TG Universes & Series:
At some point Mary got called away and was replaced by drinks. Mum of course was in her element, holding court with her assistants and meeting acquaintances old and new. That left Mand and me on our own so we explored the room a bit.
“Hey isn’t that you?” Mand suggested pointing to a picture in the gallery that occupied one corner of the room.
“Looks like you,” she insisted.
I looked closer, it did look like me, I read the caption, “it’s Mum, like twenty years ago!”
“You could be sisters.”
“Well duh, mother,” I pointed at the picture, “daughter,” I concluded pointing at myself.
“I always said there was more to you than just a pretty face,” Mand chuckled, “hey look, they’ve got the World’s on that big screen.”
A little crowd were watching the footage, we moved across and joined the watchers.
“If she hadn’t come off she would’ve beaten him.”
“Such a tiny thing.”
“Must be in the genes.”
“I remember when her Mum was turning things upside down.”
“And still only sixteen.”
“Come on, Mand,” talk about embarrassing.
“Hang on, this looks like your crash,” she mentioned perhaps a little too loudly.
“Where’d they get this from?” I asked somewhat quieter.
Indeed it was my spill, I guess taken by a spectator, despite myself I was captivated as the screen showed me speeding towards the camera, dabbing the brakes then turning in before literally sliding off across the road, Mike sprinting across, me remounting and with a push from my mechanic, me setting off again. From start to finish, no more than thirty seconds.
“That must’ve hurt!”
“Think she overcooked it.”
“Wow, Gab, you hardly even stopped!”
Heads snapped about, damn, rumbled!
The remainder of the wait before being called to table I found myself the star attraction for cameras, pens and opinions. I know Mum thrives on this stuff but for me, well it’s a whole new ball game as they say. It seemed like half the room came to meet me, the other half were with Mum.
Cycling dinners, they all have one common thread – tradition, with a capitol T. that of course extends to the menu, I’ve never been to one yet where it wasn’t some variation of a roast dinner, the soup is invariably that watery stuff passed off as minestrone in the UK, dessert is often the highlight but something with a dollop of cream seems favourite. By the time the coffee arrived, hmmph, cheap beans, I was feeling quite upset for the organisers, tickets weren’t cheap but the food was mediocre and somewhat lacking in volume.
Ting, ting, ting
An older woman, at least Gran’s age stood and waited for the hubbub to die down.
“Good evening ladies…and gentlemen,” the pause raised a few titters, probably from the same people every year.
“I’ll keep it short, I’m sure you are dying to hear from our guest of honour. We have much to celebrate tonight, not one but two World Champions, five medals – six if you include young Mr Cavendish’s contribution. But not just that, we’ve seen international success from both our junior and senior ladies as well as hard fought domestic competition. I’m pleased to say that many of those riders have been able to join us this evening here in York.
So to all of you, national, international and world champions, please stand,” there was a scraping of chairs as people, winners stood, “Gab,” Mand prodded – I guess that includes me then!
“We honour you all!”
The hall reverberated to a round of cheering and applause before we returned to our seats.
“We’ve seen, this year, many great performances across all disciplines and with riders like the two youngsters at the end of this table, it looks like a new era is beginning, instead of just single very talented riders representing us we can look forward to the sort of strength and depth our European cousins enjoy.
So, if you’ll raise your glasses, to the future!”
“The future,” came back the reply.
“Our guest of honour tonight I don’t think requires much of an introduction, two time world champion, multi national champion and top of this year’s UCI ranking, I give you Jenny Bond!”
She never said anything!
“You’ll have to forgive my daughter’s fashion sense, teenagers eh, come on up you two,” Mum told us.
Dad had dropped our respective gongs over our head’s; Mum had hers around her neck when she started her little spiel. The pair of us made our way up to the middle of the table and stood either side of mater.
“Roskilde!” Mum declared.
I felt a bit of a prawn to be honest, as we stood there waving our medals about for our ‘adoring’ fans to photograph.
“Thank you, Jenny, girls, I’m sure all of your performances will only serve to inspire future generations of girls entering our sport. If I can prevail on you to stay with us Jenny, we have the small issue of some awards to present.”
