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Old 10-27-12, 07:07 PM   #1
Shamrock
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Bicycle Lightning stories anyone?

I only have one and its dull.I was on the mtb last spring trying to get a ride in before the storm came.Being in the woods on top of a mountain a place called Chimney Rock I couldnot see the clouds rolling in.All of a sudden the wind was blowing and the sky turned dark grey.It was around 11 am then the lightning bolts started.In New Jersey its rare to have lightning storms in the am.People walking dogs were running off the trails,the few mtbers were ridding fast and hard off the mountain.I followed one guy and hoped he knew a short cut off the mountain.He did we were in the parking lot in less than 10 minutes.Seemed alot longer with those bolts aiming for us.Now some people say being in a car is safe due to the rubber tires grounding the lightning.Is this true of bikes?
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Old 10-27-12, 07:31 PM   #2
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It's not the tires in the car that do you good - a lightning hit on a car can evaporate the tires, and even melt the wheels. Where you are protected in the car is the metal shield around you - the car takes the hit, not you. You'd be toast on a bike with a direct hit. And you'd have a seriously sprained pucker string if you were in a car when it took a hit.
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Old 10-27-12, 07:35 PM   #3
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It's not the tires in the car that do you good - a lightning hit on a car can evaporate the tires, and even melt the wheels. Where you are protected in the car is the metal shield around you - the car takes the hit, not you. You'd be toast on a bike with a direct hit. And you'd have a seriously sprained pucker string if you were in a car when it took a hit.
Yes, a common misconception. A convertible provides no protection.
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Old 10-27-12, 07:38 PM   #4
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There were 26 deaths from lightning in the US last year, and about 30,000+ deaths in car accidents.
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Old 10-27-12, 07:45 PM   #5
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Ever since I started using a rubber band pants clip instead of the stainless steel one, lightning strikes have stopped following me around.
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Old 10-27-12, 08:20 PM   #6
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"some people say being in a car is safe due to the rubber tires grounding the lightning"

Nonsense. The tires offer some degree of insulation, not grounding, but not anything remotely enough to insulate the millions of volts involved with lightning.

As said above, the metal body of the car will conduct the voltage around your body and it will jump to the ground from there, before it would target you.

"seriously sprained pucker string" LOL
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Old 10-27-12, 10:46 PM   #7
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Every time I get caught in lightning storms on a bike my thought is always "this is just not too smart". I have been going for a ride and look at my HRM and it be registering twice the correct HR just due to the static charge in the air. This also makes me think that maybe I should wait and ride a little later.

I have been shocked by lightning 8 times during my life and I have not enjoyed any of the shocks. The last time that I was shocked, I was opening the refrigerator door and lightning struck close by. The shock that I got was strong enough to buckle my knees and it hurt pretty bad.
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Old 10-27-12, 11:39 PM   #8
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I was on a bike tour in Colorado about thirty years ago with my wife and a younger friend. One afternoon, a lightning storm sprang up near us. Our young friend and I didn't think much of it until my wife took off like a bolt. It was all we could do to catch up with her. She raced to a cafe a few miles down the road and nearly leaped indoors.

It turns out my wife had seen people struck by lightning at the beach in Florida where she spent many a summer. This instilled a permanent, instantaneous flight response to lightning, even when it is striking the hills around you and you are in a valley.
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Old 10-28-12, 12:15 AM   #9
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Night training ride on the Tandem and we were up on the hills. Rain came on with a wind and we could see Lightning out over the sea. We were on the highest point on the hills and barring sheep and cattle there was nothing about. No trees for about a mile- no hedges or fences. We were the highest point around for miles. Gradually the lightning came inland and we did not need lights it was so bright. Then everything went white and and the eardrums hurt. Lightning strike within 200 yards of us and we were in the middle of the storm. Our speed went up and we got off the hill as soon as possible and had to take refuge in a pub down in the valley.

Had to calm our nerves with a pint of local medicinal brew and a Steak and ale pie to calm the stomach.
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Old 10-28-12, 07:31 AM   #10
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Not all lightning injuries are from direct strikes. A nearby strike will cause high ground currents. If you have both feet on the ground a certain distance apart, this current can cause a "step potential" between your feet, which will in turn cause current to flow through your body core. Hikers caught in lightning are advised to crouch low with feet together, and to not seek shelter in shallow overhangs for much the same reason--arcing ground currents. I personally knew a climber who was killed that way.

