This past Tuesday. For the second time.
I’m slowly building my skill and confidence on the scooter. I’ve been riding around the neighborhood and seeing how the scooter handles as I make my way on turns and hills. I’m getting better as I spend more time on it. There are times when I’m still not comfortable doing things and in traffic, but its getting more familiar.
I’ve already driven the scooter to work one day before. So Monday night I checked the weather forecast for the week and it looked like Tuesday was going to be the best day to ride to work. I’ve been very fortunate, DH is willing to follow me to work and back in a car, since I end up traveling on a major thoroughfare. I’m really glad he does have experience riding motorcycles. He’s been a big help to me as I learn to ride this scooter. I am treating it as a major opportunity to ramp up my situational awareness. 🙂 DH’s philosophy on motorcycles is to treat them as if all other drivers are out to run you over. As I explore some other motorcycle web sites, I find that they all echo that over and over again.
So I got up and drove out to work, having left my house at 7 AM and then arriving at work at 7:30. I avoided the majority of rush hour here. I wore a backpack with my lunch and a change of shoes. That was cool. Driving out worked out well. I was fairly comfortable with the trip out. So that was good and I had a good day at work.
DH came out in the afternoon to follow me home. It was still clear when he got in to my workplace, but he had said that there was a big cloud building up near the house. The prevailing weather patterns take most weather east and south as they pass our house, so I thought that it might do the same again. Since I work north and west of my house, that should have been ok. I finished up and took my stuff out to the scooter to get ready to ride home. DH told me that he would back up whatever I wanted with the ride home. So I put my purse under the seat, got my jacket on, put on the gloves and the helmet, and wheeled my scooter on the way. As I was starting the ride, I saw that there were some nasty clouds off to the south. I drove back down Carson Road and noticed that the wind was creating more resistance than I was used to, and I got beaned with more small debris that had been picked up off the side of the road. I saw lightning off in the distance toward my destination. I was not a happy camper. But I kept on riding home. Five Mile Road was not busy, so I was going the fastest speed I was safe on it. As I was coming up to First Avenue North, I keep seeing lightning flashes in the clouds. And it was the ground to cloud lightning. It was pretty spectacular. It looked like I might hit a break in the rain showers, so I kept on riding down the road.
I had resolved to get as far down the road as I felt I could go safely. I’m a newbie rider, with just over 100 miles ridden at all. I know there’s an awful lot I have no clue how to handle. I was nervous, but I figured that without going on, I wouldn’t have the experience to deal with the situation in the future. I got past East Lake Park and Oporto Madrid Blvd, and it actually started raining. So I pulled to the side of the road, DH stopped, and we traded places. This was actually already set up. DH had said that he would ride the scooter if it started to rain. I was having trouble opening the seat to get my purse, but I finally got the seat up and my purse out. I kept the jacket and backpack on, but took off the gloves and helmet. We caught a break in traffic, DH pulled out onto the road, and I followed. As he was pulling out into the road, the rain really started falling, and a bolt of lightning struck the power lines on the other side of the road. The wind really started driving the rain down in sheets. I was staying behind DH as he drove the scooter down the main road. It was nerve wracking for me in the car. I couldn’t imagine what it was like for DH on the scooter. I would have been a mess on the scooter. When we got to 64th street, DH turned left to go over to 1st Avenue South. He continued home on 1st Ave. South. There’s a place on 1st Ave. South that has a small substation. As DH approached it, it was struck by lightning. I saw the ball of plasma that the lightning strike creaked as it blew. Then DH turned left on 56th Street to get over to our neighborhood. He crossed over the big railroad tracks and I lost sight of him. As I followed, I saw some large tree branches at the side of the road. That was in addition to all the little branches that were out there all over the place. There were major branches down up 56th. As I crossed Crestwood Blvd, I heard the hail start. It hailed the rest of the way home. AS I pulled up to the house, it started hailing heavily, and the lights were out. I parked the car, and stayed in it. In a few minutes, DH called me. He had gotten the scooter in the garage with the automatic garage door opener, and gotten the door closed, then the power failed. He was soaked to the skin.
In another 5 or 10 minutes, the rain and hail slacked off and I ran into the house with my helmet and gloves. DH informed me that I really owed him for that. The power didn’t come back on until 2:30 in the morning. And our phone line is trashed. So the DSL we have at the house is useless. But hopefully we’ll have the phone lines replaced by the end of the week.
We found out later that there were wind gusts reported at the airport of 70 miles per hour. That’s almost hurricane force winds! No wonder DH was being knocked around on the scooter as he drove it.
Now, for when I have no backup driving along behind me, I do have a plan. I would find someplace with some overhead cover and stop until the rain passes. I probably should have stopped a couple of miles earlier, but that falls into the area of not knowing any better. Doh!