Cracked Helmets are Better than Cracked Skulls

Cracked Helmet

As coordinator of communications, I don't get to author many blogs. I'm usually coordinating others' blogs for publishing. It makes sense because, well, I coordinate the communications of others who actually know what they're talking about when it comes to public health.

That said, I wanted to share a brief story that shook me up and taught me a few things.

So last Thursday after dinner, I took my two boys (aged 7 and 9) for a bike ride through Shuniah Mines. As part of the Blacksheep Mountain Biking community, we've traversed these trails a fair bit this summer. Thursday, we headed out to do a fun ride in the evening. Of all the routes, the fam fave is undoubtedly the Grand Chasm. My goodness! So. Much. Fun. Grand Chasm is a 5-minute ride that takes you through some great bends, bunny hops, and even over this ridiculous 10' high bridge. It's got it all in terms of thrills and--as I found out---potential for spills!

We'd already completed the Grand Chasm once and had tried a few other trails before getting ready to call it a day. It was starting to get dark so I asked the boys if they wanted to do our favourite route once more and there was a unanimous yes--to my great pleasure--so we began our descent. Well, it didn't take long. My youngest was ahead of me, my eldest behind me. About 2 minutes into the trail I came across a fork. Going right, the direction I'd always taken in the past, would lead me down a straightforward route. Left would take me over some rocks and between some narrow trees. In a split second I decided to go left and almost instantly I came to regret that decision. 

The large rocks came out about 1-1.5' from the ground and I figured I could just ride over it with ease. Others no doubt had done just that, but my skill level was evidently not up to snuff. I mistakenly applied my front brake (I think? It happened so fast it's hard to recall exactly what happened!) and I flew over the handlebars - "smack" into a tree, head first. The whole thing happened in such a brief moment it was hard to fully recollect what even happened or where things went wrong.

I stood up slowly, fairly dazed and somewhat in shock. My boys quickly came to my side to help.

I could feel my body was going to be sore, particularly my right arm and shoulder. I knew I would be feeling this for a while once the adrenaline wore off. However, do you know what part of my body would not be sore? My head. And do you know why? [Cue public health PSA....]  Because helmets work. Like, they really work. 

We biked back to the car. My eldest son took a look at my helmet and noticed a huge crack in it. The helmet absorbed the full shock of the crash. It possibly saved my life. I had this incredible sense of gratitude and appreciation for all those messages I'd been bombarded with throughout my life telling me of the importance of wearing protection while riding. I'm glad I listened, because I wore a helmet and here I was, alive - examining a cracked helmet that could have been my skull. 

Health promotion messaging has helped to normalize safety measures - such as wearing a helmet when riding - and we should be grateful for that. As a result of public health messaging and practices, fewer skulls are cracked. Simple as that.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy a new helmet so I can safely hit the trails with the boys a few more times before summer's end! ;)