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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 06-10-04, 08:53 PM   #1
Panoramic
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Being struck by lightning

Two questions: 1) Whati s the probability of it happening?
and
2) Is this reasoning correct - death is proportional to current of electricity running through you. Rubber tires, though an insulator (and hence produces low current), won't help you because in the first 0.0001ms, the lightning travels through your body at its initial speed before it hits the rubber (aka the transient stage for those electricians out there).

Thanks
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Old 06-10-04, 09:09 PM   #2
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Well since your a moving object i would think (or atleast hope!) that it reduces your risk because isnt lightning looking for a place to strike and i would its a stationary project...am i right?
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Old 06-10-04, 09:10 PM   #3
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1) Whati s the probability of it happening?

My first cousin was killed by a lightning strike between her car and her front door, 15 feet or so. Wrong place at the wrong time?

death is proportional to current of electricity running through you

I assisted in an atopsy of a person who was struck and killed. One leg of the blue jeans she had on looked like it had been thrown under a lawn mower!

The electricty actually super heats the fluids etc. that it passes through. This happens in an instant and usually causes the most damage. But if the electrons pass over your heart, it can cause your heart to go into a state of fluttering, and you may die.

Bottom line, the only truly safe place in a thunder storm is under roof! You may be in the wrong place at the right time!
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Old 06-10-04, 09:38 PM   #4
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Ya got it all wrong. Cars are safe (if you are in them ) because the rubber tires do not give you a ground path.
Bike I'm unsure, but wouldn't chance it. Depends on the terrain and if its raining (provides a good ground path even with tires.
Actually learned this in the military, 1/4 amp can kill under the right circumstances. 9 amps is what is used to 'fry ' death row inmates. (sorry for being morbid). Awesome considering most homes are wired for 15 amps.
Bottom line don't chance it, its how good a ground path you provide that attracts lightening. Tha's why if you get caught, stay away from tall trees, high points, lay in a ditch if need be and stay away from storms.
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Old 06-10-04, 09:47 PM   #5
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Even a 9 volt battery could kill you, if you're smart/dumb enough to figure a way to do it, like this guy apparently did.

http://www.darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin1999-50.html
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Old 06-10-04, 10:25 PM   #6
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WRONG, WRONG, WRONG

Rubber tires do NOT protect you from the lightning. If the lightning can jump several thousand feet through air (a good insulator), it will have absolutely no problem jumping four inches from a steel rim to the ground. Also, most modern tires contain steel. It is the steel in the car surrounding you that protects you. Therefore, a convertible offers no protection.

Please see:

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/hanford/wxmy...wx1/svrwx1.htm

Also, lightning is NOt "looking for" a place to strike. It will strike where the best environment is for it to go to ground. If you happen to be there, whammo! Going fast or going slow or stopping will make no difference. In fact, the faster you go the more opportunity you have of being where the lightning might strike, while conversely you also have more of an opportunity of not being where the lightning strikes. It makes no difference, unless you stand still in a safe place.

About 200 folks are killed each year by lightning. About 43,000 are killed by car accidents. Anyone here not driving or biking on roads? Which presents the greatest danger?

Last weekend a person was killed by a lightning strike in the Denver metro aea. There was a great big deal made out of it. Six folks were killed in car crashes. Not a bit on the TV about that.

Last edited by DnvrFox; 06-10-04 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 06-10-04, 11:12 PM   #7
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So how do these people get struck and still live?
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Old 06-11-04, 05:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HammerTheHill
So how do these people get struck and still live?
I guess the same way someone gets struck by a car and lives. Darned lucky. Helps to have others around!

http://www.torontohiking.com/Tutoria...lightning.html

Quote:
If a member of your party gets hit by lightning start emergency treatment immediately. A person is not electrified after being hit by lighting and a full 80% of people that are hit by lightning recover. If a person has no pulse or heartbeat start performing CPR. Treat electrical burns as you would any other. Neurological and internal injuries are possible. It is also possible for someone to be hit by lightning and be practically uninjured.
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Old 06-11-04, 06:10 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HammerTheHill
So how do these people get struck and still live?
DNVR- I stand corrected on my rubber tire story, I explained it wrong. The electricity does travel through the steel, I assumed one was smart enought not to touch same, as well as the outer shell of the body.

