Leaving Poland was a rainy affair, but the weather steadily improved as I made my way west to Dortmund and my visit with some folks I met in Iceland. Almost there, I pulled off the Autobahn to fuel up and- NO CLUTCH!! I was trying to slow down from 160kph into a gas station turn-off and I couldn’t downshift! I pulled the clutch hard and just hammered on the shifter with my foot until, with a series of jarring shifts, I was able to get down to 3rd before stalling the bike and stopping. I took a look at the clutch and everything seemed fine, except for the ‘working’ part- everything would move, but I could not disengage a gear. I got myself into first and then slow drove around the gas station pumping the clutch and then slowly being able to shift up and down. I needed a service anyway and I figured that I could make until I got to Dortmund, so off I went.
Leaving the Autobahn in Dortmund was easier since I had stayed in the slow lane (~130kph) and pumped the clutch as I started to exit so I simply had some rather ungraceful downshifts to make and was fine. I then spent a wonderful afternoon and evening with the couple I met in Iceland who travel with their kids- great stories, pictures, food, and scotch were on offer and I was sorry to be heading off the next day. The next day they took me to a BMW dealer who said the clutch hydraulics were dead, but with careful riding I could make my next stop (Hamburg) and get it fixed there along with the 40,000km service.
So, after a careful ride to Hamburg I dropped of my bike for service and met up with another guy from Iceland. We went to dinner and then the next day he and his wife drove me around town to give me an insiders tour of Hamburg- great fun! Somehow I don’t think that most tourists end up having mulled wine on a beach in Hamburg…
Bike serviced and fixed (hydraulic clutch valve needed replacement), I had a quick meet with another guy I met in Iceland (yes, Iceland is THE place to meet other riders- other riders of best sort!), and then hit the road to the way to the Horizons Unlimited rally in southern Germany.
I got to the rally a day early and was the first one there and got my pick of campsites (well, really just my pick of place to put my tent in the cow pasture…). That evening and the next morning others started to arrive and we decided to take a ride out to a local motorcycle museum Zweirad Museum. The impromptu ride was great- winding roads, ferry, little traffic, and a fantastic museum 6 floors of bikes with special attention being paid to eastern (ie MZ and NSU) bikes that are fairly unknown in the west.
Riding back, the rally was getting into the full swing with about 50-60 bikes arriving.
The range of bikes and riders was amazing- a guy with a 6hp diesel bike that he rode from Vladivostok, a father and son who rode two-up on an Enfield from india when jr. was 11, and a number of ladies who road bikes solo around the world and/or through some less than friendly places. It was a really great time and a perfect kick in the pants to get me out of my bad weather rut and back in the groove. Since the rally was late in the season, it was fairly small, and like the Tynda one in the US, I think it made for a great atmosphere and attracted the people who simply love riding. Perfect.
At the end of the rally a lovely young couple invited me back to their place in Munich to do laundry and hang for a couple of days- an offer I happily accepted! The fact that Touratech had a store there had nothing to do with it- really!
After all this fun and excitement it was time to get going- back on the road and down south!