Cover Story, Part 1: A Gaby Fanfic
I've dabbled in Maddy Bell's GabyVerse before. This story was first printed in the second "Gaby and Friends" anthology last year and is currently being posted on Maddy's site. I hope you enjoy it.
A Gaby Fanfic by Jillian
Keith Davis had been with Sports World magazine for just over two years as a copywriter, and he still held out hope that one day soon he’d get his chance to do a feature. The magazine had whole staffs of writers covering baseball, football, basketball, hockey, golf, and even soccer. But one sport they were lacking in coverage for was cycling. In fact, the only writer who had ever done a story about it had retired the year before and management didn’t seem too torn up about not having anyone assigned.
Keith was a fairly smart fellow, and after studying long and hard the areas of strength and weakness in the magazine’s operation, he determined that his best chance to ever get a feature story would be to become a cycling expert. He started reading everything he could about it, bought a race bike and started riding himself every day. He even started riding to and from work, weather permitting, hoping that immersing himself in the sport would help him gain some insight that he could then turn into a top notch story, and maybe even a career. There were of course plenty of people who thought he was crazy tooling around Manhattan on his bike all the time, but he just shrugged off the occasional strange comments knowing that these were all just strangers and it didn’t matter what they thought anyway.
One Saturday he found himself watching television coverage of the Atlanta Winter Classic, and was captivated by the performance of this precocious girl who was staying toe to toe with the best riders in the world. The commentators said her name was Gaby Bond, and that she was the daughter of World Champion cyclist Jenny Bond. The longer he watched the coverage, the more certain he became that what he was meant to do was to write a feature about the two generations of Bonds combining to dominate the sport for years and years to come.
The following Monday morning Keith was in the office even earlier than usual, and was in the managing editor’s office the moment he arrived. “Sir? I’m sorry to bother you so early, but I had a great idea for a feature article over the weekend.”
“Who are you? Do you work for me?”
“Yes sir, Keith Davis. I’m a copywriter right now but...”
Mr. Tompkins, the managing editor, cut him off before he could finish his sentence, “Davis is it? What are you on about? No, let me guess. You want to be a feature journalist, is that right?”
“And you think you have a can’t miss idea for a feature story for ‘Sports World’ magazine?”
“Yes sir, I do.”
“Forget it. Go back to proofing the box scores for next month’s issue and leave me alone.” As Mr. Tompkins said this, he was pushing Keith out of his office. Once he had pushed him clear of the door, Mr. Tompkins slammed it shut.
Keith dejectedly shuffled his way back to his desk and started the tedious task of fact checking college basketball box scores for the upcoming issue. The next day, Keith again marched into Mr. Tompkins’ office, and again found himself shown the door. They continued this little dance every morning for two weeks before there was finally a change in the routine.
“You’re persistent, I’ll give you that,” Mr. Tompkins sighed as Keith once again entered his office. “Okay, so what’s this great idea then?”
Keith walked into the office and sat down in the chair facing Mr. Tompkins’ desk and spoke, “I want to do a feature on the Bond girls…”
Tompkins cut him off, “What? Like the girls from the James Bond movies? Not exactly Sports World material, is it?”
“No sir. Jenny Bond, defending World Champion cyclist and her daughter Gaby. She’s the youngster who was riding alongside Lance Armstrong in Atlanta and asked for his autograph during the race. My research tells me she’s the defending British junior champion. Like mother, like daughter.”
“So you’re thinking of a ‘Future of Cycling’ kind of thing, eh? I understand you’re something of a cycling expert. That why you’re wanting to do this piece?”
“Well maybe just a little. I got interested in the sport just recently because I was looking for a way to make myself more valuable to the magazine. Maybe earn a promotion from the copy desk, up to writing features.”
“I’ll concede that if we get the timing right, it might work. Do you think you can have it done in time for us to run with the Tour de France coverage? Otherwise, our readers won’t give hoot about it, ya know.”
“I think so sir. I’ve got a little more research to do, then I’d need to do the interviews.”
“And where do I have to send you for those?”
“England? Christ! Can’t you just make a few phone calls, ask a couple of questions, and be done with it? No, I don’t suppose you could. Not for a ‘Sports World’ feature, could you? Okay, I’ll give you this much. Think you can get everything you need over there in a week? I don’t want to have to pay to put you up across the ocean for months while you piddle around, ya know?”
