Comment here on the current newsletter issue, or about anything you see on the site. All we ask is that you maintain civility and respect for your fellow cyclists. Thanks.
Now that Coach Fred is a convert to wider tires, it's time to take the final plunge and really reduce your tire pressures. At 173#, I find that I can ride 72/82 psi front/rear with 25mm tires. Any lower and they'll start to feel mushy when I get out of the saddle on climbs (that's how I gauge correct pressures). I haven't spent any time on 32mm tires, but I recently did a combination pavement/dirt road ride on 38s and found that 50/55 front/rear worked great. I have had zero pinch flats at these pressures, despite riding on crappy New England roads. Ride comfort with stiff carbon frames is dramatically improved, there is no indication of extra roliing resistance and cornering traction is excellent. Give it a try! I'll bet you'll be surprised.
I have been riding Grand Bois [Compass] 700/28 tires at about 80-85 psi on my Specialized Roubaix and have been very happy with the ride and performance, expecially cornering downhill.
I agree that I could run lower pressures. I'll give it a try and see if I pinch flat.
Unless washed regularly sweaty helmets get pretty grotey. How does the sensor tolerate washing?
"Use a clean soft cloth, dry or moist, but not dripping wet, to gently wipe the SMARTsensor and SMARTBrain [the transmittor]."
I use a Stuffitts helmet insert (cool product -- cedar-filled cloth) that I put into the helmet immediately after each ride. I use their shoe inserts as well. They draw away any moisture and leave a nice cedar-y scent behind.
After reading about the glycogen usage of fast & slow twitch fibers vs. cadence, I wondered about older cyclists. I believe we lose fast twitch fibers as we age, so it seems as if older riders would be forced into a slower cadence as their muscle composition changes over time. Is this true?
The warmup should match the ride, medium ride with 4x10 Steady State intensity with 5 min recovery should go something like this. Easy spin 5 min, 3x30 at 80% with 30 sec easy spin, then 2 min easy spin. Use the first interval at Steady State (one zone below LT) as a "hot" warmup and shoot for lower range of Steady State power zone, 2nd interval go for mid-range, 3rd interval shoot the moon (you should be feeling very good right about now), 4th and 5th intervals are the ones that really matter and where the improvement happens so give these last two intervals everything you've gotl. Recover and spin home. Less is more.
Last Sunday for the first time I rode the NY Century. I've done other well known century's in our area like the MS ride, Babylon to Montauk Point, etc. This was by far and away the most nerve wracking ride I've ever done. It took me 2 hours to crawl through 20 miles of Manhattan and Brooklyn even with a start time of 6am Sunday morning. Constantly slowing to see if we could safely cross red light or stop sign interactions and crying "Clear!" to those behind us. Yet people did get hit. In the little cohort of riders that I was riding near, one guy looked to be seriously injured in Brooklyn and in Queens a woman, obviously less injured, was screaming at a driver who she claimed had hit her. I was lucky: my only losses were having my rear blinker jarred loose on a chopped up bike path and get cut up by my chain when I had to stop suddenly when a rider ahead of me suddenly stopped on a narrow pedestrian bridge.
The main sponsor is Transportation Alternatives which also sponsors the incredibly regulated and comparatively safe 5 boro bike tour in which 40 miles of streets are essentially closed off to traffic. With the NY Century on the other hand it's pretty much look at your cue sheet, follow the street markers, ride with others to avoid getting lost, and devil take the hind most! The route did have some clever features such as riding along cemetaries and parks so as to minimize as much as possible the hundreds of four way intersections. it was also interesting to see the city (except for Staten Island which is across the NY Harbor) in neighborhood after neighborhood. But in thinking about this ride while on it and afterwards, I felt like I was participating in some sort of political manifesto about how awful and dangerous it is to ride bikes in NYC. Note with the exception of a few areas we did not ride on bike paths and no rodes were closed for traffic. One of the rest stops was named for a TA volunteer who was killed after being hit by a car.
Wondering if any other readers did this year's ride or previous rides and what their thoughts were on the subject.?
