The last weather forecast I saw was the evening before our ride(which in Texas meterological scale, might as well have been written in cuneiform for how current that forecast was!) and I was not expecting anything more than brief and spotty rain showers. Caryn, Michael, Kevin and (appearing with us for the second time) Josh Cohen must have read that same Sumerian tablet since we all show up expecting a good ride.
Kevin made it back after a few weeks absence. He has been in Beijing with his family. He said it was unbelievable how bad the air was, yet the Chinese were so very gracious it is hard to say anything negative about the trip. He did mention eating a few things that would make Andrew Zimmern squirm.
We make it to the lake with the sun hiding behind a few clouds, but as we do our first sprint to Mockingbird (on Lawther) the sun disappears from view (and hasn't been seen since.) It wasn't yet ominous enough to preclude doing the full loop (the horseshoe) so of we go to do the Muur de Flagpole (the park had a crit race in the Tour of Texas when 7-11 and Coors Light were the domestic powers, with Inga Thompson lapping the women's field once due to the wicked little hill in the middle)
Josh hasn't ridden with us enough to know all the hot spots, but easily hung in on every surge and attack and probably wondered what all the fuss was about. We make the far turn near 635 and the clouds were getting more ominous, yet no rain could be seen from the promentories of Lake Highlands. We crossed Buckner and met up with a few other cyclists and rode tempo all the way to Loving. I was expecting these riders to challenge on the three hills, but Josh, Caryn and I dropped them really easily. When we summited I was the most out of breath, (I take them really seriously!) but gave Josh a few pointers about attacking these kinds of hills. Local familiarity with every bump and elevation change is why the Italians dominate the Giro, and can be the same for these familiar roads we ride on. Same type of hill, same type of riders but on unfamiliar roads and we might not do so well.
Kevin's Beijing smog laden lungs caused him to avoid the Loving trio, but as we rode toward the lake, the clouds were massing ominously, and then the sirens went off! We quickly decided to forego the water stop and started back toward campus. We saw a black wall cloud in front of us on Fisher Rd. and the cars that passed us would make a point to tell us to get home quickly. On University and Skillman a truck pulled up next to us and asked if we needed a ride, a tornado warning was in effect. We said thanks, but we were very close to the finish. Immediately the rain started and it was torrential, the roads flooded quickly and we met with 40-60 mph winds in our faces. I thought it felt more like a dust storm, the droplet's hurt so much on the face. Michael, on point, made the wise decision to turn into a parking garage, less than a kilometre from SMU. We witnessed horizontal sheets of rain driving through the area.
With the tornado warning fresh in the mind, I used Michael's phone to call my daughter's cell to make sure they were hunkered down in their mom's house. Katarina was very calm (unlike the cheerleader's in the camps staying in the dorms here, I can hear them screaming across the parking lot at every thunderclap!) she said the tornados were far from us (and we were overreacting!) That gave us some willingness to leave the garage after the rain let up to only a downpour.
Eventually it let up enough so that we could make it across Central, getting even more soaked, but confident we were not going to be propelled across the sky like Miss Gulch and join Dorothy in Oz.