Helmets and Handle Bars

Combined a Perfect Storm Awaits.

A motley crew making dusty memories at The Dirt Side and Riverside Speedway, in Groveton, New Hampshire

It’s every moto-mom’s worst nightmare. Race day, things appear to be going well, a little too well. Another family is passing out celebratory Bloody-Mary’s, but our own child-racer still has another heat coming up. “No thanks- I want to keep a clear head in case there are any ambulance calls!”, I chuckled at my own light-hearted wit. My husband stops dead in his tracks and sharply snaps “SHUT-up, SHUT-UP!” My mild-mannered husband, the father of our children, never uses this tone with me; and I give him a humbled crossed-eyed look. “You don’t say the word ‘Ambulance’, you don’t tempt fate, especially NOT on a race day.”

You guessed it, I soon learned why.

It wasn’t halfway through Sebastian’s next heat when he misjudged a corner and went down. He was able to get out from underneath his bike and evade being hit by other racers, before collapsing to the ground again.

You must have heard that Motocross is a physically demanding sport that requires participants to be in tip-top shape. What you might not know is that it’s equally physically demanding of the track-parents, because of all the running… when something goes wrong.  Stand aside Superman, “Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!” “Look! It’s Moto-Mom!!

This momma started running. Blasting through the other spectators, running onto the track, jumping over berms, and hauling past attendants.

While “Awful-Kinawful” (now safely under the careful examination of the local ambulance crew) loaded up on some fluids, one of the EMT’s approached me holding the helmet he had been wearing. In all fairness we had gotten our money’s worth out of this helmet, he’d been wearing it quite some time. “His helmet’s compromised. He needs to be taken by ambulance to the local hospital, just out of an abundance of caution.” So, as it turns out the world CAN stop spinning twice in one day.

While awaiting CT scan results, I rolled the helmet around and around in my hands. Other than the usual dings and scuffs to be expected on a child’s helmet from being set down wrong or rolling around a gear bag, there was no visible mark of “impact” on the outside- but there was a notable golf-ball-sized dimple on the foam inside, aka The Compromise. I made a fist and slid the helmet over it horizontally. Handlebar.

Like many kids, Sebastian would use his handlebar to hold his helmet when he would take it off for a break. That action repeatedly had left a permanent indent in the brain cushioning foam inside, which not for nothing, does discredit the integrity of the helmet rendering it unsafe.

Lesson learned. We no longer hang helmets on handlebars, and we’ve gotten much better at carefully inspecting all safety gear as time has passed.

A couple quick tips:

  1. Never purchase a helmet second-hand, much for the reasons stated above. You have no idea what life that helmet lived before it came into your hands (ie, a crash).
  2. Wear it. Every time. Your “brain bucket” is likely to be the one factor post-crash that keeps you from eating from a tube for the rest of your life, or worse, death.
  3. Make sure the helmet you use fits snugly and doesn’t have room to move around.
  4. That handy little chin-strap, you guessed it, use it. Unless you want your face permanently re-arranged, your helmet will do nothing for you if it comes flying off before impact.
  5. Only trust your noggin to helmets that are either DOT, SNEL, or ECE certified.

Redbull, while not only delicious, has some great content on this topic and can be found here: https://www.redbull.com/us-en/motocross-helmet-guide. Check it out.

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