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Stranded at Work

Old 01-10-22, 05:43 PM
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Bassmanbob
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Stranded at Work

I changed into my cycling gear, turned on my Garmin and walked out the door... CRASH! A thunderstorm started right as I was leaving.

I bicycle commute twice a week to work, three times if I can, but I'm stranded here at my office waiting for the lightening to stop. I've always prided myself on cycling in any weather except for 25mph+ wind or lightening. Fortunately, I don't need to deal with snow or subfreezing temeratures here in SE Florida, but I'm not going out there in an electrical storm. So I'm here with you folks until I don't hear lightening for ten minutes. My makeshift dinner tonight consists of 2 Nutrigrain bars covered in almond butter. It's not my choice of dinner selections, but it's not so bad, considering. My office assistant usually has chocolate hidden somewhere in her desk, but I'm afraid I'll eat all of it if I start on only one or two. It may sound like I'm complaining, but I'm not upset; I'm just killing time. I'm also done with work, having put in a ten hour day. It's been about 40 minutes, and I can still hear some thunder.

So do any of you have stranded at work stories?
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Old 01-10-22, 05:58 PM
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Ha... Good luck. Hope its not too wet on the way back. My only lighting stranded story was having to wait out the electrical storm in a large tree due to flooding during a monsoon in Africa. Luckily we did not get fried or drown...
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Old 01-10-22, 06:00 PM
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It's 7 PM, after an hour of waiting, and I haven't heard any thunder. See ya!

No. I didn't eat any of her chocolate.
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Old 01-10-22, 06:14 PM
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The speed of sound is about 1100 ft/sec or 340 m/sec so five seconds from flash to thunder is a mile away and three seconds is a km

Some processes at work are required to stand down if there's enough static in the air but I think this was a special instrument on site that isn't part of a standard weather station or forecast.
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Old 01-10-22, 07:09 PM
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I found Doppler radar to be a great tool for planning my departures. I was lucky enough to be able to leave early to beat the weather; however a few times I had to delay leaving.
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Old 01-10-22, 08:35 PM
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I got snowed in at the office one time. Had to push my bike through more than a foot of snow for almost 3 miles in the dark. Of course, I took a short cut through the woods. I skieeeeed in the next morning.
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Old 01-11-22, 09:11 AM
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It happens. Doppler weather radar can help you plan a commute, if your work is a bit flexible. Sometimes I'd leave a half an hour early to avoid an hour wait.

And of course, once you've decided to wait out a thunderstorm, it's twice as hard to ride through the gentle shower at the tail end!
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Old 01-11-22, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Bassmanbob View Post
So do any of you have stranded at work stories?
No. Because I drive my car to work and this stuff never happens.
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Old 01-11-22, 09:38 AM
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Im not staying like ever. I have rode home with tornado sirens blarring I dont see that changing.
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Old 01-11-22, 10:21 AM
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I've tried timing summer departures using radar imagery to predict. sometimes it worked out, other times, not so much
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Old 01-11-22, 01:09 PM
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I usually check the Weather Channel app before I go, but I didn't yesterday afternoon. I had checked it in the morning and said goodbye to my office staff outside which was about 45 minutes before I attempted to leave. It looked fine at 5:15, but this is SE Florida. A thunderstorm can roll in here at a moment's notice, but that's usually in the late spring to early autumn, not January.
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Old 01-11-22, 05:15 PM
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You don't want to mess with lightning. We don't have to deal with that too much here. I have left my bike at work on a few wintry afternoons when the snow or ice came and my bike was shod with the wrong tires. I don't want to have to ride for an hour in dicey road conditions, so I've run the 12-mile commute a few times. I'd take another bike to work the next day, and wait for an opportunity to run to work at some point in the near future and ride the bike back home.
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Old 01-11-22, 06:33 PM
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Being stranded at work is far superior to be stranded under an overpass during a raging thunderstorm. At least it’s drier and warmer. Colorado thunderstorms can drop the temperature 20 to 30. Wet and standing around at 60F is very uncomfortable.
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Old 01-12-22, 07:46 AM
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Surely the rubber tires will protect you from lightning....
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Old 01-12-22, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Surely the rubber tires will protect you from lightning....
Nope. Not even in a car. Look up Faraday cage.
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Old 01-12-22, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Being stranded at work is far superior to be stranded under an overpass during a raging thunderstorm. At least its drier and warmer. Colorado thunderstorms can drop the temperature 20 to 30. Wet and standing around at 60F is very uncomfortable.
Indeed they can.

