A first hand account / Helmet psa

Scary stat – 91% of bicyclists killed in 2009 reportedly weren’t wearing helmets.
(A number that seems to fluctuate between 90 and 95% in any given year)

If you needed a reason to wear a helmet that should be convincing enough.

Or perhaps this will help.

After everything was cleaned before it bruised.

After everything was cleaned before it bruised.

My head would look like this if I had not been wearing a helmet. Likely it would look way worse.

Saturday I took a pretty good spill while riding in Santa Cruz. I am really lucky to have walked away with scrapes, bumps and bruises. Oh and one small important detail – a completely destroyed helmet.

Front tire washed out and I slammed down on the right side. I am not exactly sure
what hit first but my first words were: “I hit my head really hard”.

After a few minutes of remaining still, I started to check in on the body parts.
Vision was fine
Head didn’t hurt, no headache, no bruising
Face – no scrapes, scratches, gouges or blood
Neck – yup – a bit of self inflicted side whip lash – the left side of my neck was going to be sore but motion was fine.
Shoulder – scrapes
Elbow – got that good – nice big friction burn – the kind that sticks to your sleeve and hurts like hell to unpeel hours later.
Ribs – mild bruising, still not sleeping on my right side.
Hip – little road rash but I now fully endorse mountain bike shorts over cycling shorts. I think had I just been wearing road shorts I would have torn through them and chewed up my hip. The layer of nylon provided a slide layer as well as a tougher shell. Definite selling point for mtb shorts that I had never considered before, I had always worn them because I didn’t feel so “exposed” and they had useful pockets.
Knee and Shin – They look really pretty these days… The most visible battle wounds were definitely to my shin and knee. A few burns, 2 deep gouges and lots of dried on blood. The bruises are just starting to emerge 5 days later leaving my shin a variety of colors from yellow to deep purple.

And boy how lucky I am.
We got back to the car after another two+ hours of riding and Charlie noticed that my helmet had a dent in it. Then he discovered the ripple in the shell. Taking the helmet off we discovered the protective foam pretty much shattered all the way through in 4 places and compressed in others. When I think of that having been my head I don’t regret one bit dropping the big money on a helmet that fit my head.

Specialized Prevail

Specialized Prevail

I ended up with this particular helmet because when shopping it was the only helmet that I could not push off my head with ease. It locked down tightly without having any pressure points. As it always seems, it was the most expensive helmet in the shop. The shop guy at Mike’s Bikes said that I wouldn’t regret the purchase. It was the helmet that he personally wore (along with everyone else in the shop) and he was confident that the helmet had saved his head in a recent crash. I was doing a fair bit of road riding and decided better to be safe than sorry so I plunked down the $280 (ouch – that hurt – but it didn’t hurt more than my head would have and it was certainly cheaper than a trip to the er.)

The day after this crash – I gladly returned to the same bike shop ready to spend another 3 bills to purchase the exact same helmet. I have no doubt the helmet saved me from a concussion. My right temple took a direct blow on a rock with all of the centrifugal force of my body and bike behind it.

Additional bonus: Specialized has a helmet replacement program. If one of their helmets needs to be replaced after an incident you receive 20% off the price of the new one. They also dropped the price of their top-of-the-line helmets to $225. Tack on my MCBC discount and it was nearly half the price of the original.

For those skeptics out there that say – all helmets are the same be assured they are not. They may look similar and seem as if they are made from the same materials but the technology that goes into the construction isn’t. That said – any helmet is better than no helmet.

This is not a pretty site but it has tons of information about helmet safety: http://www.helmets.org/

When purchasing a helmet look for these certification standards:
Current bike helmet standards include:

CPSC: Every bicycle helmet sold in the US must meet our national standard.
ASTM F1447: Identical to CPSC.
Snell B90-S: Essentially identical to CPSC.
Snell B95: More stringent than CPSC, but little-used.
CEN or EN1078: The European standard. Permits lighter, thinner (less protective) helmets than any of the above standards.

Also consider a helmet with MIPS technology. I will go into this later when I talk about my search for the perfect mountain bike helmet. I would like to use the above helmet for road riding and have a mountain specific helmet that covers more of the back of the head. The search is ongoing. I will let you know what I find.

Til then – be safe and put a lid on your coconut.