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    Steve's Helmet  
    [written after Don complained about a flat tire at night... ]

Jeepers Don, I thought folks in OR were really nice and considerate. Up here in BC anybody finding you in such a state on a lonely road in the darkness would have stopped, blockaded the road, dialed 911, arranged for a chopper airlift, rebuilt your bike and very likely notified your next of kin. But only if you were wearing a helmet. If you weren't they would have driven by, called the cops on their cell phone to have you arrested because in BC the law requires cyclists to wear a bucket. There is an exception to this requirement but it means you would have to wear a turban and I've found that helmets, although designed for a single application and not nearly as stylish, offer better protection.

I learned from a specific incident two summers ago how buckets really do save lives. I was descending a hill at nearly 80 kmh (50 mph); it was a beautiful road, flanked and canopied with majestic maple trees, gracefully winding down the hill side, when I hit a pot hole and unbeknownst to me, flatted my rear tire. There was no SSSSSSSS, just the usual sounds involved when riding at a high rate of speed. Come to think of it, I don't really know what those sounds are because at those speeds, I'm far too focused to be listening to anything ambient.

As I approached the first twist on the upcoming S curve, I recognized that I had a problem. A mere touch of the rear brake created a new and unique sound, one I'd not heard before. The unmistakable sound of aluminum scraping across asphalt. The sound was combined with the physical sense of having lost control over my destiny. I knew that I had just become a mere player in the scene that was about to unfold.

Amazingly, I passed through the first curve but approaching the second, the rear wheel skating uncontrollably across pavement with all the traction of a leather soled shoe on ice, I could no longer maintain my line. I shot across the oncoming lane, onto the gravel shoulder and was immediately launched over the handlebars, my Marinoni in airborne hot pursuit.

Now I must tell you of the two thoughts I had while momentarily in flight. The first was that because I was wearing a helmet, I was going to survive this incident. I put in plenty of mountain bike time where head hitting tree or head hitting ground are common place occurrences so I knew what was about to happen. My second thought was simply, "I really don't want to do this today." Before I could come up with any other contemplations I landed most violently in a shallow ditch taking the impact on my back, left arm and head. The Marinoni continued it's flight over top of me, landing across the ditch amongst some shrubbery.

Most fortunate for me, I didn't have to rely on a Good Samaritan to help me. One of my two riding companions that day was a fireman and triathelete. He checked me out for broken things of which he found none. My two buddies made sufficient repairs to my steed so that I could ride to civilization, tylenol 3's and beer about 10 km away. (I can't remember hurting that badly EVER.)

And the Bell Evo Pro? The styrofoam body was embedded with rocks and was split into three pieces. I learned a lot about helmet construction that day. This helmet has a skeleton molded into the styrofoam to hold it together because of the large amount of air holes. Interestingly, when I hit the ground I felt very little impact on my head. The helmet had absorbed an enormous amount of energy. I believe that had I not been wearing it, I would have been... well let's just say that I got a second chance. So the moral of this story is: Law or no law, wear a bucket. And damn the torpedoes, spend a lot of money and make sure it's a good one!

Steve "missing a few marbles" Heim

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  Page Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2003  
    CyclingSite > Stories & Humor > Steve's Helmet  

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