The Chainlink

Were you on your bike when that crazy storm hit last Friday?  I just wrote mine up for the Gaper's Block discussion section, and am curious about how other cyclists handled the storm. So please share your bike storm story!  Here is mine, filled with rain and Good Samaritanism:

I was biking south on Damen, on my way to KitchenChicago to prep cook for my upcoming Gan Project weekend workshop that included a picnic
lunch. When the storm presented while I was at the Addison intersection,
first I only felt a few sprinkles but then saw the black cloud above,
and knew what was coming.

In the first five minutes, it was fun to ride in the storm, the thunder and lightning were really thrilling. But
after five minutes, I felt it was too dangerous to be out there,
particularly because I didn't have confidence that the cars could see me
with the rain falling horizontally onto their windshields.

That said, before I went to take shelter at a minimart at Damen and Diversey, a car
full of Latino men pulled down their window, one man smiled at me, I
thought he was going to say something about me being out there, but
instead, he handed me an unused garbage bag to fashion into an emergency
poncho. I poked a hole for my head and two for my arms, and thought
that was the nicest thing in the world that anyone could have done to me
on that wet Friday afternoon.

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Five of us where riding from Cedar Rapids to Waterloo (Iowa) We got caught in the first wave about half way to W'loo and stopped for 2 hours in Brandon. Rain stopped and we continued to about 14 miles from W'loo when the mother of all stroms hit, we were lucky as inthe middle of no where was a gazebo. Spent the most part of the next 2 hours watching lightening hit around us and visibilty near zero. We made it W'loo wet and tired ,56 miles in ten hours. We were on the Cedar Valley Trail which was soft gravel just like riding thru mud...curt
All that's missing is a gopher dancing to Kenny Loggins.

Clark said:
It was a very sultry afternoon, and Larry and I were playing golf down at River Oaks Golf Course in Calumet City. We were walking, so as the skies clouded up, I became concerned that we had no golf cart for refuge if it began to rain.

We'd just teed off on the 12th hole, which leads deep into the oaks along the Little Calumet River...a very picturesque hole. Suddenly a huge, liquid bolt of lightning dropped into the forest directly ahead of us. Larry said "Wow!" but I became immediately concerned...walking around open fields waving steel sticks over your head is not a great idea in a lightning storm. But Larry said "There'll be a horn if we have to come in." I was dubious.

After completing the hole, the wind had picked up; huge oak limbs over our heads were thrashing back and forth. There's been no warning horn, but I said "Let's get out of here!" and started walking back up the fairway we'd just played, to where two other golfers were preparing to tee off. Larry followed, reluctantly (he had been winning) and as we passed the other golfers the winds really picked up, and the temperature dropped considerably. A huge powerful gust blew through. It became a struggle to walk into the wind, back toward the clubhouse. And with the rain and all the wind-borne debris in the air, I was disoriented...which way do we go? At points Larry's pull-cart was lifted off the ground and he had to use two hands to control it like a kite. As I looked back through the heavily falling rain, it seemed as though the light roof of the golf carts behind us had blown them over onto their sides.

After another tough half mile Larry and I eventually arrived at the clubhouse where a "hurricane party" was underway. And we joined in. It was great to sit inside with a beer, watching all hell break loose outside, safe and dry. It turned out to be a great afternoon...and Larry will have to try to beat me some other day.
Michael Perz said:
All that's missing is a gopher dancing to Kenny Loggins.
Ha! Perhaps the gopher is implied?
I was inside at work looking out the window thinking, "Can the sky really be that color?"

I left work around 5:30-6, and the walk to the train wasn't that bad.
I was out for a late lunch on 95th St. and the power went out at the restaurant. After we paid the check, walking home was interesting. There was so much airborne debris blowing into my eyes that I had to shield them to be able to see so I could walk. I was grateful that it was a short walk and that we got home quickly.

We closed the windows, watched the trees sway in the wind and crossed our fingers. Fortunately we had no tree damage and no power outage, but many of our neighbors were not as lucky. Went out for a short ride after the storm ended. There were huge trees and huge pieces of trees down all over the neighborhood. Some crushed cars or fell on houses or garages. Many people lost power - along 95th St., on the other side of our street, on the next block, etc. Streets were blocked, and many weren't cleared until late Saturday or Sunday.

A few blocks west of us, one block had multiple large trees down - worst spot I saw in our 'hood. Neighbors on the block got together to cut the downed trees. Friday night and all day Saturday they were out there with chainsaws and other tools. By the time they were done, branches and sections of tree trunks lined the curbs for most of the block.
I was with some friends at North Avenue beach. We thought it was just going to rain, but no big deal. We left to go to Millennium Park and were riding along the Lake Front Path when it really hit. Like you, we thought it was just a storm. But it rapidly got really, really bad. A tree branch blew down in front of me, and one of my friends got hit on the head with one while riding.

