August 28, 2015 by T. Gregory Argall
How often do you ride a bicycle?
I’m not a cyclist. I know how to ride a bike, I just haven’t ridden one in quite a while.
Albert, a fellow I work with, rides. He’s been on bicycle marathons and long distance bike rallies. He’s cycled through the Italian Alps. He knows his way around a bike.
Last weekend, while riding his bicycle, he demonstrated the importance of wearing a helmet.
He was just cycling over to a coffee shop to meet a friend. A short ride. Hiding on the road, in the shade of a tree, barely visible, was a pothole.
Albert figures he was doing about 30 km/h when his front wheel dipped into the pothole and locked up, launching him ass over teakettle through the air. He landed hard and a moment later, because that’s how comedy works, the bike landed on top of him.
After improvising some new variations on some old words (you know the ones I mean), he slowly stood up and glared angrily at the pothole. Lifting the bicycle, he straightened the handlebars, gingerly got back on the saddle, and rode the rest of the way to the coffee shop.
Arriving at the coffee shop, he went in to find his friend. She immediately gasped, went wide-eyed, and said, “You look like shit. What happened?” (which is on nobody’s list of Top Ten Greetings That Make Me Feel Good.)
“I’m okay,” Albert insisted.
“No,” she argued, “you’re bleeding.”
Albert looked where she was pointing and, yes, indeed, his right arm and right leg were both covered in a substantial amount of blood.
So they went to the hospital.
He’s got a bruised hip, abrasions and road-rash on his right shoulder, right arm, and right leg, a significantly tender forearm and wrist, and three cracked ribs.
Plus, he now needs a new helmet.
This is the helmet he was wearing when the accident happened. From the scrapes, it’s pretty clear that he basically landed on the right side of his head. You may be thinking, “It’s just scraped a bit. Why does he need a new one?”
Look in the lower right side of the photo, where the white plastic connects to the red plastic.
That’s right. It doesn’t. It used to.
This was a $300 bicycle helmet, designed to absorb and disperse a frightening amount of impact.
Which it did. So much so that it cracked.
Without the helmet, it would have been Albert’s right temple that first absorbed that impact. It certainly would not have fared as well as the helmet, and neither would the rest of his skull.
There are all sorts of excuses for not wearing a helmet. None of them will mean a thing when your head hits the ground.
If you ride a bike, wear a helmet. Even if you’re just going a short distance, wear a helmet.
If you’re teaching your children to ride a bike, just doing small circles in the driveway, make them wear a helmet.
And while you’re at it, try to be nice to each other.