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Tuesday Night Club Ride; The Reason We Wear Helmets Edition…

May 2016
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Last night was a ride like many others.  We finally had a shift in the wind so it actually finally helped on the return trip for once.  This obviously makes the first half a little rough but hey, you can’t have it all, right?

We did our easy eight mile warmup at around 32 minutes, give or take, and waited for the start.  It was the first Tuesday of the year where knee warmers weren’t required (I still went with arm warmers but about half the group skipped them).  We rolled out as normal, promptly at 6.  Rather than start at the front as I normally do, I opted for the back.  We were dead into the wind and I figured that early, if anything broke down, I could jump any gap if I had to.  The first nine miles were tough but uneventful.  I took my turns up front but kept them pretty short.

We were closing in on ten miles and I was behind my BCB (Best Cycling Bud) Mike.  I was feeling good and we were about 25 mph into a decent wind.  All of a sudden, he sat up and before I knew what was going on, the group was up the road – no chance I was making that up.  I resigned to the fact that it simply wasn’t Mike’s night so he and Big Joe (who had been behind me) set about rolling into the wind.

Joe pulled for a slow mile which was kind of nice because I was able to catch my breath a little bit.  I took over next and started running the speed up a little bit and before long we were up to a respectable 20 mph.

Hitting the first set of hills, we came on a friend of ours, Carla, and her son.  We were closing on them but it looked like, from where we were, they were trying to hold us off.  I looked down for a minute and when I looked back up she was falling in behind her son and nicked his rear wheel.  She went down instantly.  There was a dull THWACK… Her helmet hit the pavement and we could hear it 50 yards away.  As we approached, she was dusting herself off and her son was in tears thinking he’d just hurt his mom.  Fortunately, other than a scraped elbow and knee, she was fine.

Had she not been wearing a cycling helmet, her husband would have been A) Making preparations for her funeral or B) Getting ready to change her diapers for the rest of her life or C) Wondering when she would come out of her coma they’d induced to fight her brain swelling…  Now, there is a slim chance that she’d have walked away unscathed after bouncing her melon on the pavement but ask a trained professional what her odds would be of that – I have, and they’re slim to none, but don’t take my word for it.

In any event, after she waved us on, we crested the first of the hills and started our journey East, with a blessed tailwind.  We met a few others at our “B” group meeting spot, formed up and crushed out the remaining ten miles in decent fashion.

While I’m sure I’ll catch some blowback over my view of wearing a helmet – there are those out there who stubbornly hold onto the notion that a helmet can do more harm than good (of course, these are all people who haven’t bounced their head off the pavement) but I don’t care.  Our group has very few rules, maybe two total, but one of them is a helmet is required at all times, no excuses.  We stick to it, no matter what.  This is yet another example of why we do.  You never know when you’re going to stop your bike with your melon.

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10 Comments

  1. Some people say that they ride responsibly and do not require a helmet. That fault in logic does not account for other riders (who might cross your wheel) or drivers.

    You took a collection to buy her a new helmet?

    And the most important question, the one you probably asked before checking on your friend — how is her bike? Lol

    • bgddyjim says:

      Her bike and herself is fine and dandy. We did not take up a collection for her helmet, I checked on her afterward (we waited for her to roll in) and she said she’d be buying a new one immediately… Both she and her husband have excellent jobs, I’m sure they can shill for a dome protector. Nice idea though. 😉

  2. With you on this one, though I’m reasonably sure flak will arrive.

  3. James L says:

    Scary story Jim, could easily happen to anyone of us – thankfully not in the too cool to wear a helmet club.

  4. witness to 4 of the 16 or… 18 accidents the club here had last year… i’m sold on helmets. even after one woman overlapped wheels, brushed a curb with her head, and half her ear was ripped off by a chin strap. her head was protected from the concrete and the 8-ish foot slide across gravel and ground, and her ear took some stitches. but, she wasn’t A, B, or C as you listed for your cycling buddy. glad she’s okay. and, amen brutha… on the helmets.

  5. Gail says:

    The same can be said for helmets on the ski slopes. I went skiing with friends in West Virginia at Snow Shoe and I was one of the few women wearing a helmet. My friends were all: “but your hair, sweetie”! I was all: “but your brains, sweeties”! Ugh…great hair is for the restaurants and bars at night, not the slopes!

  6. MJ Ray says:

    I know you don’t want to hear it, but another obvious possible outcome is D) the smaller, lighter unhelmetted head doesn’t hit the ground. I wore a helmet for years and I’ve not worn one for years and I simply crash less without, which I can’t definitively explain. However, I suspect sports cycling may be different and as far as I’m concerned, you can make up whatever rules for sports you like, as long as you don’t come crying to me for a bailout if you get seriously injured in one of the more frequent crashes or try to exploit those crashes to force non-sports cyclists to wear crash helmets and junk.

    • bgddyjim says:

      I don’t know how many times I have to write this for you, but I’m against any law requiring people to wear anything while riding a bike. Heck I’m all for people having the right to choose not to wear a helmet on a MOTORCYCLE. That said, this is the US where we’re free to ride in a manner that pleases us because we don’t have bailouts. How funny that you’re for eschewing a helmet but against others riding in a pace line because if they crash, they’ll want medical care (which you so eloquently call a bailout) which they pay for in taxes. Oh, and then you call that a bailout. Yes, I suppose we should all ride a bike as you see fit, MJ. Maybe you can publish MJ’s rules for cycling as I see fit for you to – from on high.

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