Thursday, September 12

No Helmet On My Header

Okay, so you’ve noticed.  And I was aware of it before I added my current header photo.  If you haven’t noticed maybe you should just skip this post.  No need to add fuel to the fire, right?

Yes, that’s me in the header photo.  I’m on my mountain bike…in the woodsen…and I’m not wearing a helmet shaped object.  

Don’t bother preachin’, I’m already experiencing cyclo-damnation.  I’m a bike blogger.  

Regardless of the image plastered across the top of this blog I want to assure you that I always wear a helmet when mountain biking.  I recognize the dangers of going unprotected on narrow trails between hard and painful trees and rocks.  I believe that the Styrofoam bowls most (if not all) bike shops sell are most beneficial as mountain biking accessories.  It’s off the mountain bike where I challenge conventional cyclo-thinking.  

See, when a two or three ton rolling hunk of steel and glass hits you as you cycle merrily along that couple of inches of puffed plastic really serve no purpose.  Bike helmets are designed for blows sustained when falling over on a bike.  They really can’t stand up to steel bumpers travelling through space at 60 miles an hour.  

I’m not saying that a bike helmet won’t lessen the damage to your noggin in a tuffle with a car, but I’m saying if the choice is being a vegetable or being dead…I choose death.  

But that’s not even a valid point I recognize.  My point is that the best protection you can give your head while riding in places where motor vehicles have access is located inside said head.  You use your brain.  Don’t depend on your helmet to do your thinking for you.

Some people postulate that motorists are more careful around cyclists that aren’t wearing helmets.  If that is true then I say we should all recycle our helmets and go commando ASAP.  In general I think we all (as motorists) should operate our vehicles in a more responsible and careful way.  We don’t take driving seriously enough as a society.  The cultural norm is to give driving the same kind of attention you’d give watching some stranger’s obnoxious kid.  

Like Yehuda Moon asks: it’s a car problem, why try and solve it with a Styrofoam bowl on your head?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really telling you to throw your helmet out.  I wear one on almost every ride.  But sometimes I deem it unnecessary because for the most part it is.  I’m never comfortable letting my guard down enough that some careless motorist could get past my defenses.  And if you want to try and preach through my defenses I assure you you won’t do that either.  

The day that photo was taken I had been helping Jeff on the trail on his property.  We had finished digging in the dirt for the day,and I jumped on the bike to give the short section we’d been working on a go.  Jeff grabbed the camera and snapped a few photos.  Heck, in the photos I took of Jeff he isn’t even wearing a shirt…talk about dangerous!  Kentucky in the summertime…no shirt?  Can you say mosquito bites?  Can you say farmer’s tan?  Can you say too hairy for this blog?

In all the crashes I’ve had I’ve never hit my head.  Well, there was the luge incident, but I’m up in the air on that one.  If I hadn’t had the helmet my head may not have touched the tunnel wall.  And even if it had it would’ve been a glancing blow.  The reason I always wear my helmet in the woods is because I know someday I’m going to have that big mountain bike crash, and I’m not going to be able to control what my head tries to demolish as it flies through space.  I’m fairly certain that the landscape around the vast majority of mountain bike trails is harder than my head.

Having been a cyclist for the past 33 or so years I can honestly say I’ve ridden many, many, many more miles without a helmet on my head than with.  This is a relatively new aspect of cycling.  Saying you have to wear a helmet while cycling is like saying you can’t live without a cell phone.  No, stop and think about it.  I’m perfectly okay with either condition.

Oh, and one last thing…let’s not talk about this in front of Jeff.  I want to be able to continue riding at the Mozhican Family Mountain Bike Park and Flea Market (and Tanning) and they have a strict helmet policy.  I know, I know, Jeff took the photo.  I think he was high on life at the time and somehow didn’t notice that that was my hair and not a woven wool helmet which is an acceptable substitute to the Styrofoam kind according to the kiosk by the pool.

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