“Yes sir, I can get all the interviews done in that timeframe.”
“Okay, then I’ll give you a tentative okay on the story. I want to see what you’ve come up with before I pay for a plane ticket and hotel though.”
“Yes sir,” Keith said, barely able to contain his excitement. He jumped up out of his chair and reached for Mr. Tompkins’ hand to shake, “Thank you sir, I won’t let you down.”
“You better not son,” he replied, releasing the younger man’s grip and returning to the paperwork on his desk.
Keith left his boss’s office and made a bee line for his desk, where he pulled some legal pads out of a drawer, turned to his computer, and started trying to do some research for his story. He barely moved all day long and ten hours later as he looked up to find that he was the last one in the office, he decided he’d done enough for one day. He shut down his computer, put his notes away, and headed home knowing he needed to hurry if he wanted to ride his bike home because it was starting to get dark.
During his ride home, he was thinking about some of the information he had found that day. Mrs. Bond’s resume was fairly well known, even amongst non-cycling people, but Gaby’s experience seemed to be far more limited. And who was this Drew he kept reading about connected to Jenny Bond? Some reports listed that British title as belonging to Gaby, while others said it was Drew. Were they both national champs?
The next day being Saturday, Keith decided to get out and go for a real training ride. He bundled up of course because it was still New York in March, which meant it was bound to still be pretty cold.
After what for him was an extremely strenuous 25 mile ride through city streets and much of Central Park, Keith made his way back home and nearly stumbled through the door, he was so exhausted. After a long hot shower and fresh clothes, he felt human again and got busy compiling lists of questions he thought he’d like to ask each of the Bonds.
Hours later, having spent a lot of time tracking down photos of the Bond family at various events, Keith decided it was time to turn in. But it seemed that while his body was trying to sleep, his brain couldn’t stop going over some of the things he’d found today.
Everywhere he looked Keith had found lots of pictures of Gaby with her mother and sister…in Paris at the end of the Tour Feminin, with her mother and father in Atlanta, the whole family together in Germany…the list went on and on. The strange thing was, while he found lots of race results that listed Drew Bond as winner, he was hard pressed to fine photographic examples of the boy’s existence. What was going on here? Was Drew an alias for Gaby so she could race against stronger competition? Or was it something else? This was something he had to figure out, because it could make or break the story.
Sunday meant a ride with his cycle club, which took them a little way onto Long Island before returning to Manhattan for roughly a forty mile round trip. The pace was far more relaxed than his training ride the day before, so even though he was tired when he got home, the exhaustion he felt was nothing like he experienced previously. However, by the time he got back home it was almost time to eat a bite of dinner and unwind a bit before bed. This meant there wasn’t any time for research.
Bright and early Monday morning, Keith was at his desk in ‘Sports World’s’ offices preparing to make a couple of phone calls pertaining to the story. His first call was to the Bond residence in a little town in Nottinghamshire called Warsop. He dialed the number and waited several rings before someone answered.
“Yes, is either Mr. Or Mrs. Bond available?”
“Whom may I say is calling?”
“Keith Davis from ‘Sports World’ magazine.”
“Just a moment…” There were sounds of the phone being set down, steps and muffled voices in the background, then more steps before the sound of the receiver being picked up again signaled that a voice was about to be heard again.
“Mr. Davis? Jenny Bond here. What can I do for you?”
“Mrs. Bond, I’m doing an article for my magazine about the ‘Royal family of cycling’, and I was wondering if it would be possible to schedule some interview time with you, your husband, and Gaby for sometime next week?”
“Well, I’m not a problem and Gaby will be easily enough tracked down, but my husband is currently in Germany working and would probably be easier to get hold of there. When did you say you wanted to do this?”
“Some time next week, ma’am.”
“How about a week from today, say mid afternoon. You can start with me, and then talk to Gaby if that will be all right.”
“Perfect. Thanks for your time.” As he hung up the receiver, Keith started to get a strange feeling about things.
