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Wear Your Helmet

Saturday, September 15, 2012 by Coach Tommy

Wear your helmet.

Of course, you know that. But I mean wear your helmet anytime you’re on the bike!

Think I’m playing the part of the over-protective triathlon coach? Let me tell you a story.

I just returned from Ironman Canada, but I almost didn’t make it to the start line. On the Friday before the race I picked up my bike at TriBike Transport then rode it eight miles back to the hotel.

As I approached the hotel, I wondered where I should go into the hotel with my bike. I decided to ride into the underground parking garage and take the elevator with my bike up to my room. I rode up to the parking garage entrance at a very slow speed. As I rode up to the entrance I saw a drainage grate.

Yes, that kind of grate.

The kind of grate that eats bike tires.

I couldn’t stop in time to avoid my wheel dropping into the slots in the grate. My bike stopped, I went over the handle bars and landed on my head and right shoulder.

Thank goodness I was wearing a helmet. See the picture below.

Image of a Damaged Bicycle Helmet

Notice the thickness difference between point A and point B at the red arrows. The thickness difference is due to the compression of the Styrofoam when my head hit the concrete. Notice the crack in the Styrofoam at the yellow arrow.

I’m amazed at the amount of compression. If I hadn’t had a helmet on my noggin, I guarantee I would have ended up in the hospital. Funny thing is, I didn’t even think about how hard I hit my head. I was more worried about my bike and the carbon front wheel! When I got back to my hotel room and looked at my helmet I realized how much my helmet protected my head.

This was a slow-speed crash. I wasn’t in a crazy 25 mph pace line. I wasn’t bombing down a mountain at 50 mph. I didn’t hit some gravel in a turn. I wasn’t cut off by another cyclist. Or hit by a car.

I was going maybe two miles per hour and just couldn’t avoid a hazard that I didn’t know was there.
If you do happen to hit your head and helmet on the ground, then it is time to buy a new helmet. The damage to my helmet is obvious and I have already replaced it with a new one. However, a helmet can be damaged by an impact even when the damage is not obvious. Manufacturers say to replace a helmet anytime it’s involved in a crash.

In case you’re missing the point, let me repeat it: Wear a helmet anytime you are on a bike.

 

 


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