I like to imagine that a cyclist riding without a helmet must be some deluded philanthropist on a kamikaze mission to donate their organs to all the deeply distressed, diseased and dying individuals in need that day. It’s more likely a high grade, bike douche arrogance that makes them feel immortal from the kinds of serious accidents no cyclist is immune from. We thank you for your organ donations nonetheless.
With its powerful protection against head injury, the helmet can protect against damage to the brain, regardless of its size and contribution to society. It controls hair, ventilates the scalp and makes the speedier set more aerodynamic. The helmet can also protect your bike.
Our Marin cycling routes have been built around a San Francisco Ferry Building start point due to its accessibility via public transport, such as Caltrain, BART and Muni (click to learn more about each). The loops are completed via ferry transport back to Fisherman’s Wharf or the Ferry Building.
Make no mistake, bikes aren’t handled like wheelchairs, strollers or even luggage. The reality of bikes being leaned up against one another, especially heavy ones, can damage derailers, chains, spokes and wheels. At popular destinations like Saulsalito and Tiburon, fatigued by the sheer number of bikes, it’s hard to blame the onboard staff for not being able to care for us as individuals. The majority are rentals, whose condition are insignificant, hence don’t raise the eyebrows of handlers. However, making a case for your most prized possession might touch the heart of a fellow bike lover who will help find a place to protect it (Thank you Jim!) but don’t count on it.
The first step in protection is switching down to the lowest gear ratio to protect your rear derailer. Clasp the helmet straps around the top tube and arrange the helmet head on the same side as the derailers so it’s gently supported by the frame and front derailer but does not put pressure on the chain.
This position will protect the bike by:
1) Prevent scratching to the frame by creating a bubble of space while it is being parked. The sheer inconvenience of the movement of the helmet will create a wider space as it is being handled.
2) When there are bike racks available (hallelujah!) the helmet encourages a wider space between yours and the next parking spot. Selfish? Yes. Worth it? Totally.
3) When your bike is stacked against another bike, a significant enough space is created by the helmet to protect the crucial elements of the bike. When movement from the vehicle causes the bikes to vibrate or knock against each other the helmets is designed to absorb the shock instead of the bike.
4) Likewise the helmet allows the bike to be parked against unbalanced surfaces where the helmet can provide a safe distance between the objects and most important bike parts.
The right strategy for you ultimately depends on your frustration tolerance. A bent derailer might cost $20 to fix, which when done frequently over time can become costly and inconvenient. You may learn to hate cycling tourists and their ten ton comfort bikes as part of cultivating your inner bike douche. However, using a limited edition, $175 helmet that is a sentimental gift from your sweetheart may not be worth any of it. (Especially if it’s pink!)
We’ve started venturing beyond the North Bay (and will SOON begin logging those new trails) but still have a special place in our hearts for crossing the Golden Gate and completing those loops by ferry that allow us to bike all the way home without packing the bikes in the car – which may not even be an option for some.
Whether you get your kicks saving on gas or the environment, taking the day off from commuting, making your ride accessible to more of your friends, skipping the hassle of finding parking or my favorite, sipping on a petite glass of Chardonnay taking in the ferry ride with the wind in my hair; the commuter trail combined with the hat trick to protect your bike may be enough to put your mind at ease.