Friday, July 25, 2008

Thunderstorms + rollerskiing = bad

A band of thunderstorms was supposed to be moving through Concord right around when we were going to hold practice, so Jamie, in his infinite wisdom, cancelled practice. Being young and stupid, I sent out an email to the group saying I would still be there, since I wasn't scared of rain, and not too scared of lightning, but could people please tell me some reason to be scared of lightning?

Luke says my email saved his workout. I got there late after picking up Mari, and Bob, Jimmy and Chris and Luke were already there, and the rain had diminished to a light drizzle. We got lucky, I suppose, because the rain was mostly done by the time we were doing intervals. But when I got home, I had a bunch of responses about why training during a lightning storm is a bad thing. I've pasted some of them below so I can share this knowledge.

Mari, me, and Luke, after a tough workout that went well into darkness... reflective bibs were worn during the workout, but taken off due to the flash of the camera.

Matt Truehart:
While I agree that skiing in the rain is great, and I like thunderstorms even better, the empirical scientist in me must dispute your pole argument. I'm assuming your poles are carbon fiber, in which case they conduct electricity quite well (much better than aluminum if I remember correctly). It has something to do with electrons within the carbon weave or between the fibers or something, but it only conducts in one direction, i.e., down the pole shaft. Your tungsten-carbide pole tip is a relatively good conductor as well. Since I'm thinking about it, I guess it might be possible (but probably pretty unlikely) to build up a static charge from friction in your rollerski wheel bearings, which would make you just a little bit more susceptible to a lightning strike.
Last week literally 5 seconds before we were about to start an OD ski, lightning hit the library tower here at dartmouth, so Ruff told us that we'd "better get going."

Doug McCartney:
my 2 cents from what i've read - no one ever melted in the rain (except perhaps the wicked witch of the west). As Will says, working out in the rain makes you feel very powerful.

however thunderstorms are dangerous. lightening likes the highest object, but it isn't always so. it can skip the steeple and hit the person standing next to it. it also can travel through things, along the ground, and over to you. simply put, lightening can kill. however, the old story about a car being safe is definitely true, but not because of the tires. it's because the lightening travels around the outside on the surface of the car and to the ground. so the best place to be is in a metal cage (ever been to the science museum?) But it has to be a complete metal cage all around you.

And if you can't get back to the car and you get caught out your best bet is to head to the open and crouch down like a catcher, make minimal contact with the ground (your feet), and be as small and short a target as possible. most importantly, never be near a tree or a tall object - it better to be wet than dead. Remember, an exploding tree is just like shrapnel.

but in the end i agree - it sort of sucks to be scared. have fun.

Irina Kotlova:
Alex, You sound like Russian!

No fear that somebody will sue you in case something goes wrong.

Rob Bradlee:
Thunderstorms are dangerous. A couple was killed in Maine last week when they went outside to get the dog.

Skiing in the rain is absolutely necessary if you are a serious athlete. However, most of the kids at the Thursday night workouts are newbies and skiing in the rain might make them decide to quit.

Jennifer Saffran
I used to think that the hesitation about being outside during thunderstorms was for wimps until I had some close calls. First, a co-worker of my husband's got killed by lightning up in VT. He was camping, and inside a tent. He had told the wife and kids to wait in the car, but he went back in the tent, for some reason. Lightning struck the ground near him, travelled, and killed him instantly.

Also, two childhood friends of mine got hit by lightning. One died. The other got thrown about 25 feet.

Colin Reuter:
cars can't see shit.

Scientists--if lightning is traveling through the ground, and you're on rollerskis, will it arc from one wheel, through the shaft, and back through the other wheel? Or will it just go right up your legs and into your body?


Colin R said...

As always, I was the most eloquent person polled.

Luke S said...

Wow sounds like rollerskiing in a thunderstorm is less than a good idea...Doesn't mean I'm not going to do it again.

Anonymous said...

What a brave bunch of skiers. Or is it crazy? Same number of letters either way. The thing about rollerskiing in the rain - aside from Colin's important and well-developed critique of our fellow road-users - is slipping and sliding around on the wet. The one time I was caught in a squall last summer, I felt like I was skiing on ice. It's put me off any kind of RS'ing in rain.

Luke S said...

It really depends on what kind of rollerskis you have. I have Ski Skett Shark's, with 100mm wheels, and unless I go over a wet leaf or a painted line they handle fine in the wet. I guess if your pavement is of that super-smooth and generally hazardously slippery variety then its a different story. Plus, if it rains, just classic.

Alex said...

I agree with Luke here, I have never had slipping problems in the rain, except on road paint or that tar stuff that they put down to cover cracks. You do have to look out for leaves in the late fall, though, as they are often icy underneath and you can't tell just looking at them if they'll be slippery or not.