(A story based on the characters created by Maddy Bell).
This story was written for the 2008 Gabycon.
The doorbell rang and Maddy went to answer it.
“Hi, Maddy, is Gaby around?”
“Somewhere, I think she’s watching a DVD of Lance Armstrong or something. Hang on, I’ll call her. GABS, HARRY’S HERE!”
A moment later the diminutive figure of Gaby Bond aka Drew, came skipping through the house. “Hi, Harry,” she as Gaby, embraced the pleasant young man who stood waiting for her.
He hugged her and kissed her on the cheek. “I’ve finally done it,” beamed Harry.
“Done what?” asked Gaby.
“Erm, oiled your chain set at last?”
“Don’t be silly, you do that for me.”
“Finished your homework?”
“Did that in my lunch break, you were there, remember?”
“No, I keep asking her but she rejects me, every time.” Harry pretended to wipe a tear from his eye.
“Cruel girl, I’d drop her if I were you,” Gaby chuckled back.
“I keep trying, but I can’t live without her?” Harry was now well away with the amateur theatricals.
“I’d keep well away,” suggested Maddy who was still in the hall behind them, “she turns into Lance Armstrong on the stroke of midnight when there’s a full moon.”
All three of the teens then began howling like wolves, which caused an adult voice to call out, “Keep it down, your Gran is watching Emmerdale.”
The three scallywags began to giggle, “Emmerdale, yuck!” said Harry, his opinion of Gaby’s grandmother had dipped a little in the ratings.
“Yeah, that’s what we think,” offered Maddy, “can I guess at what you’ve done?”
“If you like,” said Harry.
“You’ve bought a new bike?”
“I wish,” said Harry, “Matt has got some lovely ones there at the moment, including an S-works Tarmac, in my size too.”
“Nice bike,” commented Gaby, “wouldn’t mind one myself.”
“Yeah, well where am I gonna find a couple of thousand?”
“The bank?” said Maddy, tongue firmly in cheek.
“Oh yeah, on what collateral?”
“Sounds like a ligament,” quipped Gaby, “I knew some one in my old school who ruptured their collateral ligament, in their knee, I think.”
“Don’t take any notice of her, she’s knows perfectly well what collateral is. She isn’t half as dumb as she makes out, if she was, she’d forget to breathe.” Maddy summed up her cousin for Harry, who knew her quite well already. “You could always get a job,” was her final offering.
“How can I, you’re supposed to be fourteen, I’m only thirteen.”
“Won’t your mum loan you the money?” asked Gaby.
“No, she’s just subbed me for a new pair of cycle shoes, so I already owe her over a hundred quid.”
“They are very nice shoes though,” said Gaby admiringly.
“Right kiddiwinks, have fun, I’m off to watch the music channel on the web.” Maddy turned and went off into the lounge.
“You can see now why I can never get onto the internet, she’s always downloading some music or other.” Gaby sighed and Harry squeezed her hand. “So what’s this secret then, joined the Ku Klux Klan have you?”
“You’re getting closer,” smiled Harry smugly.
“What! I was joking you know.”
“I know, but you got part of the answer right.”
“Oh, I take it, it wasn’t the KKK bit?”
“So what else is there? You joined something?”
“Yes, I knew you’d guess it.”
“Erm, I haven’t yet,” said Gaby blushing. “Erm, the young farmers?”
Harry shook his head.
“The boy scouts?”
“No, silly. It’s something you’re already a member of.”
“Not the girl guides!” gasped our heroine.
“I didn’t know you were in the guides?” Harry looked bemused.
“I’m not, I lost my woggle and they threw me out.” Gaby blushed and they both laughed.
“What else are you a member of?”
“Erm, David Millar fan club…”
“No, besides, hasn’t he been done for doping?”
“Yeah, but I paid up just before.”
“What else are you a member of?”
“My old cycling club, you can’t have joined them though, have you joined one here?”
“Not quite,” Harry blushed.
“What do you mean, either you have or you haven’t.”
“I’m going to do it.”
“But you haven’t yet, I give up, what have you joined?”
“Oh, wow!” Gaby paused then asked, “ Why?”
“So I can race.”
