TG Universes & Series:
My sudden acceleration caught everyone on the hop. Much like my earlier escape I got into a low tuck and absolutely slammed the pedals around, with a clear road, well apart from the odd dropped rider I was lapping, I could pick the fastest line. The crowd, not exactly huge or vocal up to now seemed less inscrutable as the PA screamed what I presume was encouragement as I swung into the home straight.
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!
Yes my calculation was right.
Behind the Wunderkind Jenny was cursing, this wasn’t how it was supposed to go down. Trust Drew to pull a stunt like this, the dilemma of course was whether to chase the move down or not. That was answered by the chasing move by the dark Canadian, she was confident her offspring could hold off almost anyone in a time trial and of course Team Bianchi now had to react.
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!
“Go for it, Gabs!” Jules shouted as her sibling flashed past, whilst a reluctant rider herself she could still appreciate the effort involved.
There was no let up for rider two as the course tilted upwards, snick, Drew dropped a gear to keep the cadence level, keep it smooth. He angled to the outside of the roadway before swinging through the apex of the corner, don’t look back. His thighs were starting to burn with lactic build up, deep Drew, deep breaths.
Jenny and Erika were quickly on the Canadians move but she wasn’t for capitulating. Her compatriot was trying to block the other Bianchi girls – Amanda had dropped back with a lot of the Japanese. There wouldn’t be a big bunch sprint this evening, the pursuants slowly opening the gap back to the now fragmented bunch.
Whilst her offspring was still only a double handful of seconds ahead, with 500 metres to go it’d take more than the three of them to close the gap before the line. Realising they were riding for second Jen backed off the gas a tad, the Canadian was still going full gas however, in effect towing the Bianchi pair towards the line. Drew might’ve got the drop on them all but there was no way anyone else would get the advantage of Jenny Bond today – well maybe Dave later!
Drew had the eleven sprocket spinning if not easily at least quickly enough for the computer to flicker over fifty kph on the descent to the last corner. He chanced a quick under arm glance to see where the pursuit was, bags of air, he could enjoy this. Through the last turn and with under two hundred to go he eased off and had time to straighten his jersey before sitting up and giving a two armed air punch as he crossed the line.
The crowd, what there was were pretty vocal, the MC was giving everything he had to build the atmosphere, Jen was aware of her daughter showboating ahead but now it was her time to show off. Erika feignted to the left which distracted the Canadian for the millisecond Jen needed to launch. The Canadian was plucky if not quite fast enough only sitting up ten metres before the line with Bond senior still going away from her.
Not far behind the main bunch were determined to sprint for every placing, the second Canadian mixed it with the almost exclusively Japanese group but the remaining Bianchi girls restrained themselves. It was a local rider who took fifth place, the north American losing out by less than half a wheel.
“Nice move, kiddo,” Jen allowed when she found her offspring.
“Have a good teacher.”
“I’m guessing you got second.”
“Well I couldn’t let you have all the fun.”
“That was intense,” Mand noted as she rolled to a stop alongside.
“You did well out there, Amanda.”
“Took the sting out for me, “I grinned.
The prize presentation turned into a camera fest, just about everyone in town wanted pictures of and with the two World Champions. It wasn’t just the riders who attracted attention – even Mand got to sign a few programmes, no, much to Vicenzo’s delight the bikes were getting the treatment too. Over an hour had passed from the event finish before the riders could escape to the bus and get out of their perspiration soaked race togs.
George stepped up onto the bus, “Well done again, girls.”
“When are we eating?” Tina called from the back.
“Always the food,” George chuckled, “the organizers have that set up for us here in Chiba so we eat then go back to the hotel.”
“What’re we waiting for, I’m starved!” I opined.
“Your Dad and Genji are just finishing loading the van then we can walk to the restaurant, it’s on the circuit you raced on.”
“What’s going on?” Mand queried.
“Dinner, we eat here before we go back to the hotel.”
“Great, I’m starved.”
“Hope it’s not more schnitzel,” I mused.
“That would be too ironic,” Mand suggested.
Team Bianchi, including Genji san and our long waiting bus driver followed George, Vicenzo and a handful of the race officials for the short walk to the restaurant. This was no pseudo western eatery, no this was full on traditional Japanese, shoes off at the door, sit on floor cushions (so okay not 100% traditional). If you want to know what we had well you’re out of luck, apart from rice I’ve no idea what anything was called.
What I can tell you is that there was plenty of it, assorted meat was included and using chopsticks isn’t as easy as you think. As a result there was some finger eating and use of spoons to move comestibles from table to mouth. I noted with satisfaction that it wasn’t just the Europeans at the table using the spoons, clearly some Japanese aren’t too good with chopsticks either!
Have to say there was plenty to go round and even I gave up with food still on the table. The light was starting to go when we emerged into the still warm evening a bit before eight for the walk to the bus.
“Ga-ab!” Mand complained.
“Soz, I think it was that battered pork repeating.”
“I don’t want to think about what part of a pig that was.”
“Tasted alright, maybe four pieces was a bit much though.”
“No kidding,” Mand agreed rolling her eyes.
It was an hour’s drive back to the hotel and despite not being that late I wasn’t the only one who caught forty winks on the way, the combination of the racing then a big meal catching up with us. I was woken by the jolt of the bus stopping at a set of traffic lights; the hotel was the other side of the junction.
“Okay everyone, no race tomorrow,” George stated, “so we do a training ride in the morning, reception at nine, Vincenzo has other stuff to do but Genji knows where we go to ride.”
“No rest for the wicked,” Anja mumbled.
“But there you are wrong, Fraulein Pascali, after training you have the rest of the day free.”
