TG Universes & Series:
Thankfully Director Brailsford was quite brief, not that I was exactly listening – I was having a knicker issue so was doing my best not to squirm. After that Dad named and called each of us forward to exit the stage, apparently we’d have a one on one type thing later on. Kat had been drafted in to assist, directing us into the schloss where we’d change into riding kit.
“Looking good, Bond!” Mark called out catching up to me.
“Quite some place, eh?”
“Oh come on, Drew, Gaby whatever, you weren’t like this in the summer.”
You hadn’t just joined my team in the summer.
“So why’ve you joined Apollinaris?”
“Your dad asked, seemed like a good idea.”
By now we were inside the building proper, apparently we were using the dining room to change, somewhere I’ve visited on more than one occasion. It’s not that big a place and we were soon at the door.
“Where’re you going?” I asked Cav as he went to go inside, “Don’t think so!”
“And?” he grinned.
“Grrr,” I spotted Max and called him to join us, “Max!”
“There somewhere he can change?” I pointed at my new teammate.
“Yeah, I just took your tall friend, the one who talks funny, Josh is it?”
“Cheers,” I turned back to Mark; “Max’ll take you to where your stuff is.”
“Spoilsport, right then, Maxxie, lead on!”
Gott, he’s incorrigible!
“Come on, Gaby, we haven’t got all day,” Mum who was already changed prompted when I slipped into the room.
“Just getting Mark sorted out.”
“Dress off, leave your hose on,” she instructed.
Was I glad to lose the shoes, they might look nice but my feet are killing me. I hid in a corner to change; I’m still a bit self-conscious, embarrassed by my body – and seeing other girls. I know we’ve all got the same bits but I didn’t want them and I was a boy, well not actually but you know what I mean, and boys aren’t supposed to share the changing room with girls. It took a few minutes to do the clothing swap; I slipped on my trainers then we all headed back towards the marquee.
Josh and Mark were chatting when we reached the back of the tent.
“What took youse?” Josh asked.
“Nothing, we didn’t just chuck everything in a pile,” Mand mentioned.
The pair exchanged guilty looks – typical boys.
“So, Max your boyfriend then, Gaby?” Mark suggested.
“No! Whatever gave you that idea?”
“Well he called you ‘liebchen’.”
“You know German?”
“I’ve been learning.”
Hmmph, “He’s at my school, doesn’t make him my boyfriend.”
“There were some photos in the room we used,” Mark went on, “looked like a wedding or something, you two looked quite cosy.”
“I ah, we er,”
“Stage please,” Kat called out, at least temporarily saving me from more interrogation.
Whilst we’d all been getting changed our team sponsors had been giving short presentations, the last of which was a joint effort by our bike suppliers so that as we took our places on the stage we joined one of the senior teams cream and blue Dogma’s. We might not have the Record parts on the junior bikes but I actually prefer the reversed colour scheme we’ll be riding.
“And so we return to the riders,” Dad told the assembled press.
It was all quite slick, each of us was called forward before a thirty second video of that riders exploits ran. Dad then did a short Q&A with each of us, you know the sort of thing, ambitions for the season, what we thought of the new kit. Of course the three World Champions, yeah three, now Mark has joined us—had longer films and longer interviews – it was mostly done in English as a common language for the assembled press.
Mum drew the short straw of being last up, as she returned to the line up Dad once again addressed the audience, “So, that’s the introductions over, our host, Baron von Strechau has got food waiting in the restaurant, all the riders will of course be available for interview this afternoon. If you need anything please ask, thank you all once again for coming.”
There was some polite applause before chairs started to be scraped, cameras readied and we were allowed off the stage.
“Anyone know where there’s a toilet?” Ron enquired.
“Er yeah, back in house, third door on the right,” I supplied without a thought.
“Not the boyfriend then?” Cav opined.”
“Oh come on, pictures in the lounge and you know where the toilet is.”
“Our Rents are friends alright, we visit sometimes.”
“Didn’t see your mum or dad in the pictures.”
“That’s parents for you,” I tried to joke.
