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Sun, 18 Jun 2006


How I learned to love helmets

I'm mostly healed up from my cycling accident; no broken bones, although I certainly cracked my head a good one, my sacrum got a good whacking, and my right knee has a perfectly-formed arc of puncture wounds from the chainring.

Normally, I wear a helmet whle riding. However, on the Friday evening in question, the family had gone ahead without me. I donned my gloves, sweatband, and helmet; mounted up; and followed after. When I caught up, I noticed that Thomas wasn't wearing *his* helmet. When we stopped, I pointed this out to Jan, and suggested we do a helmet swap so that everyone would have a helmet most closely fitting his or her head.

Reasoning that having three wheels would make me more stable, and that, being closest to the ground, I would suffer the least injury in a crash, I was the designated bare-headed rider. This, unfortunately, proved to be a bad choice.

I was about two hundred yards from the house, ahead of everyone else, and moving about 25 mph when I stupidly applied pressure to only one of my front brakes. The right front brake locked; the cycle swivled around the axle in an amazing demonstration of precession and inertia, flipped, and dumped me unceremoniously onto the pavement.

I don't think I was unconscious for more than a second or two, although I have no recollection of actually flipping onto my back. When I discovered myself lying on the concrete, I first checked that all of my limbs were still attached and that I could feel my fingers and toes. I lay there a moment, wondering how far back Jan and the kids were (they don't generally get up to 25 mph...), whether I could stand up without doing myself further injury, and whether I *wanted* to stand up. A minute or two passed as I lay there, also wondering whether any of the neighbors had seen the incident (apparently not, for which I am on the one hand grateful and on the other concerned -- what if I had been riding solo and been more seriously injured?), and whether I would be run over if I simply stayed where I was until help arrived.

Deciding, finally, that I could move, I struggled to my feet a moment or two before Jan caught up with me. Stooped there as she rode up, I straightened out my cycle and contemplated riding the rest of the way home.

Jan, of course, asked whether I was okay, and if I needed assistance. I briefly explained what had happened, declared my intention of riding home, and noticed for the first time the abrasions and punctures on my knee where the chainring had scraped and then cut me as we rotated about. "Great," I said, "now I'm going to go into shock."

Fortunately, my prediction failed to come true as Jan held the cycle steady for me, I mounted up, and rode home. Between Bryan providing me with ice and Jan bandaging my knee, I received adequate first aid.

Naturally, I remained convalescent all day Saturday; however, I did attend church with the family on Sunday and returned to work Monday.

Overall, I was fortunate not to have suffered more grievous harm; but I am also much more keenly aware of the benefits of a helmet.

posted at: 17:41 |

Marc Elliot Hall St. Peters, Missouri 

Page created: 21 January 2002
Page modified: 14 November 2006

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