Step potentials are usually in the hundreds of volts--relatively low compared to a direct strike. Riding a bike should protect you from step potential, or at least I tell myself that when I'm caught out in lightning. That happened a lot when I lived in the Front Range area of Colorado.

Nothing other than a metal cage will protect you from a direct strike.
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Old 10-28-12, 07:44 AM   #11
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During the summer around here, if I took the lightning advice of the news folks, etc., I would be inside much of the time. I head out, unless there is lightning directly overhead, and, if it gets bad, pull into an underpass or the like.

The actual chances of getting hit by lightning are relatively small unless you are super exposed - on a high Colorado peak, for example. Yes, it happens, but so do car accidents, etc.

The TV news people go nuts around here with lightning safety tips, etc., yet I NEVER see them run "safety features" on following too close, drunk driving, speeding and the like. Perhaps 5 folks killed by lightning compared to several hundred killed in car accidents in CO last year.

Yes, Lightning SELLS!

OT, but I used to work in fire lookout towers high on mountain tops, in towers sticking up 70 feet. We sat on glass insulated stools, and there were miles of copper wire leading out from the lightning rod into the ground. Talk about fireworks!!
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Old 10-28-12, 08:20 AM   #12
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My uncle, the recently deceased priest, was hit by lightening twice and was fine. Maybe a higher force was giving him a nudge or he had the protection of said higher force.

BTW, this occurred over 20+ years ago and had nothing to do with his recent passing.
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Old 10-28-12, 09:01 AM   #13
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Gotta love these "fun threads" that come along every now and then.

People who actually believe that you are safe from lightning strikes in a car, due to "the rubber tires grounding you" are usually the same ones who
say such things as "Oh, I'm safe in a thunderstorm, because I'm wearing sneakers!". They might even be the same ones who "ride a bicycle on the left,
because you can see the cars coming!" How these people manage to live as long as they is interesting. Maybe someone should do a paper on it.

The Boston Museum of science offers live lightning demonstrations daily, in theTheater of Electricity The folks running the show make every effort to squash the misinformation that is fed to people, regarding lightning storms.


As for a good lightning story, I don't have an interesting one. I did get caught in a nasty storm near the Chestnut hill reservoir once. I was able to make it
to the Boston college parking garage, which is a pretty good shelter from such things.
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Old 10-28-12, 03:13 PM   #14
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Going back a few years. Wife and I riding on a MUP. We were in an old railroad cut with stone cliffs on both sides as a thunderstorm started through the area. My wife was afraid that we would be hit by lightning. I commented that we were relatively safe down in the cut, that the lightning would hit the trees on the cliff tops. About 2 or 3 seconds later a bolt hit a tree on top of the cliff on the one side of the cut. The tree then fell down missing us by 40 to 50 feet.

More recently. A local bicyclists was on the local MUP as a thunderstorm approached the city. He figured he could out run it and get home. But the gusty downdrafts off the front of the storm started to knock down trees along the trail. One fell on him. Smashed the back of the bike. Injured his spine. He used his cell phone to call for help. The EMTs needed chain saws to get to him and get him out. He now rides a hand crank recumbent as he is paralyzed from the waist down.

So when riding with thunderstorms in the area lightning could be the least of your worries.
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Old 10-28-12, 04:13 PM   #15
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This summer, we went out riding under severely threatening skies. But the rain held off. Not seconds before the rain hit us full-force, the guy I was riding with said something to the effect that we were lucky and were going to miss the rain. "boom"
Anyway, we took a minute to decide which way to go and finally decided to finish climbing the mountain we were on, which meant riding the ridge for 5 miles or so. On the way up, there was a fairly close lightening strike up the hill, and the guardrail made a loud clicking sound. The other guy insisted there had been an arc, which I suppose is possible. Just glad it didn't hit us.
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Old 10-29-12, 10:35 AM   #16
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Some of us may not be using our intelligence to full benefit, I got to see the explosion of a huge cottonwood tree though eyes that seemed at least twice their normal size. Even that experience has not kept me from enjoying storms with little regard for the associated risks.
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Old 10-29-12, 10:54 AM   #17
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In the late 80's there were 2 people killed in the Fort Pickens area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore by a lightning strike. The sky was clear around the area with a few clouds to the north. No thunderstorm activity in that area. The NWS said the bolt was generated in a T'storm cell that was around 50 miles to the north, near the Alabama border.

