TG Universes & Series:
“Okay, Gab?” Caro asked sliding in beside me.
“They really get a clog on, eh?”
“Uh huh,” I allowed.
“Don’t worry, girl, you’ll get it back.”
“Course you will, you’ve not ridden for what, five, six weeks, you’re bound to have lost fitness and strength,” she pointed out.
“Maybe, I feel such a fraud though, wearing this,” I picked at my jersey, “and not even being able to keep up with Mand – not that Mand’s a bad rider or anything but like I was better?”
“I know what you mean, Gab and I’m sure Amanda wouldn’t be offended either. The main thing is that you’re back riding, it’ll take time but I’m sure you’ll come back fitter and stronger.”
“The goalposts have moved now though haven’t they?”
“I’ll be competing for the girl’s prizes,” I pointed out.
“Doesn’t mean you stop racing the lads. Gab you’ve got the potential to follow in your Mum’s wheel tracks, help take women’s racing to a new level. Tonight at the dinner there will be girls, women who look to your mother and you as icons of the sport, heroes who inspire their dreams. And you, Gaby Bond, you are the future, you inspire people, just look back to Switzerland, to Roskilde, you and Mark, you’re both game changers. Last year we had a high finish in the road race of 48th, this year we got 2 podiums, three in the ten.
So the girls’ racing isn’t fought as hard but there are riders like your friend Roni, even Manda, who are, as you put it, moving the goalposts. So yes, you’ll be chasing the girls’ prize but that doesn’t mean you can’t compete for the lads too, at least until you’re eighteen. That’s two more years of honing your skills, there’s new optimism in the sport, new money coming in – we’ve had so many false starts over the years but that will change, it must change and you are part of it.”
By now we’d caught up to the others, Caro’s pep talk was ringing in my ears.
“Okay?” Mum queried.
Dunno, am I?
“We’re fine,” Caro offered on our behalf.
The light was starting to go now but from Poppleton to our hotel was only a handful of kilometres, Dad took the bus ahead to get us checked in while we navigated the cycle route into the centre. The Park Inn sounds grander than it is but it sits right on the river a stones throw from Lendal Bridge. We actually arrived before Dad and Carsten having missed the traffic on our ride along the riverside.
Clearly we weren’t the only BLCA attendees staying, when we asked about bike storage we were shown to a storeroom already containing a dozen or so bikes.
“How’re we getting to the venue?” Mum enquired as we clopped back to reception.
“It’s only about a ten minute walk,” Caro told us.
“In that case, what, meet here at seven?”
“Works for me.”
Dad translated for Erika and the Pilz family and we headed for our rooms.
“You two okay?” Mum queried when we arrived at 605, the room we’d be sharing.
“Think so,” Mand told her.
“Just a bit bushed.”
“Maybe you can catch thirty winks before we go,” she suggested.
“You want to shower?” Mand asked.
“You go first if you like.”
As Mand prepared her toilet I dropped onto the bed, ah! Mand hit the bathroom and I lay looking at the ceiling for a minute before groping in my jersey pocket for my Handy. Let’s see, hmm, Cav, Con oh here we go, Davis, I hit dial and held the phone to my ear as things set themselves in motion for conversation.
It only rang three times before it was picked up.
“Hello, I’m not here just now, please leave a message after the tone.”
Sugar, “Er hi, Mary, this is Gaby Bond, just ringing.”
“Oh hi, Gaby, sorry it goes straight to messaging, I’ll have to get someone to sort it out for me.”
“Just touching base, thought I’d let you know we’re in York, at our hotel.”
“Oh brill, this is so exciting!”
“Er yeah,” I allowed.
“Did you bring your medals? It’s so cool you’ve come!”
“Both of them and Mum and Manda brought theirs too.”
“Of course, Amanda got the bronze didn’t she?”
“Yeah,” I agreed. Of course it was all a bit confusing, my medals are actually not for the girls’ events of course but for the boys’, I grinned to myself, yeah, I can kick boy butt!
“Look I’d best get myself ready, I’ll see you at the Royal.”
“Er yeah – oh what’re you wearing, just so I know who to look for.”
“Mum got me a new dress for tonight,” she bubbled, “it’s black and covered in sequins.”