‘She never once mentioned Drew, even though I said it was about the family in cycling. Does that mean anything?’ he thought. After a few minutes of struggling with all the different scenarios floating around in his brain, he decided that he probably wasn’t going to reach any viable conclusions until after the interviews were done at least. So he turned his attention to his next phone call of the morning. He looked up the number for the offices of Biggs Manufacturing.
“Hello, Biggs Manufacturing.”
“Yes, I’d like to speak to Diane Biggs please?”
“One moment sir,” came the voice of the older lady who answered the telephone. He was placed on hold for a minute before there was a click on the line, and the person he wanted to speak with was on the line.
“Yes, what can I do for you?”
“My name is Keith Davis, with ‘Sports World’ magazine. I was wondering if you might have a moment to answer a couple of questions?”
“If you tell what this is about, I might.” Diane responded.
“Fair enough. I’m working on a feature about the Bond family and their place in the annals of cycling history.”
“And what do you think I’ll be able to tell you?”
“Well, you were a team mate of Gaby’s in Atlanta. I’d just like to get an idea of what she’s like from a teammate’s perspective.”
“Gaby is a great young rider with a lot of talent, but probably her greatest gift is her ability to know what’s going to happen before it happens.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“She can look at the riders around her and tell what they’re going to do even before they do it. It’s like she has an innate ability to read even minute changes in body language that might signal something’s about to happen.”
“Early in the Atlanta race, she’s the one that told our team we needed to pick up our pace and get to the front just as the pro teams put on a push to open up some space between them and the amateurs in the field. If it hadn’t been for that, we would have been left behind with the rest of the pack. And the whole autograph episode was just sort of a diversion to prevent the pros from taking off on a sprint at the feed. It kept us in the hunt, and as a result we took the team prize.”
“Yeah, it is, isn’t it? And those aren’t the only examples. During training rides we’d deliberately try to keep her in the dark about when sprints would be coming up, but she always knew and got the jump on us every time. When we’d ask how she did it, she’d say something like ‘you were all looking back to check traffic’ or something like that, or ‘everyone slows down going into a dip, so I took advantage of it to get the jump’. We learned things about tactics riding with that little girl that we never would’ve figured out otherwise.”
“Great. Thanks for taking a few minutes to chat with me.”
“You’re welcome. You happened to ask me about one of my favorite subjects, so it was easy.”
“Well, thanks again. If I have any other questions, would you mind if I contact you again?”
“Not at all. It’s been a pleasure.”
Once Diane hung up the phone on her end, Keith found himself scribbling away furiously trying to make sure he didn’t miss anything in his note taking. He eventually hung up his phone and returned to his computer to do some more research.
After lunch, Keith had a meeting scheduled with Mr. Tompkins to discuss his progress on the story. As he walked into Mr. Tompkins’ office, he saw that his boss was on the phone and was directly him silently toward the chair in front of his desk. Keith sat there a few minutes while Tompkins wrapped up his call, then turned his attention to the young writer.
“So how goes it, Davis?”
“Pretty well. I’ve arranged an interview with Jenny Bond for this coming Monday in Warsop, England, followed by one with Gaby. I need to call Mr. Bond in Germany to see when he’d like to talk. I’m actually hoping I can get him in the day before talking to the Bond girls.
“I just did a phone interview with Diane Biggs, who was a teammate of Gaby’s in Atlanta, and she had some great things to say about the kid. I have a few other people outside the family to talk to, most of which I should be able to do over the phone. George Muller, the Apollinaris team director is another one I’d like to talk to, but I’ll probably try to catch him at the same time I talk with Mr. Bond.”
It turned out that Sunday worked well for both Mr. Bond and Mr. Muller, so that meant Keith would be going to Germany before England. After confirming the interview schedule, he sent an email to Mr. Tompkins letting him know what his travel plans would be and asking whom he should contact about booking flights and hotels for the duration. He was directed to someone in the business office who handled travel arrangements for the magazine, and by the time he left late Monday afternoon, everything had been taken care of.
Again Monday night Keith had trouble getting to sleep as his brain refused to stop running through the facts he’d uncovered so far about the Bonds. He was becoming more convinced by the minute that there was something odd going on concerning Gaby and Drew. He just wasn’t sure yet what that something odd was going to turn out to be. With any luck it could make this story a real eye opener.
