Three words of cycling advice - wear a helmet

Three words of cycling advice - wear a helmet

Some of friends and I signed up to a Breeze 60 mile ride in May. To date, the Team Honk blogger relay, at 50km (30 miles), is the furthest I have ridden. But feeling ambitious and ready for the challenge, spurred on by some magical early spring weather, we agreed to do it.

So, a few days after my recent house move, boxes still overflowing with random objects, the children frantically looking for whatever toys they could lay the hands on, I decided I needed some breathing space away from the house. I’ve also not been so well since I last blogged, suffering with costochondritis, a painful condition involving inflammation of the cartilage that attaches the ribs to the breastbone, so with that and the house move, there’s not been an awful lot of riding, and frankly, I was desperate to get out. So my friends and I decided on a training ride – 50km involving lots of hills around the Vale of Belvoir!

With enthusiasm, but some trepidation, we headed out in decent dry weather on a Sunday morning. I hasten to add, the weather wasn’t glorious sunshine – we still had tights on rather than shorts – and as it happens, we were incredibly grateful for that.

My friend had her new bike, a very lovely Pinnacle – her first ever road bike. I was feeling rather proud as it is me who has been encouraging her off her old and not so trusty mountain bike, and she was loving riding it!

But those feelings didn’t last for long.

About 30km in after over-coming a rather large hill, I looked behind to see where my two friends were, and as I did so, I hit the mud alongside the verge at the side of the road, and, yep, you guessed, it…I took a tumble! There were no cars; I wouldn’t have looked behind me going up a hill if I could hear a car behind me. I blame the clip-in pedals! In the past any falls with clip in pedals have been slow, but I actually had a little bit more speed this time and found myself in the nettles of the grass verge! Now, thankfully, I was wearing full length tights which gave some protection and I think the adrenalin from beating the hill disguised the bruised leg that later appeared!

I managed to pull myself up before any cars or my two friends saw that I’d fallen off. And I was fine! But it does always shake you a little and I was glad I’d been wearing my helmet, my full length tights and my gloves.

So, I was putting the chain back on as the two other ladies joined me. My friend on her new bike was still smiling! I’m an honest kind of girl so I admitted to having taking a little tumble! When people hear you’ve fallen off thanks to clip-in pedals, they always manage a little laugh! I’m kind of getting used to that now! And actually, it was absolutely nothing compared to what was about to happen.

A couple more hills and we reached the peak of our climb. We’d done incredibly well, we’re feeling rather proud of ourselves but we were pretty knackered. We decided to head down into the villages and stop for a well earned cuppa. There was just one last hill to conquer. So we pushed on and gave it one last blast of speed to get up the hill and earn the free-wheel ride on the other side.

Sadly, this is when the drama started.

My friend on her new bike couldn’t stop. She came round the outside of me and and as she passed me, she said: “I can’t stop!” We didn’t think she really meant she couldn’t stop – I think we just thought she was joking and was just enjoying the downhill ride. It became apparent very quickly that she really couldn’t stop!

A few expletives passed my lips at this point as we watched on helplessly.

Her new bike was snaking. Badly! She hit the next corner and came off, flying through the air, face up and landed with a thud on the grass at the side of the road on her back. Scary is not even close.

When we got to her, she was unconscious and not responding. ***! What do we do? After some panicky moments, we got it together. I don’t mind telling you that was one hairy moment that stayed with me for the next couple of weeks every time I closed my eyes!

The ambulance arrived quickly and the police were incredibly helpful and importantly, my friend is fine! Thankfully! Her helmet, however, is not! But it shows the importance of wearing one and I will never ride my bike again without one. You just never know when an accident will happen. That’s why it’s called an accident!

It really could have been a lot worse had my friend not been wearing that helmet. The crack up the back of it could have been a crack up the back of her skull. She had concussion for a good few days but no broken bones.

My friend wasn’t knocked off her bike by a car, or a bus, she simply lost control of her bike, on a gritty, slippery road – perhaps with a puncture as she headed down the hill – we’re not too sure, but the point is, her helmet definitely stopped any major damage to her head.

During the Easter holidays, I have seen lots of people, teenagers mainly, out riding their bikes without helmets. It is soooo not worth it, guys! OK, so you may not look the coolest with a big plastic bonce, but if anything happens to you whilst you’re out on your bike, your head stands a much better chance of surviving if you’re wearing that plastic bonce.

Trust me, should anything happen, you’ll be glad you were. Read this article here in the Telegraph about Ryan Smith, 16, who chose not to wear a helmet because he didn’t want to mess up his hair. You’re seeing my point now, right?

If you value your brain and your life, you’ll forget what you look like in a chin strap. And if you’re friends are your friends, they won’t care what you look like! They’ll just want you to be safe.

