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

dalebob, December 24, 2018 at 4:50 pm

My father rode RAGBRAI more than a dozen times and also completed the Iowa 150 cross-country ride. He never went anywhere without his helmet. Except for that one time, just a short coast to the farmers market with my mom, down the little used side street at the southern California snowbird spa they called home every winter. For whatever reason we will never know, he did not put on his helmet. Somehow he went over the handlebars and landed on his head. He did not die immediately. My mom was able to hold his hand one more time before he passed away. I do not know if a helmet would have saved his life. There is no way to know for sure. My kids never got to know him. I miss him every day.

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Papa T, December 25, 2018 at 10:17 am

I joined this thread a little late, but here is another reason to wear a helmut. EVERYBODY will yell at you “HELMUT”. and by the second day you will buy one just to shut them up :-C

#1297603

mootsman, December 26, 2018 at 9:07 am

From the “general-information” tab off the “Ride” link on the RAGBRAI home page there is a section (also a link) called “How to Ride RAGBRAI”. I believe RAGBRAI does require helmet use as the text below I copied from that area. I doubt any ride needing an insurance policy would ever allow un-helmeted riders. So love-it or hate-it, time to bring yours along and wear it.

From “How to Ride RAGBRAI”: “Safety involves several items. The first is your helmet. DON’T GET ON A BIKE WITHOUT A HELMET.”

It’s not about what the Iowa law allows, its what RAGBRAI allows.

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Rene Borrero, December 26, 2018 at 8:22 pm

just donate all your organs, we do not need them after we die, but we our family and yourself will feel good knowing you have saved someone else life.

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John Richardson, December 29, 2018 at 10:15 am

Very interesting discussion. In the summer of 2011 I found myself in a rehabilitation facility without a clue on how I got there. I still remember the first thing they taught me to say “Hi my name is John Richardson and I have a traumatic brain injury so I may seem confused.” I was told that on my bike commute home from work I was struck from behind by a 1 ton cargo van going 55mph. I spent 3 weeks in ICU but have no memory of it. Besides the traumatic brain injury I had a long list of other injuries. After seeing the depression in the spider webbed windshield where my head hit, I’m certain I would not be here if not for my helmet. I started riding long before helmets were common and was rather slow to come around to using one. I still believe it’s up to each individual to make that choice though, but knowing how very lucky I was, you’ll never catch me riding without one.

#1297665

KenH, December 29, 2018 at 10:50 am

My helmet saved my life accident came in 2010. I believe I gave the details somewhere previously in this thread. I do not remember the accident or anything else that happened that afternoon so I cannot tell you with certainty what happened even though in my earlier post I may have shared my after the fact, evidence based speculations. Helmets are hardly bulletproof. They do however offer substantial protection against serious brain injury in typical cycling falls. You really should wear one every time you cycle. But you do not have to. For the first time this year I started paying attention to people who carry their gear on their bicycles at RAGBRAI, the people who are often called baggers. As some have said here, many of them do not have wristbands, although at least some of them do. They are are also the group least likely to wear helmets. If you insist on not wearing a helmet, that is your right under Iowa law and you will not be alone. It is not a wise thing to do.

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John Richardson, December 30, 2018 at 11:07 am

KenH, Yes, I believe I recall reading about your accident. I find it quite disturbing the number of cyclist that have been involve in serious accidents. I am one of those baggers and I always register. I feel it’s none of my business how others choose to ride RAGBRAI and the few times I’ve become evolved with others on the route is usually due to a mechanical, flat tire or some kind of physical distress. Like the old saying goes, I just ride my own ride.

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Iceman !, January 4, 2019 at 2:58 pm

Speaking of injuries – Michrider – I think you had a knee replaced several years ago. How long did it take before you were back to full speed on your bike?

#1297798

Michrider !!!, January 4, 2019 at 3:50 pm

Speaking of injuries – Michrider – I think you had a knee replaced several years ago. How long did it take before you were back to full speed on your bike?

I never did fully recover after my total knee replacement (TKR-2015). I’ve had 3 additional surgeries since. I know people who have recovered nicely from TKR. I figure I’m the exception. I still struggle with Lefty!!! However, I bought a trike and am now a happy TRIKER!!! BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!

