Day 4 of Rally: Learning to Drive Stick on the Autobahn

2108 Km traveled so far
21/200 kids sponsored.

Today’s adventure was Anitha learning to drive stick.

While I apprised you yesterday of our inability to obtain European insurance for Anitha’s Indian license, I forgot to mention that said license was obtained using an automatic transmission car. i.e she doesn’t drive stick shift/manual transmission 😂 in order to prep for the trip, last week she spent a few hours learning stick driving with friends of hers.

Since it would be impractical to have me drive all the way to Mongolia, today we decided to let Anitha improve her stick shift driving skills on Harriet. Accordingly, we pulled into a petrol station in the Czech Republic and I handed the car over to her.

It went something like this:

Me: clutch clutch clutch clutch CLUTCH!!!!
Me: gear gear gear gear GEAR!!!
Me: accelerate accelerate accelerate ACCELERATE!!!

Yelling at someone I met just 5 days ago? 

Very quickly we figured out it was too much for her to figure out when to shift gears AND how to move the shift levers AND coordinate the clutch/accelerator movement. So we decided I will tell her when she should upshift/downshift, and I will move the gear shift lever while she focuses on footwork first. Just learn to release the clutch slowly while accelerating. Step by step – like learning choreography – footwork, then add the hands, then recite steps

Our dialog changed to this:

Me: “ok, we should upshift now. Clutch”
Anitha: “clutch in”
Me: “gear in. Accelerate accelerate ACCELERATE!!!” (The car is super sluggish, so you really have to put pedal to metal to get Harriet to move or she would stall)

Just our luck, today, Czech and Slovakian motorways had construction jams every 50-100miles, so we did a LOT of gear shifting. I spent a good bit of time pressing hard on imaginary clutch and accelerator pedals from the passenger seat and yelling CLUTCH CLUTCH CLUTCH!!! ACCELERATE ACCELERATE ACCELERATE!!!

Overall, we stalled a few times, but it wasn’t too bad. Once we got to overdrive, she was all good. I could relax the 50miles we were in overdrive, and then repeat the same process when we hit the next traffic jam.

We met another 2 women team – Sally from U.K. and Cathy from Australia (they met on a tour in Africa last year) – at a petrol station and discovered they also had one driver who knew stick driving and another who didn’t. We told them our story and encouraged them to wear out their clutch and grind their gears as well. We mustn’t be the only car with transmission problems, I say!

Just like Anitha’s stick driving our fundraising has been a bit of a bumpy ride. We did have a couple of kind hearts sponsor multiple kids to get us to 21/200.
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