Gaby Book 14 ~ The Girl ~ Chapter *21* Turnabout

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*Chapter 21*

Turnabout

 
 
To be fair Mand didn’t complain about the small climb around Hohe Acht after which we turned for Kaltenborn and almost twelve kilometres of usually traffic free descent to Kesseling.

“Weee!” I allowed as I almost took off out of one of the many dips in the road.

“Whoa!” Mand screamed behind me as she made a similar move.

I sat up to use the air brake only for Miss de Vreen to fly past me like there’s no tomorrow.

“Hey!”

I quickly started my pursuit, snicking through the sprockets to keep in contact with the gearing as I followed. It took a good kilometre before I started to claw back the deficit, I hope she’s watching ahead, I’ve nearly come a cropper when some G wagon appears around a bend and I know this road. The gap closed more rapidly as we passed the chapel but I was still tens of metres adrift.

“There’s a T at the bottom!” I shouted in warning, she would be the first to arrive there and it’s not unknown for logging trucks to be lumbering through at this time of day.

I’m not sure whether she heard me or not, I started to scrub some of the sixty kph off before the village but Mand was still motoring.

“Mand! Slow down!”

I was concentrating on getting myself slowed to a safer speed for the junction so I heard rather than saw what happened. Squealing brakes, a truck horn, oh no she’s hit something. By the time I reached the bottom the truck was clear and still moving and there was no sign of Amanda, where’s she gone?
 
 
“Urgh!”

The groan came from behind the low wall that lines the roadside here.

“Mand? That you?”

I quickly dismounted and rushed over to the wall. The site that greeted me was almost comical; Mand was lying on her back with her bike still clipped to her feet in the air above her.

“You alright?” stupid question, “Hang on I’m coming.”

The wall wasn’t stable enough to climb over so I had to run up to the gateway to get into the paddock before returning to where Mand was lying.

“Bike?”

“Hang on,” I grabbed her bike, taking the weight which then allowed her to disengage her cleats.

“Ooh!”

“What happened?” I queried as she gingerly sat up.

“It woulda been fine but for that truck.”

“The log truck?”

“Whatever, it was on the wrong side of the road so I had to go wide, it was like ‘oh shit’ then next thing I’m lying on my back in a field.”

“Paddock, looks like the occupants are coming for a look.”

Sure enough the equines that I recognised as being the usual occupants of the field were casually making their way towards us.

“You okay?”

“Think so,” she allowed testing her limbs, “winded is all.”

“Come on then let’s get out of here.”

I grabbed her bike and headed up to the gate, “Dad’s gonna go mental,” I offered.

When there was no reply I turned to find Mand stroking the inquisitive ponies face, “who’s a good girl then, I haven’t got anything for you.” The second beast nuzzled in for some attention. “You want some attention too eh?”

“Er Mand?”

“Aren’t they beautiful?”

“If you say so, we going or what?”

“Sorry guys, grumpy Gaby wants to go home.”

The white horse seemed to understand at least the sentiment as she was answered with a head thrown back and a loud neigh.

I rolled my eyes, just what I need, a horse whisperer!
 
 

“Knackered,” I stated as the wheel jammed on the brake again.

“Bum!”

“Yeah bikes aren’t designed for flying,” I observed. “I’ll ring Dad.”

“Sorry, Gab.”

Of course on the second retelling of the amazing flying de Vreen it turns out the truck wasn’t on the wrong side of the road at all, rather Mand had forgotten we ride on the right here. She’d made the turn at some speed spotted the truck and took evasive action, which had her run into the raised verge, which at fifty kph acted as a springboard for her aeronautics display. The impact however caused the front rim to impersonate cheese; even with the brake open it wouldn’t rotate enough to ride.

I fished out my handy, let’s see, the house or Dad’s phone?
 
 

Beep, beep!

“Bond!”

The pickup truck braked to a halt and the familiar features of Marty emerged.

“Everything okay, Gabs?”

“Sort of, Mand’s bent her wheel, just sorting a lift.” I waved my handy.

“Hang on,” Preiser instructed ducking back into the cab.

“Who’s that?” Mand enquired.

“Marty, Bern’s boyfriend.”

“As in baby Bern?”

“She’s called Andrea,” I advised.

“We’ll take you,” Mart advised getting out of the truck.

“You don’t have to.”

“Dad says we do and I agree, can’t have girls stranded in the middle of nowhere.”

Stefan Preiser joined his son, “Getting a habit eh, Gaby?”

“Sorry, Mr P, oh this is Mand, from England, she’s staying with us.”

“Another Radrennerin eh,” he allowed swinging my bike up into the back of the truck.

“Yes, she joins our team for next year.”