“So if this Max isn’t your boyfriend, you fancy going out sometime?”
“Thought you’d say that, can’t blame a guy for trying though, you really are a fox.”
“I mean you looked good on those posters in Switzerland but that dress this morning, smokin’!”
“What about the others?” I started, “Hang on, posters?”
“The race posters, they were everywhere remember?”
“You knew it was me?” oops I’ve just admitted it.
“Well not at first, Geth said she looked a bit like you and Sal confirmed it when we were at that Meigen place, you know with the waterfall and stuff.”
Just wait until I see Sal, waterfall? “Meiringen you mean?”
“That’s it, there were a bunch of the posters ‘round there.”
“You knew then?”
“Er yeah,” he allowed.
“And no one said anything?”
“What was there to say?”
“Look, Drew, I mean, Gaby, we already thought you were gay, I mean you always hung out with the girls – even in Italy but like you’re a brill rider, what difference if you like boys. So when Sal said it was you on the posters it was hardly a big leap for you to be a girl.”
“But in Bern, that dinner…”
“Everyone knew it was you,” he advised.
“What are you two talking about?” Mand queried joining us.
“Er nothing really.”
“Switzerland,” Mark told her.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I demanded.
“We thought you’d tell us when you were ready,” she admitted.
“We gonna get some food before it all goes?” Ron suggested returning to our corner from her visit, “Your boyfriend certainly has a nice place, Gab.”
“Knew it!” Cav crowed, “Josh owes me ten euros.”
We spent the afternoon variously posing for photos, answering questions and hitting Wilhelm’s buffet. I know it’s winter but you can have a warm buffet, which is what was on offer, you know, mini schnitzels, hot Rotkohl, potatoes – that sort of thing. It seemed like I got two mouthfuls of food to each photo session, Mark and I were in quite high demand compared to the others – well I guess we are both sporting rainbow jerseys.
“Gab, this is Mike Jones from the Comic ,” Mum mentioned as I finished off some sort of sticky pastry.
“Hi, Gaby, nice to meet you.”
“I’ll leave you to it, I promised Günther from Radsport a few words,” Mum told us before heading off.
I stifled a yawn, “Sorry it’s been a long day.”
“Let’s sit down, I left home at three this morning, too.”
We found a couple of chairs and made ourselves comfortable.
“And what do you think about Mark joining Apollinaris?”
“Er, well I only really found out this morning,” I admitted.
“So you didn’t know?”
“Er well it had been mentioned,” I fudged.
“So how do you think things will work in the team? You’ve been the star of the junior team for the last two years.”
“Well we’ve got two new riders, we’ll have more presence in some events, everyone has a role to play.”
“Mark is quite the sprinter, you’ve come off worst in several encounters,” Jones pointed out.
“We haven’t talked about it yet, we’ll probably be targeting different events, Mark’s a sprinter, I like to think I’ve got a wider talent.”
“So you don’t think there’s any potential conflict in the team?”
“I hope not, we’ve worked together before, just look at the World’s and Switzerland.”
“And this season, you said earlier you hoped to defend your time trial title in September but what about the road title, will you ride the open event again or target the girl’s title.”
“That’s a long way off, BC will have the say on that but I’d like to ride the open.”
“And beyond that, follow in Mum’s wheel tracks?”
“I don’t want to follow, I want to ride the Tour, I want to do the Olympics, it’s not a contest with Mum but I do want to be proud of what I do.”
“You say you want to ride the Tour?”
“Well I always dreamt of that, it’s not open now but who knows the future.”
“Indeed, who knows,” his tone seemed a bit dismissive. “Thanks for talking with me.”
“Er sure, safe journey home.”
I left him sorting his notes out – jerk!
“So, Mark, you going home today?”
“Yeah, back to Manchester with that Comic guy and the Boss then I get a stupid flight back to the island in the morning.”
“Tough, glad I only live down the road.”
“So I guess we’ll be seeing more of each other this year.”
“I guess – two sprinters are better than one!”
Maddy Bell 13.06.16
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