Where's your head?

I'll never understand the logic of some people. "I'm just going around the block," or "I won't be going that fast," or "it's just a test drive," get the idea. These are all lame excuses for not using saftey devices such as seatbelts in cars or a helmet and protective gear while riding a motorcycle.

Not too long ago I was playing racquetball with a guy I had never met. They have a round robin event at a local health club and I go there to play. Anyway, after we played he was telling me how good it was to get back into the game. It turns out he had sustained some serious injuries in a motorcycle crash and almost died. Long story short, he was riding about 60 mph down a highway when a dog or coyote ran in front of him. The next thing he remembered was waking up in a hospital four months later. When I asked if he had been wearing a helmet he replied (this is great), "No, I wasn't going fast enough to need a helmet." Wait a minute, he spent four months in a coma but wearing a helmet wouldn't have helped him? How can you argue with that? He said he used to race when he was younger and he wore protective gear then but just going down the highway it is not necessary. Hmmm. Yeah, I argued that point with him but it didn't matter, he wouldn't be persuaded.

So, this raises some questions for me. For one, why do people think the pavement on the street  isn't as hard as the pavement on a racetrack? Also, how fast does one need to be going in order to need a helmet? Why would a person who has never ridden a motorcycle pick a sport bike as their first bike? Trust me, those are not "learning" bikes and if you are inexperienced, you have no business being on one.

First, when you hit your head on a hard surface, it doesn't have to be moving very fast to cause serious injury. There was a guy who used to work at the same place as me who fell off a ladder and hit his head on the sidewalk. Now he can't even function properly. I haven't run through the calculations but I know his head wasn't traveling that fast when it hit the sidewalk. Yeah, the skull is hard but the brain is soft. When you rattle it around inside the skull you're going to get some serious injuries.

One day, years ago, I saw a kid riding a motorcycle wearing a tank top, shorts, and flip-flops, oh yeah and baseball cap turned backwards (gotta be cool). But that wasn't even the worst part. In his left hand he was holding a cell phone to his ear! This guy was just asking to be made into road pizza. I felt tempted to swerve into his lane just to see how he would react with his one hand on the handlebar but, I didn't, I just laughed at him.

I've also heard the argument that wearing a helmet increases your likelihood of neck injury. Yeah, it's true, the helmet adds weight to your head and increases it's momentum in a crash but I reject it as a reason to not wear a helmet and here's why: When you crash and your body is rolling and flopping down the road your head isn't moving far enough in any direction to cause serious injury but it is moving far enough to slam repeatedly into the pavement. So, in the end, even if you do sustain neck injuries, the head injuries will probably be more serious.

Now, before you say I'm against riding I'll let you know that I do ride. I have a 2005 Kawasaki ZX-10 and I love it. I also have a dirt bike and I used to have a second road bike but I recently sold it. I've been riding for about 23 years but I certainly don't think I know everything about riding. When you start thinking that way, you open yourself up to disaster.

I'm not sure what made me think about this but thought I would throw it out there and see what other people think.

Uploaded 08/27/2008
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