by Erick Wikum
“I don’t own a helmet.” “I can’t afford a helmet.” “It’s too hot to wear a helmet.” “The trail is much safer than roads.” “I’m a good rider, roller-skater, etc.” “I’m not going far.” These are among the excuses I imagine I would hear were I to ask various trail users why they neglect to wear a helmet or other safety equipment. And yet, accidents happen, and they can happen at any time to anyone.
Just this week during La Vuelta (the Tour of Spain), a leading international cycling race, overall leader (yellow jersey wearer) Primož Roglič unexpectedly contacted wheels with another rider in the closing meters of the race, crashing hard to the pavement. Here’s a short YouTube clip that shows the crash and its aftermath. Roglič is among the top few bike racers in the world and is an expert bike handler. If he can crash, then so too can you.
Two weeks ago, I was roller skiing on the trail between Morrow and Stubbs Mill Road. It was a beautiful evening and I had settled into a very comfortable, enjoyable rhythm. Suddenly, a small pebble caused my roller ski to skid. In what seemed like slow motion, I drifted to the right and off the trail, catching myself as I fell. I was wearing a helmet and knee pads, but that didn’t stop me from bloodying my forearm. I have roller-skied for many years and have not fallen previously. If something unexpected like this fall can happen to me, it can happen to you too.
No one is immune from accidents. Wearing a proper-fitting helmet and other safety equipment can mitigate the effects. Don’t make excuses. Just be prepared.