The blog about cycling.


The Cycling Helmet

This entry is part of a series: Cycling Cloth­ing»

Cycling Cloth­ing

Of course, cyclists in tight-fitting lycra and span­dex look ter­ri­bly silly. You know this. We know this. It’s not like the joke is on us. We under­stand. If we see our reflec­tion, we all tend to think, “What a dork” or some other unflat­ter­ing thought.

For­tu­nately for us, we have valid rea­sons for wear­ing the cloth­ing we do. And the rea­sons are good enough to over­come our self-consciousness con­cern­ing the sight we are as we ride down the street.

For what it’s worth, while the inter­net may give me a bet­ter deal on the exact same item, I usu­ally don’t buy my cloth­ing online. I pre­fer to buy my cloth­ing from a local bike shop (LBS) where I can try it on before I buy, to ensure it fits properly.

In this series, I’m dis­cussing each of the items in a cyclist’s closet from the top down, why we use these items, and how to use these items. Last up, the helmet.


The hel­met really isn’t a piece of cloth­ing and won’t be dis­cussed here except to say: wear one at all times! You never know when you could end up on the ground.

When wear­ing your hel­met, it’s impor­tant that it be adjusted prop­erly to fit you. (Par­ents: don’t let your child ride with one that is obvi­ously too big or too small.) The front edge of the hel­met should run across the fore­head, par­al­lel with the ground. Too many rid­ers tilt the hel­met back­wards (out of their eyes?) where it pro­vides lit­tle to no pro­tec­tion at all for falls toward the front. Adjust the straps while you’re at it, so the hel­met fits snugly but com­fort­ably and doesn’t move easily.

Even if you think you can han­dle your­self very well on a bike (“I won’t fall”), you never know. I remem­ber sev­eral times my hel­met unex­pect­edly pro­tected me. Once, I was rid­ing when my chain unex­pect­edly snapped. I went tum­bling over my han­dle­bars and dis­tinctly remem­ber rolling over the top of my head. While I broke my elbow, my head was fine. Another time, my crank snapped and I remem­ber that time slid­ing across the pave­ment on my side, and–you guessed it–my hel­met. My hel­met cracked, but I was fine (other than some minor bruises). And, at other times, I have had minor alter­ca­tions with cars–again, unex­pect­edly. The theme in all this? Unex­pected. You never know when you’ll be really thank­ful for a hel­met. So, wear one at all times!

Par­ents: in some cities, it is the law for chil­dren to wear hel­mets when on their bikes. Even if it isn’t, again, you never know when some­thing could hap­pen (God for­bid!). Get your young ones used to the idea of always wear­ing a hel­met while they are young. As they grow older, it will just be second-nature to them.

© 2011, Mark. All rights reserved.

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