With great fanfare, Hurricane Irene arrived at my location late Saturday morning. After a 5.9 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday, this promised to be an exciting end to a week of odd weather in our part of the world. We haven’t had a hurricane visit us since 2003, and that one (Isabelle) did a great deal of damage. After 20 hours of solid rain and 30-40 mph winds, the excitement was over a little after daybreak on Sunday. Peaking out my windows, the storm didn’t appear to do much damage. After cleaning up my own yard, I decided to break out my hybrid and have a look around.
Having seen first hand the devastation at Homestead, Florida, as a result of Hurricane Andrew, it seems inappropriate to call what I witnessed “hurricane damage.” There was an occasional fallen tree and lots of branches/leaves in the road. That’s about it. A better phrase would be “strong storm damage.” The eye of the hurricane stayed next to the Virginia coast, about 100 miles from where I live, so my area got off quite lightly.
There are reportedly hundreds of thousands of people without power in the DC area. I’ve had no problems but four miles into my ride I caught a glimpse of the challenges faced by the local utility companies. Northern Virginia Electric Company (NOVEC) was working to fix a downed power line near the Dale City Moose Lodge.
I was happy to have my hybrid (aka “Old Ironsides”) out with me. I haven’t ridden it in over three months and it was good to take it out for a spin. With its flat pedals, its easier to hop on and off while investigating things and the fatter tires make handling the road debris a little easier. And if I break it, it’s a lot less expensive than the Trek! I was particularly happy to be on it as I passed under Waterway Drive, using a cart path for the local golf course. I almost became mired in some nasty, wet goo at the bottom of this dark passageway. I am certain the Trek would have become stuck, forcing a rapid unclip followed by a dismount and trudging through ankle-deep muck for 30 feet. Not cool. As it was, Old Ironsides plowed through it in good form and I emerged with clean feet.
I wandered through some side streets and found nothing out of order. People were outside, picking up twigs and blowing leaves with their leaf blowers. That’s as exciting as it got, I’m afraid. I paused on my way back for a pic by a damaged pear tree on Waterway Drive. These trees are notoriously weak and any strong storm usually claims at least one of them.
With the temperature at 90 degrees, I pulled back into my drive after a refreshing 10 mile pedal. It’s good to know Old Ironsides is still ready to serve. As the weather turns in the next few months, I’ll be reaching for it more often.