dead Carol.” Dave couldn’t prevent a sniff escaping.
“Oh no! Hang on let me go outside…how’s Jen?”
“Not taking it well, Josie’s here.”
“Do you want me to come out?”
“You don’t need to Carol.”
“It happen? We think he slipped on some ice and got thrown into the river.”
“He drowned? Oh the poor luv.” Carols own eyes were close to betraying her own emotions.
“Can, could you tell his friends for us?”
“Of course I will,” oh god how do I do that? “You’re sure you don’t want me to fly out?”
“I’ll talk to Jen and call you again later. I’d best get off, there’re lots of people I have to ring.”
“Give Jen and Jules my love — and you take care too Dave Bond.”
“What’s up Mum? Why are you stood out there?” Mad enquired.
Carol gathered herself but couldn’t stop a tear trickling down her face.
“Aunt Jens cancer has come back?”
Carol Peters closed the door behind her.
“No it’s not your Aunt Jen.”
“What is it then?”
“Come here luv,” Carol gathered her daughter into a hug, “it’s Drew, he drowned yesterday.”
“No! You’re lying!” Mad shouted.
“It’s true Mad.” Carol clung closer to her daughter, for whose comfort she couldn’t say.
They held the embrace for a minute or so before Mad broke free and ran to her room. Carol started to follow but Johns voice stopped her.
“Let her be luv, I heard you telling her. Are the Bonds okay?”
“John, he’s dead!”
John Peters held his wife tightly, he didn’t know what to say but holding his wife seemed the right thing to do.
Dernau 10th January 2005: Dave was doing his best to retain his composure but it was a struggle. They had discussed taking him back to Warsop but somehow that didn’t feel right. No this was their home now, for better or worse and he knew they’d all feel better if Drew was here with them. He looked across the crowd — Drew would’ve been impressed. He spotted Cara with John from BC, all the Apollinaris team were there too. There was a sobbing mess of teenage girls — ironically it was as Gaby that Drew seemed to flourish. The team had paid for Ally and Bernie to come out, they hadn’t managed to contact Rhod in time but there were flowers from his mother.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the place; even the Polizei and rescue services were struggling with the emotion. You never want to bury a child — when that child was Drew it made it even harder. Jen had barely stopped crying for over a week and Jules, well she was outwardly together but she was pretty obviously on the edge.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…” the Minister concluded the service and Dave took his place alongside John, George and the surprise of the day, Lance Armstrong. They lowered the casket into the still frozen earth and the final act of his son’s life started.
Dernau 25th February 2007: Jules was a regular visitor to Dernau Friedhof; at least she visited when she came home from Uni. Her footsteps seemed loud on the gravel and her destination was over at the back wall. The plot was as usual tidy and had fresh flowers below the headstone, Mum said that Connie and the girls came every week, Drew woulda liked that. She put her own blooms with the others, carefully arranging the card with the same words as always ‘Miss You’. She fingered the inscription,
Loving son of Jennifer and David
Brother of Juliette
Born 25 Feb.1990
Taken 1 Jan.2005
Always missed, you touched so many
It was ironic really that there was no mention of Gaby on the stone, it was after all as Gaby that most people had known her brother. Not that there weren’t reminders of his alter ego at home. At first Mum had made his room into a sort of shrine, nothing was to be moved or disposed of but Aunt Carol had eventually convinced her to be more practical so that there was now a selection of photos, both Drew and Gaby, along with his medals in the family room alongside Mums own collection.
Why did you insist on going out that morning bro?
Maddy Bell 03.01.08
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