Hail, tor­na­does and rooster tails

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - LETTERS -

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.

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