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to helmet or not to helmet???

So here’s a question?? Are helmets required for Ragbrai?? I don’t generally wear one as they are hot and uncomfortable. Now I know that they are supposed to prevent brain damage (I haven’t got any to damage) and protect your noggin. But when I did some research, statistically(in Australia, I know gravitational pull is different on that side of the world) they have been found that since the introduction of a law requiring helmet use, head trauma has gone up but the number of bikers has gone down. Makes you wonder why? SO, lets start this conversation. To helmet OR, NOT to helmet?

89 Replies

Linda Wiard-Bauer, June 22, 2017 at 9:35 pm

Chad – page 84 of the 2017 Participant guide, “HOW TO RIDE RAGBRAI” EQUIPTMENT section: “Helmets should fit properly and be worn at all times.”
On page 86, “SAFETY AND COURTESY GUIDE FOR RAGBRAI RIDERS” states that “RAGBRAI reserves the right to refuse entry to our ride to those who don’t demonstrate safe riding habits” and goes on to say, “Wear a protective helmet.”


Nico ZZZ, June 22, 2017 at 9:44 pm

With Respect,
If you are asking whether you should wear a helmet or not…if your are asking, apparently you don’t have enough brain cells left to protect so it doesn’t matter. Really? It appears you already had a head injury (and I am sorry) if you are questioning the validity of wearing a helmet. Do whatever you want, it is your cranium to scramble.
Honestly, I am trying to be respectful, but stupidity doesn’t deserve nor earn respect.
Best of luck on your ride.


SFC JKL 2, June 22, 2017 at 10:18 pm

You’ve heard “there’s no such thing as a stupid question”? This is an exception. Try wearing a cycling helmet, and not one for skate boarding or a motorcycle. They are neither hot or uncomfortable. If it is uncomfortable, ask someone to adjust if for you or buy one that fits.


Jack in VA, June 23, 2017 at 12:25 am

I can understand someone’s desire to NOT wear a helmet, but to state that they do not make a difference is just wrong. I lost a very good friend several years back; he was only 19. A group was slowly riding around campus, and he didn’t have a helmet on – hit a small bump, took a spill, and took what seemed to be a slight glancing blow to the head when he hit the curb. They went back to the dorm rooms and he wanted to grab a quick nap before dinner – several hours later, his friends tried to wake him up, and found him dead from a cerebral hemorrhage.

I also took a spill several years back on a trail that a friend and I were riding; she said “It’s an easy ride and you don’t even need your helmet”. Slight climb, came up out of the saddle, and the chain slipped. Down-stroke threw the bike over and I ended up face first on the pavement; 2 dozen stitches on my face. If I’d had the helmet on, the brunt of the fall would have been taken by the front of it.
You can ride without one if you want; I WILL HAVE MINE ON!


Evin Thompson, June 23, 2017 at 6:17 am

It is absolutely a personal decision if you wear a helmet or not. If you decide not to wear a helmet,
could you please make sure you are registered as an organ donor? If you are riding RAGBRAI you are
most likely healthy and when you crash and become brain dead, someone can benefit from your misguided
desire not to wear a helmet.


Surlyman!, June 23, 2017 at 6:35 am

I knew this was a controversial conversation when I started it. For those of you that made valid points on why I and others should wear helmets, thanks. For those of you that have had accidents or friends or loved one, sorry, that must have been hard. For those of you who said it is my decision, thank you for allowing me the freedom to make my own decisions. For those of you who were quick to insult me, like Ragbrai, I don’t care. Nowhere did I say I was smart.(yet I still manage to burn up useful oxygen that could benefit all smart open minded people) Nowhere did I say I wouldn’t wear a helmet. Funny how just asking a question can go to such extremes.


markwyatt, June 23, 2017 at 7:46 am

Hey Chad Frana,
Across the US, helmets have been the leading safety program. The injury prevention groups have pushed them as part of crash mitigation rather than crash prevention. But, as the guy that looks at all the crash stats each year, 70+% of fatal crashes had a helmet on. You are more likely to contract diabetes than you are to sustain a head injury from bicycling, so if you don’t wear a helmet in your everyday riding, you will probably be fine. Unless you crash and die, then you won’t be.

