Ridin’ the Storm Out

Apr 23, 2013 View Comments by

Ridin' the Storm OutOur recent Haunted Ohio Tour (in the May/June 2013 issue), my favorite to date, by the way, was interrupted on the first day by possibly the most brutal storm I’ve ever seen here in Ohio. We’d had a great morning, albeit hot, and were en-route to The Buxton Inn in Granville, which is not far from our home. There was a thirty-percent chance of thunderstorms in the forecast that day, but in an area that sometimes seems to have a perpetual cloud cover, we didn’t give it much thought. Worst-case scenario: we’d slip into a small town “grit’s n’ gravy” and wash down a piece of pie with some coffee while the storm blew over.

By mid-afternoon, storm clouds were beginning to darken the horizon behind us, so we streamlined our route to quicken our arrival time at The Buxton Inn.

I kept track of the blackening horizon behind me, but despite the fact that we were heading directly away from it at around sixty miles per hour, it seemed to be gaining on us. I guess that’s what storms with eighty-five mile per hour winds do. Our casual “let’s beat the storm so we won’t get wet” attitude quickly turned into a very serious “we’ve got to get away from this” situation. We ducked into a driveway within a minute of the storm hitting us full-force, and were fortunately welcomed into the home.

The electricity went out almost immediately, and we stood transfixed, watching the storm through the living room window while candles flickered inside. The storm passed quickly, but the destruction was unbelievable. It looked as if entire trees had been mulched and sprayed onto the road, and we wondered if it was safe to leave. The owner of the home where we took shelter was a power company employee, and we waited for his damage assessment before departing. He’d been called in to work a few minutes after the storm had passed, and was headed in the same direction as we were. He informed us that the storm situation was good, but that the entire area was without power and the roads were covered with a lot of debris.

We said our goodbyes and thanks to the rest of his family and fired up the bike, which had somehow managed to stay upright in the winds. Under normal conditions, the ride to Granville would have taken under an hour, but things weren’t quite normal that afternoon. We hit our first roadblock, due to power lines draped dangerously close to the road, within minutes and took the recommended detour, which soon led us to another crew of chainsaw-wielding workers cutting up a large tree. We killed the motor and sat in a steady rain for about fifteen minutes waiting for a lane to be cleared.

A few more cautious miles in waning light brought us to the Granville city limit sign, but progress was soon blocked again by yet another large fallen tree spanning the road. Downed power lines lay across the road as well, but they appeared to be dead and we nervously followed others and crept over them before coming to a stop in front of a house. The homeowner told us that we were welcome to detour through his front yard (motorcycle-only privileges), and we soon found ourselves testing the CB1000R’s off-road capabilities, which proved adequate for suburban lawn hopping.

Thankfully, the tree was the last obstacle we encountered before reaching our lodging destination, and after checking in to our powerless room we took a short walk around the area to view the aftermath of the storm. Century-old trees were uprooted or snapped off, many lying on equally old Victorian homes. Tops of broken power poles hung suspended between adjacent poles that had survived the storm. In short, it was the most intense display of storm damage that I’ve ever witnessed first hand, and I shudder to think that we were literally within a minute of facing the full fury of the storm while on a motorcycle.

We reluctantly headed home the following morning after snapping some shots of the damage, wondering what condition our own house was in. Fortunately, the house made it through the storm without any real damage, although several trees in our woods now grace my pile of next year’s fuel for the woodstove.

With our fairings, full-face helmets, rain suits, waterproof gloves, and GORE-TEX lined boots, it’s easy to feel impervious to weather conditions while on a motorcycle. Most of the time we can ride in absolutely miserable weather in relative comfort, but occasionally Mother Nature reminds us just how vulnerable we really are, and it’s best to heed her warning. We’ll chalk this one up to another bullet dodged, if only narrowly.

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