Mart did the same with Mand’s unfortunate steed before opening the back door for us to climb inside. Of course, being farmers the Preiser’s transport wasn’t the cleanest inside, we were soon wedged between a wax jacket, half of some sort of horse bridle and the remains of a bag of feed on the floor. We took off towards Ahrbruck in a cloud of gravel and a pace that Colin McRae would’ve balked at on the uneven road.
 
 

“It’s usually Gab being ferried home,” Dad observed after we’d explained the watered down version of Mand’s misadventure.

“Takes the heat off me,” I grinned.

“You were supposed to be looking after her.”

“I was, honest.”

“It’s not Gab’s fault Mr Bond, I wasn’t listening, I got carried away.”

“She knew where I wanted you to ride and ignored it.”

“Soz,” I allowed.

“Off with you,” Dad instructed.
 
 

“I feel a right narna,” Mand noted as she turned this way and that in front of my mirror. “You sure I have to wear this?”

“You look great, Mand, it’s better than mine.”

The dress, one of Mum’s, was certainly more cocktail party than disco and certainly not something mid teen girls are usually found wearing – unless of course they attend ‘society’ soirées on a regular basis.

“I’ve not seen yours yet.”

“Saturday is soon enough.” Far too soon, that flippin’ dress makes me look a right dog’s dinner, but mother has spoken.

 
 

“You want to come to Garde?” I offered over Friday dinner.

“Think I’ll give it a miss,” Mand replied.

“You do right,” Jules put in, “you should see them when they get dressed up, scary!”

“It is a bit weird,” I agreed. “See you later then.”

“You want a lift later?” Dad offered.

“Please,” well I’m not gonna turn it down when it’s offered – and it’ll be cold and dark by the time we leave the club.
 
 

“Everything okay?” Dad enquired once he’d got the Schauff on the roof rack.

“I guess.”

“Worried about next week?”

I’d be lying if I said no; to be honest I’ve been trying not to think about my visit to the clinic in Bonn.

“A bit.”

“It’ll be alright kiddo, you’ll be back riding in no time.”

“Yeah but I’ll be a girl.”

“Which isn’t the end of the world, we’ve talked about this before, you can still be a pro rider.”

“But I’ll never ride the Tour will I?”

“There are more opportunities in women’s racing now than when your mum started out.”

“It’s not the same though.”

“No it’s not,” he agreed. No point trying to sugar coat what for Drew, Gaby is the bitterest pill, the taking away of his, no her childhood dreams.

“We’ll get you sorted with the cross after.”

“Yeah,” I agreed half-heartedly.

“I thought you wanted to ride with Anita and Erika?”

“I did I mean I do.”

“It’s gonna be okay, we’ll make it right, eh?”

“Uh huh.”
 
 

For various reasons the usual Angels Saturday shopping expedition was cancelled this week, not least the need for me and new girl Mand to be back in Dernau by four.

“Come on, Mand,” I encouraged.

“Geez, I don’t know how you ride these things.”

“Practice?”

Mum thought it would be a good idea for Mand to have mundane transport so another Schauff made its way from the factory in Remagen up the Ahrtal to Dernau, this morning it’s getting its maiden voyage with a trip down to Ahrweiler.

The bike trail, the same route I use to get to school five days a week, was already littered by the first fallen leaves of autumn. Mand, bless her, was really struggling with her behemoth, trying to ride it like a road bike – just doesn’t work. There’s certainly an art to riding these things, I’ve had best part of two years practice and I sometimes still fall foul of the awful handling, poor brakes and immense weight!

“Now that’s more like it,” she suggested as we let a girl pass us on a Mofa.

“Jules had one but the rents got fed up of her breaking it.”

“Breaking it?” Mand queried as she wistfully watched the moped creeping ahead of us.

“Well that’s what they said.”

 
 
It’s not far down to the town, not really, and we were soon riding into the old town. The Angels might not be on the shopping path today but Mand has yet to sample the opportunities offered by the shopkeepers of Ahrweiler to remove a girl’s cash in return for goods.

“We’ll park by the Rathaus,” I proposed.

“’Kay, whatever you say.”

I angled across the square to the bike stands where we proceeded to lock our steeds, not that there’s any real need but old habits and all that.

“That saddle’s awful.”

“You’ll get used to it,” I promised as we headed to the shopping streets.

“Didn’t we come here somewhere to eat when we went to Italy?”

“Yeah, down that street there,” I indicated with a hand.

“Can we have a look, in daylight like?”

“I guess so, not much to see though. We can come back up Ahrhut, we can get a coffee at the Backstube.”

“You and your coffee,” Mand sighed.

We set off down the familiar street, familiar because of course a few doors up from the Muhle is the shop that will set fear into your heart, Eloise Couture!

So of course Mand had to stop to look in the window.

“People actually pay these prices.”

“I guess.”

“Fifty euros for a pair of tights!”

“Ah fraulein Bond, we need to sort out your fitting,” Gerta’s dulcet tones suggested.

Sugar!

Maddy Bell 25.11.15



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