We studied lightening quite a bit in a some class - can't remember what - prof's theory (and I've read more since that class) is that 'the initial charge' actually travels in the ground and when conditions are right it travels from ground to air. This does not forget that lightning also jumps from cloud to cloud.

His thoughts also that lighting cares little fro theory and strikes were it wants.
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Old 06-11-04, 06:17 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Baron
DNVR- I stand corrected on my rubber tire story, I explained it wrong. The electricity does travel through the steel, I assumed one was smart enought not to touch same, as well as the outer shell of the body.

We studied lightening quite a bit in a some class - can't remember what - prof's theory (and I've read more since that class) is that 'the initial charge' actually travels in the ground and when conditions are right it travels from ground to air. This does not forget that lightning also jumps from cloud to cloud.

His thoughts also that lighting cares little fro theory and strikes were it wants.
The issue of ground to cloud vs. cloud to ground has been much debated. Back in the 1940's, my grandfather was a lookout on a high mountain. Even then, professors asked him to see if he could tell whether or not the bolt came down or went up!

According to NASA, it is cloud to ground! Who knows?

Please see:

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2001/ast05dec_1.htm

Quote:
Lightning is a sudden discharge of electricity between charged regions of thunderclouds and the ground. Only about 25 percent of lightning strikes are cloud-to-ground. The rest are either cloud-to-cloud or intracloud.
Also see:

http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/edu/ltg/

Quote:
What causes lightning?
Lightning originates around 15,000 to 25,000 feet above sea level when raindrops are carried upward until some of them convert to ice. For reasons that are not widely agreed upon, a cloud-to-ground lightning flash originates in this mixed water and ice region. The charge then moves downward in 50-yard sections called step leaders. It keeps moving toward the ground in these steps and produces a channel along which charge is deposited. Eventually, it encounters something on the ground that is a good connection. The circuit is complete at that time, and the charge is lowered from cloud to ground.
The return stroke is a flow of charge (current) which produces a luminosity much brighter than the part that came down. This entire event usually takes less than half a second.
Seems like it goes both ways!

Last edited by DnvrFox; 06-11-04 at 06:23 AM.
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Old 06-11-04, 07:39 AM   #11
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Old 06-11-04, 08:07 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DnvrFox
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG

Rubber tires do NOT protect you from the lightning. If the lightning can jump several thousand feet through air (a good insulator), it will have absolutely no problem jumping four inches from a steel rim to the ground. Also, most modern tires contain steel. It is the steel in the car surrounding you that protects you. Therefore, a convertible offers no protection.

Please see:

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/hanford/wxmy...wx1/svrwx1.htm

Also, lightning is NOt "looking for" a place to strike. It will strike where the best environment is for it to go to ground. If you happen to be there, whammo! Going fast or going slow or stopping will make no difference. In fact, the faster you go the more opportunity you have of being where the lightning might strike, while conversely you also have more of an opportunity of not being where the lightning strikes. It makes no difference, unless you stand still in a safe place.

About 200 folks are killed each year by lightning. About 43,000 are killed by car accidents. Anyone here not driving or biking on roads? Which presents the greatest danger?

Last weekend a person was killed by a lightning strike in the Denver metro aea. There was a great big deal made out of it. Six folks were killed in car crashes. Not a bit on the TV about that.

Well Fox, I looked up lighting fatalities and found them for the USA for 1990-2003 and they averaged 58 per year. Hmmm. There is a pretty big difference between 58 and 200. I don't dispute you 43,000 motor vehicle fatalities but we are talking bicycles here. Bicycle fatalities are about 800 per year.

I have never even heard of a cyclist killed by lightning but I suppose it can happen. I did notice that about 4 times as many men as women were killed by lightning. That could mean that men are much more into outdoor activities then women or that many men are too stupid to come in from the rain or both. Aren't statistics fun!

