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The Carthage Press
Walking and bicycling for transportation, fitness, and fun
Tornado
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About this blog
By Rachel Ruhlen

My bicycle is our second car. I love to bicycle in all weather, for all distances, and on all routes. Bicycling has brought so much joy to my life, and I want to share it with anyone who is interested. I will use my soapbox to tell you about the ...

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Bicycling and Walking Around

My bicycle is our second car. I love to bicycle in all weather, for all distances, and on all routes. Bicycling has brought so much joy to my life, and I want to share it with anyone who is interested. I will use my soapbox to tell you about the joys, the freedom, the benefits, and, yes, the challenges of bicycling and walking for transportation.

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Storm damage
Kirksville Daily Express
Storm damage
By Rachel Ruhlen
May 31, 2013 6:56 a.m.



I biked in a tornado.

I didn't mean to. It all happened so fast.

The forecasted storms held off all morning. Around 2:30 pm I finished what I needed to at work. My nephew is visiting us, so I planned to go home early. I chatted a moment with a couple friends about the impending storm and then left.

As I pedaled down High St., black clouds rolled in. I called my husband to tell him I was on my way. The wind was stronger. A couple drops of rain spilled and I stopped in a driveway on Jefferson St. long enough to put my phone in my waterproof lunchbox. As I coasted toward the Baltimore stoplight, the light turned red and the clouds opened. Gusts of wind driven rain soaked me instantly and I laughed because it was like diving into a cold lake.

I waited at the stoplight, bracing myself as the gusts of wind and rain buffeted me. A bright green yard sale sign flew halfway across the road, then became soaked and plastered to the street. The stoplight turned green.

I started east across the intersection.

I caught a glimpse from the south of many objects whipped around in the air.

An incredibly strong gust of wind pushed me helplessly north. I crossed every lane of traffic and regained control smoothly in the sidewalk. As I dismounted my bike the wind took my lunchbox neatly out of the basket, setting it a few feet away.

It was over before I had time to be scared. I retrieved my lunchbox. I pedaled a few feet but quickly dismounted in another gust. I walked a few feet and then I saw the trees.

Maybe 100 feet from the intersection, trees lay across Jefferson St. As the wind abated, I alternately walked and rode around the debris. A car approached, then backed away, unable to get past the trees. I turned onto Cottage Grove and saw more trees blocking the road.

It was only then that I realized how lucky I had been and finally felt scared. If the light had been green or if I hadn't stopped to talk a few seconds as I left, those trees would have been falling all around me.

On McPherson a tree lay uprooted across the entire street. My husband came out of the house. He was trying to get the bike rack on the car to come get me, but there hadn't been time.

I put my bike away and got into dry clothes. The exterior of my lunchbox was soaked, but the phone inside was safe and dry. The electricity was out and remained out the rest of the night.

It all happened too fast to realize that I was in danger. That wind gust was reported as 60 mph. Someone saw a funnel near the school. If I'd had the time and the wits to take action, I should have left my bike near the street and taken shelter by the nearest wall, in this case the front porch of the house to my right.

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