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Cycled through heavy lightning and it really scared the **** out of me.

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Cycled through heavy lightning and it really scared the **** out of me.

Old 02-23-15, 12:08 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Yep, that's the rule. 30 seconds is six miles, and then 30 minutes more for it to get further away. It happens. Moreover, lightning from that distance is likely to be the positive polarity strikes from very high, which are greater in intensity and duration making them more lethal.

I don't tell people to take risks, but frankly I ignore this rule. If you are concerned about these strikes from a distance you cannot ride through the gaps between storms. You must wait until the entire system has passed through. I try to minimize risk but not eliminate it, looking for a balance between risk and practicality.
I have to admit, a couple of days after the class, I was out riding. I don't think rain was predicted, and here in Northern California thunderstorms aren't a common occurrence. Of course midway through my ride, I thought I saw a flash (but my head was down so I couldn't be sure if it was lightning, or someone had taken a photo, or what). For whatever reason I started counting. I got to nine when I heard a big rumble. One or two days removed from the class I was trying to decide what to do. No shelter available, and I knew my tires weren't going to insulate me from a lightning strike. I decided to roll the dice and finish up my ride. Fortunately there were no more flashes so no problems. If there were I think I would have headed to the nearest bike shop about five miles away.
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Old 02-23-15, 12:31 PM
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I have sought cover quite a few times while commuting or riding recreationally when thunderstorms hit. I've stopped a gas stations, parks, schools, etc., and waited for the lightning, high windsand heavy rain to pass.
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Old 02-23-15, 12:41 PM
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Meh, one or two cracks of thunder miles away is of little concern to me. When it's crackin' all around me several times a minute, that's when the risk of being hurt or killed is highest, I figure. If there's no good place to stop I just pedal faster.
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Old 02-23-15, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by bmthom.gis View Post
...
If caught out in a field, crouch, don't lay down.
How about stash your bike somewhere in the bush and hide under a small tree away from your bike?
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Old 02-23-15, 02:17 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
I have sought cover quite a few times while commuting or riding recreationally when thunderstorms hit. I've stopped a gas stations, parks, schools, etc., and waited for the lightning, high windsand heavy rain to pass.
I've done that many times while riding my motorcycle, and nobody questioned me as to why I was stopping.
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Old 02-24-15, 03:19 PM
  #31  
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I would not trust the tires to save you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4WL0s09Z9c

Wife and I got caught in a fast moving storm with only trees and steal bridges around. We both decided it was just as safe to keep riding.
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Old 02-24-15, 09:53 PM
  #32  
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I admit to getting a little nervous and counting seconds between the flash and the boom but don't adjust my behavior much. Usually by the time I get to go home the storms have mostly fizzled and I usually enjoy riding in the rain.

Several years ago I had a bolt strike the ground in a field maybe a hundred yards away and got a little shock through my brake levers. That was scary! When I got home the sleeping laptop in my pannier wouldn't wake up and had to be cold-started and the wired network adapter never worked again.

As scary as that - was working on a tower before a storm and hearing the lightning rods snapping as they released the charge. I couldn't wait to get off that tower!

Last edited by Bug Shield; 02-25-15 at 09:12 AM.
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Old 02-24-15, 10:15 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Bertnl View Post

However, today I got caught up in a thunderstorm and I really scared the **** out of me. The ligtning hit very close several times. It was really terrifying.

My route is for 90% in the wide open. No possibilities for shelter at all. I really didn't know what to do and just kept going. Like I said it was a terrifying experience, and I'm seriously thinking about stopping commuting about it.
Having ridden (stupidly) directly under a cell, and seeing over 20 strikes within 100 yards of us, I can tell you it's pretty scary. In my case we were in a somewhat forested area and assumed it would get the trees instead of us. As it turned out, that's what happened, the trees and a telephone line directly overhead.

Anyway, lightning isn't a reason to stop commuting. It's only a reason to pull off the road when in a storm cell. Since sound travels about 1,000 feet per second, you can rely on the old time the dwell between lightning and thunder to calculate range.

If you can count off 5 seconds, it's a mile away and you can keep riding, if you can only count off one second (one Mississippi) you're down to 1,000 feet and shou,ld consider getting off soon. If the time between lightning and thunder is less than it takes you to say Oh Sh*T! it's too close and you need to find shelter NOW, or at least lower your profile.

BTW- I use the timing method mainly not to know how far the cell is, but whether it's getting closer or moving off.

But as I said, lightning events aren't daily, so they're not a reason to give up commuting. They're just something to manage, and it's far more manageable than many other hazards we face. Getting struck by lightning correctly remains something we compare long odds events to. ie, more likely than winning the lottery, but still not likely at all.
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Old 02-25-15, 07:51 AM
  #34  
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FBinNY I thought it was 1 second per mile.

my 2 brothers and Dad were all 3 struck indirectly while mountain hiking in VT many years ago. The strike must have been to a tree or something else nearby, they all got it up through there feet and legs. Scared the cr*p out of them. They ditched everything metal including canteens and either a backpack or they removed the metal from from thr backpack, I forget. and they rushed down the mountain in record time. My sister and I and our Mom were taking it easy that day in town. Don't want to think about what a bad outcome would have done to the family.
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Old 02-25-15, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
FBinNY I thought it was 1 second per mile.....
Then I guess it's good that I posted. The speed of sound is roughly 1,100 feet per second, so it travels a mile in just under 5 seconds. If you can't cont off a full second, it's striking pretty close. You may also feel the static electricity before a strike as the charge builds up before a strike, which is probably what happened to your brothers.
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Old 02-25-15, 10:09 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
If you can count off 5 seconds, it's a mile away and you can keep riding, if you can only count off one second (one Mississippi) you're down to 1,000 feet and shou,ld consider getting off soon. If the time between lightning and thunder is less than it takes you to say Oh Sh*T! it's too close and you need to find shelter NOW, or at least lower your profile.
Here's my question, and it's not just for FBNY:

