Look Pro: Keep a Lid on It

The most stylish bit of gear in Cycling history: the Cycling Cap
The most stylish bit of gear in Cycling history: the Cycling Cap

Cycling has been suffering a crisis every since the use of a helmet became compulsory. This crisis is rooted in the simple fact that cycling peaked aesthetically with the cycling cap perched casually deliberate atop a sweaty cranium. It was only after mandatory helmet dictum spread its tentacles into all UCI-sanctioned races in 2003 that helmet manufacturers began taking helmet design seriously.

To be clear, I am a helmet advocate. I never leave home without mine, and no Cyclist shall ever be allowed to start a Cogal without perching one on their noggin. But I do this in the knowledge that I look less Fantastic that if I were rolling out in a classic cotton Cycling Cap.

Specialized was the first to make inroads into building a stylish helmet with the Sub-Six. The fact that every other helmet was a hollowed-out bowling ball didn’t matter very much because no one wore them outside Belgium, and even there, they were permitted to wear the second-coolest piece of headgear, the Hairnet. Giro made some inroads with their Air Attack series, but progress was generally at a standstill until the hardshell became mandatory after the tragic death of Andrey Kivilev in Paris-Nice in 2003.

The issue of the helmet has also been compounded by the fact that most continental Pros had no clue how to wear a helmet, given that they spent most of their lives not wearing one. When asked to, they often suffered from Toad Head and other anomalies commonly encountered when violating the Three-Point System.

Helmets are a necessary evil which are improving in style, but they are all uglier than the hallowed Cycling Cap. When wearing a helmet, keep the following points in mind.

  1. Keep the front low to the eyes. Forehead exposure must be limited to 1-2 cm at all times. As always, the Three-Point System is your guide.
  2. Keep the chin strap snug, but not too tight; you need to be able to move your mouth sufficiently in order to allow for the inhaling of wasps.
  3. Helmets look even worse without shades; they must be accompanied by cycling-specific eyewear at all times. If they are not in use over the eyes, they must be tucked in the helmet vents.
  4. Helmets are under no circumstances to resemble that of one worn in other sports such as hockey or rock climbing.
  5. If, at any point, you find yourself reaching for the same helmet as the hipster who arrived at the LBS aboard a fixie, reconsider your life because you are off the path.

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163 Replies to “Look Pro: Keep a Lid on It”

  1. @Ron

    Jaysus, Ludo looks like he should be carrying a club and killing mammoths with a spear, or by hand.

    No shit.  Here’s another one that makes me smile that I found while trying to find an image of the back of that helmet.  Lando Dierckxsens???

  2. Training ride at speed? Yes. Recovery ride in the county. No.

    Cycling at 17 mph is not a dangerous activity, a fact proven every day outside the U S of A by millions.

    YMMV

    PS The weenier shot is smokin hot and I’m all warm and tingly inside now.

  3. @FuriousFred

    Training ride at speed? Yes. Recovery ride in the county. No.

    Cycling at 17 mph is not a dangerous activity, a fact proven every day outside the U S of A by millions.

    YMMV

    PS The weenier shot is smokin hot and I’m all warm and tingly inside now.

    I’m totally on board with the idea that cycling is not a dangerous activity but you should check the Design Standard of your helmet if you want to make an informed decision.

    Of the two situations you described it’s designed to protect you in one of them (maybe, depending on the Standard) and it isn’t the one you are using it for.

  4. @FuriousFred

    Training ride at speed? Yes. Recovery ride in the county. No.

    Cycling at 17 mph is not a dangerous activity, a fact proven every day outside the U S of A by millions.

    YMMV

     

    Uh, take a look at my post above, with the pic of my broken helmet and the X-ray of the plate holding my clavicle together. I was going approximately 17 MPH when I went down. Hell, you could fail to unclip at a stoplight at 0 MPH–your skull is always going to give before asphalt and concrete.

  5. Never said you couldn’t get injured going 17 mph or 0 mph. At 56 I know a think or two about getting hurt including a TBI with an 8 year recovery. Million of cyclists around the world ride their entire lives and never hit their heads. Some do. I know the ‘risks’ [extremely limited] and have made my choices.

    If people are really worried about my safety they’d come get the potato chips out of our pantry.

  6. @FuriousFred

    Never said you couldn’t get injured going 17 mph or 0 mph. At 56 I know a think or two about getting hurt including a TBI with an 8 year recovery. Million of cyclists around the world ride their entire lives and never hit their heads. Some do. I know the ‘risks’ [extremely limited] and have made my choices.

    If people are really worried about my safety they’d come get the Potato chips out of our pantry.

    In the unlikely event you are hit by a car, even when standing still you’ll get flipped on its bonnet (hood) and your head will make contact with the windshield. You’re not going to walk away from a trauma like that but you might recover from it if your head has some protection.

