Author Topic: Cycling in thunderstorms  (Read 10095 times)

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Offline daikaregi

Cycling in thunderstorms
« on: July 25, 2009, 11:19:19 am »
Hi there

I am just going accross Michigan, the Lake Erie Connector from east to west.
Have already survived some thunderstorms in my tent during nights. 2 days ago I got into really  bad weather. In the middle of nowhere I was caught in a really bad thunderstorm , heavy rain for hours. Could find shelter at a store.
Just imagine you are on the road, open fields, no trees, villages, farms or any shelter. how do you behave when a thunderstorm is coming, which security measures do you take? It is rather unsafe staying on the bike, could get struck by lightening.
I watch weatherforecasts closely, but if you dont go, stay on the campground when thunderstorms are forecast,think you just get nowhere at all these days.
Would very much appreciate if you could tell me about your experiences.

greetings
Regina

Offline staehpj1

Re: Cycling in thunderstorms
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2009, 06:08:09 pm »
I'd say that if we didn't ride when thunderstorms were forecast on our 2007 TransAmerica we might still be there waiting in camp.  Same way on my Kansas City to Santa Fe this year, thunderstorms almost every evening.

We were usually lucky to have shelter available when the storms rolled over us, but not always.  It was pretty scary when we were on top of a mesa with no shelter anywhere for miles with lightning all around and not so much as a ditch to hide in.

My companions both said they felt a shock from seatpost to thigh.  They rode like crazy for lower ground.

Offline dubovsmj

Re: Cycling in thunderstorms
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2009, 07:25:37 pm »
the first thunderstorm/biking combo was on transam, also in 2007.  i was camping in kentucky campground below a dam and around midnight it was torrential downpour and lightning every several seconds.  needless to say my tent flooded through and i was damn scared for my life.  when i got up to leave in the morning i noticed the end of my fork (carbon fiber) was a neon blue coloration.  so, my bike was either hit by lightning or had conducted a great deal of electricty from the nearby picnic table that must have been hit.  who knows, but to this day the fork on my bike has seared, neon blue ends.

more recent i was on a 4 day trip in colorado and biking up cottonwood pass...when i started the climb the skies were blue, after 7 miles of the 14 mile climb the sky turned black and lightning bolts were hitting the ground 25 yards up the road from me.  since the storm was headed right towrads me i dove for cover under a rock outcropping off the side of the road.  five minutes later hail and snow was falling all around and found myself trying to hitch a ride to the buena vista. 

...maybe you could carry a shovel with you for digging ditches if the dark clouds start rolling your way!

Offline litespeed

Re: Cycling in thunderstorms
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2009, 11:58:06 am »
I've bicycle toured a lot in the rain but I've only been caught in the open in a fierce thunderstorm a couple of times. I just pulled over, pulled my rain jacket hood over my head and waited it out. Wet feet is the biggest annoyance but can't be avoided.

I've always had a good quality tent - North Face, Hilleberg - so I've never been flooded out at night. Once near the Alabama coast I literally had a shallow stream running under my tent during a real gullywasher. I could feel the rushing water but stayed dry.

Offline jfitch

Re: Cycling in thunderstorms
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2009, 09:51:21 pm »
In which tent was that?

Jim

Offline bogiesan

Re: Cycling in thunderstorms
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2009, 12:08:51 am »
In which tent was that?
Jim

Most good tents will keep you dry in a raging thunderstorm as long as you have the fly guyed out properly and securely.


A great test is to pitch your tent in the backyard and hit it with a spray nozzle. Have someone you trust spry it with you in it. The idea isn't to try to get you soaked, it's to find out where the weaknesses in your setup are, if any of the seams leak, and to get experience with the guying requirements. 

bogiean
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline mikedirectory2

Re: Cycling in thunderstorms
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2009, 09:34:33 pm »
I have encountered quite a few in my time.  I usually find that it's just better to pull off the road until they pass.

May the skies be blue and the road be flat... Happy Riding.

Offline jfitch

Re: Cycling in thunderstorms
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2009, 10:37:45 pm »

A great test is to pitch your tent in the backyard and hit it with a spray nozzle. Have someone you trust spry it with you in it. The idea isn't to try to get you soaked, it's to find out where the weaknesses in your setup are, if any of the seams leak, and to get experience with the guying requirements. 

bogiean
[/quote]

I understand that. I have a couple of tents which have always done the job for me. I was just curious in which tent Litespeed survived, completely dry, in the middle of what he called a shallow stream.

Jim

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Cycling in thunderstorms
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2009, 11:53:39 am »
[quote author=jfitch link=topic=6060.msg29264#msg29264 date=1249007865
I understand that. I have a couple of tents which have always done the job for me. I was just curious in which tent Litespeed survived, completely dry, in the middle of what he called a shallow stream.

Jim
[/quote]

I suspect litespeed was lucky. 

Tents with polymer bottoms do well with flowing rain water, but they are really heavy.  I used to use an 8 mil plastic sheet as a ground cloth, gut it was really heavy, and awkward to pack.

The real trick is to study the ground and predict where rain would flow, and set your tent up somewhere else.  A good ground cloth will isolate your tent from that flow, but if you can avoid the flow you are further ahead.  It is also a good idea to avoid basins, less rain float up to you.  No ground cloth can help you in a basin.
Danno

Offline Cyclesafe

Re: Cycling in thunderstorms
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2009, 02:04:06 pm »
This Spring while riding North on the Trans Am towards Rawlins I heard thunder and saw lightning on the horizon.  I started getting nervous since I was quite exposed.  Suddenly the wind picked up and I started noticing flashes in the corners of my eyes seemingly just beyond my peripheral vision.  I never heard any thunder or saw any bolts of lightning, but I kept seeing flashes.  Really concerned though I started looking for somewhere to duck into.

The flashes turned out to be my untrimmed eyebrows.


Offline litespeed

Re: Cycling in thunderstorms
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2009, 08:06:19 pm »
It was my Hilleberg Akto. Actually, I preferred my North Face (forget the model - the smallest one) as the Hilleberg has slightly awkward access, no removeable fly (lousy for very hot weather) and requires 12 stakes. But it is probably the lightest small tent made and very, very weatherproof. It is also expensive. I will probably go back to North Face when I take off touring again.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2009, 09:01:17 pm by litespeed »

Offline scott.laughlin

Re: Cycling in thunderstorms
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2009, 06:54:22 am »

Offline tonythomson

Re: Cycling in thunderstorms
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2009, 09:02:41 am »
Thanks for that link Scott, well worth reading the comments about this if you need some light relief.  Interesting we have the same sort of comments about cyclist regularly appear in our local newspaper, Southampton UK. Nice to see we are still popular among certain sections of the - I guess - vehicle owning only populous.
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Cycling in thunderstorms
« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2009, 02:48:20 pm »
I've been in a few, or close to a few, I should say--on a bike and in the mountains.  Use common sense and take shelter when you see them develop.  I've cancelled mountain trips in thunderstorm-prone areas when forecasts are gnarly.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Cycling in thunderstorms
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2009, 10:25:43 pm »
I have been caught out in some severe lethal weather systems while in varying degrees of preparedness. One time it was a tornado. Another time in was very strong rain all night, flooding, and hundreds if not thouands of lightning bolts slamming to earth all around. Another one was similar to the second. I got caught out in an extremely violent storm in Belgium. The first natural reaction is to seek the sturdiest shelter you can find. A covered bus stop or even the lee side of a building will do in a pinch. If you are out in the middle of nowhere with no hope of shelter, you have to stop and put on you rain gear. You can set up your tent or whatever shelter you have and wait it out.