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Old 10-31-12, 06:19 AM   #18
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From my car (an improvised Faraday Cage) I saw a pine tree explode from lightning . Neat .
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Old 10-31-12, 06:46 AM   #19
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From my car (an improvised rolling Faraday Cage) I saw a pine tree explode from lightning . Neat .
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Old 10-31-12, 07:09 AM   #20
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July 16, 2010:

"We found a "store" just before crossing the Dan River. The surroundings were littered with "tractors". We were doing quite well on time, so took a few extra minutes to eat some potato chips and have a cold drink. We noticed the storm building just to the west.

We left the "store", and immediately descended to cross the Dan River. As we were crossing the Dan, the rain began. Within moments it was coming down in torrents. Climbing back up to the plateau from the Dan, the rain got worse and Maria shouted ahead asking if I had seen any lightening. Nope. Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!! I heard a tree breaking. It couldn't have been more than 50 yards away. A white light apparently simultaneous with the thunder had flashed, mostly on our right side. Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!!Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!!Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!!Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!! We've got to get out of this! Maybe there is a church or some other building at the top of this climb! Agreed!

I crested the climb and saw a perhaps abandoned building with an overhang over the front door, and the east (?) side of building was at least in the lee. I signaled a left turn and grabbed my brakes. Darn little brakes. Squeezing harder and harder as I start to roll down the other side of the crest. One-two-three cars went around. Each giving me space. I got stopped. Got off the bike. Turned around. ... ... ... No Maria!

I made my way across the road and parked my bike under the overhang, and waited. A couple minutes later, I saw Maria cresting the hill -- I went out to wave her down. She joined me under the overhang.

"A big branch fell down and almost hit me", she said. "I had to move it because it was blocking the whole road." (At least that is my memory.) I replied "that is much worse than my experience; my tough moment was almost being blown off the road as I got to this crest." (Maria says I cannot write that she is tough or strong or anything like that, but she didn't say I couldn't write something like the following.) I think Maria is mentally tougher than me.

Maria used her camera to make a movie. Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!! I really hope it comes out. Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!! (The movie did come out -- see below for a link to Maria's blog entry.)"

Excerpted from http://irregularveloadventures.blogs...permanent.html
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Old 11-02-12, 07:30 AM   #21
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To save some confusion:

lightning - electricity traveling between the earth and a cloud or cloud to cloud or similar activity

lightening - making something lighter - "He was lightening the load"
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Old 11-02-12, 01:38 PM   #22
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Paris-Brest-Paris, 2011. I was somewhere between Tinteniac and Loudeac entering the first night (I had left at 5 am that morning). It was already dark, so it must have been after 9 pm, with Loudeac aother couple of hours or more down the road. I was ridng by myself on a broad plain, when serious rain started to fall, so I pulled to the side of an intersecting road to dig out and put on my rain jacket. The rain was coming down quite hard, and I could hear another rider across the road, hidden in the darkness underneath some trees. We traded greetings, and I could hear thunder off in the distance, along with flashes of lightning, but counting the delay between flashes and thunder, I knew the lightning was too far away to affect me.

I got back on the bike as the rain started pelting down, hearing occasional thunder and seeing occasional flashes. I got to a main road with arrows showing a left turn as the rain abated, and before too long I saw a group of lights coming from the opposite direction. It was the group of leading riders with pace car and escort motorcycles, about 20 or 30 riders still at this point, on their way back to Paris, heading into the broad expanse of open terrain I had just completed, the thunder beckoning in the distance. They had left the previous day at 4 pm, so they would have been around 30 hours on the road, with another 15 or so hours to go. I wished them well and continued to my first night's stop in Loudeac.

Luis
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Old 11-02-12, 03:20 PM   #23
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Funny, I never think of Europe having lightning!!
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Old 11-02-12, 05:00 PM   #24
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To save some confusion:

lightning - electricity traveling between the earth and a cloud or cloud to cloud or similar activity

lightening - making something lighter - "He was lightening the load"
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Old 11-02-12, 05:46 PM   #25
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I was working at a youth camp in Colorado one summer. We were on top of Little Baldy (13,200' elev) in the Como, CO area. A summer storm blew in fast and lightning was happening everywhere. Rain and Hail were flying sideways. It was hugely scary and all @80 people sprinted off the mountain and survived.

Another time driving down 19th AVE in Phoenix I saw lightning slam the top of a palm tree shortening it by @ 5 feet. Flaming palm fronds flew everywhere. The remaining part of the Palm was burning. What a hoot!
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