Best checklist I've ever read! Reminded me to look over my bike at things I hadn't checked in a while. Breakdowns are a real drag, especially when they result from lack of maintenance. 'Suggest riders who don't feel like running through that list take their bike to a shop at least every few months for a professional check. Otherwise, its just a matter of time before problems occur and you're stuck somwhere out in boonies. Checking tires and brakes should happen every time before you saddle up.
Jim, this sounds very similar to the ABC Quick Check (http://bikeleague.org/content/smart-cycling-tips-0) that LAB teaches. I teach Bike Safety classes for the local MS 150 ride, and the ABC Quick Check is always on our agenda.
This sounds like an awesome product, as I hate my chest strap too. But I have a quesiton. Do you know if the sensor still work if you wear a headband? I always wear one in the summer and often wear an earband in the winter. I was wondering if it needs to make direct contact with your skin or if it can work through material. Thanks.
I look forward to the answer here.
I always wear a cap (biretta to be pedantic) under my helmet for a range of purposes - protects my bald head against sunburn, sweat absorption, an early morning sun-visor, and extends the life of the helmet's internal padding.
I actually have worn a headband on every ride with the helmet. I simply push it up a bit on my forehead to allow the sensor enough room to contact my skin. The sensor sits pretty close to the lower edge of the helmet, so it actually works pretty well with a headband. I haven't had any issues wearing mine.
The suggestion to "wave them through" is a good one, which I use. It's an act of generosity. And when motorists show me some generosity, I'll wave a thank you and try to make some eye contact. Those of us who use the roads for cycling, motorcycling, auto or truck driving, running, roller blading, or whatever need to realize that we are all part of the same community. Among the things that make a community work are order, mutual respect, common decency, generosity, and appreciation. I believe that every time a cyclist is generous to a motorist or shows appreciation for a motorist's generosity, we build on that community. Doing such acts will implant into the memory of that motorist the good feelings he or she had receiving a cyclist's generosity or receiving appreciation for his or her own generosity. It is my hope that because of that memory, on future occasions the motorist will be slightly more inclined to be generous to a cyclist. A thousand acts of kindness are hard to ignore. But if I am wrong, there is still no harm to being polite nor to contributing to order, engaging in mutual respect, and behaving with common decency. We are all taught these attributes as children. A community informed by arrogance, self-absorbtion, rudeness, and narcissism cannot thrive.
Agree completely with being as courteous as possible to motorists while riding. I like to think of us as ambassadors of cycling when out for a ride or commuting through town. It will only make things better for fellow riders.
I agree with John that helmets should be worn by all cyclist. To use the argument that their use makes us irresponsible and less safe is supported by no evidence. Therefore the question to ask is what is the downside of wearing a helmet? I can't think of any reason not to wear one. While it is true that wearing one with a combined impact of 60 mph is unlikely to offer much protection its not this type of a more than likely fatal impact that they were designed to mitigate. It's the all too common lower impact accident, car or otherwise, where they are of potential help. Who would want a loved one to have a lower speed "minor" accident and hit their head on a curb winding up with a permanent neurologic deficit? I guess we could rationalize the situation and say that a helmet wouldn't have helped but do we really believe that? I think not and again, what is the downside?
I would agree that wearing ear buds is not safe and neither is driving a car with noise cancelling, over the ear headphones, which I observed recently!
Thanks John for the rebuttal. You focused on the key points. In my mind there is no helmet debate. I think Tom does make a very good point about ear buds. I am never ride with any ear buds or other music except on my trainer. I agree that it is a distraction that make it hard to hear what is really happeneing around and especially behind you. I have no empirical evidence it is more dangerous but I believe that dulling or even eliminating the sounds around you while on a bike must have a negative effect (maybe positive on the mood if you enjoy the tunes). I know I have scared the crap out of runners that have music so loud that I can yell "on the left" but they do not hear me. Anyway thanks again!
I've ridden bicycles in the Netherlands and in southern France. My experience is that in towns and riding city bikes, most cyclists do not wear helmets. However, once I left town andwasriding in the countryside, almost all of the bicycle riders were wearing helmets. I met up with a cycling club while riding in the Netherlands (about 40 cyclists) and everyone of them was wearing a helmet. I don't have further data, but my experience is that in Europe with cyclists riding over 10 mph, helmets are used.