“Black sequins, got it. Okay, I need to get ready too, see you later, tschussie!”
“Who was that? Not Max?” Mand asked, returning to the main room.
“Not you too, no it wasn’t Max, why would I ring him?”
She shrugged, “To exchange phone spit?”
“Eww! Mand that is, like, so disgusting!”
“Who was it then?”
“Oh, Mary, you know the girl who sent the invite?”
“’Kay, bathrooms yours.”
I’d worked on the basis that everyone would be dressed to the nines tonight and selected my own outfit on that basis. Maybe it was a little over the top but I’m only little so anything to give me an edge is acceptable. Oh what is it? My red number of course complete with heels and a pair of silly expensive Wolford glossy hose.
“Whoa, sexy lady!” Mand crowed.
“You don’t brush up so bad yourself,” I noted, she was in her spangly black number, you remember, she wore to that disco when we were at Lilleshall.
“I suppose you want a hand with your hair?”
Well I can do pony tails and a scrappy braid but beyond that I’m lost.
“So what am I doing?” she sighed as I sat myself on the chair.
“You have a licence for that?” Erika smirked when I exited the lift just turned seven – look it wasn’t my fault, Mand laddered her tights so it wasn’t even me this time.
“Dave, you need to keep her on a leash, eh?” Carsten suggested.
“A shorter one than her sister I think,” Dad chuckled.
“Coats?” Mum suggested.
“Tada!” I grinned, brandishing my long coat, see, I can plan ahead.
“You might need it on? It’s freezing out there.” Dad pointed out.
Look, I wasn’t the only one in heels, maybe mine were a bit more vertiginous than the others but I’m smaller than them! It doesn’t mean that walking in ten centimetre heels on uneven paving is easy, it’s not and I ended up hanging onto Dad to save my ankles. The Royal York loomed ahead of us, the huge front edifice brightly lit with spotlights, and as we walked up through the gardens we could see others arriving for the do, long frocks and suits the order of the day.
It might be the British Ladies’ do but there were plenty of chaps in attendance like Dad and Carsten either parents or partners. But there was a definite bias to the fairer sex. We reached the entrance and our eight strong party soon joined the queue for the cloakroom.
There was a definite hierarchy of dress, the men – well they were all besuited but the ladies and girls were a different matter. Generally the younger the wearer, the shorter the dress, well Mum’s showed her knees which bucked the trend and mine doesn’t show my underwear but you get the general idea. I’m no snob, I’m not, but I reckon some of those long frocks get rolled out for every do and have done for years.
I spotted black sequins as we waited to enter the function room, has to be Mary.
“Yes, yes,” she enthused, “er this is,”
“Mandy Jones , hi Jenny, long time no see.”
A camera flash went off capturing World Champions old and new.
“I wondered if you’d be here,” Mum noted.
“When I heard you were coming, well there was no way I wanted to miss seeing you, or your offspring, hello, Gaby.”
“Er hi, erm this is Amanda de Vreen,” I offered as further introduction.
“They’ve brought their medals, Mandy,” Mary put in.
“Well it’s nice to meet you, Amanda, Gaby, I hope you don’t mind,” Mandy went on, “we’ve had to split you and your party up, Jen, you and the girls are on the top table, we’ve put the rest of your party on a table nearby.”
Top table? Oh boy.
“Enough, we’ll talk later, bar’s at the far end.”
“Er yeah, I’d like that,” Mum allowed as Mandy departed in a waft of scent that could maim at fifty metres.
“Hasn’t changed,” Dad noted.”
“That’s for sure,” Caro agreed.
“I can’t believe you came,” Mary bubbled.
“I like a good bop.”
“That’s a nice dress, Gaby.”
“Thanks, yours makes a statement as well,” I really am not being bitchy but you could tell her mum had bought it, it certainly wasn’t anything a teen would pick, it was definitely more Mumsie than fashionable. Sparkly yes but in that very, er, long way, the fact that Mary was a streak of nothing didn’t exactly help.
“So erm, what’s the programme?” Mand asked our hostess.
“Oh right, yes well we eat at eight then after it’s the speeches and stuff, there’s a band for later.”
Maddy Bell 19.02.16
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