Helmets, to wear them or not.

wearing a cycling helmet

Helmets, to wear them or not. This was going to be a serious and high-minded post looking at the arguments on both sides of that particularly hot potato. But, do you know, I just can’t be arsed!

I grew up in halcyon times. Being outside unsupervised was still allowed and the bicycle was the winged steed we all rode into action. Of course, no one even thought about wearing a helmet, even racing pro’s didn’t.Image result for picture of 1970;s cycling racers

So no surprise that upon my return to cycling in middle age I still gave it no thought at all. Until, that is, people started pulling me up on the subject. Loved ones, friends, acquaintances, complete strangers, on bikes or even in passing cars. All concerned, indignant or angry about my unadorned barnet.

I started to feel a little uneasy, as though the Health & Safety angst of a whole nation was pointing a shaking finger at me every time I went out on my bike. Self doubt was creeping in so decided I ought at least do some research into the subject. You know, sometimes you just need to check you’re not being an asshole.

The literature on the Great Helmet Debate is a place you can lose yourself for hours. The arguments are all out there, analysis, re-analysis, meta analysis. Round and round they go, in the end all that is clear is that nothing is clear. Pick your side and, whichever it is, you can arm yourself with all the unassailable arguments you need to ride into battle, confidently expecting a righteous victory.

If you can’t be bothered to go trawling, a comprehensive, balanced and well presented meta analysis of cycle helmet evidence by Cycling UK can be read here.

Initially I was firmly in the camp of non helmet wearers. Latterly less so. I’ve become a fence sitter. I know fence sitting is derided as weak….but nah, it’s not, think of it as a position of non-entrenchment. A willingness to accept validity to the arguments of both sides.We ought to be united by the spirit of freedom to choose. Freedom is, lest we forget, a central tenet of being a cyclist. What I put on my head, or don’t, is up to me. What others do or don’t put on theirs is up to them.

There is something pervasive happening when some people in public spaces think it’s their duty to give strangers Health and Safety advice. If there is one thing in this debate that really irks me it is that. Where does it lead, do we start to think it’s ok to tell fat people to put the bag of chips down.

Let’s all mind our own business. This is what I variously wear while minding mine:

man wearing cycle helmet

For when I’m supposed to be taking it seriously or I think I’m going to take risks! Makes me feel safe but I’m under no illusions that it probably has barely any more energy absorbing properties than the next item.

man with pan on head

Hmmm, with a chin strap this could work and would look great with my titanium frame. But, maybe I’ll go with the trusty train driver look instead.

man wearing train drivers hat

A firm favourite. Great for keeping rain, snow and hail out of your face and also obscuring forward vision.

In which case, turn it around. So versatile! Note: tips of big ears tuck under the rim for nice little aero effect  and to prevent me looking like a wing nut.

Mutton dressed as lamb, this mode helps prevent the Red Neck look and directs a pleasing draught down a sweaty back. Acts as a speed limiter as it lifts off at over 25mph due to an interesting aerofoil effect.

It could be kept in place at speed, and offer additional impact protection, by being paired like this.

man being silly with hats

But if you really want to be daring and are ballsy enough to brave the disapproval you need to wear this.

man not wearing hat

Nowt. Brave beyond words.