Praise Jeebus that I spotted one of those tunnels to access the path, and yelled above the wind for my friends to follow me. We, along with a bunch of other folks, took shelter in that tunnel and watched the insanity outside. We all looked like drowned rats. Wow, it was scary. I can't imagine what we would have done if we hadn't found that tunnel and were stuck on the LFP.

Scary stuff, man.
I wish a had a good storm story like the other ones described here, but truth be told, I rarely ride in a storm anymore. With the advent of (mobile) internet to check radar, a job that lets me leave early (or late), and an ability/willingness to take transit if needed, I can't remember the last time I rode in a proper storm.

I had planned to do 30+ miles on my way home, but when I checked the radar before leaving work and saw the fast moving storm I just took the short route. I got home about 5 minutes before the storm hit
I heard about the storm and the 70+mph gusts. I then looked at it on line and decided that If I wait about 20 min after it hits to leave that I would be ok. So I stayed at work about a half hour and my ride home was safe and fun seeing all the damage along the way.
Like Duppie, I always check the radar to make sure I don't get caught up in any kind of rain or storm before I arriving at the yoga studio. During the storm, yoga class was intensified as the thunder, lightning and stong winds raged outside. After my asanas, the clouds cleared up and I was awed by the vast amount of destruction the storm did to the town on my way to Westtown bikes. Garbage everywhere, block after block of downed trees and even some light poles downed in parking lots. Riding was pretty easy for me, not so much for the cars.

I love the trees, I just wish our town had more of them densely packed to provide shelter from the sun and to support each other when the wind gets too strong for them to take all by themselves.
I decided to chance it as my co-workers told me in passing that I should leave very soon. The second I passed the lasalle bridge, the ominous sky came down on me with such fury that I got knocked of my bike at a red light on kinzie. Luckily there was a bar right up the street as I blindly rode to it. I waited the storm out; however a PBR was $4.00! The ride home consisted of tree branches everywhere and garbage all over milwaukee.
A bunch of windows got blown out on Milwaukee Ave just south of Ogdon. I swept the broken glass off the bike lane this morning--But be careful there!
I too spent much of the late afternoon watching the radar and planning my escape. I thought I saw a window of non-rainy around five PM so I left my office and rode south on Lower Michigan, delighting in my vast subterranean cleverness. Then I crossed Lower Kinzie and got blasted with a wall of dirt and sand and who knows what else. Bernoulli would have had a field day up in that joint. The stuff nearly knocked me off my bike. I get to the bridge and surprisingly the river itself was calm. Calm like a sleeping pit bull digesting a raccoon.

Crossing Lower Wacker on a bike or on foot is never fun. Given the limited sight-lines I'm surprised there are not more car vs ped accidents there. This was the easiest crossing ever, perhaps because there were so many peds down there. Usually there are one or two, even at rush hour. At this particular fivish PM on a Friday there were a couple dozen - no doubt also trying to outwit the storm. They too may have been delighting in their own subterranean cleverness until they too found their eye sockets besieged with dirt and their nostrils stuffed with sand. I saw at least one hat flying eastward at a mighty clip.

I only had to get from the 400 block of North Michigan to the Cultural Center for the bikey forum. How hard could it be to do so and stay dry when I only had a couple of blocks above ground to ride?
I emerge from the depths on Garfield Court. The narrowness of that alley protects me most of my way south. But I’m blasted at each alley by now familiar fusillades of dirt, garbage and jeebus knows what else at Haddock and Benton, but by now I’m prepared for it, my eyes as squinty as they’ll get and my DIY helmet visor tilted at a super jaunty perpendicular to the wind.

At Randolph, a bike rack with an open space was right across the street. The light on Michigan turns red, so I assume that I’ll get across the street in the next few seconds just as the precipitation starts pouring on. Seconds drag by and drag by as one car after another drifts through in a touristy or just storm dazzled fog. I guess it is better that they are being careful, but come ON. I’m starting to get completely soaked just 50 feet from my destination. More seconds pass and by the time there is an opening it is too late. Fully soaked.
Fortunately I had a dry BikeChicago2010 tee shirt in my Ortleib from the Bike To Work Week Rally. I joined the ranks of the rank Cultural Center men’s room sink bathers and change into the dry shirt. That thing made all the difference as the AC was pretty well cranked at the Cultural Center, or at least it felt that way in a soaking wet tee shirt.

So if you have a chance to go to a Bike to Work Rally and get a free tee shirt in some future year, go! That tee shirt might come in super handy!

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