Friday, May 14, 2010

Every Time I Put My Helmet on. . .

Every time I put my helmet on, whether an Army Kevlar or bicycle helmet, I know I could actually need it.  I keep a crushed, bloody helmet that held together in last big bicycle accident.  It is hanging on the wall in the room where I keep my bikes.  I can take a look at it on the way out the door if I am ever stupid enough to ride without a helmet. 

On May 1, I rode to a race in Millersville PA.  The start line was just eight miles from my house.  When I got within two miles of the race, I started to see bicycles on both sides of route 999.  The riders were warming up for the race.  When I got a little closer a long double line of motorcycles went past me heading east on 999 toward Lancaster.

I would guess 60 or 70 motorcycles thundered past in three or four minutes.  Most of the bikes were Harleys without mufflers.  Most of the riders and passengers were not wearing helmets. 

I have had a few motorcycle accidents, one that left me in the hospital for two weeks.  In the "big crash" I tore both of my knees open and had a lot of other injuries.  The bike flipped in a turn and I flew though the air, landing face fist on my full coverage helmet.  Until I quit riding motorcycles, I kept that helmet to remind me that even if helmets were not required I should wear one.  The visor and the chin bar of the helmet had deep grooves from sliding on rough pavement at 75 mph.  Without a helmet I would have been dead.

At the time of the crash I was young and just out of the Army so I was in pretty good shape for the long recovery.  I also wore a heavy leather jacked and boots that spared me some injuries.

The riders going past me at 55 mph were wearing t-shirts and jeans along with a bandana instead of a helmet.  Many of the riders stretched the fabric of an XXL t-shirt tighter than bicycle racers spandex.  Some statistics put the death rate on motorcycles at 30 times higher per mile than cars and trucks. 

I was riding at an average speed of 30 feet per second wearing a helmet.  The chugging cruisers were traveling 90 feet per second without helmets.

Makes no sense to me.

SPQR and America

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