Gaby Book 12+1 Chapter *22* Rhein’d In

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 get the complete book here! {Or here (US) -Erin}
 
 
*Chapter 22*

Rhein’d In

 
 
“Ah Bisto*!” I announced.

“Well not actually,” Mum stated, “it’s OXO* I’ve thickened up.”

“So what we having?” I enquired, all thought of my earlier pile of food forgotten.

“Sausage toad**, there was a continental market in Mayen today and that English butcher was there.”

“Neat!”

It always seems a bit weird that something as ordinary as bangers aren’t in the local shops, English food is foreign exotica here in Germany.

“What have you done now?” Mum exclaimed.

“Done?” I queried.

“You know how I feel about tattoos.”

“Tattoos?”

What is she on about?

“Your neck.”

“Neck? Oh this, cool eh,” I enthused fingering my new choker.

“Not cool, you realise you’ll have that forever?”

“Dunno about that, might be a bit fiddly to get off, Steff took ages doing it up.”

“You got one of your friends to do it?” Mum was getting apoplectic.

“Who else?”

“You are so grounded, Gabrielle Bond, just wait until your father sees it.”

Grounded?

“Till I see what?” Dad enquired from the door.

“My choker I guess,” I suggested in a small voice.

“Your daughter has got herself tattooed, just look at her neck.” Mum instructed.

“Tattoo?” Dad and I chorused, I put two and two together – Mu-um!

“It’s not a tattoo, it’s a choker,” I pulled the plastic filigree away from my skin, “see?”

“Have to admit it looks like a tattoo,” Dad noted, “’s not though love.”

“It’s not? Let me see.”

I demonstrated the temporary nature of my neck decoration for her.

“Sorry, kiddo, I jump to conclusions sometimes.”

“Am I still grounded?” I queried.

“Grounded? No you’re off the hook.”

“Now that’s sorted, when’s dinner?” Dad asked sniffing the glorious odours coming from the stove.

 
 

“Looks like a nice day for it.” Dad observed as we headed north along the autobahn next morning.

And indeed it was looking quite promising, a thin mist sat over the fields but overhead the sky was almost cloud free, a blue several shades lighter than the shade normally associated with it. The shadow of my bike on the roof flickered along the road, quiet at this time on a Sunday morning. The early morning chill will almost certainly give way to something more comfortable later on.

Sometimes the journey up to Ron’s seems to take forever, this morning it was the opposite and it seemed but a few minutes before we were dropping through Gruiten towards Mettmann.

“Not coming today, Angela?” Dad enquired seeing Ron’s mum still in slippers.

“I got a better offer from my man,” she replied with a wink, “morning, Gaby.”

“Er morning.”

“Come on, Roni, they’re waiting!” Frau Grönberg called into the house.

“Coming, morning, Gab, Herr Bond.”

“Morning, Ron.
 
 

We soon had Ron’s bike on the rack, Angela having donated what looked suspiciously like sandwiches, cake and a flask of coffee. Today’s event, a sportive being run by a local club, only starts twenty minutes away in Dusseldorf, the tiny area known as Flehe.

“This must be it.” Dad surmised turning into the parking area already populated by cars, bikes and riders.

“It says registration is in the school,” Ron noted after scanning the flyer she was clutching.

“You two go and check in, I’ll sort the bikes – oh and see if you can get me a route map, girls.”

“Yes, Dad,” I agreed rolling my eyes.
 
 

We made our way into the school, the local primary and found the queue for registration.

“Morning, ladies, which distance hundred or hundred fifty?”

We looked at each other, yeah.

“One fifty.” I offered.

“You’re over sixteen, yes?”

“Of course, shrimp here is nearly seventeen.” Ron ad libbed.

“I can’t help being short,” I added.

“Have to check, ten euro each please,” the guy doing registration shrugged, “pop your details on the sheet.”

We filled in names and emergency contact details under the officials gaze and I handed over a twenty note.

“So, number on the front of the bike, get the card stamped at the checkpoints, green arrows to point two then blue for the long route, it’s a loop back to point two then you follow the green again okay?”

It was clear enough on the map.

“’Kay, could I get an extra map for my dad, please?”

“Sure, glück, remember it’s not a race.”

