September 2nd, 2014

This IS me (by schwitters)Default

The Czech List: Thursday 21st August

I popped home after work to get changed and pick up my luggage, then headed for the Dartford Crossing to meet Howard, who was travelling up from Dorset. Even in the grubby rush-hour surroundings of Thurrock Services, I was fizzing with excitement. Fed, we hit the road for Harwich.

We discovered that we would be sharing the enormous ferry with around fifty bikers from a chopper club, and made our way on board surrounded by chrome, apehanger handlebars, and popping exhausts. We found our cabin, with its large porthole and a lower berth wide enough to sleep two, dumped our luggage, and hit the bar, where I asked for jenever.

"Double? And a Heineken chaser?" asked the friendly barman. I accepted the former and declined the latter, and we stood shivering on deck to watch the port recede before heading for our berth.

Miles: 89 (Howard did considerably more)

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Mallory Park

The Czech List: Friday 22nd August

The Hook of Holland, at eight in the morning, was sunlit, but chilly and showery. We stopped at a petrol station just outside Arnhem, home of the Bridge Too Far, to fuel our bikes and ourselves. I had a cake with pink icing for breakfast, both because I was on holiday and because I knew it would horrify Howard. I was also delighted by a whole range of automotive-themed sweets, including 'Doppel Dekkers', 'Cadillacs', and 'Total Loss'.

We pushed on into Germany, occasionally stopping to put on more layers and complain that it was supposed to be August. The sat nav took us off the motorway for no apparent reason, so we seized the opportunity to lunch at a bakery. Afterwards, since we were making good time, we stuck to the smaller country roads.

It was on one of these, after a particularly enthusiastic overtake, that I found my semi-automatic bike was stuck in one gear. I dropped back so that Howard would notice something was wrong, and we stopped at the side of the road to investigate. This was supposed to be my good bike! The one that wouldn't break down on holiday and slink home in a shipping container! Luckily I'd brought the manual, and located my issue on page 93.

"There," said Howard, the optimist, "it says you may have a problem."

"But I may have a serious problem," I objected.

The bike worked fine when I started it up again, but the trouble recurred later in the day. By a piece of luck, we passed an industrial estate with a Honda garage. I showed the mechanic page 93, he had a quick ride, and reassured me that there was nothing wrong with the clutch. We had coffee at a cafe on the industrial estate, where the owner's large dog showed more interest in where we'd come from and what we'd been doing than anyone else we'd met all day.

Another couple of hours brought us to the Erfurt Hotel Ibis, where the receptionist recommended a nearby Mexican restaurant. So we celebrated the first night of our European road trip with chimichangas and enchiladas, finishing with tequila shots out of frozen lime halves.

Miles: 417.5

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