I'm riding in an open area, maybe a few tree's here and there, but zero shelter. Is lowering my profile 4 feet by stopping and crouching really gonna make any difference? I think not. If I'm just sitting there crouched down I'll be just as scared. At least if I'm pedaling like mad I feel like I'm doing something! (get away, get home, get to shelter)
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Old 02-25-15, 10:28 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
Here's my question, and it's not just for FBNY:

I'm riding in an open area, maybe a few tree's here and there, but zero shelter. Is lowering my profile 4 feet by stopping and crouching really gonna make any difference? I think not. If I'm just sitting there crouched down I'll be just as scared. At least if I'm pedaling like mad I feel like I'm doing something! (get away, get home, get to shelter)
No, it doesn't make any difference.

Also, a small structure doesn't help much, unless it's grounded against a lightning strike. So a golf shed, random shack etc, not really protection from lightning.
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Old 02-25-15, 10:30 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
:

I'm riding in an open area, maybe a few tree's here and there, but zero shelter. Is lowering my profile 4 feet by stopping and crouching really gonna make any difference? I think not. If I'm just sitting there crouched down I'll be just as scared. At least if I'm pedaling like mad I feel like I'm doing something! (get away, get home, get to shelter)
It's strictly a judgement call. The first thing I do is stop look at the sky and wind to see of the storm is approaching, moving parallel or moving away. I also use the timing method to gauge distance. Then, if I think I can outrun it, I'll try. But some of these storms move along at a good clip, so if I think it'll overrun me, I'll stop someplace that seems better than average (best available), and let it pass overhead, and move on.

I don't consider a thunderstorm an immediate hazard and will ride if it makes sense, but if lightning is very close, I'll look for someplace to ride it out. If I feel the electricity I'll take immediate shelter, or lay down by the side of the road. I know someone who says to prop the bike up as a lightning rod, and lay down 20-30 yards away, but neither he nor his bike were ever struck, so who knows.

So, I sort of agree. Running makes sense if you can open up the range, but I still think lowering your profile is more prudent if you find yourself in the strike zone.
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Old 02-25-15, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
... or lay down by the side of the road. ...
I agree with everything except this. Laying on the ground you'll take a lot bigger hit from ground current, and since 95% of people getting hit are from side flashes this is taking a big risk from the most likely kind of strike.

I guess one reason lightning is so fascinating is because of its random nature, aside from usually hitting the tallest object and taking the most conductive path to ground. We can take a few precautions, but beyond that if we're caught out we're at the whim of nature.
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Old 02-25-15, 10:50 AM
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well, when I got off mine I was terrified and being on a metal bike seemed really dumb. It was a torrential rain storm and rolling thunder was right over my head and it seemed like a strike would be imminent, so I got off the thing. The crouch is advised to decrease your ground contact foot print. In my head I was thinking if these are my last thoughts, don't panic, what can I proactively do, instead of nothing. I wouldn't do it if it was just sprinkling and I heard thunder in the distance.
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Old 02-25-15, 11:27 AM
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Ride faster and cry is my strategy. So far, so good!
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Old 02-25-15, 11:31 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I agree with everything except this. Laying on the ground you'll take a lot bigger hit from ground current, .....
The advice seems to have changed over time. Back when I was young, the prevailing advice was to look for a hollow of some kind and lie down. So You made me curious, and it seems that these days, the advice is to crouch but not lie down.

I wonder about how they determined the difference, but maybe there's some body of experience. Either way, riders have to decide when to run and when to stay. For my part, where I live and ride, I can always find decent protection within running distance, so I don't have to think about defending against a clear field strike.
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Old 02-25-15, 11:40 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
The advice seems to have changed over time. Back when I was young, the prevailing advice was to look for a hollow of some kind and lie down. So You made me curious, and it seems that these days, the advice is to crouch but not lie down.

I wonder about how they determined the difference, but maybe there's some body of experience. Either way, riders have to decide when to run and when to stay. For my part, where I live and ride, I can always find decent protection within running distance, so I don't have to think about defending against a clear field strike.
I remember it the same way you do.

Just thinking through this, what it really gets down to is that with high voltages, high currents and bad connection to earth ground, it's pretty unpredictable about what is going to happen. From an electrical point of view - which really is the only one that matters - you want to be at the farthest potential from the clouds (charge) that you can be. That means you want to be at the lowest potential with the biggest air gap between you and the cloud possible. You want to appear electrically like bedrock. That means that anything with a higher potential (higher voltage) than you is going to be where the lightning goes first.

So I'm not sure I agree with the crouching argument. It depends on your shoes at that point. If you are wearing nonconductive shoes then you're floating with respect to earth ground and potentially making yourself an even larger target. It is, however, a closer position to the "bend over and kiss you a$$ good bye" position. There's probably merit in that at some level.

What you do want is a very good connection to ground so that you appear to be at earth ground. You also want to have the maximum air gap you can achieve between you and the clouds (source of charge).

What probably makes sense is that you don't put both a foot and a hand on the ground as your contact points regardless of what you do. That puts a conductive path through your heart and that can be fatal with a very low current.

J.
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Old 02-25-15, 12:25 PM
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saw this clip yesterday, guy working on motorcycle, looks like a sunny day, turns out the lighting hits something nearby goes to the bike then to him, really interesting

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IJI45tYwWU
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Old 02-25-15, 12:26 PM
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I postulate that in most lightning strike cases where a person is killed or injured, the lightning almost never was attracted to the persons themselves. Instead, it was attracted to something else, and the human just happen to be in the way... Or more likely, close by.
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