“We will,” Ron agreed.
 
 

“Wotcha say that for, that I’m seventeen?”

“He was gonna make us do the hundred. It worked didn’t it? I need the loo.”

Whatever. I followed her into school to use the facilities, ooo, showers afterwards.
 
 

“Sorted?” Dad enquired when we crossed back to the car.

“Yup, I remembered the map too,” I announced passing him the sheet.

“Hundred k, bought three hours then.”

“Erm,” Ron started, “we sort of accidentally entered the one fifty.”

“How’d, no I don’t want to know, just take it steady eh, I don’t want to have to explain to your mothers why you’re in the Krankenhaus eh?”

“We will, Dad, take it steady that is.”

He gave us one of those looks, “Let’s get theses numbers on, it’s ten to, best get yourselves sorted.”

 
 
This isn’t one of those big fancy events like we rode earlier in the year, no big sponsorship or thousands of riders. The start window is an hour; we joined about fifty others for the nine o’clock flag waving. Sportives are kind of like a race without the er race bit – ride alone or in a group, fast or slow, it’s a personal challenge with no prizes other than pride.

With at least three hours riding ahead of everyone the start was quite sedate, not least as we followed a narrow lane through market gardens to the Rhein where we climbed up to the motorway bridge to cross the meandering waters. We slotted into the back of a twenty strong group as the cycle track left the motorway. Letting others do the navigation was, at this stage a wise move as we flicked back and forth through housing estates and industrial areas.

The first kontrolle at Nievenheim was reached in about forty five minutes of riding, the others in our group content to let us sit in – at least for now. We queued up for our stamps before grabbing a cup of squash and half a narna.

“This is alright.” Ron suggested.

“Yeah like it’s only another hundred and twenty to go,” I pointed out.

“Pah! Come on, our lot are leaving!”

“Sugar!”

I rammed my banana in my mouth and quickly mounted my steed and pushed off. The others had stolen several hundred metres on us which it was soon evident we weren’t going to close easily. We eased off slightly and soon found ourselves at the head of a smaller group of riders.

An informal two-line rotation started up and by the time we passed the huge Neurath power station we were ticking along quite comfortably. Apart from motorway bridges it was now almost Holland flat and whilst still reasonably warm the sun was hidden behind a bank of grey cloud.

“Wonder where Dad is?”

“Probably struggling with this map!”

“Yeah it’s not the easiest is it.”

So far we’ve easily spotted the green arrows, I say we, our little peloton, eight in total.

“We must be near the next checkpoint,” I suggested as we dropped off another motorway bridge.

“Hope so, I need a wee,” Ron supplied.
 
 

We were closer than I’d imagined, barely a kilometre later we followed the arrows to kontrolle two next to a disused windmill.

“Wee, wee!” Ron squealed.”

“Gi’s your card, I’ll get it stamped.”

Ron minced off to find a suitable bladder emptying spot; I might need to do the same before we leave here. I’d got the cards stamped before I heard a familiar voice.

“You alright, kiddo? Where’s Ron?”

“Lav, wondered where you’d got to.”

“I just missed you at the first stop, you were too quick.”

“You’re in a car,” I mentioned.

“But I couldn’t jump straight onto the motorway, it’s quite a trip round by car.”

“Hi, Herr Bond,” Ron offered joining us.

“Okay? You sure you want to do the long route?”

“Course, fresh as daisies us,” I grinned.

“I’ll see you at the next control then.”
 
 

By the time we were ready to depart the other members of ‘our’ group had departed on the short route, we’ve got a loop of about fifty k back to the windmill and it looks like it’ll be just the two of us. The first couple of kilometres were remarkably tough, a stiff headwind making us grovel, have we boobed here? Off the main drag things improved, a succession of small villages marked our way, the now blue arrows forlornly directing us at each junction.

“So how far’s this kontrolle then?” Ron asked after we’d been in the saddle for best part of an hour.

“If the map’s right, about another five?”

“Bleh!”

“We’re over halfway when we get there,” I observed.

* Well known UK brands of gravy browning
** English sausages cooked in a Yorkshire pudding batter, commonly know as Toad in’t Hole.

Maddy Bell © 11.11.2014



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