After covering the essentials of mountain biking in my last blog I wanted to get more in depth on the importance of wearing helmets. I shouldn’t have to tell anyone that wearing a helmet is the most important part of biking but sadly I see people all the time without them. Don’t believe me? Well here are some facts for you! There are nearly 700 annual deaths each year from bicycle related accidents! Can you guess how many of those deaths are head injury related? Almost 75%! Not surprisingly, in 2009, 91% of bicyclists killed were not wearing a helmet! Studies show that helmets reduce or prevent most cyclists’ head injuries. It should be a no brainer (no pun intended) to wear a helmet but sadly it’s not. So I’m going tell you a few of my experiences and what you should look for in a helmet.
In the two plus years I’ve been mountain biking I’ve already been through two helmets that have saved my head from serious injury. The first time was a freak accident when my pedal caught a root and I got thrown a good five feet in front of my bike landing head and shoulder first into the side of the hill. My helmet suffered a few dents from the rocks but otherwise my head was fine! Sadly, the same couldn’t be said for my shoulder as I suffered a third degree AC separation which means I tore both ligaments in my shoulder. If the force from the crash tore two ligaments in my shoulder just imagine what it would have done to my head if I wasn’t wearing a helmet! After that incident I decided to get a new helmet because manufactures recommend replacing it after any damage has been done to it. A few months later I was riding on a dirt road taking my time when I get a little loose in a turn and fell to my side hitting my head on the ground. I brushed myself off and didn’t think anything about it until after the ride when I looked at my helmet. Sure enough there was a huge crack on the helmet that went all the way through! I couldn’t believe it because I thought I barely hit my head but my new helmet was already ruined! I’m just glad it was my helmet that took the beating and not my head!
Now that we all know the importance of wearing a helmet how do you pick one out? There are a million different types of helmets made specifically for road biking, mountain biking, downhill biking, and even multi-use helmets. Obviously you want to know what kind of biking you want to do and choose from there. I recommend going to your local bike shop and trying different helmets on so you know what fits your head best and is most comfortable to you. And please don’t just buy the cheapest helmet you see because this is protecting your head after all. Generally, the more expensive helmets will offer more protection and or weigh far less than the cheaper ones. Any helmet is better than no helmet!
Working as a paramedic for several years I have seen firsthand what a helmet can do for you. Luckily, I get a constant reminder why I wear a helmet every time I work but not everyone can see that first hand. That’s why I included two videos for your viewing pleasure! The first video is of a guy doing something he obviously shouldn’t be attempting but walks away from it because of his helmet. The second one is my favorite but obviously something that doesn’t happen very often. Though for the road cyclists it’s comparable to getting hit by a car which happens all the time! So please wear your helmet and be safe!