“Oh yeah, silly me…”
“What’s the matter, don’t you think I’m good enough?” Harry’s heart sank.
“Not at all, besides it depends on how good the people are that you’re going to be racing against.”
“I dunno do I? But I went on the net and discovered I had to join British Cycling to get a licence.”
“Coulda joined a club first, then done it through them.”
“Oh bugger, I always get it wrong, don’t I?”
“If you’d asked me, I coulda told yer.”
“I wanted it to be a surprise, I thought you’d be pleased.”
“You don’t look like it.”
Gaby wondered how she put things to rights, with boys if in doubt, kiss them. She did and Harry kissed her back.
“Believe me now?” she asked.
“Come on, let’s go and have a walk. We’re going out Auntie Carol.”
“Okay, don’t be long, school tomorrow.”
They walked down the lane which led to the fields, the larger boy his arm protectively around the shoulder of his smaller girlfriend.
The Tour of Britain comes through Somerset in a couple of weeks,” said Gaby breaking the silence.
“Yeah, I know we’ll be in school though, won’t we?”
“I suppose so. Maybe I can go sick with missing-the-tour-itis?”
“You are so funny,” said Harry squeezing her into him.
“Gee thanks,” she said but thought, ‘Yeah, if you only knew how funny.’ Her mind went back to an conversation with Maddy and Jules a few days before.
Jules had seen Harry kissing her goodnight and had commented upon the wrestling match she’d witnessed. “You’re gonna have to be careful, if he finds out, he’s gonna be devastated and may even end up hitting you.”
“I tried everything I could to put him off,” said Gaby.
“She did in the beginning, she doesn’t now because she likes the attention, don’t you?” Maddy accused her cousin.
Gaby blushed like a furnace, “Only because you encouraged me.”
“I did in the beginning, but only to experience the full girl thing.”
“You practically pushed me into Harry.”
“I did not,” denied Maddy, even though she knew it was true.
“Just what will he do if he finds out you’re not quite what you purport to be?” Jules asked her younger sibling.
“I don’t know do I, but I know he won’t be very pleased to discover he’s fallen in love with a boy. It’s not my fault that I look like a bloody girl, is it?”
“No I suppose not, but you do lead him on sometimes.”
“It’s not my fault he’s a boy and they’re all a bit stupid, is it?”
Gaby suddenly started when she realised Harry was kissing her on the mouth. “What are you doing?” she protested.
“Kissing the girl I love, why?”
“You coulda warned me, I coulda had a heart attack or hit you.”
“Would you hit me?”
“I might in shock or by accident,” Gaby blushed, “Why? Would you hit me?”
“Good grief no, I’d cut my hand off first. I’d only ever hit a boy.” Harry tried to reassure his love although the opposite effect was more likely.
Gaby gave a little shudder as she thought about what would happen if Harry ever found out about her little secret, would he hit her? If he did, it would hurt twice, once the simple physical pain of the impact of his hand on her face or body and the worse pain of knowing how much she had caused him hurt by her deception. It had gone too far for the truth to be easily reported, all she could hope was that their relationship would cool and he’d eventually forget about her and go off with a more suitable partner.
A tear formed in her eye, and she found herself sniffing.
“Hey, what’s the matter?” asked Harry squeezing her against him.
“Nothing, honest; must be my hormones or something.” She replied in confusion, because she was developing an increasing affection for this boy and the thought of the hurt he would feel if the truth emerged, was hurting her and that was making her cry. Maybe the hormones which seemed to be altering her body in a way she didn’t like were also affecting her feelings. She knew that girls had strange emotions before their period, so maybe the hormones really did alter your feelings. She didn’t know, suddenly she didn’t know anything and began to shake.
“What’s the matter, Gaby?” He held her tightly as she shook and sobbed.
“I don’t know. I just feel sad. Can you take me home?”
“I haven’t done anything, have I?”
“No, it’s not you, it’s me—oh, I don’t know, I really don’t.” She cried on his shoulder as he held her.
“Is there a problem with school? Is somebody bugging you? ‘Cos if they are just show me and I’ll sort ‘em out,” he declared. He spoke with a steel in his voice she knew hadn’t been there before: this was something that he’d developed as he grew in confidence in himself.
