// When I decided it was time to get a helmet
Posted on Monday, October 31st, 2011
For years I rode my bicycle without a helmet. I ride a mountain bike, and would even pedal along fairly dangerous off-road trails with a bare cranium. I would often brush off peoples’ (especially my mom’s) concerns with a (somewhat) sarcastic “C’mon…you know I’m too cool.”
This all changed last year when I saw a helmet in action. The best part is that it was strapped to my buddy’s head. Three of us were riding along the street, going hard and fast for no apparent reason. We were actually on our way to the bar where a friend of ours is the tender. I believe it was the eve of St Patrick’s Day. We were not even intoxicated…yet.
My friend had recently switched out his wide mountain bike tires, opting for thinner rubber to make riding on roads more efficient. I was riding behind my two compadres as we sped along. Suddenly, we came across train tracks cutting across the road at an angle. Upon crossing them, my friend’s front tire instantly dug into the crevice, caught the edge, and the frame collapsed underneath him.
It all happened so quickly that he fell just like a rag doll. What would have been his bare temple smacked hard on the asphalt. Luckily, his helmet took the brunt of the impact.
We were on a road with no cars, which was important because it took my friend a minute to recuperate. We moved the bikes over to the sidewalk to sit down and asses the situation. He was almost completely without injury. Even his bike was less harmed than one would think. We determined that his helmet had really done him some justice.
He then looked to me and asked “Gabe, where’s your helmet?” This sparked a change of heart in me regarding my biking habits. After a few minutes of recovering and coming to terms with what had just happened, we continued to ride, albeit much more cautious. We ended up getting pretty tipsy at the bar, and luckily, caught a ride home in a friend’s car equipped with a bike rack.
I was very thankful to still have my friends with me that night, having seen first hand the effectiveness of bicycle safety. Later that week, I went to a shop and spent $40 on a simple helmet. Considering it may save my life someday, I’d call that a bargain. Forget about looking cool, I honestly feel that as I ride now people look at me with a little more respect. Please, wear a helmet!
Here’s how they test helmets in Portugal:
Do you ride with a helmet? Have you ever seen one in action? Please share your stories/opinions below.