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Iceman !, January 7, 2019 at 9:26 am

Michrider. Hope I’m not being too personal but what was the problem post-TKR? I am hoping to recover FULLY and resume week long rides. Is that too ambitious? Frankly, I have no choice on first TKR (bone on bone, osteoarthritis) and other knee may be a year away. So, as the cliche goes, “it is what it is.” Still, I’d be interested in knowing (i) what caused you problems post-op, (ii) what makes a trike ok but not a bike and (iii) any anecdotal stories I’m sure you heard from friends who had TKR’s.

#1297845

John Richardson, January 8, 2019 at 10:27 am

Sorry to hear about the knee issues. This is something I’ve had to deal with as well. Back in the 1970s I raced motocross and crashed badly. I tore the cartilage in my left knee and had to have the cartilage removed because I was unable to even straiten my left leg. My ACL was torn too but I didn’t even discover that until years later. The doctor gave me a very depressing prognosis and told me I Would have bad osteoarthritis in that knee by the time I was 40. I’m a bit stubborn and continued with my running and cycling without issues until 2001. I had signed up for the Boston Marathon and was training for the race when my left knee became so painful I couldn’t even walk without limping. I went to a knee specialist and he told me I was a perfect candidate for a knee replacement but I was to young and would wear it out and then need another one. The most depressing thing he told me was that I would have to stop running. I wasn’t going to accept that and a younger brother that was in the military told me that that the SEALS had been doing studies on Glucosamine Chondroitin and found it to be beneficial. I’ve been taking it ever since and have run 26 marathon,even ran Boston in 2007, 3 trail ultras including 1 hundred miler plus raced the Tour Divide, and the Trans Am Bike Race and am registered to race the Trans Am again this year as well. I realize we are all quite different and I really don’t have any ideal if the Glucosamine Chondroitin even helps me or not but as long as I’m able to keep doing the things I like to do I’ll keep taking it. I’m very impressed with the way you guys are working around your issues to be able to continue to do the things you enjoy. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

#1297866

Nico ZZZ, January 9, 2019 at 7:45 am

I second John’s endorsement of glucosamine chondroitin. When I was 40 my knees would crack and pop every day doing my physical work on broadcast equipment racks. Most of us who worked together were around 40 years old at that time and sometimes a coworker’s knees would crack so loud we would compliment the guy!
I started taking glucosamine chondroitin about eight years ago, and the noise, and the aches, stopped. I am now 59 (where in the H did the years go?!), and my knee innards still work silky smooth. I endorse this stuff to all my friends and coworkers.

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Iceman !, January 9, 2019 at 12:14 pm

I tried Glucosamine Chondroitin several years ago and it did nothing for me. I too gave up running about 10 years ago after doing 15 marathons and just keep on biking. My orthopedist is optimistic about my biking but he has warned that everyone is different and further that my other knee will likely need to be replaced maybe a year from now. So, I’m very interested in Michrider’s transition to a trike. I cannot imagine me on a trike but if that turns out to be all I can do, it’s better than nothing. I just have bad genes – my father had both his knees replaced 40 years ago and that was barbaric as compared to today’s TKR’s.

This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Iceman !.

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Cory Rood, January 9, 2019 at 2:32 pm

I tried Glucosamine Chondroitin several years ago and it did nothing for me. I too gave up running about 10 years ago after doing 15 marathons and just keep on biking. My orthopedist is optimistic about my biking but he has warned that everyone is different and further that my other knee will likely need to be replaced maybe a year from now. So, I’m very interested in Michrider’s transition to a trike. I cannot imagine me on a trike but if that turns out to be all I can do, it’s better than nothing. I just have bad genes – my father had both his knees replaced 40 years ago and that was barbaric as compared to today’s TKR’s.

I remember when my Grandfather had his knee’s replaced when I was a little kid(early 90’s). I remember the ‘tracks’ of staples running all over his legs and making a comment how it looked like rail road tracks!

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Jay Kuivinen, January 12, 2019 at 3:43 pm

Just about any helmet will impart an aerodynamic advantage. I got this from Bicycling Magazine. On a long ride, every aero advantage is worth it.

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