“No it’s not that, I’m just feeling emotional tonight.”
“It’s got nothing to do with me joining British Cycling, has it?” He wondered if she was scared he might one day beat her in a race.
“No,” she almost laughed at his suggestion, “it’s just me, I’m just upset tonight. Can we go home now?”
“Yeah, course.” He held her tightly all the way back to the cottage, where she thanked him, apologised for her silliness and kissed him on the cheek, then went indoors.
They saw each other briefly at school the next day, and on the way home he asked if she were feeling better. She nodded.
“Much homework?” he asked.
“A bit,” she answered.
“Wanna try a ride tonight?”
“The five mile course is the closest.”
“Okay, we’ll try it tonight.”
At half past five they rode from the village to the short time trial course, which was just to the north of Dorchester on the A37. As they rode Gaby explained about the rules of time trialing. Harry showed her the thing he’d printed off the internet and they found the start point. They’d already ridden part of the course, which was riding down towards Dorchester, turning at the roundabout to the bypass and then back up towards the star line.
It was a fairly easy course, the major problem being the traffic as it is the busy arterial road from Yeovil to Dorchester and Weymouth, originally the road from Bristol to Dorchester/Weymouth, although the motorway is more often used even if it is a distance to get to from Dorchester.
There is a cycle path which runs along the length of the course, crossing over part way near the turn off for Bradford Peverell. When the course is in use, riders not actually competing have to keep off the road, which means using the combined cycle/footpath. As there was no race in progress our two speed merchants were standing on the path as Gaby explained that Harry should go first, then she would follow at a minute’s interval.
“How do I know, you’re not going to cheat?” he asked her.
“You don’t except it would be rather pointless, If you like, I’ll go first.”
“I’m only joking,” he said, although he didn’t see her laughing.
“Come on, let’s get on with it before—I get cold,” she complained.
“So, who’s going first?” he asked again.
Just then a man walking his dog came along, “You practicing for the cycle racing?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Gaby, “Look, to prove I’m not cheating, could you time our start?”
“Sure, if you tell me what to do.”
“Just tell Harry when to go, and then me exactly a minute later. Usually they count down the last few seconds.”
“Sure.” He looked at his watch. “Okay, ready coming up to ten seconds…five, four, three, two, one—go!” Harry rode off as fast as he could. “Shouldn’t he have let you go first?”
“Just watch,” smiled Gaby.
“Okay, ten seconds…five seconds, four, three, two, one, go!”
Gaby clipped in and took off; standing on the pedals brought her up to fifteen, then as she relaxed over the handlebars and gripped the tribars, she was soon hitting twenty, then twenty five miles an hour.
The road surface left a little to be desired and the traffic was a pain but before she got to the roundabout, she had Harry in view. Experience and fitness are useful tools in a race, even a practice one, Gaby had more of both.
The traffic was quiet as Harry turned on the roundabout, then he saw the blonde bombshell flying towards him, realising what a task he had. He set off with renewed vigour and determination although he was probably in too high a gear, a mistake many inexperienced riders make. He was pushing twenty miles an hour but it wasn’t enough for the road eater hammering behind him.
In less than another half a mile, she caught and passed him and try as he might, he couldn’t stay with her so she finished a good minute up on him, recording a time of 10.01 not bad for someone as out of practice as she was.
The dog owner stood amazed, “You beat him?”
Gaby shrugged, “Lucky I guess.”
“Come off it, you said to watch you, I did. You’ve done this before, haven’t you?”
“A bit, up in Nottinghamshire.”
“She beat you, lad.”
Puffing and panting and on jelly legs, Harry nodded. “She’s a national champion.”
“I can see why, well good racing to both of you.” The dog owner then walked off to finish his usual route.
“How do you do that?” asked Harry as soon as he’d got his breath back.
“Practice and concentration, get your cadence right and build up the speed as you go along, using your gears.”
“Your legs were going like pistons.”
“That’s what it’s all about, getting the rhythm and keeping it going. I think you were in too high a gear as well.”
“I might beat you one day.”
“One day.” She smiled enigmatically at him and they cycled back over the back road through Bradford Peverell and Poundbury with its series of climbs.
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