You’ve been there, the annual club awards, winner of this trophy for winning that obscure event and so on. Being a national organisation did little to change that scenario, only difference was a larger pool of talent.
“And lastly we honour a rider who has, almost single handed changed the rules for female riders’ ambition. This rider has raced against and beaten all comers, male and female, brought glory to our country and her team and yet is still not sixteen,”
Wonder who’s got this?
“I give you ladies and gentlemen, the boys world time trial champion, winner of over twenty national level races in her adopted home of Germany, junior Tour of Switzerland winner, junior Sports personality winner and if her mother is to be believed, excellent cook,” there was a round of laughter, “this year’s BLCA rider of the year, Gaby Bond!”
“Gab, it’s you!” Mand hissed from beside me, “go on dimbo!”
Me? Hang on ME!
The presentation was embarrassing, what with Mum handing out the pots, I blushed nearly as bright as my frock! Of course there were more photographs of the pot and me and then with all the other silverware winners.
I thought I saw a familiar face earlier but I couldn’t be sure, but yes there she was, “Kristen?”
“In the flesh,” she agreed.
“I thought it was you, long time no see.”
“So, like, you’re a girl.”
“All the way through,” I admitted.
“But back then, you were a boy, you won the boys race and everything.”
“I thought I was a boy but apparently I was wrong.”
“Not in here, outside.”
To be honest departing the dance floor would be a relief, the band were naff, it was all bad eighties’ covers and most revellers were actually sat about talking. Mand was talking to some people she knew from ‘darn sarth’ so I was doing the handbag bit.
“Geez it’s cold out here,” Kris stated as we huddled by the hotel entrance.
“Not many,” I agreed.
“So how come boy Drew Bond is now girl Gaby Bond? You some sort of cross dresser?”
“That would be simpler than the truth,” I started, “like I said inside, I’ve got the full XX package but back then I didn’t know.”
I gave her an abbreviated version of the last couple of years, moving to Germany, everyone assuming I was a girl, the rupture in Hamburg, the diagnosis.
“… So like they sorted my plumbing out a few weeks ago,” I finished.
“It has to be true, no one could make that lot up,” Kristen opined, “can we go back inside, I’m freezing my tits off here.”
Not the words I’d use but I got the sentiment, my own dress was doing an inadequate job of keeping me warm.
“So you going on the ride tomorrow?” I enquired as we returned to the festivities.
“Supposedly, we did about forty K this afternoon and it nigh on killed me.”
“Getting a chance to feel like we all did, do up against super Bond.”
“With knobs on as I am that Bond,” I admitted.
Mum and Caro got no further than outside the door before rushing back and chorusing “Taxi!”
“It that cold?” Dad queried.
“Colder,” Mum replied.
I know I wasn’t very appreciative of the catering or the band but it had been an excellent evening, I got new silverware to clean, I’ve reconnected with Kristen and I’ve met loads of people that I’ve only read about in the Comic . It’s not just been a one-way thing, people have met me, I’m not just a name in the Comic, a rider never seen in the UK. I hugged my jacket close, we had to wait a couple of minutes for the taxi bus which of course then took literally two minutes to transport us back to the Park Inn.
“I wasn’t that sure about coming,” Mand admitted as we divested ourselves of war paint and finery back in room 605.
“Why’s that?” I queried as I struggled to undo my dress.
“Well, not knowing people and all that but like Georgie was there, your friend Kristen, I’ve raced against her a few times so there were people I knew.”
“And you got your picture taken,”
“And you didn’t?”
“Okay, maybe a couple of times,” I agreed.
“This ride tomorrow, should be good fun.”
“For you maybe, I still hurt from earlier.”
“I’m sure they’ll wait for you,” she chuckled.
“You need a hand with that?”
I still hadn’t got the hook undone.
“Please, I wonder how come Kristen didn’t get on the BC squad, she was quite a handy rider.”
“Lack of ambition?”
“There you go, you’d got it caught in the material.”
Maddy Bell 19.02.16
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