There are more road tunnels, so freqent that sometimes you burst out into startling daylight for just a couple of seconds before being plunged back into darkness. We make perhaps the nicest coffee stop ever: a little outdoor bar in a layby, with plastic tables under a canopy, trees all around and a view of a waterfall.
Here I also encounter my first hole-in-the-floor toilet of the holiday. You can't have everything.
We cross the border at the Passo del Bernina. Despite the hairpins this is a major route, busy with caravans, coaches and mountain bikes, but it's the kind of road that suits my style and my scooter and I enjoy getting my teeth into it. I even overtake a coach, uphill, on a righthand bend, which is the kind of thing that makes me smirk for the rest of the day.
A little shop at the top of the pass dispenses cuddly marmots that yodel when you press them, as well as the best cheese and ham toastie I've ever tasted (though Howard thinks I'm prejudiced by extreme starvation). There's also a viewpoint from which you can look smugly back down at all the bends you've just travelled.
We reenter civilisation and follow the line of yet another gleaming lake into St. Moritz. Howard is mad keen to get on the Stelvio; I'm mildly petrified but not about to admit it. So we dump our bags at the hotel and head out again into the mountains.
Going at my own pace, I'm getting into the rhythm of the climb and seconds away from overtaking an unaccountably slow Kawasaki when I round a corner and find Howard's bike pulled up with the hazard lights on.
The clutch has gone, suddenly and completely. As places to break down go, it's not too bad; phone call made, we sit eating Howard's secret emergency chocolate hoard and waving at vintage cars. It's also for circumstances like these that I keep the complete Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy on my iPod.
A nice Italian arrives with a breakdown lorry and drops Howard off at the hotel, me pootling along behind because I know I'll never find my way back on my own, then carts his bike off to the local garage whence it will travel to a BMW specialist in the morning. We join the others for dinner and get as merry as Swiss wine prices will allow. Kudos to Roger, who orders the dessert consisting of a plate of spaghetti with cream on top!
We're due in Interlaken tomorrow, but now we have a rider without a bike - not to mention a homeless top box and panniers. There's nothing to do but wait and see what morning brings.
< Ieri | Domani >