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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

Thunderstorms

Old 08-10-16, 03:18 PM
  #1  
baldilocks
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Thunderstorms

I apologize for having a similar thread in the commuting forum. So far, I've rode to work every day this week. Tomorrow there is a chance of rain. More to the point, its suppose to thunderstorm while i'm at work. I'm not car free by any means, but I'd like to be. Have you ever rode in a thunderstorm? Should I just give in and drive or hope it just rains on me? Even a bad downpour might be miserable or even dangerous while in traffic. When do you call it quits because of weather? What's the worst riding experience you've had? I'll probably make my decision tomorrow morning but, it will be nice to hear from someone who's actually been car free/car light for awhile. Thanks
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Old 08-10-16, 04:22 PM
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Good question.

I'll ride just about any day. I know how to deal with weather and I'm happy to share what I've learned over the years.

In ten years of bike commuting I never drove. I took the bus once because of thunderstorms but got just as wet as if I rode the bike. I walked twice because of white-out blizzards, due to visibility concerns.

I am a bit paranoid about lightning. A few times I've left home early because of threatening storms. A couple times I waited at work before heading home.

Online weather maps are your friends. You can see in real time when there are breaks in the storm front, as well as judge the timing of an approaching storm.
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Old 08-10-16, 04:53 PM
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I wish we would get some rain.

I have ridden home in lightning but I am always surrounded by higher buildings. If I had to cross a bridge or a field I might balk.
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Old 08-10-16, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
Online weather maps are your friends. You can see in real time when there are breaks in the storm front, as well as judge the timing of an approaching storm.
+1. WeatherBug and Wunderground are good apps for an iPhone. Once in a long while I'm surprised by rain. Usually I avoid it but if it's just a rainy day then dress accordingly. If the weather is cool I put my rain jacket and cap for my helmet somewhere real accessible when I know rain is likely.

The online map is not 100%. Usually there's no surprise. But a storm might form right where you are and eventually go marching across the country giving plenty of other people warning.

There are roads I won't ride on in heavy rain with lots of car traffic and poor visibility. Make yourself very visible and think critically about it. Imagine driving behind yourself with lots of mysty rain and poor windshield wipers lighting a cigarette.
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Old 08-10-16, 05:08 PM
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Rain by itself isn't a problem...Thunder and lightning can be dangerous. I've been caught few times in a thunderstorm and it made me feel a little bit nervous.
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Old 08-10-16, 05:14 PM
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I have a long history of riding in wet weather, partly because I've done so many multi-week tours and had little to zero choice in the matter. Once you've ridden 100+ miles in the rain, the 6-7 miles of a commute are nothing.

So, I don't let it bother me and I commute rain or shine. But thunderstorms are a special case because they tend to be isolated. before leaving work, I'll check NEXRAD and see where they are and where they're going. Then with a bit of deft timing, or using an alternate route I might dodge them. Of course that doesn't always work, and I've had the "pleasure" of riding under a cloud all the way home only to find that if I'd waited just one minute longer it would have blown past me.

BTW- on hot summer days rain isn't a problem, it's a joy.
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Old 08-10-16, 10:56 PM
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I highly recommend wearing a baseball cap. I wear mine under my helmet whenever I bike in the rain. This is crucial for me because I wear glasses. However, in thunderstorm conditions I highly recommend a baseball cap even for people who don't wear glasses. The cap will keep the rain away from your eyes, making it easier to focus on the road.

Other things I recommend: waterproof pants. Unless it's rather warm outside, in which case maybe you can just get wet and change after the ride. Waterproof shoes (I actually wear waterproof hiking boots) are great. I also wear a waterproof jacket so long as it's not hot out.

Most thunderstorms peak for a relatively short time period, then they start to fizzle out, but I guess this depends on what part of the country you're in. If you have an android phone, I recommend the RadarNow! app.
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Old 08-11-16, 03:12 AM
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Thanks for all the feed back.
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Old 08-11-16, 03:57 AM
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I've cycled in a number of thunderstorms ... I usually try to seek shelter if there's a lot of lightning or the rain or hail gets really heavy.
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Old 08-11-16, 05:04 AM
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The weather I hate most is when it's below freezing point, but the rain has somehow stayed liquid to make it feel colder and make you wetter, and is not falling down but travelling horizontally, head on. And when you go back the same route on the end of the day, the wind has turned and is head on again. I prefer snow and hail.

I do most of the riding in the city, so I don't really mind Lightning and expect the lightning rods to do their work. The wind is probably the biggest danger, as it will blow off tranches and uproot trees, and sometimes it's just too strong to cover any reasonable distance. When there's black ice on the roads it depends whether it's in spots or all around, if it's all around the whole region comes to a standstill so you're not expected to show up anywhere, cars aren't driving either and pedestrians have to be extremely careful and slow, just some show-offs who ice skate to work will find the door closed because the one with the key doesn't skate.

