Cycle: Protect Your Head
photo by Jason Franz
Bike helmets are cool.
Forget what anyone else tells you, or how much you think you like the feeling of that breeze blowing your hair all over the place. Melon cases are where it's at. So is helmet head.
There is a certain - for lack of a better term - arrogance we cyclists have that we won't get hurt. Sure it happens, but it's always that other guy who either wasn't paying enough attention or was just plain unlucky.
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Frank Ferrante in An Evening with Groucho
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Even the most talented cyclists in the world fall victim to freaky fluke accidents, as seen this past Monday with the tragic death of pro Wouter Weylandt. Yes, Weylandt was wearing a helmet, but that doesn't change the fact that we can't predict or dictate what happens to us on our rides, even in the most controlled environments.
REAL DEAL BIKE TIP #15 - Replace the crusty caps. Bike helmets should be replaced every three to five years. Heat and sweat break down the foam that makes up the helmet's core protection, destroying any integrity needed to properly keep your noggin intact should you hit your head. And if you're still strapping on that lid you've been wearing since college, or the pads have glued to the foam from all that summer, yuck, go get a new one.
Besides, they're much better looking now.
If the foam is decayed and compromised by heat, sweat or impact, it's time for a new helmet.
photo by Jason Franz
Helmets are an essential part of any cyclist's outfit, regardless of the type of ride. And while we don't all need the $275 pro-level lid, a good helmet can be had for $40 to $50 -- a bargain considering its purpose is to protect your single most valuable asset.
Check out the new promotional video and State Bicycle Company. State is a great local business specializing in fixed gear rigs, and the new video does a fantastic job of showing off Phoenix and how great it is to ride around this town.
But not one rider is wearing a helmet.
Granted, there are not any laws currently in place across the Valley that require helmets for riders of any age. In fact only five municipalities across Arizona have mandatory helmet laws, and they are only for cyclists under 18. Not to mention all of the statistics upon statistics about cycling head injuries.
This should not matter, so why not help change the culture? Start by going out and treating yourself to a nice new lid. And get one that you like. If it's ugly, you won't wear it. If you have kids or if you have young neighbors who ride without helmets, give them one as a gift. Once they're in the habit, wearing helmets will become second nature.
A Tempe Broadmor Elementary School student is fit with a new helmet at one of the school's bike rodeos.
photo by Vicki Franz
Also, remember that helmets will only work if they're used correctly. Make sure the hat sits securely and level on the head with the straps positioned just below the ears and the chin strap fastened so that no more that two fingers can fit under your shin and the strap is snug when your mouth is open.
Change the culture.
The pedal pushing, antlered bunny will now step off the soap box. It's time to ride.
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