My First Helmet-Less Ride

Not my first ever; the helmet industry did not exist during my childhood cycling days and when I started riding again as an adult, it took awhile before I decided to buy a helmet. I also never wear a helmet when I’m pulling the kids in the trailer or similarly cruising around town. Until yesterday, though, I’d never ridden my roadie without my helmet.

I didn’t do it on purpose. I went to bed Friday night excited about the ride on Saturday morning. Maybe I had bad dreams or didn’t sleep well, but when I woke up the excitement had disappeared. I debated staying in bed, didn’t, then sort of sleepwalked through my pre-ride routines. Eventually I hopped on the bike and headed for the ride start. When I arrived, one of my buddies asked if I was celebrating the recent repeal of mandatory helmet laws. Huh? I  thought, before realizing what he meant and putting my hand on my head to confirm the absence of a helmet. In my lethargic start, I’d forgotten to put my helmet on.

Now I had a few options. I could sprint for the house, grab my helmet and then fly downtown to meet the group on the way out of town. Or, one of the other guys had an extra I could borrow. Not wanting to ride that hard or make the group wait on me, I rejected option one. Option two would have also required a detour, and I hate borrowing stuff, so I said no to that, too. That left option three: No helmet.

I’m lucky it was even an option. There’s some folks around here so uptight they would have refused to ride with me unless I wore a helmet. This group, though, did as I’d have done and said “it’s your head.” And it is. And yesterday, I decided to risk it.

Not that I think it’s really that much of a risk. I know helmets prevent head injuries. I have no plans to stop wearing one. Still, with nearly twenty thousand miles on my road bike, you know how many times I’ve crashed? None. I wasn’t too worried  about it.

Anyway, after all the debate, the ride was anti-climactic. I think it was cooler without the helmet, but I was home before the serious heat started, so I don’t know for sure. It was definitely nice having one less piece of equipment; one less hassle. I could wipe sweat from my face much easier than with the helmet in the way. Had less dripping in my eyes, too. As for the cliched “wind in the hair?” I dunno. Maybe because modern helmets have a lot of vents, but I didn’t notice a significant difference. One thing the wind did do, though, was mess my hair even worse than the helmet does. I had this big wave thing in the front of my head that would not lay down until half way through my shower after the ride.

All in all, not something I’d consciously do  again, but glad I did it just once.

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