One day, I had been biking around the fields (in the Boulder area), when an afternoon hail storm came over the mountains, down the Flatirons, and right onto our heads. Thought I could out-run the thing ... only had a mile to go. I was wrong. Was probably a ~75F day, which dropped to ~40F within moments as the front of that wall of ice came. Got caught out in the open for a minute or two. Was one of the least-pleasant rides I've ever had. Welcome to Colorado hailstorms. Boom.
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Old 01-12-22, 11:14 AM
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The only time I remember being "stranded" at work was during a quick rain storm right after work. I had just started bicycle commuting and was riding a too-small department store Mongoose full-suspension mountain bike with extra-knobby WTB Velociraptor tires. I had a backpack and was wearing khaki shorts, sneakers, a cotton tee shirt, and no helmet. I hadn't even bought my first bicycle helmet at that time.

Waiting in the parking garage for the rain to stop, I noticed a slender, fit guy in spandex waiting there too. He was riding a Kestrel road bike and probably thought I was the biggest rube who ever fell off the turnip truck. We spoke briefly and he said he lived in a suburb that was probably fifteen miles away. At the time, I couldn't imagine riding a bicycle that far.
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Old 01-12-22, 11:43 AM
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Serious question...Does riding a bicycle in a thunderstorm increase your odds of being struck by lightning more than if you are driving a car? if it's just a matter of avoiding heavy rain, I totally get that.
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Old 01-12-22, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Eric F View Post
Serious question...Does riding a bicycle in a thunderstorm increase your odds of being struck by lightning more than if you are driving a car? if it's just a matter of avoiding heavy rain, I totally get that.
I cant see why it would. a tree falling on a guy riding a bike will be way worse than a tree falling on a car though. and I have watched a couple trees and big limbs fall while riding
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Old 01-12-22, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Eric F View Post
Serious question...Does riding a bicycle in a thunderstorm increase your odds of being struck by lightning more than if you are driving a car? if it's just a matter of avoiding heavy rain, I totally get that.
Probably slightly better chance of getting hit in the car.

The consequences are likely higher on the bike, though. First, you are the lightning rod on the bike, so all 10-200,000 amps will come through you before it gets to the bike. And 1" or so of bike tire rubber isn't as good an insulator as a car tire. Second, that lightning current will be dispersed through the car; in the car you'll probably say "Wow!" and, at worse, need to have some wiring and electronics replaced. That's harder for a neurologist than for an auto mechanic.
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Old 01-12-22, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Probably slightly better chance of getting hit in the car.

The consequences are likely higher on the bike, though. First, you are the lightning rod on the bike, so all 10-200,000 amps will come through you before it gets to the bike. And 1" or so of bike tire rubber isn't as good an insulator as a car tire. Second, that lightning current will be dispersed through the car; in the car you'll probably say "Wow!" and, at worse, need to have some wiring and electronics replaced. That's harder for a neurologist than for an auto mechanic.
I ride one of them plastic bikes, so I have a little more insulation from the ground than just the tire. Come to think about it, the only ferrous metal parts on my bike are probably bolts. In reality, I'm not going to ride in a thunderstorm because I'm soft AF with weather.

EDIT: I guess I can add spokes, bearings, and BB spindle to the ferrous metal parts. It still ain't a whole lot.

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Old 01-12-22, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Eric F View Post
I ride one of them plastic bikes, so I have a little more insulation from the ground than just the tire.
You might want to rethink this.
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Old 01-12-22, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
You might want to rethink this.
What am I missing?

It's all theoretical, anyways. I don't ride when the ground is wet, let alone when it's raining.
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Old 01-12-22, 03:46 PM
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There was one winter day that I almost could have been stuck at the office. On the ride in to work, there was considerable slush and snow and when my rear derailleur prevented me from shifting into my lowest 2 gears (of 8), I thought it was a problem with freezing. Since I was already more than halfway there, I pedaled harder the rest of the way (uphill for a portion).
When I got a chance to look it over closely, I discovered one of the idler wheels was seized. It could not be turned at all, even after warming up and trying to work some oil into it. In the upper gears, the chain would slide over the idler with some resistance.
Since the bike was just a few months old, I called the LBS where I bought the bike and they actually drove to my office and picked up the bike. They disassembled the RD and discovered the bearing was completely dry and it was not a true ball bearing, but just a sleeve. It worked fine when they brought it back to me about 1 hour before the end of the work day so I got home on my own.
Shortly afterward, I shopped and found a better model of derailleur with sealed bearings in the idlers so that won't happen again.
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Old 01-12-22, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Eric F View Post
What am I missing?

It's all theoretical, anyways. I don't ride when the ground is wet, let alone when it's raining.
Think of it this way: lightning travels thousands of feet through the air which is a very poor conductor of electricity to get to the ground. A small bit of rubber or a bit of plastic isnt going to stop it.

Carbon fiber is also conductive. I once felt the electricity of an approaching storm crackle through my fly rod high up in the Colorado Rockies.
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