Ken pulled the bus up outside the hotel and after grabbing our kit we trooped inside.
“Nearly forgot,” Dad got our attention, “laundry to me before ten, the hotel assure me it’ll be ready before we leave in the morning.”
“I was wondering about that,” Tina told us.
“That includes you, Gaby Bond,” Mum ordered.
The laundry run done it was still too early for bed so after buying some snacks from the machine by the lift we settled down to surf the TV channels.
“Whoa, whoa! Go back,” I instructed the keeper of the remote.
Mand clicked the controller and after a moment channel fifty three came back up.
“Cartoons?” Mand queried.
“Ut uh, Anime, I know this one.” I enthused.
“It’s in Japanese, Gab,” my room mate moaned.
“Well duh, we’re in Japan,” I pointed out, “this is a classic Studio Ghibli, Kiki’s Delivery Service.”
“Sounds a bit lame to me.”
“No it’s well cool, there’s this girl, Kiki who starts a business delivering stuff, this is just the pre titles bit.”
“You don’t have to know Japanese to follow it, please Mand?”
“Oh alright, as long as you don’t hog those jelly beans.”
“Yay!” I leant over and gave Mand a one armed hug before passing the bag of beans over.
Sometimes Gab you are such a girl! One minute you’re all trying to be macho, next it’s all girly, I mean what was it with the coffee this morning?
“So what’re we gonna do tomorrow?” Mand asked into the now darkened room. The film thing hadn’t been too bad, a bit juvenile but as Gab said you didn’t need to understand the words to get the drift of what was happening and at any rate Gab provided a commentary.
“Duh, after that, dummy.”
“Dunno, hadn’t really thought about it.”
“Do you reckon they’d let us go into Tokyo?”
“We could get the train.”
“You seen my denim skirt?”
“The one you spilt sauce on in the restaurant?”
“I only brought one.” I informed her.
“Went to the laundry last night.”
“Shitza! I was gonna take that for after training.”
“I know you have other stuff.”
“I’m not wearing a dress!”
“Who said anything about a dress, what about those shorts, you know, with the turn-ups?”
“I guess,” I allowed.
“Get a shift on or we’ll be last down to brekkie.”
“I know your five minutes, I’ll see you downstairs.”
The drive to our training ground took about forty five minutes and we parked up in a place called Hadano which the sign in English claimed was the gateway to the Tanzawa-yama National Park. Jules distributed bottles and food while Dad helped Genji get the bikes ready, there’s no free ticket on this trip! By ten we were ready to depart.
“okay everyone, we’ll do an hour piano, second hour intervals, Vincenzo says the roads are quiet but maybe not so well surfaced in places. According to the map we go north from here, you take a left at road 413, we’ll follow with the bus. Questions?”
There being none, we set off into the warming morning.
It didn’t take long to get up to a comfortable rotation speed, quick enough to eat the miles but slow enough to comfortably hold a conversation. Rather than through and off we rode in pairs, it seemed natural to ride with Mand, her German isn’t up to much and the others’ English isn’t a lot better so it kind of makes sense.
“How much do you think these bikes are worth?” Mand posed.
“A fair bit, Chorus gears aren’t cheap, bet it’s like four thousand each.”
“Euros, that’s what, a bit over three thousand pounds.”
“Bloody hell! My dad only spent two on his car.”
“When I went to America I rode a custom job with Super Record on it, that was well expensive.” I boasted.
“I think my 105 is smoother changing than this, it’s a bit clunky.”
“Clunky?” I exclaimed, “Solid maybe, Shimano always feels a bit soggy to me.”
“I like Shimano.”
“Dad prefers Campy cos it lasts so long, he says it wears in not out.”
“I suppose it’s alright once you get used to it, the changers are easy to use, it can be awkward making quick changes with my 105’s.”
“You two changing?” Mum queried from behind.
Oops, we let Tina and Erika through and slipped to the back behind Mum and Anja. For a less than good road surface it was remarkably smooth making the climbs easier and the descents fast. The terrain was a bit reminiscent of the Hohe Eiffel, it almost felt like home but a sign in Japanese would remind you of our current location.
The high peak to our left was, I’m guessing Tanzawa-yama, we passed several parking places that looked like walking trails towards the mountain. We reached our first major junction, it was all in Japanese apart from the road numbers, ha, 413. It looked like we were doing a loop of the peak, George hadn’t mentioned a pass or big climb, had he?
The road did tilt up some, a steady four or five percent climb that rose for several kilometres before dropping down again in similar fashion.
“Fartlek!” Mum called out.
Oh sugar, I hate this, sprint for ten seconds then rest for a minute then repeat – we usually do ten sets, talk about intense. We singled out and Tina did her effort – the start of fifteen minutes hard riding which took us to our next turn where we joined a much less used and maintained lane which reminded me of family visits to the Yorkshire Dales. The interval pattern changed now, sprinting from the back of the string to the front, a sort of reversed rotation.
Our route tilted up and down and twisted about some which only added to the intensity of our sprints. Mand gamely took her turn but she was starting to falter, which didn’t go unnoticed by Mum who had her sit in at the back until we finished the reps. We dropped into a steep sided valley, of course that inevitably meant a climb out, we kept things steady but even so Manda was now starting to struggle a bit.
Eventually we joined another more main road, the 246 which took us back towards our start point. The warm down let Mand remain with us – it wasn’t the distance that was causing her issues but the intensity, an intensity several points harder than we’d done with BC. Mum and the others are professionals, they race like this week in week out, my regular joining their sessions has given me the stamina to ride with them.
Maddy Bell 28.09.15
© Maddy Bell 2016
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