I noticed that lighting risk varied considerably by state. The risk in California was vanishingly small. I guess it rains so seldom in California and that they have so few thunderstorms that almost no one is killed. The risk was quite high in mountain states. I was at Rocky Mountain National Park and they have thunderstorms nearly every afternoon in the summer and it is not real smart to be running around above the tree line in a lightning storm. Florida has a big lighting risk too. I think that is the guy running around on the golf course waving his golf club around in a thunderstorm effect (fishing rods work pretty well). Most of our thunderstorms in FL are afternoon or evening situations and most people ride during the morning before it gets hotter n blazes.

I would think that if a cyclist generally rides in the mornings (electrical storms are usually afternoon affairs) and takes cover when an electrical storm is in the area that their risk to getting killed by lightning would be mighty small.
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Old 06-11-04, 08:18 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat
I did notice that about 4 times as many men as women were killed by lightning. That could mean that men are much more into outdoor activities then women or that many men are too stupid to come in from the rain or both. Aren't statistics fun!
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Old 06-11-04, 08:27 AM   #14
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Okay - you got me there!!

I was "remembering" - but I fail to see a huge amount of difference between 200 and 58 average when compared with either 800 or 43,000.

My point being - you have a much greater chance of death while driving an automobile than of being hit by lightning, yet we all talk about the dangers of lightning while auto deaths are treated as routine.

Have a great day!

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Old 06-11-04, 11:06 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HammerTheHill
So how do these people get struck and still live?
I was struck by lightning about 5 years ago during a freak January thunderstorm. Fortunately, the lightning bounced off of a building before hitting me, so it just knocked me to the ground and I was okay. I wish I had a HR monitor on, I'd love to know what mine was at that point. Do they go to 300?

I've had two other strikes within around 50-100 feet from me. One time playing tennis at an outdoor court it hit the metal fence surrounding the court and another time I was canoeing on a river and it struck fairly close.

Now I am terrified of thunderstorms and won't even go outside at all during them.
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Old 06-11-04, 05:46 PM   #16
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One thing about cycling, as opposed to golf, is that your time being out in the open and being the highest object around is small. There is usually trees, telephone poles, signs, etc., that are higher than you and "more likely" to take a strike. Well, maybe not some of you mid-west riders.

There have been some fairly new discoveries about how lightning travels. It actually builds up a charge, travels to a point (node) and builds up charge again, this is where it sometimes forks off. The interesting thing is that when is gets close to the ground, or you, a "feeder" bolt travels up from the ground, or top of your head. IF this feeder connects with the bolt coming down, all of those stored up nodes discharge. That is what determines where it strikes.

So if you are ever in a storm and suddenly feel your hair stand up, drop down into a ball.

Yes, a car protects you because you are in a metal box (ie Faraday Cage). The charge travels through the body of the car, not you.
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Old 06-11-04, 06:03 PM   #17
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Although the theory works, A more general law is that you can't predict lightning by theory... and I don't think many people who value their lives will argue with that.
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Old 06-11-04, 09:16 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Panoramic
Two questions: 1) Whati s the probability of it happening?
and
2) Is this reasoning correct - death is proportional to current of electricity running through you. Rubber tires, though an insulator (and hence produces low current), won't help you because in the first 0.0001ms, the lightning travels through your body at its initial speed before it hits the rubber (aka the transient stage for those electricians out there).

Thanks
Your chances of getting struck by lightening are a little better than your chances of being delcared King of the British Empire.

As to being fatal, life is fatal. No one gets out alive, so stop worrying. When its your time to go, you're gone.

Many years ago, there was a game show on TV called I've Got a Secret. One guest was a forrest ranger who had been struck by lightening more than 15 times. One time, the works of a pocket watch in his pants pocket was fused. Another time, the metal button on his pants melted and burned him, but he had no other injuries.

Pro golfer Lee Trevino was struck at least once.