What the others are falling short of saying, is RAGBRAI is a different universe. Many group rides are different too. The shear number of bicycles in close proximity increase the amount of bike-on-bike crashes. This is the reason that helmets will be potentially more useful to injury prevention in the group and much more than everyday life.

The helmet will not change anyone’s riding habits, communication, level of dehydration, etc. But, if someone makes a mistake, you cross wheels, and crash, you have some protection.


Ken Reed, June 23, 2017 at 7:48 am

Chad, I see that you are with B.I.C. I would have thought that those guys would have drilled into your head (pardon the pun) the need to wear a helmet. Also, I can only speak for myself but I don’t think people are purposely trying to insult you. I think it’s just shocking to see someone on these forums talk about not wearing a helmet on RAGBRAI. That’s all.


Nico ZZZ, June 23, 2017 at 7:57 am

Actually Chad, you did say: “I don’t generally wear one…”

There is such a thing as a stupid question, as was proven here, so now you feign surprise and hurt by the responses to your obviously ridiculous question that was meant to “start this conversation.”

Being “open minded” doesn’t mean having to accept a blatantly stupid premise: not wearing a helmet.


RoyBoy, June 23, 2017 at 8:58 am

Seeing a rider on RAGBRAI without a helmet is rare. Usually a local that rides for a day. Even rarer is a week long rider. Having my fair share of crashes (road, gravel, and mountain biking), I’m glad I wear a helmet every time I ride. I did play football in high school and college and learned how to tuck and roll in a way that lessens the impact. My helmets have shown that I avoided lacerations and abrasions in some of the crashes. My only cracked helmet came when I to a stop and the wind blew me over before I could unclip on the side I was falling. Hit my head on a curb and it rung my bell a little but I can’t imagine how bad I could have been had I not worn a helmet.

Wear the helmet!


Niles, June 23, 2017 at 10:36 am

Dear Chad,

I was about to be the first one to reply, with a similar tone to Nick’s. But I held on and deleted my comments because I thought you might be just a troll and I have realized long long ago to best way to treat trolls is to ignore them.

But it is more clear now you are not simply a troll. So I’ll put my belated reply. By reading the way you asked the original question and the information you provided in your question, I believed that you are not really interesting in getting answer but seeking vindication of your position of not wearing helmet. My impression might be wrong but you can see I’m not the only one with such impression.

Then you mentioned some of evidence of “statistical researches”. We know “statistical researches” can be so biased and numbers DO lie! In the social media era, most shocking/outlandish statements may be able to catch eyeballs while truth or logical reasoning meaning nothing. But in the end or day, you brain/body is still a physical existence and I hope your actions with cost unreasonable damages to them.

Best wishes,


Craig Parson, June 23, 2017 at 10:55 am

TJ just tweeted out that Chad does not need to wear a helmet………………………………………just kidding. I knew this would be a train wreck but at least there is some traffic on this forum other than that boycott thread that would not die. Reminds me of a “what’s the best oil” thread on any auto forum.

John Travolta Saturday night fever voice: ” I worked a long time on the hair”

I am an organ donor by the way!


jake d, June 23, 2017 at 9:49 pm

In 28 yrs of RAGBRAI, the most common occurrence I’ve seen of a rider going down is falling over while
standing over their bike. Sounds silly, but it usually happens getting on or off the bike, or
when someone else looses balance close by and causes a chain reaction.
Imagine your head crashing into the pedal of the rider next to you.
Regardless of how experienced a rider you are, on RAGBRAI you are only as safe as the person next to you.


Luv 2 Ski, June 24, 2017 at 12:08 am

I have to say this thread is the first in awhile that has gotten the dander up on many. I say if Chad wants to ride without a helmet so be it. I think it is foolish, and one head bonk on the ground could be a life changing experience. Recently a boy in the town I work in fell on his bike and hit his head. He was not wearing a helmet. After he had a headache and his parents did not pay much attention to it. Two days later he was dead from a brain hemorrhage. Say what you want it makes sense to wear a helmet.

We need less stupid people on this planet and more intelligent ones so let those that choose to do foolish things make their own choices. Survival of the fittest at it’s core.


Charlie S, June 24, 2017 at 6:45 am

As a first responder (FF/EMT/RN), I fully support the right of both bicycle and motorcycle riders to forgo head protection – as long as they’re carrying a valid organ donor card.


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