Bike Ride + Thunderstorm = Exciting (for some values of exciting)!

Tree down, not on the Silver Comet
A representation of what we found on the Silver Comet last night

Yesterday, Jenn and I did about an hour’s bike ride on the Silver Comet trail. There was threatening storm clouds but I said “fah!” and so off we went.

The ride was nice, with very little traffic due to the weather predictions1. We biked out to Anderson Farm Road and then turned around and headed back.

All through this time, the sky was getting darker; one might even say foreboding. We tooled along until the underpass culvert at mile 3.0 (Hurt Road), when it started raining and the wind picked up. Despite the weather, I stopped us at the end of the culvert and told Jenn to GO!, that I’d give her 90 seconds head start and we’d see who got back to the trailhead first. She took off, into the now pounding rainstorm, and I waited for exactly one and a half minutes while getting soaked. Then I was off, too.

This portion of the Comet is not something you can normally let it all hang out on; it’s usually heavily congested with bikers, pedestrians, runners, skaters, dogs, antelopes, and unpredictable kids. Yesterday was different.

Yesterday was way more dangerous.

So here I was, doing 20 to 22 mph on my bike, through blinding heavy rain, with the wind pushing me around, trying to catch up with Jenn. Around the first curve and I’m starting to run over down twigs and other leaf debris2. The wind was still pretty wicked and I kept my sunglasses on in order to keep the rain out of my eyes, which was pelting me pretty hard3. About 1.6 miles out of the trailhead I come into a more thickly wooded section, with increased shade, still busting ass, and I see a tree down across the trail about two seconds before I reach it4.

I had time to curve away from the very thick part of the tree toward the not-so thick part of the tree before I straightened out and grabbed tight to the handlebars, hoping for the best. Oh, I also had time to yell, “Oh shit!” before driving right through the middle of the tree.

Due to an inordinate amount of luck, I didn’t hit anything hard enough to dump me, although I was fully expecting to go down. I also didn’t lose a tire, or a chain, or really damage my bike at all. In fact, other than the hear-pounding relief after the fact, it’s like it never happened.

I slowed down after that. I also took off my sunglasses.

I caught up to Jenn a little farther along. We had to walk around several more down trees and even portage once in order to get back to the trailhead. Quite a mess.

Lessons learned:

  • You’re never too old to do something stupid and reckless
  • But damn does it make a good story
  • If it get’s so dark that you can’t see, just take off the damn glasses, even if the rain is that hard
  • If the rain is so hard that you need to wear glasses to avoid “OH MY GOD MY EYE” syndrome, maybe you should slow down and stop
  • If there’s small tree crap down everywhere, there may be large tree crap down, too. Watch out

Next time we’ll pick a better occasion for our handicapped time trial.

  1. If you’ve ever been to the Silver Comet starting from the Cobb trailhead on a regular nice sunny day, you know how busy it can be []
  2. clue #2 []
  3. clue #1 []
  4. did I mention I was still wearing my sunglasses? And that the storm was making it dark? []
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