The story so far: Bianca is not terribly sporty and would rather go down the pub. Derk, however, is a fanatical and disciplined sportsman.
‘You look terribly red in the face,’ he said. Bianca spluttered a bit, but had to admit that her legs were rapidly turning to lead. Once she was out of the crowd, she started to notice how dark and chilly it was, too. By now she had lost the leaders and others were overtaking her fast.
‘You started out too fast, didn’t you?’ asked Derk. He had prepared very well and was hoping to achieve a good group time. Bianca was still slowing down and now Derk was cycling so slowly he could hardly stay upright.
‘Jesus, Bianca. Did you train for this at all?’
‘It really is fucking hard,’ she growled, without answering his question. They were now out of sight of the start. There was saliva around the corners of Bianca’s mouth, and she was thrusting her legs forward in an uncoordinated fashion. Her thoughts drifted to the evenings when she had boasted in the pub: ‘Four kilometres, what is that? I really don’t need to train for that.’ Her friends would laugh if they could see her struggling now.
‘I can’t see anymore,’ she said and as she braked, one of her legs knocked against the other. She fell clumsily onto the asphalt and burst into tears.
‘Oh no,’ says Derk, sounding more irritated than concerned. He hastily pulled Bianca up onto her feet and she got on behind him, sobbing. There were hardly any supporters in sight when they suddenly turned left.
‘I lived in Nijmegen for 12 years, so I know this area like the back of my hand,’ he growled determinedly. Peddling fast, Derk wound his way through deserted streets. When the route came in sight again, Bianca got off. Just at that moment the leading cyclists came past and she slipped into their wake.
‘You are nearly there,’ said Derk. ‘Just grit your teeth now.’ With the changeover point in sight now, Bianca felt hugely relieved. She dried off her face a little with her sleeve, gave a forced grin and launched into a painful final sprint.
‘Bianca, our hero,’ screamed her sorority friends. She grinned. A nice story for in the pub after all.