Over the next few days, Keith spent a lot of time on the phone talking to various people who had had interactions with the Bonds. He talked to a couple of other members of the Grottoes team Gaby had ridden with in Atlanta, a representative of the British cycling team, and a couple of members of Team Apollinaris.
One of the highlights was on Thursday, when he spoke with Lance Armstrong about the incident in Atlanta.
“Keith Davis with ‘Sports World’ magazine. Do you have a moment for a question or two?”
“Not long, but shoot.”
“It’s actually about Gaby Bond, sir.”
“Now you’ve got my attention.”
“What were your impressions of her when you met in Atlanta?”
“Well, she rides a lot like her mom, very aggressive. Doesn’t hold anything back. I admire that. And on top of that, she’s spooky smart on the road, like she reads other riders’ minds or something.”
“Her whole autograph seeker routine was just a delay tactic. She knew even before we got to the feed what we were planning, and did that to keep us from carrying out the plan.”
“You know, you’re the second person who’s mentioned that incident.”
“I’m not surprised. It was an inspired bit of tactics. Not that it’ll ever work for anyone again in my lifetime,” Lance began to chuckle as he said this.
“Thanks Mr. Armstrong for talking with me.”
“Anytime. So is your rag finally gonna start covering cycling?”
“That’s my hope. This is my first assignment away from the copy desk.”
“Well, good luck kid,” with that Lance hung up the phone.
Friday afternoon Keith was called into Mr. Tompkins’ office for a final ‘pep talk’. “So Davis, you all ready for your trip?”
“Other than needing to finish packing tonight, yes sir.”
“Found anything newsworthy so far?”
“I have some suspicions, but so far haven’t found anything for certain.”
“Really? Like what?”
“Well, it’s all speculation at this point, sir. Recorded race results make reference to not only Gaby, who we saw ride in Atlanta, but also a boy named Drew, who is listed as his age group’s defending National Champion in Circuit and Hill Climb. However, I haven’t been able to find anyone to talk to me about Drew, and in fact I’ve found some reports that actually credit those titles to Gaby.”
“Interesting,” Mr. Tompkins mused.
“That’s what I thought sir. I’d really like to figure out what’s really going on here. The other thing that I want to figure out is just why Jenny Bond isn’t training with her team yet? She missed the preseason mini tour because of ‘illness’, and still hasn’t rejoined Apollinaris. Her husband however is working for them as director of their new youth development program, and he’s spending a lot of his time in Germany while his wife and kids are in England. It’s just all a bit odd, if you ask me.”
“Get to the bottom of this, and it should make a pretty good story. Might even get you the cover.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Now get out of here. You’ve got a busy next few days, you probably ought to turn in early tonight so you can start out fresh for your trip tomorrow.”
“Yes sir. Thank you for this opportunity.”
“Just don’t let me down.” Keith was dismissed as Mr. Tompkins returned to his work.
Friday evening he finished packing, and then settled in with his laptop to do a little more background research. Just as he was getting ready to call it a night, he found birth records for the Bond children, and what he found there just added to the confusion. It seems there were records for a daughter, Juliette, and a son Andrew. No mention of a Gaby anywhere he looked. This fueled his curiosity even more, and instead of retiring as he had intended he found himself back at his research much of the night.
Keith had narrowed things down quite a bit by the time morning arrived. It seemed the first mention anywhere of a Gaby was at a charity event at Christmastime just over a year ago. Since then, Gaby has been much more prominent in media reports than Drew ever was. While he knew he was onto something big, he wasn’t in any condition to try and decipher anything right then, so he set his alarm to get him up in plenty of time to get to the airport and crawled into bed for a few hours of well deserved sleep.
He barely made it in time for boarding, and as soon as they were in the air, he found himself back asleep again. There was a changeover in Paris, and the flight attendant woke him just in time to fasten his seatbelt for landing there. On board a smaller commuter flight to Bonn, Keith did manage to stay awake for the final leg of the journey. After breezing through Customs he caught a cab to the hotel, got checked in, and was once again asleep almost before his head hit the pillow.
‘Okay, so maybe sleeping so much was a mistake,’ he thought to himself as he woke up about four o’clock Sunday morning. After trying in vain to get back to sleep, Keith decided to get up and ready for the day. He made some extra effort to make sure he looked professional, since today would be his first ever face-to-face interviews, and he wanted to at least look like he knew what he was doing.
