Saturday, October 1, 2011

Helmets are a Good Thing

Racer Boy Ian took a nice fall yesterday afternoon, riding with our neighbors in the local woods. He crashed in the infamous "Gravity Pit" and rang his bell pretty good. Hit his head hard enough to "see white" for a few seconds, followed by ringing in the ears and a slight headache. All signs of a minor concussion, along with a slightly cracked and dented helmet. Ouch.

Mountain biking and even biking in general has its risks, like any sport. With the speeds Ian now carries through the woods, I knew eventually he'd experience a real crash. Sure, he's had plenty of slower speed falls, but nothing really hard, even after zillions of rides and races under his belt. I realize it's all part of the game and he really does seem to enjoy riding and racing. Ian is a not a "crasher", he rarely even falls. But eventually, we all get bitten playing on two wheels, and it's usually not a big deal. We hope.

Of course, it's concerning to hear your 12 year old son banged his head pretty hard, no matter what the cause. Luckily, these kind of events seem to happen far and few between. Ian has ridden literally hundreds of hours with just a few bumps and bruises along the way, until yesterday. Yesterday was his turn to get bitten.

There's risk to many sports, but I think the benefits usually outweigh the risk. He's experienced many hours of fun, being outside, competing, learning life lessons, and gaining great childhood memories via bicycling. I hope so anyway. And for me, fantastic father/son time. I often ask him if he's enjoying riding and racing, or feels pressured to ride in any way. The answer is always that he enjoys it. If he didn't, I wouldn't push the issue at all. It would be time for something else.

Being a parent is hard at times. You want to keep your kids safe, but not in a plastic wrapped bubble. Kids get banged up playing soccer, football, on the playground, or a long list of other activities. Kids are not designed to sit still and stay indoors. They need air, adventure, and physical activity. As do adults, even if many seem to forget that fact. Yes, I'm mentally justifying the risk. I guess that's part of being a parent. Nobody likes to see their kid get hurt.

When Ian woke up this morning, he still had a very slight headache. Checked with on-call Doc, said he should be fine. There's a cyclocross race tomorrow, Doc said if the headache is gone - should be okay. We'll play it by ear tomorrow. No pressure, tons of races ahead for Ian. Of course, he wants to race. We'll see.

We did go out today and buy a new helmet. Helmets certainly are a good thing. Yesterday was an important reminder of that fact.

Ride safe...


  1. Glad to see a good habit of wearing a helmet. I know mines saved my head and perhaps my life before. It goes without saying my son wears one. He just assumes from seeing me always wear one that its normal, so does like wise. Wish other parents would do the same!

  2. The comment above said it all "He just assumes from seeing me always wear one that its normal"!

  3. My kids had the helmet deal ingrained since birth - wear 'em on bikes, scooters and skateboards - without even thinking about it.

    I grew up in the '70s and helmets for bicycles basically didn't exist - rode a zillion miles without one. Skateboards too. Dirt motorcycles - always wore one however. When I worked in a bicycle shop in the early '80s, almost nobody wore helmets.

    Now, I wear a bicycle helmet 99% of the riding time, so my kids have seen me wear it for years. The whole culture has changes. Here in the Seattle area, almost every cyclist is wearing a helmet.

    Ian is riding fast enough now, that I do worry a bit about him getting banged up a bit. Just part of the sport though. On some downhill singletrack sections, he can now beat me. RIding with him is longer a "kid ride", but an actual ride - and has been for awhile now.

    Pretty cool to witness though. Fun stuff.