If it's extreme weather all traffic is disrupted, if it's not extreme you can bike. It might not be pleasant, but it's possible.
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Old 08-11-16, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I've cycled in a number of thunderstorms ... I usually try to seek shelter if there's a lot of lightning or the rain or hail gets really heavy.
Some of my happiest bike memories involve sheltering for a while under a bridge or doorway and listening to the rain and thunder as the storm rolls over.

One time my grandson and I took shelter under a park gazebo. A grizzled guy joined us, sipping out of a paper bag while we played silly word games to pass the time. The guy didn't say one word to us the whole time, but when the rain ended and we rode off, he yelled after us, "Nice chatting with you guys!"
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Old 08-11-16, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Stadjer View Post
The weather I hate most is when it's below freezing point, but the rain has somehow stayed liquid to make it feel colder and make you wetter, and is not falling down but travelling horizontally, head on. And when you go back the same route on the end of the day, the wind has turned and is head on again. I prefer snow and hail.

I do most of the riding in the city, so I don't really mind Lightning and expect the lightning rods to do their work. The wind is probably the biggest danger, as it will blow off tranches and uproot trees, and sometimes it's just too strong to cover any reasonable distance. When there's black ice on the roads it depends whether it's in spots or all around, if it's all around the whole region comes to a standstill so you're not expected to show up anywhere, cars aren't driving either and pedestrians have to be extremely careful and slow, just some show-offs who ice skate to work will find the door closed because the one with the key doesn't skate.

If it's extreme weather all traffic is disrupted, if it's not extreme you can bike. It might not be pleasant, but it's possible.
Very well put!

One thing that LCF has given me is the opportunity to appreciate all kinds of weather. It's hard for us city folks to get in touch with nature when we're stuck in cars all the time.
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Old 08-11-16, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
Very well put!

One thing that LCF has given me is the opportunity to appreciate all kinds of weather. It's hard for us city folks to get in touch with nature when we're stuck in cars all the time.
Well, sometimes I appreciate the wheater during my journey, and sometimes I appreciate the roof and the heating at my destination a bit more.

How is that as a commuter in the US? I'm from a mass cycling country, if the weather is bad, we all suffer together and find some relief in complaining to eachother, and the ones who got there by have the same experience at different times. But it has only to do with the weather, not with my choice to commute by bike, because that's not really percieved as a personal choice. Do you feel like you have to defend your choice to cycle more if the weather is bad?
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Old 08-11-16, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Stadjer View Post
Well, sometimes I appreciate the wheater during my journey, and sometimes I appreciate the roof and the heating at my destination a bit more.

How is that as a commuter in the US? I'm from a mass cycling country, if the weather is bad, we all suffer together and find some relief in complaining to eachother, and the ones who got there by have the same experience at different times. But it has only to do with the weather, not with my choice to commute by bike, because that's not really percieved as a personal choice. Do you feel like you have to defend your choice to cycle more if the weather is bad?
I'm not sure about perceptions. Probably some people think we're crazy and some people admire us for being brave. Probably most people don't give it much thought.

All I try to tell people, here or IRL, is that even without a car, all kinds of weather are not only survivable but enjoyable. You will dry off, you will warm up or cool down. So just enjoy the ride!

ETA: the only place I've ever been ridiculed or teased for being carfree is here on a so-called carfree forum! Trolls will be trolls...

Last edited by Roody; 08-11-16 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 08-11-16, 02:42 PM
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Do you feel like you have to defend your choice to cycle more if the weather is bad?[/QUOTE]

Yes, like when i rode to work in 3 degree weather last winter. Once people realize what your comfortable with they will leave you alone. Any other conversations have been from a place of concern, where they are offering me a ride.
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Old 08-11-16, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by baldilocks View Post
What's the worst riding experience you've had?
Curiously been riding to work for 11 years and I think it was today. Weather looked iffy as I left for work today.... was ok until about halfway when it suddenly started raining... and hard!

I didn't have time to find an underpass or a bus shelter, so got under a tree and got my rain poncho out. It really rained for the next 15 minutes!! After that, it stopped enough for me to continue...

Odd because I've had so many incidents where I just arrive somewhere and the deluge starts... guess my luck ran out today..
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Old 08-11-16, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
Curiously been riding to work for 11 years and I think it was today. Weather looked iffy as I left for work today.... was ok until about halfway when it suddenly started raining... and hard!

I didn't have time to find an underpass or a bus shelter, so got under a tree and got my rain poncho out. It really rained for the next 15 minutes!! After that, it stopped enough for me to continue...

Odd because I've had so many incidents where I just arrive somewhere and the deluge starts... guess my luck ran out today..
Those furious rain squalls come up so quickly here in the Great Lakes region! Weather radar is of no use whatever. Luckily they only last a few minutes. But you can start a short ride in sunshine and be totally drenched a few minutes later.

