I rarely forget to wear my helmet. This is mainly because I have made a habit of attaching it to either my backpack or my bicycle whenever I arrive at my destination. Chances are pretty much 100% that when I leave I will have the bag and the bicycle with me. But every once in a while I put the helmet down someplace else in my house and then all bets are off. The problem is that it is incredibly easy to just hop on the bike and go for a ride. That’s the whole point of a bicycle as far as I can tell.
At times I have been less mindful of my helmet, resulting in a few rides where I only noticed about halfway through that I had on neither helmet nor padded, fingerless gloves. My handlebars are not the softest, and rather than rewrap with something cushy I keep the classy-as-fuck leather sew-ups and wear the gloves. Now there was a time a couple of years ago when I probably would’ve turned around and gone back…depending on how far away I was at the time of the realization. But I am far past that now and generally just say screw it, while also trying to ride a little more cautiously than I might otherwise do. It’s not a contradiction if you do it right.
But here’s the funny thing, I have had two accidents where I hit my head in a way that, had I not been wearing a helmet, I probably would not have been riding around or even walking for a little while. One was in the winter at five in the morning on black ice, and so while it was quite sudden, you couldn’t really say it was unexpected. The other one was due to a combination of circumstances, all pretty random. But that pretty much sounds like life and to me it implies that such a thing could happen at any time. For that reason I usually try to wear helmet.
Even more than that, when I do find myself occasionally thinking, “I wonder if my head would be less sweaty if I didn’t wear a helmet. Maybe I’ll just give it a shot a couple of times now that the temperature is in the 90s,” I still can’t ever follow through. Just the fact that I’m considering not wearing a helmet makes it feel like the risk of an accident has gone up exponentially. I guess that’s how Big Helmet got to where it/they are today. But if I’m actively feeling less safe couldn’t that translate into being led confident, especially when it matters most? Could such an accident end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy? I’ll probably never know.