  7. Could, might, maybe……….

    Life is risky, look at it objectively and make your choices. I have.

    Others won’t always make the same choices as “you”.  Learn to live [ha!] with that fact.

  8. @FuriousFred

    Could, might, maybe……….

    Life is risky, look at it objectively and make your choices. I have.

    Others won’t always make the same choices as “you”. Learn to live [ha!] with that fact.

    Of course we could be hit by an asteroid this afternoon and then how silly will we all look?

  9. @the Engine

    @FuriousFred

    Could, might, maybe……….

    Life is risky, look at it objectively and make your choices. I have.

    Others won’t always make the same choices as “you”. Learn to live [ha!] with that fact.

    Of course we could be hit by an asteroid this afternoon and then how silly will we all look?

    That’s why I stay in my bug out shelter and never go outside.

  10. @the Engine

    Not necessarily will you get flipped onto the bonnet (hood).  In my case I was hit directly from behind by a car and as far as can be worked out I cleared the car completely and landed in the road behind it.  All things being considered I was extremely lucky as I landed on my shoulder blade and head.  My rucksack took a lot of the impact (I was on the way home from work and so had work clothes etc in a rucksack) which saved my shoulder/back and my helmet was split in two.  No doubt I would most likely have bee daisy fodder without a helmet.  As it was I “just” had a heck of a headache for a few days, neck injuries (trouble supporting my head for a few days) and road rash from above my waist to my knee on my back and side from the post first bounce impacts.  Oh and the bike was trashed.

  11. @the Engine

    @FuriousFred

    Never said you couldn’t get injured going 17 mph or 0 mph. At 56 I know a think or two about getting hurt including a TBI with an 8 year recovery. Million of cyclists around the world ride their entire lives and never hit their heads. Some do. I know the ‘risks’ [extremely limited] and have made my choices.

    If people are really worried about my safety they’d come get the Potato chips out of our pantry.

    In the unlikely event you are hit by a car, even when standing still you’ll get flipped on its bonnet (hood) and your head will make contact with the windshield. You’re not going to walk away from a trauma like that but you might recover from it if your head has some protection.

    In my only major impact with a vehicle I was struck from behind by a pick up truck and didn’t end up on the bonnet. I rotated forward and dropped into a roadworks trench landing right on the top of my helmet and then over onto my rucksack(early morning commute)  still attached to the bike at the pedals. My helmet split and I did crush my tinned soup lunch. The worst injuries were 2 crushed vertebrae (T7 and T11) but I’m sure my skull would have worse off without that layer of polystyrene to take the impact with the hardcore. I do know of many other rear end shunts where the rider did strike the windscreen though and came off much worse than I did. I was lucky this time. Never the less I’m never comfortable on the bike without a lid but still believe it is the individuals decision to wear one.

  12. @JohnB

    @the Engine

    @FuriousFred

    Never said you couldn’t get injured going 17 mph or 0 mph. At 56 I know a think or two about getting hurt including a TBI with an 8 year recovery. Million of cyclists around the world ride their entire lives and never hit their heads. Some do. I know the ‘risks’ [extremely limited] and have made my choices.

    If people are really worried about my safety they’d come get the Potato chips out of our pantry.

    In the unlikely event you are hit by a car, even when standing still you’ll get flipped on its bonnet (hood) and your head will make contact with the windshield. You’re not going to walk away from a trauma like that but you might recover from it if your head has some protection.

    In my only major impact with a vehicle I was struck from behind by a pick up truck and didn’t end up on the bonnet. I rotated forward and dropped into a roadworks trench landing right on the top of my helmet and then over onto my rucksack(early morning commute) still attached to the bike at the pedals. My helmet split and I did crush my tinned soup lunch. The worst injuries were 2 crushed vertebrae (T7 and T11) but I’m sure my skull would have worse off without that layer of polystyrene to take the impact with the hardcore. I do know of many other rear end shunts where the rider did strike the windscreen though and came off much worse than I did. I was lucky this time. Never the less I’m never comfortable on the bike without a lid but still believe it is the individuals decision to wear one.

    Oh ouch. That’s pretty nuts there, @JohnB. I have to say that I’ve been lucky with my recent accident-by-sideswipe. I did hit my head and I’m VERY glad I was wearing a helmet. (As an aside, I’ve also hit the deck at 65mph on a motorcycle, and also hit my head during that impact. Thank Merckx for helmets!)

  13. From the Aug issue of Switchback magazine:

    MTB legend Tom Ritchey was riding in Moab, UT. Even skilled mountain bikers regularly fall on the complex rock paths at Moab, but Tom (as always) was not wearing a helmet.

    Someone asked him why. “Tom, this is a dangerous place and if you fall, you’ll hit solid rock. Why aren’t you wearing a helmet?”

    He replied, “I’m Tom Ritchey. I can ride anything.”

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