I never wore a helmet before 1990 when they became compulsory in Australia, and now I always do even when cycling in Europe, where I don't have to. Whatever the statistics it's obvious that you're safer wearing a helmet. But while I'd encourage helmet wearing, and insist on it in the case of my children, I am not sure that making them compulsory is justified or a good idea. I have spent some time looking for clear statistical evidence that helmets have a significant effect on injury rate and failed. And neither Petrie's nor John's articles pointed to anything convincing or factual.
On the negative side, they make our city hire bikes here in Melbourne less useful. No stats, but I know they do because I myself have been in situations where I would have used one but couldn't because of the lack of a helmet. And they make the spin down to the cafe or corner shop more involved, and stuff up your hair in the process. And as has been acknowledged, more bikes makes bike use safer, and a rule which complicates hopping on your bike will obviously reduce rather than increase bike use.
And finally, in general I believe governments need a clear justification to pass a restrictive law, and in the case of bicycle helmets I don't believe they have one.
every cyclist i know wears a helmet, if not 100% or the itme, 98%. [the trip to the corner store to get a loaf of bread or the beach cruiser on the beach seem to be the exceptions] most of my friends grew up BEFORE there were helmets. in every crash, the helmet is inspected and the comment 'wow, that could have been my skull' is heard.
helmets don't keep you safe or make you a better rider, but my husband and i would both be dead if we hadn't been wearing our helmets when we hit a pit in the asphalt, flatted a tire and went down at 20 mph. no cars, no other cyclists around, just the two of us going for a spin to get brunch.
is he a skilled rider? he has over 400,000 bike miles under his legs, a few road championship jersies, is a daily bike commuter so yes, i like to think so.
seatbelts don't make you a safer, better driver but they help save lives too.
I have found a very effective tool for communicating with car drivers while commuting. On my bike's handlebar right next to the left brake lever is the button for an air horn. This is one that can be pumped up with a bike pump to 80 PSI. It is louder than sh1t! I only use it once in a while, but it works well. A couple days ago a UPS truck started to cross in front of me (I had the right of way). I gave a short blast, and the driver slammed on the brakes. On another occasion an car started to merge into my lane. A little toot (through his open window!) set him straight.
Now I have to say that the horn does not actually repel cars or otherwise guarantee the cyclist's safety, so an alternative course (an "out") should always be in mind in case the driver doesn't respond.
In a related vein, the cyclist's behavior in traffic is a powerful form of communication. Flagrant disregard for traffic laws sends a strong negative message to motorists, and may contribute to the present "culture clash" between cyclists and motorists.
I bought a road bike that came with electronic shifting already installed as part of the bike.
I own several bike.
Within 1 month after riding the bike with Di 2 I had Di 2 added to another road bike and my time trial bike. The expense was truly conspicuous consumption but I have enjoyed electronic shifting so much so that when I get on one of my bikes that doesn't have it, I am disappointed with the shifting and it is DuraAce.
I believe if you try electronic shifting you will lust after it and hopefully the price will be able to come down so all can enjoy. The Di 2 has remained maintencance free except for charging the battery every 3 or so months.
I believe I commented on the subject of wearing helmuts once before but I believe it is worth repeating.
The world needs organ donors and not wearing a helmut makes you eligible to be put on the organ donor list. Be sure you put on your driver's license that you are an organ donor. And thank you for your contribution.
Some would say the same about cyclists in general.
On a transcontinental tour with PACTour last summer a cyclist experienced a failure of his DuraAce Di2 system. The problem could not be diagnosed on the tour so he had to purchase an entire component group, an expensive fix. It could be that a local bike shop would have diagnostic tools, but in the middle of nowhere, corn fields on one side of the road and soybeans on the other, a diagnostic tool was not to be found. PACTour employs at least two good mechanics on each tour, and neither could diagnose the problem.
I have had problems with my prostate for 8 years many biopsies and luckily no cancer. My latest episode was my PSA elevated to 27.8 in June 2014. The specialist when asked stated it has nothing to do with cycling. I ride with a prostate friendly seat (very expensive but very very comfortable). He stated that all forms of exercise are beneficial to good health and most put some strain on parts of the body.