There was also a guest on another episode that let one million volts flow through his body. He held a wooden stick in one hand with aluminum foil wrapped around it. The foil smoldered and the wood started smoking, but he wasn't hurt. Reason? Almost zero amperage.

Lightening has very little amperage on average. But, I believe there are more living people who have been struck by lightening than people killed by it.
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Old 06-11-04, 11:24 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avalanche325

So if you are ever in a storm and suddenly feel your hair stand up, drop down into a ball.
When I was struck I could tell it was coming. I don't think that my hair stood up, but I could sense something and the air around me seemed very strange and almost greenish. I started running at full speed to get into the building, but the lightning hit before I could get there.
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Old 06-12-04, 07:08 AM   #20
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The effect of electric shock on the human body is determined by three main factors:

1) how much current is flowing through the body (measured in amperes and determined by voltage and resistance)

2) the path of current through the body

3) how long the body is in the circuit.

http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles/carlson37.html

From my years in the building trades it is common knowledge that amperage combined with volts is what kills you. Something to think about it only takes 0.07 amps to stop a human heart.
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Old 06-15-04, 04:21 AM   #21
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Heres what I know (a little about lightning a fair amount about electrocution)
lightning doen't have to strike you to kill you5-10n feet is close enough, thunder is caused by superheated air, electricity is flowing before you see the bolt as it takes a moment to heat the air to a tempature that will give off visible light (look up tempature of a 'black body', its out of this topic), lighting does indeed travel both ways(not in the same bolt) its been measured buy scientists with copper wire taped to their model rockets. Electricity always takes the path of lowest electrical resistance, a guy, a mtbiker if I remember correctly, was killed buy lightning on a clear day a while back, it seems that there was a storm on the other side of the ridge and the lightning traveled several miles horizontaly before striking him. Most lightning happens between noon and 5pm and around 1-2 am.

Distilled water does not conduct electricity, there must be impurities, carbon fiber conducts extremely well, as does aluminium, steel and ti are good conductors, you can die from electrocution a day or two later- this is because your bone marrow got cooked and is no longer functioning,
At some high frequencies and conditions electrons like to flow across the surface(good as it won't generally harm you[much]) at other frequencies it goes deep (cooked bone marrow, and or cooked from the inside out) direct current(no frequency, steady flow) tends to do a lot of damage, voltage AKA electro-motive force AKA electrical pressure is the force that makes electrons want to move amperage AKA current is the volume of electrons flowing, other than screwing up the electrical rythm of your heart your body can with stand many amps for a very short time(fraction of a second, no time to heat up anything) more amps=less time,
"The principle that "current kills" is essentially correct. It is electric current that burns tissue, freezes muscles, and fibrillates hearts. However, electric current doesn't just occur on its own: there must be voltage available to motivate electrons to flow through a victim. A person's body also presents resistance to current, which must be taken into account." thus it could take only 20 volts to induce the current needed to stop your heart, if the contact was right ie. sweat[salt water] and a large contact area like grasping a metal bar with both hands, or 20,000 volts if you had dry skin and only lightly touched a finger.

