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“Hey – Your Helmet Saved My Life”

As National Bicycle Safety Month comes to a close, Cynisca would like to share the experience of Grace Williams and encourage all riders to always wear a helmet. Click here for helmet fit tips.

By Grace Williams

For those who don’t know, I suffered a gnarly crash in Belgium on March 1st. I hit an ill-placed cable cover while descending around a blind corner, hitting the ground at 35 mph directly on the left side of my head. I was knocked out for a while, suffering an intense concussion and a broken elbow. 

A few days after the crash, our team mechanic finally let me see my helmet. I don’t think I realized how bad the crash was until that moment. My helmet was warped, dents covering the KinetiCore vents, the inner layers of foam still soaked with blood. It hit me, at that moment- that helmet fully saved my life. I don’t want to imagine what would have happened if I had been wearing a slightly less advanced, less well-designed helmet. Or no helmet at all.

It has now been over two months since my crash. Although I hit the ground hard, I did not have a brain bleed or go into emergency surgery. Despite the semi-normalized and not so scary word “concussion”, my life was completely turned upside down. I was unable to be in public places or have conversation without my brain exploding into fireworks. Unable to read, or listen to music, or exercise. Life didn’t feel like life. I would spend days doing nothing, irrationally anxious, feeling like I was floating around, separated from life by a thick sheet of glass. 

Fortunately, things have slowly gotten better since those first few weeks. I still have tough and disorienting days, but I am very aware of how lucky I am considering what could’ve happened. The way I see life has shifted slightly; the tiny moments filled with a bit more light, the brevity and fragility of our lives lining every second with just a little more beauty. Good often accompanies bad, and I am clinging to these pieces of good.

I could write a thousand more pages about the many things I’ve learned these past few months, but the main thing I want to leave you with: please, please, please, take any type of brain injury seriously. Just because you didn’t get knocked out, or didn’t have a brain bleed (etc, etc) doesn’t mean you are good to go. A concussion is a TBI, and a traumatic brain injury is no joke. Most importantly: wear your helmet. I probably wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t worn mine. Any helmet is better than no helmet, but if you have the ability to spend a little more money on a nicer piece of equipment: you should 100% spend it on the absolute best helmet you can find. 

As a closing remark, I’ll mention a small moment that stuck with me while at Sea Otter in Monterey, CA. I was still recovering from my crash, but the team brought me as photographer for the week. Part of the reason we were there was to connect with sponsors, so we hosted a reception and invited our supporters and wonderful partners. As I was headed over to the bar to grab some pizza, I saw two guys wearing Lazer Helmet shirts. I bee-lined towards them, forgetting the pizza altogether. I looked at them right in the eyes: “Hey. Your helmet saved my life. Thank you.”

We chatted for a while, but I was filled with a whole lot of gratitude after that evening. The bike industry is full of wonderful people, and the ones in my corner I fully attribute every day of my life past March 1st to. No matter who you choose to support you and provide you gear: make sure they are good people with great technology who have your best interests in mind. I know mine do.

The bike is a wonderful thing, but it can be dangerous and the roads can be unpredictable at times. Take care of yourself as best as you can, enjoy every moment out there, and always let people know where you’ll be riding. You can’t mitigate every risk, but a little preparation beats basing your life on luck alone.

Selecting the Right Helmet

Top-notch helmet protection starts with the right fit. Once you’ve decided what style helmet you need, whether it’s a road, mountain bike, urban, or kid’s helmet, find the right size for a snug but comfortable fit. Consider these steps from Lazer when buying a helmet to get the best coverage out of your next ride. 

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