Last Friday I went on a 202 mile bike ride with retired professional cyclist Fast Freddie Rodriguez and a small group of cycling enthusiasts here in Maine. I learned a lot during the day. Unfortunately, all of us were also reminded of the importance of wearing a good quality helmet and carrying an ID with emergency contact information.
One of the riders in our small group had a terrible crash about 160 miles into our ride. The gentleman who crashed is a strong, experienced rider who just caught a bad edge of the road at 20+ miles per hour and tumbled head over heals into a ditch. He was wearing a high-quality helmet but still suffered a basilar skull fracture and concussion. He’s going to recover, but it was a scary moment for all of us and reminder to always wear a helmet.
The helmet that I’m currently using is two years old. Even though it has never absorbed an impact, it’s about to the end of its life. Helmets are mostly made of Styrofoam and that material does deteriorate over time even if you can’t see it deteriorating. So this morning I spent some time researching helmet construction and features of bike helmets. The Global Cycling Network is the first place I go to whenever I’m looking for information about cycling equipment. They have a good video about bike helmet selection. The video was filmed at the Kask factory (the brand that I currently wear and will probably continue to wear when I purchase this helmet) but the information can be applied to selecting a helmet from any brand. Pay particular attention to the section about fit.
You can buy the most expensive helmet on the market but it won’t do you a bit of good if you don’t properly fit and buckle it to your head. That’s why I cringe whenever I see kids riding their bikes with their helmets unbuckled. GCN has a video about how to properly fit your helmet. The Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky does too. Both videos are embedded below.
Carry Your ID!
The gentleman riding with us on Friday had filled out the required emergency contact form with the ride organizers and did have a friend in the group, but neither of those sources were as a quick as the ID and emergency contact info he had on him for contacting his wife.
I do almost all of my training rides alone on back roads so for that reason I always wear a Road ID that has my name and emergency contact numbers on it.
You can get Road IDs to fit on a Garmin watch, on a Fitbit, on an Apple watch, or as a stand-alone bracelet. I’ve been using the Road ID on my Garmin Instinct this year, but the stand-alone bracelet is more comfortable so I’m thinking about switching back to that. The downside to that is having two tan lines instead of one.
Tell Someone Where You’re Going
For many, many years I was a single guy who only had dogs at home relying on him. I would just jump on my bike and go for a ride. Now that I have kids the story is a bit different. I take fewer chances and I tell my partner the route I’m going on and when to expect me back. Recently, I’ve started building course routes in Google’s My Maps to share with her too.
You Don’t Plan for Accidents But You Can Be Prepared
No one plans to have a crash or other safety incident while out for a bike ride or a run. So you can’t plan for one, but you can be prepared in the event that one happens to you or one of your training partners. Wear a helmet, carry ID and emergency contact info, tell someone your plan.