Friday, April 2, 2010

Gear, But No Helmet?

I had a nice but very brief chat last Wednesday with a guy riding a Boulevard (Suzuki?). A very nice looking bike, by the way. I was walking back to my office after just having picked up my lunch from a little Japanese/Chinese eatery. He was just mounting the bike as I passed by and had not started the engine yet. As a greeting, I said something like "What a great day to be out riding!" (Sunny with temps in the 70's). He looked up at me and gave me a big grin. To look at me, dressed in business casual, he wouldn't maybe have guessed that I rode, except for what I said. (And maybe how I said it) But there was an instant little connection between us. You know what I'm talking about. Like we know something no one else does. The joy of riding on a beautiful day like today. The breeze was strong today from the south. He said he had ridden this morning from Newton, a small city about 25 miles north of here. He complained a bit about the wind, but also said he was really looking forward to the ride home with the wind at his back. I smiled and laughed back at him, knowing the feeling all too well. That was about the extent of our conversation. I had to get back to work and he was ready to ride. As I walked back to the office I heard him start the bike, pull out on to the street and pass by me. As we were talking I noticed that he had on a fairly well worn denim jacket with pads in it. I had actually admired one like it recently while thumbing through a catalog. But he wore no helmet. Just sunglasses. It just seemed a bit odd to me to wear armor on his body, but not his head. Maybe I am way off base, but to me, my head takes a high priority when I consider safety issues. On the ride home that day I saw more motorcycles than I had in probably the last 4 months. I would guess that 70% were not wearing helmets, many of those just wearing T-shirts. It was a really nice day. Kansas does not have a helmet law. It gets proposed at the state legislature occasionally, but usually quickly shot down. Choruses of "Freedom!" and "Individual Rights!" are the usual response to any proposed legislation. I guess I can appreciate the feeling of wind in your hair on a warm sunny day like today was. And maybe a rider like that knows something more than I do. I certainly do not have many years of experience. And I am not the kind of person that tells others how to lead their lives, but the logic here escapes me just a little bit. I may be in the minority and a "daredevil accountant" (as Iron'Gran'Dad sometimes refers to me), but I plan to continue wearing a "Lid" and "Gear" simultaneously and indefinitely. Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone with SprintSpeed


  1. I'm a head injury survivor.

    One day my life was one way and the next it was different, way more than a half of bubble off.

    Mine was not a motorcycle or car accident. All I did was walk into the exposed underside of a outdoor stairway. I'm an old jock and have multiple knee and shoulder injuries and a number of operations. My body at near 60 still works quite well. My head? Ten years after the accident I'm grateful that it works pretty well, but it will never be the same again. I can't imagine riding without a helmet. I can't imagine skipping any opportunity to protect my world, because that's what happens when one becomes a "conk", you lose your world. No sour grapes here. I'm grateful for the world I dwell in today, but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss my pre-conk self.

    I'm glad you wear a helmet. I wish every one did.


  2. Keith,
    I appreciate your recent comments to my little blog. I was briefly knocked unconscious in a rather small accident last year. I was damn glad I had a helmet on. No recurring effects from the incident, but I hesitate to consider what the result would have been had I not had a helmet on.
    And I am not really trying to be preachy. Everyone reaches their own decisions regarding safety.
    To me, the old noggin is pretty important.

  3. The gentleman on the Suzuki is where the term "Donor-Cycle" comes from. Not only is he protecting his vital organs by wearing the jacket, but he is also wearing eye protection. Keeping all the transplant-able bits and pieces in good order.

    I too would never tell another rider what they should or shouldn't wear, as you say it's very much a personal choice. I probably wouldn't want to ride with them though, as I wouldn't really trust there judgment...

  4. Three times my head has been saved by helmets. Twice on a mountain bike and once on a motorcycle. I personally will be wearing one every time I ride. I believe however that people should have the choice, I just wish more would make the smart choice and wear one.

  5. I get contacted by ABATE chapters from time to time, and my reply is always the same: I would be willing to say you are within your rights not to wear a helmet if you are willing to relieve the taxpayers (like me) and insurance policy holders (also like me) from any obligation to pay for the results of you landing on your unprotected head. I suppose I could also say something like, anyone who rides and doesn't wear a helmet doesn't have anything in their head requiring protection, but I don't...

    Scootin' Old Skool

  6. Hair flying in the wind is nice, but common sense is much nicer. I have to wonder if a helmet-less rider would willingly step in front of a moving bus or on-coming train? Somehow, I doubt it. It's what we don't see and do not prepare for that gets us.

  7. Riding without a helmet is not a guarantee that you will wreck. If it were no one would ride without. I'd gladly trade a national helmet law for single payer health care.

  8. I'm with you Jim. I just don't get it. And while I don't tell people what they should do, I've been asked on many occasions "why" I wear "all that gear." I'm glad we're in the same club.