To conclude I would not bike in a thunder storm. Its like riding a lightning rod.
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Old 05-21-17, 10:41 PM   #22
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i apologize in advance for resurfacing an ancient thread and for writing an extremely long post of my recent encounter with a lightning storm. However, I had one of the biggest scares of my life this weekend while riding in Woolwine, VA (elev. ~1,500' and somewhat mountainous). Shortly after I arrived (2pm) to ride the trails, a light drizzle popped up. This wasn't a big concern because I frequently train in rainy weather. I also was told by a local that was about to ride that this happens daily and wouldn't last long. So off we went me trailing behind him. Around 3pm now and the rain begins to pick up, quickly turning into a terential downpour. Next thing I know we were riding in water that was flowing (or pooling) on the trail. Then, I heard a rumble of thunder and eventually the sound of lightning (I think we can all agree that even though it's visual, it has an distinct and disturbing sound). There was a second thunder/lightning combo which sounded closer than the first. This is when (someone mentioned early in this thread) "I felt a weird vibe about where I was and the "air" around me. It was as if o felt something bad was about to happen. It was then that I started to realize that the strikes were seemingly right on top of us. By that point we were several miles in and quickly trying to get back to our vehicles. Then a third roll of thunder and the nastiest, loudest snap, crackle and pop of lightning I've ever heard...at that very moment, my front tire instantly goes flat. I've cut side walls before on rocks and not gone flat that quick. This was literally a blow out in an instant. That very moment still seems mentally foggy. I do recall feeling a very slight tingle. The kind of tingle us old folks would get when you would touch your tongue on a nine-volt battery...just over my entire body. There were no other issues. No vision or hearing issues, no physical signs on me, nothing. About 3-5 minutes after that, we were back to a picnic shelter where others were standing. Before knowing what we had just experienced, someone at the shelter said, "you look really pale." I felt totally fine but slowly realized that my heart felt like it was on speed...a fluttering sensation. I Decided to download my data from my Garmin. For a minute and half around the time of the second and third strike my Garmin didn't register a single piece of information (Heart rate, speed, etc).

Do the signs and symptoms seem consistent with lightning strike victims? Could the runner tires and carbon fiber frame have helped? I understand that I will most likely never know but if I wasn't, I think I was as close to being struck as one can get without it actually happening. Simply odd how the day unfolded. Thanks for any info as I am obviously not the most schooled on the subject.
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Old 05-21-17, 11:30 PM   #23
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Having enjoyed a few close lightning strikes (one within 10' or so), I can tell you that what you describe is more like a near strike rather than an actual hit.

I don't believe you can be struck by lightning and not know, but this field isn't one about black and white, yes or no. When the charge is building up prior to a strike, it involves an area, so just being close you'll feel the effects, even if the main body of the discharge doesn't run through you (which is good).

The changes in the electrical field might be enough to overwhelm the low power circuits in a computer, which may be why there's missing data.
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Old 05-22-17, 12:08 AM   #24
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Yes @tmp1207, I agree with @FBinNY that what you experienced sounds like a near strike not an actual strike. I too have been close to lightening strikes.

In one instance, I was standing in the doorway of a semi-enclosed patio, with my hand on the metal door frame, watching the storm. Everything was black and wild, trees nearly bent double with the wind, thunder and lightning all around. All of a sudden everything went super-still and at that moment, I thought it best to let go of the metal door frame and take a step back. Then one tree in the yard stirred and at the same time, my hair stood on end and there was that tingling feeling like pins and needles all over ... and then the bolt. And yes, lightning does have a sound ... it hisses. It also has neat little mini bolts coming off the main bolt.
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Old 05-22-17, 04:20 AM   #25
Succhia Ruota
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Originally Posted by tmp1207 View Post
i apologize in advance for resurfacing an ancient thread...
You don't have to apologize if you acknowledge the resurrection.

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Originally Posted by tmp1207 View Post
... There was a second thunder/lightning combo which sounded closer than the first. This is when (someone mentioned early in this thread) "I felt a weird vibe about where I was and the "air" around me. It was as if o felt something bad was about to happen...
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Then one tree in the yard stirred and at the same time, my hair stood on end and there was that tingling feeling like pins and needles all over ... and then the bolt.
I'll just add that if you're ever anywhere near a storm and you suddenly feel a tingling sensation, or any other weird feeling, drop to the ground, in a ball, posthaste.

Yes, you generally have a greater chance of winning the lottery, but being in or near a storm increases your chances akin to spending 6 month's salary on tickets. And if you're on a bike, you can make that a year's.

In the summer in GA, riding can get dangerous in the afternoon with our daily pop-ups. It will be totally clear when you start a ride, but then an hour later and 20 miles out, you can find yourself in a veritable monsoon without warning (nothing on radar until it literally condenses right over your head). I've been way too close, way too many times to lightning strikes that I generally avoid afternoon rides in July & August if the storm forecast is >= ~25-35%.

Last edited by Succhia Ruota; 05-22-17 at 04:28 AM.
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