A few days ago we found ourselves on a family bike ride going home on the Legacy Trail when a late summer storm hit and hit hard. The lightening lit up the sky all around us and our youngest two became quite scared. The older ones had gone on ahead, and I hoped my training on the importance of finding shelter during a lightening storm sunk in enough to have them wait for the rest of us at the trail-head shed.
It did. They were waiting out the storm. Their dad was ahead of them about a mile so I called him to see if he had made it home and to get the car to come pick us up and pick us up he did.
Being in a lightening storm made me wonder what bikers do when caught unawares. Here’s a few tips from Travelling Two:
- Do Your Research – Check the weather before you set out and know the local weather patterns.
- Ask For Help – If you do see a house, don’t be afraid to ask for shelter inside. You might also be able to flag down a car and ask to sit inside. (We almost did this and would have if the trail-head shelter had not been available.)
- Avoid Danger Spots – If there are any enclosed areas like buildings or cars, go there. Stay away from things like trees, fences and poles. In a forest or wooded area, place yourself near the shortest tree or an area of low-lying brush. “Such a spot may take a bit of finding so it is wise to monitor an approaching storm using the three seconds per kilometer rule. If you begin when the lightning is still 10km away, there should be ample time to locate a good place to sit out the storm,” says Tony Stephens, Cycling Development Officer for Western Australia.
- Separate Yourself – If you’re cycling with a friend, stay several meters apart from one another and from your bicycle. That way if lightning strikes, both people won’t be hurt because the distance will stop the lightning from traveling between two people.
Also remember that the lower you are, the better. So if you start to feel a tingle, get off your bike and crouch down.
Lightening can be frightening. But as I explained to my children, the chances of being hit by lightening is very, very small so no need to freak out, just be prepared and ride smart.
The youngest was a bit traumatized by the whole thing, but her smile came back when we got back on our bikes later and she started dinging her birthday bike bell from Loyal.