I used to work for a now defunct motorcycle dealership filled with now mostly vanished brands. We used to close up shop and take off on Memorial Day for a three day weekend ride. We would ride all night Friday to Clayton, New Mexico and then spend Saturday and Sunday riding around Colorado. Monday would find us in Albuquerque, NM where we would pick up I40 for the long slog back to Oklahoma City.

On one particular ride we ran into rain while riding across the Panhandle of Oklahoma. It was pretty flat and featureless. The highest points for miles around were the fence posts to our right and the tops of our helmets. It started to rain and the lightning began to rip across the sky. Rex was in front of me by two bike lengths and the rest of the group were some ways back behind me.

All of a sudden there was a bright flash off to the right. I looked and saw a lightning bolt hit the ground less than 20 feet from our position. It looked, to my eyes, to be the size of a small oil drum. Big clods of earth kicked up and at the same time there was a fierce and shocking BOOM. We both wobbled involuntarily. A little way up the road Rex turned into a closed gas station and we drew up beside one another under the awning. I have to say that we were a little shaken. “Did you see that?” he cried. “See it? I couldn’t miss it” I said. Then I asked the question “Rex, have you ever heard of anyone getting struck by lightning on a motorcycle? We are riding on rubber tires.” All he said to me was “Our tires were wet.”

I am older and wiser now. Yes, you can get struck by lightning on a motorcycle. You can even be hurt by lightening striking close to your bike. The rubber tires have no effect on insulating millions of volts from seeking ground. It would be like trying to stop a speeding semi truck with a stick of butter. It is best to get off the road, get inside somewhere until the storm passes. Sometimes this is not always practical but it is best practice.

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