France to Spain

Nestled into a cozy warm hotel room in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain I watch it snow through the window. I left San Sebastián yesterday morning in the rain, which immediately turned to hail and when the roads were too covered in ice to ride I ducked into a gas station to wait it out and let the roads return too wet, which took about 45 minutes. After deeming the conditions to be rideable I remounted my machine and pressed on, south towards Valladolid was the intended destination for the day. I knew weather was moving in, I anticipated cold and wet but I figured with enough stubbornness I could punch through the weather system and get back to warmer and dryer weather in a day. I was wrong. Soon after leaving the gas station the rain turned to snow and then to heavy snow. The roads remained wet however so I pressed on, frequently brushing the slush from my helmet visor. The snow flakes increased in size and the road began to flood. The puddles got deeper and the tire ruts turned into rivers. The amount of water around and under me was incredible, it felt like swimming at 50 miles per hour which was all I felt comfortable moving at. In addition, with the temperature only at 33 degrees I was doing my best to decrease the wind chill factor as much as I could. The issue with all of the moisture, and this is how I know it was extreme, is that I was pulling it through my air filter which made the bike run like absolute garbage. This is rarely an issue with my bike and a good indicator that things are getting serious. If I let off the gas the bike would die, if I maintained throttle position the bike would pop and sputter, occasionally only running on one cylinder. I really had no option but to continually crack the throttle open to keep the motor running even remotely well. It should also be noted that if I didn’t crack the throttle occasionally the butterfly mechanism on the carburetor would freeze in place leading to at least one spine tingling situation. In general, it was an absolute struggle to keep the bike alive and was beginning to get frustrating. It’s one thing to deal with cold and soggy conditions or a motorcycle that is not cooperating, it’s something else to deal with both at the same time. Because of all this, and the fact that I hadn’t felt my fingers in well over an hour, I pulled into Vitoria, stopped at the first cafe I spotted and called it quits, something I rarely do. I’m willing to push through just about anything but that was too much.

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