After breakfast in the hotel restaurant, he got a taxi to Apollinaris headquarters where he was eventually led to the office of George Muller. As he entered the office he said, “Herr Muller, thank you for seeing me.”
“My pleasure young man. And please, call me George.”
“Thanks, George. As I told you before, I’m working on a story about what I’m billing as the ‘Royal Family of Cycling’, and wanted to talk to as many people associated with them as I could so I could get a good well rounded picture of what Jenny and Gaby are like.”
“The Bonds are one of my favorite subjects, so fire away.”
He took a seat opposite George and took out a recorder and a steno pad. “I hope you don’t mind if I record this?”
“Not at all. Now, what would you like to know?”
“To start with, how did you discover Jenny?”
“It’s not so much ‘discover’ in her case. When she was younger, she was on the verge of climbing into the world-class ranks before she took time off to have the kids. She continued riding competitively, although not as seriously as before, for several years until the kids got a little older.
“She then decided to take another shot at the big time, as it were. We’d seen her at numerous events around England and were quite impressed, but it wasn’t until last spring that we decided to make the offer.” He paused for a moment to take a sip of water before continuing, “the rest, as they say, is history.”
“Now as for Gaby…”
George cut him off, “Ah, the wunderkind.”
“I remember the announcement that your new youth development program started with her as the first member. Was there any one thing that caught your attention about her? I mean, aside from having a famous mother?”
“Gaby rides like Jenny,” George said with some pride. “They both have this ability to see things during a race that they can use to their advantage. If anything Gaby’s even a better tactician than Jenny. And along with her youth Gaby brings a certain amount of recklessness to her riding.”
“Recklessness?” Keith raised his eyebrows questioningly.
“Well, maybe that’s not the best way to describe it. She is always riding right on the verge of being out of control. That can be very good, and it can be very bad. When it goes well, it puts her in a position to win, but when it isn’t going so well…”
“Gotcha,” Keith jumped in. “And you say these are qualities that make her a great rider?”
“Absolutely. Jenny isn’t quite as close to being out of control as Gaby, but they have very similar styles.”
“Interesting. I just have a couple of more questions for you, if you don’t mind.”
“Not at all.” George again took a sip from his bottle of water.
“Is there a reason why Jenny isn’t training with the team right now?”
George thought for a moment before saying, “She’s been ill and is trying to rebuild her strength before climbing back into the fire as it were.”
“And lastly, there are rumors flying around that she’s actually been undergoing cancer treatments. Would you care to comment on that?”
“As I said, she’s been ill. I can’t say anything beyond that.”
“Thanks George for taking some time to chat with me. Where can I find Dave Bond?”
“He’s probably in the garage. There were several wheels in need of truing as I understand it, and he was going to be working on that most of the day. Is he expecting you?”
“Yes he is.”
“Well then, it’s right this way,” George said as he got up and showed the young reporter out of his office.
Keith wandered into the garage and saw someone off in a corner working on bike rims. He assumed this was Mr. Bond and walked up to him. “Excuse me, Mr. Bond?”
The gentleman looked up from his task and after eyeing him for a second responded, “Guilty as charged. What can I do for you?” He started to wipe his hands on his coveralls, but the stopped and just said, “I’d offer to shake your hand, but as you can see I’m not really in a position to do that at the moment. Sorry.”
“I’m Keith Davis from ‘Sports World’ sir. We spoke earlier in the week about me coming by to ask you a few questions?”
“Ah yes, the journalist who wanted to talk about Jenny and Gaby as I recall.”
“Yes sir,” he said as he again pulled out his steno pad and recorder.
“Please drop the sir. It’s Dave.”
“Actually, you’re included in this as well. It seems there are quite a few cyclists who swear you are an absolute magician at setting up a bicycle perfectly.”
“Who’s been spreading that kind of horse manure? All I do is talk to the rider and make adjustments until it’s right. No magic here I’m afraid.”
“Well Maria Pinger and Tina Porsche might disagree with you there.”
“So it was those two, eh? I’ll have to remember to change their chain tensions for tomorrow’s practice session as punishment,” Dave began laughing as he said what he obviously had intended as a joke.
