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.
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