A few years ago, I noticed blood in my semen. I was pretty freaked out, needless to say. A urologist assured me this was not unusual, as (his words) "the prostate is a blood-soaked sponge,and easily traumatized." Cytology and other testing was negative for pathology. My PSA remains low. FWIW, I'm 64 years old.
I had been riding a new bike for a while before I noticed this problem. I replaced the saddle with an "E3 Form", which I got from PerformanceBike on sale, and have had no further problems. This saddle is no longer available, but it has morphed into the "Kontact" saddle, whose advertisement may even be on the page as you read this (it's to my left right now!).
In the interests of full disclosure, I have also been riding for years on a road bike with a Terry "Fly" saddle and a mountain bike with an OEM (cheap) Trek saddle, and have had no issues. For the last 15 months or so, I have been riding a new commuter bike (Tern Verge S11i) whose OEM saddle is very comfortable (I've done a Century on it); no prostate trauma. So it appears that it was one bad saddle that did the damage.
Whilst engaged in our Saturday ride in particularly gruelling weather and seeing other riders we used to joke: "They're not getting laid either". For why would anyone get up on a wet Saturday and go riding if they had (in our case) a woman in bed with them. I propose that the increased likelihood of prostate cancer among cyclists is proportional to the likelihood of them not having regular sex.
From a constant helmet wearer, not wearing a helmet just isn't the russian roulette some would make it out to be. If getting in accident where a helmet might save me was likely, a safety sally like myself wouldn't be riding in the first place. The two times I left my helmet behind leaving a friend's house I wondered why the particular ride felt so good, before realizing it was biking helmet free. So I can understand why some prefer it. But by now habit and peer pressure keep me wearing one.
As a TBI survior from a bicycle/car accident, I can attest that helmets help and I always wear mine. But that is not the core reason for wearing your helmet. In an accident without a helmet your chances of dead or worse, a coma or TBI is greater, thus changing your life; but, what about your family and friends. These are the people that bear the brunt of the pain and suffering for your actions. They are the ones that need to care for you during retraining and rehap. They'll suffer the financial woes from loss of income and mounting medical bills.
While at the time I was oblivious to this, it is quite disconcerting to have them recant events from the time. I don't know of any family man that won't do anything for their family or kids, so why would you not wear a helmet?
For a interesting prespective on this, read Saul Raisin's book "Tour de Life" or visit the Raisin Hope Foundation website.
In the article of "Helmet Last Line of Defense" is kinda like the debate people have about seatbelts. They may or may not save your life but they certainly do increase your chances of survival. When your head hits the ground, pavement or whatever, the helmet may or may not, depending on the severity of the crash, may well be the difference between no injury at all or a severe concussion or worse. Who's to say? Tom writes that you may ride more aggressively because you believe the helmet "keeps you safe". So are you saying people ride more aggressively today than in the past? I think not. People have been just as aggressive before the advent of helmets as they are today. People are aggressive at all sports and at all levels of sports. You don't have to be aggressive to have an accident. Many people have had head injuries when riding at a slow speed. Also, wearing of ear buds (IMO) is not particularly any more dangerous than not wearing them. Wearing ear buds is not going to prevent a distracted driver from hitting you. Many bike rides have been killed not wearing ear buds. I would say wearing a mirror would be more useful than not hearing ambient noise. To me it makes no sense not to wear something that could possibly prevent a major injury or death. Just my opinion.
