Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

BICYCLE HELMETS: Confusion Reigns Supreme

Alright, Lance's confession was not really a surprise.  More brouhaha.  The issues surrounding that whole thing are more than I'd ever consider tackling.  Suffice it to say that, IMHO, the USADA should be the next group to be scrutinized closely.  And Lance should move on with what he has left...after he makes some sincere apologies to those he really put the squeeze on over his career regarding his PED denial.  They deserve an apology.

Now, bicycle helmets.  Jesus, is nothing sacred?  Ah, just kidding.  Back in the '80's, when I got more serious about cycling, wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle was the in thing to do.  Still is but urban cycling has reduced the use of helmets somewhat.  Just my guess.  Nothing scientific here.  Just a post or two back, I went on about wearing helmets and the safety thing/brain damage thing associated with my thinking on helmets.  In my recent searches, what keeps popping up in the various articles or little things written on the sides of these web pages?  Helmets.  And the great illusion of safety associated with wearing helmets to protect from traumatic brain injury.

Don't wear a helmet!  No, I won't make that a general statement directed at all cyclists.  Seems like there are a few caveats.  Those cyclists who ride slowly, of certain young ages, and those who don't ride safely would benefit by wearing a helmet.  Maybe.  The data from a number of research articles is mostly based on slippery research or maybe misguided is a better choice of words here.  With no consistency to the data, who knows, eh?  One thing that keeps reappearing in these articles is that the data to support wearing a helmet to protect riders' skulls is, at best, minimal.  The caveats limit the situations where a helmet would be helpful, i.e.,  if how the helmet struck a hard object is the same as how it struck a similar hard object in the lab.  Single source accident (where the accident was caused by the cyclist), very young child, and you guess whatever else are situations where a helmet might help.  If velocity is added to the situation, the effectiveness of the helmet is diminished and the potential for the helmet actually hurting the cyclist increases (rotational injuries). Damn!  Here's a website worth perusing: bicycle helmets (Thanks, Nancy!)

Motorcycle helmets are considered very useful in reducing head injuries, I think.  Haven't actually read any articles about how safe they are, just inferred it from some of the comments I saw in the other websites I was checking out.  Bicycle helmets are an offshoot of motorcycle helmets.  They kind of took off in the 1990's. Bicycle helmet standards have diminished since the late 20th century, with the SNELL B-95 being the most advanced standards, but most new helmets are designed to meet lesser standards.  Very few helmets out there meet SNELL's B-95 standard.  Still looking.

Will I continue to wear my helmet?  Yes.  What I read on bicyclesafe.com and a few other websites is that safe bicycle riding is the real key to preventing bicycle/vehicle collisions, injuries, and deaths.  Helmets may not be as big a contributor to safety as once thought.  In fact, helmets seem to be way down on the list of smart things to do to ride more safely.  I believe that I ride safely.  I don't take unnecessary risks and I'm a slow, steady rider.  I do like a fast downhill, however...  For now, until something better is discovered, I'll keep my cranium covered, thank you.  Time for a beer...not while I'm riding.

A tune to jolt ya a bit...be sure to have your helmet on while listening to "Rebel, Rebel" by David Bowie.