24 March, 2012

Challenges? Well, yes I suppose...

Crit this morning....postponed from last Saturday when the weather wasn't fit for man nor beast- unless you're a duck. The monsoonal rains were wreaking havoc with many facets of everyday life- not just cycling races.

I had been hoping to redeem myself somewhat after the dismal showing in the time trial but if redemption was on offer, it would have to wait another week to be received.

We did manage to squeeze in a coffee ride last weekend but that was about it. The rain returned with a vengeance- and while I don't mind getting wet (and we're talking about having the rain water run down your legs and out the holes in the bottom of your shoes here) while on a ride, I have a bit of a problem heading out into that sort of weather. Once I'm on the road- let it pour- I can handle that and have on many occasions. There just seems to be something about stepping out into the open, from a dry environment, into a wall of water that just doesn't seem to have much appeal.

Looking at our digital rain gauge, it currently reads 566mm. That's over half a metre of rain since I last changed the batteries- and that was less than 2 weeks ago. I think it was on about 680mm just before I changed them. Anyhow, that's a lot of water.

Tuesday morning, I was thinking about my regular training ride- and how I was probably not going to make it. The rain had hammered down for most of the night making sleep a fairly scarce commodity. Just on 5:00am, there were a couple claps of thunder and the wind started to gust- nothing too unusual there. Then the wind picked up further and the power went out- then the streetlights went out.

Over the top of all of this was a loud roar- like a large military transport overhead- but it went on for a few minutes. Even the military wouldn't be heading out in the current conditions- at least not locally. A quick check on Facebook showed that a friend's home (amongst many others) had lost its roof and that there were extensive power outages.

A tornado had formed and torn through an area approximately 500 metres wide and 2 kilometres long. The roar we had heard was the tornado as it tore through the neighbouring suburbs. As the crow flies, it was probably less than a kilometre away.

Through my work with the local electricity distributor, I was well aware of the impact shortly after arriving for work. What I wasn't fully braced for was the level of physical devastation which took place. I saw a few photos of infrastructure which came back from the field crews but that did nothing to prepare me for what I saw on Thursday.

We did our regular training ride and as we passed the affected area, as we do every Tuesday and Thursday, I was struck by the twisted, shredded remains of the vegetation along the road- and the definition of the tornado's path. It must have been terrifying for those who endured those seemingly endless minutes enveloped by screaming wind and flying debris.

As we got closer to my turn off on the return leg, I was shocked at just how close we were to the twister. Tornadoes are not a common occurrence here- cyclones and thunderstorms usually have some warning and time to prepare. This was, like they say, "A bolt out of the blue".

Oh and the results from the crit were acceptable, 2nd in the preem lap and third overall. The result paid for my nomination and coffee with enough left over for the next crit's nomination.

Cheers- ride safe


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