Hail, tornadoes and rooster tails
In May, we were supposed ride an easy 30-km gravel loop along the rolling hills of rural Saskatchewan. I hesitated to commit to riding as my cyclocross bike was still on the trainer. I’d have to change the tire on it, and my road bike, and put my road bike on the trainer. I got home from work and quickly prepared my cyclocross bike. I had about 10 minutes to spare before our 4:30 p.m. departure. I checked the weather forecast and saw we might get a good dose of rain. I sent a text to my riding buddies asking if they checked the weather. No response.
We set out of town going south on a gravel road. After 2 km, my Garmin started beeping and alerted me to a severe thunderstorm warning. We agreed to stay close to town as it looked fairly dark to the west and we decided to keep going south. Little did we know a landspout funnel had been photographed close to the Mosaic K2 mine near Gerald, Sask., earlier in the day. As we continued, the rain came and coated our sunglasses in water. We crossed the next intersection, and then dime-size hail came down forcing us off the road. We hunkered down underneath some caragana trees. I tried to take a picture of one of the hailstones that fell nearby and discovered my hands were almost too wet to operate the cellphone
Once the hail seemed to be dying down, we took a road with light traffic. The rooster-tail spray off the lead rider’s wheel was an i ncredible sight of grit, sand and water, and made following closely a poor choice. The crosswinds picked up to what seemed like 70 to 80 km/h gusts. And then the hail came back and stung our faces like rocks flung up by a passing car. Eventually, we sat under some maple trees.
We’d been through some severe weather together before. We could tough it out. I tried to ride with my left gloved hand covering my face and eyes, squinting to see and trying to hold my line and not get blown off the road.
Back at my house, I tried to open my garage door. It went up a foot and then closed. I repeated it again as the hail, rain and wind were coming down. It closed again. I discovered that my wife had just got home. She had finished putting the plants inside and was trying to keep the rain from coming in. I yelled, “Hey let me in!” and then the door opened up.
After the ride, I had no marks from the weather, but one of the guys had red welts all over his arms from the hail. I emptied the water out of my shoes and hung up my clothes and saw that my bike was clean. It didn’t need to be washed thanks to the rain.
It was a ride that we won’t forget, and now we will check the weather forecast and radar more closely.
Blair Drader Esterhazy, Sask.