21 January 2010

Rain, Snow, Hail

The ferry brings us without problem to Ancona. After a quick custom check I disappeared into the busy morning traffic on the narrow Italian highway. I pushed on and on and on. Only stopping for short rests, food and fuel. I crossed the border with Swiss in the late afternoon. I had not yet completed ten kilometers when it began raining. Not a little shower, no. It started pouring down, as if somebody just ran over a fire stand in New York City on a scorching August afternoon. My leather jacket withstood the downpour for exactly 30 seconds, before the water just went straight through it. I could feel the rain gushing into my boots. Visibility was non-existing, cars on the highway pushed their way through at a walking pace, and I was driving through 15 centimeters of water. After the rain came snow followed by a violent gulf of hailstones. All this happened in a ten minutes time span. The world seemed to vanish in water. And then it vanished full stop as I entered a tunnel. Not even a very long tunnel. As I emerged at the other end an idyllic alpine landscape lay in front of me. I felt as if I were a small figurine on an orange motorbike in a Märklin model train set up. The most surprising thing however was that the weather was lovely at this end of the mountain. I was soaked to the bone and gradually feeling colder and colder as I pushed on. I stopped at the first gas station, had a steaming hot coffee, bought myself a newspaper, the fattest newspaper they had, I couldn’t care about the news, but there is no such wind-stopper as a fat paper tucked under your riding jacket. For it to work properly however you need a dry motor jacket. My paper just soaked up all the water and became a heavy soaked lump after ten minutes. Luckily for me I approached the Gotthard tunnel. Normally I would not look forward to the idea of being underground for 17 kilometers in an exhaust-fumed environment, but this time I enjoyed the slow ride and the stinking artificial 27-degree temperature. The end of the tunnel was also the end of the my riding day, so I left the highway and found myself a small hotel in Altdorf.

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