My worst experience happened at work. We had a tornado warning at the end of my shift. I stayed over a bit to help with the patients. I checked the weather radar before I left and judged that I could get home between two storm cells. Sure enough, I didn't get caught in a storm. But the street lights were out and I did I see a huge tree that had fallen across the roadway. I went into a skid on the wet pavement and crashed into the branches. Luckily, they broke my fall and no damage was done. The next day I discovered that a tornado had passed through and tore up the power plant just a couple hundred yards from the fallen tree.
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Old 08-12-16, 01:02 AM
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My worst weather was during a thunderstorm in a downpour i have never seen before. I had to ride 15 miles through it and even with decent raingear i was so wet it looked like i took a bath fully clothed. It was terrible.
Thunderstorm can be very dangerous on a bike but luckily we almost never have thunderstorms.

But even worse than rain is headwinds, i hate headwinds with a passion. I'd rather ride 15 miles through heavy rain than 5 miles with strong headwinds. And where i live, the wind is almost a permanent 4-6 beaufort strong.
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Old 08-12-16, 04:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Stadjer View Post
The weather I hate most is when it's below freezing point


I just can't wait until freezing temps come around...the heatwave and humidity which we've been having around my area for the last few weeks is a total misery.
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Old 08-12-16, 04:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Stadjer View Post
The weather I hate most is when it's below freezing point, but the rain has somehow stayed liquid to make it feel colder and make you wetter, and is not falling down but travelling horizontally, head on. And when you go back the same route on the end of the day, the wind has turned and is head on again. I prefer snow and hail.
I agree.

I've ridden in all sorts of conditions, but what you describe there is the worst.
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Old 08-12-16, 05:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
I'm not sure about perceptions. Probably some people think we're crazy and some people admire us for being brave. Probably most people don't give it much thought.

All I try to tell people, here or IRL, is that even without a car, all kinds of weather are not only survivable but enjoyable. You will dry off, you will warm up or cool down. So just enjoy the ride!
Yes, but do you feel free to just hate the weather and be frank about that, or is do you percieve it a likeable because it's your own choice to be a cyclist? For me it's sometimes a relief to just be mad at the weather and vent it, and wouldn't like if my collegues would react with questioning my choice to take the bike.

Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
I just can't wait until freezing temps come around...the heatwave and humidity which we've been having around my area for the last few weeks is a total misery.
I don't mind the cold, I don't mind snow, it's the cold horizontal rain I hate. I don't mind the heat, just as you have to slow down walking you have to slow down cycling too, but on the bike you still have a little breeze with very hardly any energy input. It might be just too hot to be nice, but if it's that hot, it's nicer to cycle than to walk.

Last edited by Stadjer; 08-12-16 at 05:21 AM.
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Old 08-12-16, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Stadjer View Post
Yes, but do you feel free to just hate the weather and be frank about that, or is do you percieve it a likeable because it's your own choice to be a cyclist? For me it's sometimes a relief to just be mad at the weather and vent it, and wouldn't like if my collegues would react with questioning my choice to take the bike.


I don't mind the cold, I don't mind snow, it's the cold horizontal rain I hate. I don't mind the heat, just as you have to slow down walking you have to slow down cycling too, but on the bike you still have a little breeze with very hardly any energy input. It might be just too hot to be nice, but if it's that hot, it's nicer to cycle than to walk.
Of course I hate the weather sometimes. You mentioned freezing rain with strong winds. One time my bike was being blown sideways with me on it.

I didn't love that! But it was a lot better than the alternative of driving on ice. There were no cars out that night, no bikes but myself, and one or two walkers.

Strong winds get on my nerves. Heat used to bother me, but not any longer. My only gripe with rain is that I wear glasses. I LOVE snow. I love when the rivers and lakes are frozen and I can ride on the ice for hours.

A couple things help me deal with annoying weather.

Foremost is proper gear, of course.

I'm also flexible about the routes I take--shaded streets on hot days, sheltered streets when it's windy, and so forth.

I use cognitive tricks to get through really bad times. I change my thoughts to focus more on the positives. "It only seems like forever, but really I'll be dry and warm at home in 30 minutes." "This sucks but it will be a good story to tell my friends tomorrow."

The really nasty weather is only 5 or 6 times a year. I can just stay in for a couple of those days. That means the weather is super annoying on less than one percent of the days.

I think that's worth the money and effort I save by not owning a car. Not to mention 362 days that I enjoy being outdoors.

Last edited by Roody; 08-12-16 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 08-12-16, 02:37 PM
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Where are my thunderstorms? Still no thunderstorms.
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Old 08-12-16, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
Where are my thunderstorms? Still no thunderstorms.
Are you happy or complaining?
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Old 08-12-16, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by metro2005 View Post
But even worse than rain is headwinds, i hate headwinds with a passion. I'd rather ride 15 miles through heavy rain than 5 miles with strong headwinds. And where i live, the wind is almost a permanent 4-6 beaufort strong.
Headwinds are a great opportunity to work on your patience and perseverance. I have drop bars on my commuter so get down low and stay in an easy-to-spin gear... it's slow but doesn't seem irritating.

Occasionally a wind will lift you up a little. And I enjoy that uplifting feeling.
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