Ahhh the old helmet debate! Has there been a cycling-related topic that has been thrashed to death as much? Everyone jumps in with their personal anecdote on how their helmet absolutely saved their lives. I won't get into the debate, as it's pointless and a waste of my time. Who cares if I have an opinion - especially if it doesn't match yours?What I will do though, is give you a link to more helmet debate than you will care to read. It's a website by Avery Burdett from Ottawa Ontario Canada. Avery has probaly got more info, links, studies, articles, statistics on the helmet issue than anyone in the world. Avery takes on, with much gusto, the government do-good nannies who think they know what's best for us. It doesn't matter whether they ride a bike or not; if they're a budding politician, there probably isn't an easier way to get your fifteen minutes of fame than by trying to ram though a mandatory helmet law. It always gets TV air time. So Avery goes forth to refute all their flawed statistics, outright lies and "reasoning". So far, in most of Canada, all have failed (except for under 16 yr olds).By the way, no matter what my personal thoughts on helmets are, I always wear one for ALL my riding. But I'm smart enough to know that the window of help from a helmet is this >>*<< narrow.If you want to have an educated opinion on helmets, read all of this site first -http://www.vehicularcyclist.com/
And by the way, with statistics like this, just WHO should be wearing helmets? -
Of 2500 Major Head Injuries Annually in Ontario - 49% motor vehicle involvement - including pedestrians, excluding cyclists. 35% falls, 6% homicide, 2% suicide, 6% other causes. Less than 2% Cycling.
John, you did a great job of summarizing the benefits of wearing a helmet. Even the article opposing wearing helmets states they are the last resort - exactly - so are seat belts in a car. There are multiple benefits to wearing a helmet, and I can't think of any logical downside to wearing one. Several years ago my wife fell at low speed crossing into an unmarked area of road that had been repaved and was a couple of inches higher. The result was a broken pelvis in 4 spots, and you could see where the helmet also hit the road. At minimum she would have suffered a concussion, possibly much worse.
I, too, have examples of the benefits of wearing a helmet. I feel naked if I don't have my helmet. Wearing a helmet will NOT guarantee non-injuries in a crash but it does increases the odds of a rider avoiding serious injuries or death. I was on the first day of a 3-day touring trip when I crashed on a descent (from a blow-out). I ended up with road rash on the entire left side of my body and my helmet was cracked in 5 places. I was still able to complete the ride. I was a police officer on-duty when I responded to a single cyclist accident. The cyclist was an avid cyclist but he never wore a helmet. He was probably distracted when he went over a speed bump at a slow speed, 5 mph. He crashed and his head hit the pavement. He did not have any external injuries but he sustained an internal head injury. He was in a coma for a month and, the last I heard, he was still in ICU. I also have another example where an 8-yr old boy rode in front of a car. The driver could not stop in time and the rear tire rolled over the boy's head. The youngster was fortunate in that the car was small compact and the helmet was saved the boy's life. No external injuries to his head; minor scrapes to his body. He was transported to the hospital for observation and the result was no injuries to his head.
Understanding the Pros and Cons of helmets; the professionals have only one position- Wear the helmet. Risk factors change over time; driver habits and attentiveness, traffic and road conditions, and weather; to say nothing of a riders' skills and attentiveness. What may have been once acceptable does not necessarily remain acceptable.
The first line of defense is developing good traffic skills and tactics that minimize your risks of a fall or collision; being highly visible makes a huge impact and knowing the limits of your cycling capabilities is critical.
The last line of defense should be your helmet not your hair. Your helmet, should you need it, has the potential to minimize serious permanent injury to your brain. With no helmet there is no possibility of offering a mitigation of that last line of defense.
The severity of a head injury is different; it is not a broken limb.
Make no mistake, helmets do not keep you safe, they only offer a potential to keep your next set of wheels from being ones you must sit in for the remainder of your life.
Just two weeks ago I was taken by ambulance to the closest helipad and then airlifted to UCLA Hospital, where I spent two days in the Neuro ICU. This unanticipated journey was due to my flying over my front handlebars for a reason that may never be known (possibly a heart arhythmia or seizure caused me to black out while cycling, or perhaps I hit a rock or rut in the road). My head took the full force of my fall, and I strongly believe that I would not be able to write this today if I had not been wearing my helmet. I've now made it a personal mission to approach every cyclist I see who isn't wearing a helmet, and use every opportunity I have when talking to groups, to tell my story and urge cyclists to wear a helmet, regardless of whether they ride in the street or only on the beach bike path. I also plan to talk to the manager of the bike shop that sponsors my cycling club, to ask if they'll provide a discount coupon for helmet purchases, which I can give to every cyclist I encounter who isn't wearing a helmet. I urge others to do likewise. Three other points I'd like to raise:
(1) Re: riding in a group - - I was with others, but many yards behind the riders in front of me, and several feet ahead of the 2 riders behind me, so it wasn't the typical pack/peloton situation (which CAN lead to accidents). I'm glad I was riding with others, because the riders right behind me were able to call 911 immediately. As for riding in a pack, just stay at the back of the pack unless you know the riders on all sides of you and know that they are experienced and skilled bike handlers.
