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Thunderstorms

Old 04-15-24, 07:23 PM
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Thunderstorms

What do you full time/car free bike commuters do during thunderstorms? Ride and hope for the best? Uber or taxi? Bus for me involves waiting for a transfer or significant walking, so no safety improvement.
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Old 04-15-24, 07:56 PM
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Where I live thunderstorms blow through fairly quickly. I use Accuweather minute cast which gives me 4 hour view. I plan my moves around the storms.

I don’t go out if there’s lightning as I’m very allergic to it…I break out in death.
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Old 04-16-24, 09:01 AM
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I've ridden in Thunderstorms when necessary. If possible I'll seek shelter, fast food, convenience stores, park ramadas, etc. A very few times shelter was in the lee of a brick wall.
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Old 04-16-24, 09:31 AM
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I'll usually watch the weather radar starting around 3:00, and shift my ride time if necessary. (Yes, I'm very lucky to be able to do that!) A few screw-ups, where that "45 minute" window turns out to be a 25 minute window -- those are good learning experiences.

Major screw-ups? I've taken shelter under a gas station or convenience store a few times, parked under a grocery store overhang once, and in a city park's picnic pavilion. It's usually for 15-30 minutes --- not too long to wait out if it's not too chilly, but usually I need to dig my phone out from the bottom of a pannier (where else would it end up?) to call home. Once it started to hail -- I could take the hail on my body, but when it started hitting my head through helmet vents it was time to take shelter. Convenient, since there was 18-24" of running water the other side of the parking lot. Another time it was a half mile of praying no tree limbs would hit me before I could find a roof.
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Old 04-17-24, 06:27 AM
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When I'm riding and there's a thunderstorm, I get wet. I don't worry about lightening unless it's close (thunder within 1 second of flash) and even then not really worried unless I'm in an open area, which is rare.

Most of the time I'm protected by my surroundings, including trees, buildings, etc, so I soldier on.
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Old 04-20-24, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
…I don't worry about lightening unless it's close (thunder within 1 second of flash) .,,.
I am 10 times more allergic to lightning. That may be due to decades of exposure on Tornado Alley.

I wish you the best.
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Old 04-20-24, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by flangehead
I am 10 times more allergic to lightning. That may be due to decades of exposure on Tornado Alley.....
We all live making calls based on our experience and worldview.

I've a lifetime of road riding, in all kinds of conditions. If folks were betting on how I were going to die, the smart money would be on MVA, not lightening.

Also keep in mind that I live and mostly ride in the east, which is very different than the plains states. I'm generally surrounded by taller stuff and often have phone and/or power lines above to provide better grounds than me.

Also, dry lightening is rare here, so odds are I'll be wet when there's lightening, and that makes a big difference in potential outcomes.

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Old 04-21-24, 09:34 AM
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Thanks for the thoughts. Arriving to work on time is critical for me, but leaving is flexible. Lightning is tricky because being exposed is such an obvious risk that it’s hard to disregard the concerns of loved ones, especially concerned mothers 🙂. I’ve been through light hail that was rather painful but made for a fun adventure. Fortunately, catching a storm right when I need to be leaving is pretty rare. I think I’ll to try plan ahead a little better and at least prepare the family for the possibility of dropping me off if there’s a significant chance of storms. Regardless of storms, I still feel safer commuting to and from work on the bike than I do through my workday as a FedEx express courier, regardless of what the weather might be.
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Old 04-21-24, 12:45 PM
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I don't commute (yet), but we have a ton of thunderstorms here in the summer. I usually take cover under something that will keep me dry, or just get soaked and ride through it. Strangely lightning doesn't bother me in the least, and my son tells me that I have an unhealthy disregard for it I have had it strike really close, but so far am unscathed and not worried.
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Old 04-21-24, 01:21 PM
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There's a reason that being struck by lightening is a metaphor for very unlikely events.

Yes, it can happen, but would rank very low on any list of threats to road cyclists.

Despite having had it strike very close (within shouting distance) a few times, I still consider poor visibility, traction and braking distance during rain storms to be the more real concerns.
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Old 04-22-24, 01:22 PM
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Having been born and raised in central FL. And knowing multiple people growing up who have been struck by lightining, I dont mess with the stuff. I flee to the nearest safe indoor place when I see it...i dont care how far away it is.
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Old 04-22-24, 01:32 PM
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On one of my Texas Thunderstorm/Lightning rides I took shelter in a car port with a stranger, a Bar-B-Q pit, and an Ice chest of Miller Highlife. Long after the storm passed I called my wife ta come pick me up... Yep... It was a great ride...
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Old 04-22-24, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by SirLeaflock
Thanks for the thoughts. Arriving to work on time is critical for me, but leaving is flexible...
Flexibility... Knew a guy once that depending on the weather would occasionally drive in at the start of the day with his bike in the back of his truck. He would leave his truck and ride the bike home and then back in the AM the next day. Rarely would he miss at least half of a daily ride.

Rigid Flexibility!

Isn't that an Army Enlisted Rule...
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Old 04-22-24, 04:58 PM
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Rim brakes are compromised in rain. Be careful.
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Old 04-23-24, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by WaveyGravey
Rim brakes are compromised in rain. Be careful.
That's well known, and the "ride the brakes gently before you need them" mitigation is equally well known. Of course, in a heavy thunderstorm, discs will get wet. If all you're worried about is wet rims, you're in for a surprise the first time you try to brake with wet discs.

Re: thunderstorms, it's vanishingly rare to have thunderstorms in the morning IME. For most of us, that means you can go to work on time without worrying too much. Coming home in the afternoon when thunderstorms are more likely is when you want to check the weather radar. (Weather.gov is my favorite. Between zoom and play I can usually get a good feel for when and where storms will hit -- watch out for the yellows and the reds!)
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Old 04-23-24, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by SirLeaflock
What do you full time/car free bike commuters do during thunderstorms?
I try to never do it, or to delay that I might avoid it.

Dangerous things. Had some lighning cracking around me (within a few hundred yards, before. On several occasions, have had all the hairs on my body rise up. I imagine that in some of those instances I was as close to getting zapped as I feared.

Of course, on a ride that lasts a half hour or longer, it's occsaionally hard to predict whether a stormy day might end up with one coming right over my head. I generally assume it's likely, so I try to delay or seek an alternative.
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