Riding in a hurricane????
We've been following stories of people using their bicycles to get around after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the East Coast. While bikes have been a helpful post-storm transportation solution, we didn't think anyone would choose to ride during the hurricane itself. Well, we were wrong. People rode for reasons that ranged from documenting the storm, like Casey Neistat, to necessity, like our friend and supporter Pete, whose story is below. There's nothing wrong with being a fairweather commuter, but if you've ever been intrigued by the idea of bicycling through a storm, Pete has some great advice. Thanks for letting us share your story Pete!
Random Co-Worker: "Tell me you didn't ride to work today!?!?!?
Me: "I didn't ride to work today." (With an obedient look on my face.)
RCW: "You're lying!!!"
That conversation happens a few times per day, every time there's any kind of bad weather. The one exception to that was the Tuesday after Hurricane Sandy. It wasn't that the storm had eased much or that I didn't ride to work. It was that I was the only person in the office.
Riding through Washington, DC during Hurricane Sandy
Is that safe? Is it wise? Yes and no. Riding through anything without consideration for safety obviously isn't wise. There ARE conditions in which I will choose not to ride. Monday, at the height of the storm was one of those times. Driving rain and winds gusting to 60 mph isn't safe to ride—though I did go out for a few minutes on the mountain bike just for grins.
By Tuesday, the rain was as hard as ever, but the winds had dropped to 20-30mph. There was no one else on the roads or trails. I had plenty of light, plenty of reflective gear and many years of experience riding in all kinds of weather. I also had no power or internet at home and a lot of work to get done.
How do you ride safely in bad weather? Practice, practice, practice!!! The key is to start riding in light rain storms to get the feel for how the bike handles and what it feels like. This teaches you to learn your route. You need to know where you can find cover and safety if things get bad quickly. You also learn what your bike does in water, mud, wet leaves, snow or ice. You need to learn what equipment works too.
What should you watch out for when preparing for your ride? Check the radar and weather report. Often the leading edge of a storm has a rather severe squall line with high winds, lightning and heavier rains. Let that pass before you start your ride. Get a feel for what the seasonal storms are like before you attempt going out into a storm. Lightning, flooding and hail are three things you really want to avoid at all costs. If any of those things are in the forecast, then we're all probably a lot safer staying in.
Be safe and wise and have fun. :D
Who the heck is Pete?
He's a Bike Ambassador for the Washington Area Bike Association, a generic bike advocate for Bike Arlington and just a guy who thinks he can make the world a better place by turning a pedal or two. He's someone who thinks life is better when every morning starts with the words, "We should go for a bike ride!"
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