(2) Re: earbuds - - it's against the law in many states to wear ear buds in both ears while cycling (same for driving). However, you can buy single (mono) ear buds (Radio Shack sells them, Best Buy does not). I only wear mine when doing a long ride, and I wear the mono bud in my right ear (i.e., the side away from street traffic), with the music at very low volume, so I can still hear everything around me (and BTW I don't wear my ear bud on group rides and wasn't wearing it when I crashed).
(3) There's new helmet technology, called the MIPS Brain Protection System, which will be available for road cycling helmets from Giro, Lazer, POC and other companies, very soon (see: www.mipshelmet.com ) It sounds like the way to go for any cyclist (skiers too!) who wants to do everything possible to prevent a concussion.
I'm happy to hear you survived your crash and seem to be doing well! Yours is a story that is shared by many.
We have been monitoring the new helmet tech for the past year, and both Jim Langley and I will be at Interbike next week, hoping to see more of it in person. It has slowly migrated from MTB to road helmets, and the tech mainly is geared toward mitigating concussions, in addition to providing the protection against skull fractures and contusions that is the main purpose of standard helmets.
Look for more from us in the future.
P.S. Thanks to everyone who took the time to Comment on this important issue!
I just wanted to point out that prior to 1980, there weren't any real bike helmets, so the argument that nobody was wearing them is completely disingenuous. The "leather hairnets" used by some racers were purely cosmetic, so most people didn't bother with them. The first generation of hard shell helmets like the Bell Biker were reasonably protective, but bulky, heavy and hot, so their acceptance was limited. As helmets have gotten lighter, cooler and more comfortable, they've rapidly gained acceptance until they are now the norm, rather than the exception.
There is no valid reason not to wear a helmet, unless you consider stubborness or "making a statement" to be valid reasons. I don't.
I am truly surprised that there is any debate about the advantages/disadvantages of wearing a helmet. The most heated arguments are about the mandatory use of them but I never ride without one and the idea that wearing a helmet will make me subconsciously ride in a less safe manner is weird, just as putting on a seatbelt would encourage reckless driving. Nonsense.
Statistics about not surving collisions with a car don't mean anything to me either. The two occasions when I broke a helmet came about when I was on the road alone. In the most recent case which was only two weeks ago I misjudged a corner and overcontrolled and realized I was going to come down and land on my hip. I was able to brake but hit the ground so slowly that my shorts were not marked nor my jacket elbow torn. But I was very surprised to find two paramedics standing over me and asking me what day of the week it was. As we reconstructed what had happened it was apparent that after landing on my right side there was still enough foward motion that I struck my head on the road. The helmet had a tiny mark on the outside but a big chunk of foam in the tail was broken. The result was a mild concussion and I have no idea how long I actually was sprawled in the road. The head makes up a significant part of one's bodyweight and I know that I am better off having worn that helmet than having my head strike the road without it. This alone justifies helmet use to me and the arguments against helmet wearing do not resonate at all.
Years ago I was cycling in Berlin when an older rider came alongside and we talked for a bit. I asked him why he wasn't wearing a helmet and he told me that he didn't plan to crash. I don't think any of us do!
Sprocketboy, your last paragraph contains the best argument for helmet use. Nobody *plans* to crash... that's why they're called "accidents"!
Well said John. I wish I had your writing skills. To use an old cliche: What do you call riders who don't wear a helmet? Organ doners.
A few thoughts on helmets from my perspective as a roadbike rider who rides for fun and fitness at age 64. BTW, both shoulders are injured from falling and the strength is just not there anymore.