You are not invincible! WEAR A HELMET!

And yes, I am shouting that at you!

I’m @OrdCyclingGirl on twitter and I have posted my cycling helmet selfie there and on facebook to raise awareness about the importance of wearing a cycling helmet. It would be great to see yours on there too! Copy me in and I’ll retweet you! :) #wearahelmet

Posted

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Posted

Good advice , a fella was killed last year not far from my home ,he was off road and hit his head on a rock .

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Posted

as kid in the 70s i never used to wear a helmet as the roads were more cyclist friendly they always seemed to look a bit geeky, nowdays the roads are not so cyclist friendly and im probably cycling twice as fast as i did then and most of all the helmets these days have much improved, look pretty cool and are aerodynamic so i wont be without mine.  

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Posted

I understand the arguments for and against helmet wearing.  They are only rated to 12 mph, they are not going to save you if a truck just runs into you, in certain (rare) circumstances they could cause you more harm than they prevent, etc etc.  

I always wear a helmet though.  I came off on ice twice in January; first time I was doing about 15-17 mph, and fell along as much as down.  It hurt, and I wouldn't repeat the experience, but I did think "That could have been a lot worse" as I picked myself up and put the chain back on.  

The second time I was doing less than 5 mph, trying to turn across a country road to a gated road through a country estate.  I went straight down, hurt both arms and my right knee; my left wrist was broken.  This was the "could have been a lot worse" accident I had got away with before, and my speed led to how I fell which led to the severity of the injury.

In both cases, I hit my head quite hard on the right side.  I don't think either would have really damaged my skull, but I know the helmet made the head damage almost inconsequential.  I think subconsciously because of the helmet I didn't tense up too much and accepted the bang on the head, and that perhaps saved me from pulling muscles/damaging my back etc.

My wrist is now better and I can get back to training for the extreme event I have coming up.  I'm surprised that my fitness hasn't totally drained away in the five weeks I was off the bike!

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Posted

"I don’t think this is something that you can force upon someone, despite that all of know that it is important to wear a helmet while cycling. Here, I would like to mention that enthusiasm and excitement never make people forget that it’s their duty to wear helmets in order to ensure their own and others’ safety on road. I mean those who are aware of their responsibilities can’t forget to take safety gear along, especially on lengthy tours to unknown locations.

This one is an excellent read for every biker!"

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Posted

Glad to hear you and your friend are both ok undoubtable wearing a helmet helped prevent any major injurys.

I do however have my own opinions on wearing helmets which might make me unpopular to some people but here goes. I will do my best to try and explain but writting is not my strongest suit.

I have various bikes and own 2 helmets. I wear a helmet to commute to work, do training rides and participate in sportives and go on club runs. I dont wear one all the time when poping to the paper shop/ chip shop or pouching round the campsite/park with the kids or on long days touring or on traffic free cycle ways or in country parks. Whilst it should be compuslory for events I would hate to see it become law. I belive strongly in freedom of choice and personal responsability and would hate to see people being put off taking up cycling.

I ride motorbike and also enjoy running. In the motorbike world it is frowend upon if you ride without full leathers even when riding round town at low speed if I were to ride my motorbike at 40mph in lycra I would be slated, I do however do this on my cycle going down hill from time to time! (knowone bats an eyelid). I run 10ks at around 7-8mph (on roads sometimes with traffic) I never where a helmet yet this is a speed alot of people ride at especially if they're not on a road bike. also if you watch clips of cycle crashes its actualy quite rare to land on your head.

So to sum up of course wear a helmet to race and do events and to train with and do club social rides with but please use your common sense dont make it law and dont forget thoses days as a kid riding around with your mates with the wind in your hair.

PS. have you ever gotten a wasp stuck in your lid! now theres a thing to cause an acident. Happy cycing :0)

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Posted

Great post! I never used to wear a helmet as I thought I looked daft in one, this was a good few years ago before I bought my road bike.

I was out on Christmas eve (several years ago) with my mate on our mountain bikes along the back roads for some fitness. It was a cold day. We both turned the corner, on the pavement and at exactly the same time we hit black ice and hit the deck. I suffered road rash down my side and a bruised shoulder while my mate whacked his head. Thankfully he was wearing a helmet, the helmet ended up in the bin as it cracked!

Since that point I vowed to always wear a helmet and have done. On Boxing day I headed out and bough a helmet and have worn one ever since.

My 3 yr old and 8 yrs old sons both wear a helmet. They see me wearing mine and don't think twice about it, they hunt down their helmet before heading out on their bikes.

What angers me is the Dr's that come out with statements saying that helmets are useless and don't protect the skull. BOLLOCKS!

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