“Something tells me they might not appreciate that. So tell me, how exactly did you become a bike mechanic? It’s my understanding you hold a degree in Archeology from Cambridge?”
“True. Well, it all started from trying to keep Jen’s bike in good working order without spending huge amounts of money on new kit. We were rather poor when we first got married. She was racing and I was still harboring dreams of making a living working dig sites. I quickly found just how ridiculous that idea was, and found a job working in an office that paid just enough for us to live on. Then the kids were born and Jenny cut back her riding schedule. She took a job teaching at Warsop College and that’s how things stayed for quite a few years.” He momentarily directed his attention back to the wheel he had been working on, making adjustments here and there until it spun perfectly true.
Keith was amazed at just how quickly Dave had been able to correct the wheel, “Wow, how did you do that so quickly?”
“Oh, it wasn’t that fast really. I’d been sitting here studying it for nearly a half hour before you came up. It just occurred to me I’d best finish up before I forgot what I’d intended to do to it,” again, Dave chuckled.
On a more serious note, Keith asked, “Is it difficult being separated from your family like this?”
“More than you can imagine. Last year Jen was the one living in Germany while I stayed with the kids in England. We decided that wasn’t something we wanted to live through again, so I took this job thinking we’d be able to be together. And the truth is, long term it will be better for that very reason. Unfortunately in the short term we’re still separated by the Channel and half of Europe.” Dave started to get a sad look on his face after he said this.
“So why are you apart right now, if that was the idea behind taking the job?”
“Jen is currently rehabbing, and the kids wanted to finish the school year in England before making the big move.”
“Yes, I’d heard she had been quite ill. Rumor has it she had cancer. Would you care to comment on that?”
“Not really, no.”
“Sorry, but if I hadn’t asked I’m sure my editor would have strung me up.”
“I understand. I just don’t feel comfortable saying anything about Jen’s illness. I don’t think it’s my place, and I will respect her privacy until she tells me otherwise.”
“It’s my understanding that Gaby takes after her mother in a lot of ways.”
“You can say that again. That child scares me to death sometimes.”
“So is it safe to say she’s an aggressive rider?”
“It’s been said her mother is the same way. Is that true?”
“Yes and no. Jen can be reckless at times, but she usually rides a more controlled race. Gaby goes at it wide open all the time. Sometimes it pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t.”
“Like in Atlanta?”
“Yes. Her aggressiveness kept her in that race even though there was no way in the world she should have been able to stay with those professionals like that. However, you might also want to remember that she passed out at the finish line and had to be revived by paramedics.”
“In America we call that ‘leaving it all on the field’.”
“That about sums it up I think.”
In talking with Dave, Keith decided not to spring his theory about Drew being Gaby for fear it might cause him to tell Jenny not to talk to him the next day. So instead he avoided saying anything about Drew and just stuck to talking about Gaby. “There are beginning to be a lot of people in the cycling world who believe Gaby could easily be as good or better than her mother. What do you think?”
Dave looked at Keith for several seconds while thinking before he answered, “I’m almost afraid to answer that one. Jenny is the reigning World Champion. Will Gaby one day also hold that title? It could certainly happen, but I’m not going to make any predictions because I don’t want to put any undue pressure on my child. That would be a guarantee of failure. No, I think I’ll just say that both are extremely talented riders and I love them both very much.”
“Very diplomatic. Ever consider tackling Middle Eastern peace?” Both gentlemen chuckled over that joke. Once the laughter subsided, Keith asked Dave, “Is there anything you’d like to comment on that we haven’t covered? I know that’s rather unusual, but I thought I’d throw it out there anyway.”
“No, not really. Plus, I really ought to be getting back to work here.”
Keith started to hold out his hand to Dave before pulling it back when he realized with Dave’s greasy hands he would be reluctant to shake with him. He then just said, “Thanks for taking some time to talk with me. I’ll be meeting with your wife tomorrow, and then I’ll be returning to America to start work on the article.”
“Any time, son,” Dave said before returning to his task. Keith slowly walked away, looking over his notes as he did so.
He then returned to his hotel to get some sleep before his flight in the morning. Tomorrow was going to be a busy day.
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