1. As I get older, falling off my bike seems to be a longer fall and when I land I am less able to stop my fall with my hands. Therefore, as I get older I am more likely to strike my head. (A while ago I fell down the last two stairs and struck my forehead because I was unable to completely stop my fall with my hands. I wished I'd had my helmet on that day)
2. In riding with my friends who all go faster than 20 MPH, a fall is crazy and often we don't know up from down. That's when I'm glad I have my helmet on.
3. I do think that the higher speeds we ride at compared to recreational riders is more dangerous and I accept that. When I ride a high speeds I always have my helmet on. (Sometimes on warm down I ride without a helmet)
You can argue back and forth forever. As a cycling coach I have witnessed first hand how helmets have limited the injury from a crash. In my case saved me from a serious head injury or death. Wether I ride road or Mt. bike the helemt is always on. On a side note, helemts are good for one crash only. Replace it after you have hit your head in a crash. An incentive for not spending $200.00 plus on a helemt that is just as safe as the $50.00 one.
As a hand surgeon, I have worked in emergency departments and operating rooms for nearly 30 years. I have been there when patients roll in with head injuries. In addition, I have personally had two helmet-breaking significant head injuries. There is no question in my mind that "emergencies" and "accidents" are unplanned, unexpected, and, often, unavoidable. Helmets save lives and save brains. My opinion is that those who won't strap on a helmet are believing that "it won't happen to me." I'm here to say that "it can happen to you." Wear a helmet!
All this talk about helmets making you feel safer so you ride with less care because of it, reminds me a lot of similar arguments against wearing a motorcycle helmet. The argument that a high speed head on collision with a truck will not be any better with a helmet, is pretty similar to arguments from the motorcycle people as well. A helmet, whether for a bicycle or a motorcycle, is not going to save your life in the most extreme accident. However, it will save your life in a more common and less extreme accident.
Another thing is that injuries sort of add up in an accident. So if you are in an accident that maybe isn't life threatening, without a head injury. That same accident may become life threatening, or fatal, because of the additional injury.
I recently had a low speed fall on my commute home, probably 10mph or less. From that I pulled some ligaments in my shoulder, sprained a finger, and have a bruise the length of my shin. I believe that my helmet touched down, but not very hard. It could have easily hit harder and without a helmet I may have had some sort of head injury.
I don't wear my helmet to be reckless, either on the bicycle or the motorcycle. I also don't wear headphones on either. I do however pass anywhere from 6 to 12 people every day on the bike path here in Denver that have on headphones. I make a point of calling out to everyone as I approach, whether they are walking, running, or riding. There are a few that have their music so loud that I can hear it as I pass. Headphones on a bicycle, motorcycle, or automobile are just asking for an accident.
Another problem with the "Europeans don't wear helmets" argument: It's simply not true. They do, when riding racing bikes on the open road.
It is considered considerably more optional when riding an upright commuter, without clip-in pedals, where feet can go flat to the ground when on the saddle, in low-speed environments with good cycling infrastructure. I won't call that a good idea - but the risk profile does change considerably.
Also, the "I ride safer without a helmet" is an perceptual fallacy. A rider that habitually wears one will feel uncomfortable without - but that's a short-term change occurrence. It is not correct to conclude that a helmeted rider is less safe - just that he's less distracted by the change, and therefore *more* safe. Even without regard to helmets, no one wants to crash, risking skin, clothes, and bike (in addition to head). No sane person looks at a helmet as a magic protection cloak.
I think you are right that when you are used to a helmet riding without one is disorienting. I experienced this last September doing a "retro-ride" in Belgium. For perhaps the first time since I began wearing a helmet circa 1987 I rode a long distance without one but just an old-style cap. The photos look nicely vintage but I felt very uncomfortable, especially as old bikes have marginal brakes and there were some nasty cobbles as well!
I have taken the liberty to use the AGAINST arguments to use them in another sport for another piece of equipment. I simply substituted "Cycling" by "Hockey" and "Helmet"by "Jockstrap"
Here is the result:
prostate cancer - everyone will get it if they live long enough
and cyclists live longest, so :)
why anyone does this - riding in pelotons - either on urban roads - or AT ALL - is totally beyond me..
it is so dangerous
do THAT many people really race?
and they need to practice this aspect of it - constantly?
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