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Bicycle Helmets: The Breakdown

Bicycle helmets only work if you wear them correctly

That’s not breaking news, but anyone that’s new to triathlon might not think they’re necessary. Well, they are and you need to make sure the one you purchase if effective. Especially if you’ve started training for Rookie Triathlon, the first triathlon of your life! 

Your helmet could be the difference between life and death. Here's the lowdown on bicycle helmets, from choosing one that fits your head to avoiding common helmet mistakes. Click To Tweet

Why wear a bicycle helmet?

It’s simple: if you fall from your bike, the helmet will take the force of the blow instead of your head. Wearing a bicycle helmet when cycling is the most effective way to prevent a life-threatening head injury. Don’t assume that bicycle helmets are just for kids. Adults face the same risks as children. Even a low-speed fall from a bike can be dangerous.

Selecting a bicycle helmet

Bicycle helmets are cooler, more comfortable, and easier to adjust than ever before. There are plenty of inexpensive choices that will meet all these needs. Check out these recommendations from the staff at High Five Events.

Remember the ground rules:

Make sure the helmet is safe. Look for a seal of approval from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI). If it doesn’t have a seal of approval from them, don’t purchase it and most certainly don’t ride with it. Aerodynamic helmets should be held to the same standards as regular helmets. A few extra seconds are not worth risking serious injury.

Make sure it fits snugly

You shouldn’t be able to move the bicycle helmet more than one inch in any direction, front-to-back or side-to-side. The sizing pads included with every bicycle helmet can help make the fit more secure. If you have long hair, consider a helmet with a ponytail port. The rules for wearing a bicycle helmet are simple. Wear the helmet flat on the top of your head. The helmet should cover the top of your forehead without tilting forward or backward.

Think about visibility

If the bicycle helmet straps block your vision – even a little bit – choose another helmet. Likewise, make sure motorists and other cyclists can see you; choose a brightly colored helmet.

Fasten the chin strap just below your chin

If it’s not fastened, it won’t help you out much. If the bicycle helmet doesn’t feel snug, use the foam sizing pads that came with the helmet to get a better fit. The helmet shouldn’t rock from front to back or side to side. Some helmets are “one size fits all,” but others come in S-XL. Wear it before you buy it!

Bicycle helmets must be replaced after every crash

If a crack or any sort of puncture is spotted on the helmet, it should be replaced. No questions asked.

Tips to Clean Your Helmet and Shoes

Smell good on your next ride when you clean your helmet and shoes

When was the last time you washed your bike helmet, your bike shoes, and your running shoes? If you haven’t done so in the past month, they probably stink. If you can’t smell it, ask someone else to, then look at their face; the truth comes without words being spoken. Follow the advice below when you clean your helmet and shoes.

THE HELMETImage result for washing cycling helmet

Are the straps white with salt deposits? Are the little pads slippery from sunscreen and hair product? Is the outside stained with grime? I rinse my Rudy Project helmet after almost every ride. It is five years old and still looks brand new.

TO WASH IT

Turn on your kitchen sink and let the water run lukewarm. Run the water on the helmet, the pads, and the strap. Take a tablespoon of shampoo, dish soap, liquid hand soap, or liquid laundry detergent. Rub it between your hands and fingers. Then apply it to all the surfaces that absorb water. Rinse it thoroughly, shake it to get excess water out. Place it in the sun to dry. Wipe the outside with any cleaner like Simple Green or Pedro’s Bike Wash. Stay away from stronger detergents. Any residual that is not rinsed will run into your eyes when you sweat in it again.

RUNNING SHOES

Related image

I train with socks in training shoes and race without socks in flats. A lot of my training is on the bea

ch and if the tide is high, my shoes getwet with salt water (life is tough in La Jolla, CA). So I wash them a lot.

TO WASH THEM

Machine wash them in cold water with some laundry detergent. Wash 4 or 5 pair at a time. When they are done spinning, immediately put them in the sun or dry-room to dry. Believe it or not, most quality running shoes can withstand about 20-30 washes. The midsole and outsole these days are glued so well that they can withstand this sort of care. For most of us that is about a wash a week before it is time to replace the shoes anyway.

BIKE SHOES

I still can’t understand people that train without socks all the time (and I am no Felix Unger). You can do this now and then to simulate a race, okay, but not all the time. Bike shoes are a lot more resilient than I would have imagined first by racing NORBA during a few very wet and muddy seasons, but more recently by doing spinning workouts and indoor stationary bike interval workouts. I have a pair of SIDI Triathlon shoes that I have rinsed and washed with regular shampoo in the shower 100 times and they are still in good condition.

TO WASH THEM

Use the sink again. Get room temperature water, mild detergent, and an old toothbrush. Shampoo works too. Wet the shoes, clean as needed, shake really well, towel dry as much as possible, then set to dry in the sun. If the shoes have leather, saddle soap works well to preserve the softness. I am testing bee’s wax right now on a brand new pair of SIDI Triathlon Shoes so I will report later.

Keep your gear smelling and looking better when you clean your helmet and shoes. This will also reduce the likelihood of acne, infection in the eyes and ears, and promote healthier feet, toes, and toenails.

Emilio De Soto II
Founder/President/Triathlete
De Soto Sport Triathlon Company

6 Items To Check Before Race Day

Make sure and check your gear before an event. Training can put wear and tear on important items. Here is a good check list to follow

1. Goggles: Make sure you have used them recently and that the eye seals have not perished and leak water. Check that the strap and nose piece aren’t brittle and are securely attached. Make sure the lenses aren’t scratched. If your goggles have any of these issues, consider replacing them and bringing them as back-ups to your new ones.

2. Wetsuit: Check for potential tears and frayed seams. Look for holes and cuts; these can be patched and glued to prevent water entering the suit. Jack & Adam’s can help you decide if the suit can be repaired. Wetsuits aren’t required, so don’t worry if you don’t have one.

3. Bike: Make sure that the bike frame has no cracks, the wheels are not bent, and that all components are in working condition including brakes and shifters. If you do not know how to check for these things, don’t worry – just call ahead to your local bike store and ask them to safety check it. This can also be a great opportunity to learn how to check the bike yourself. On race morning, make sure tires are inflated properly.

4. Helmet: The plastic shell needs to be firmly affixed to the foam and the strap should not be frayed. There should be no cracks or dents as these will likely not pass inspection when checking into transition. It should fit snugly around your head. The general rule for the chin strap is within two fingers spaces from the chin.

5. Cycling Shoes & Pedals: Make sure that the cleat is firmly attached to the bottom of the shoe. Replace cleat if it is worn down and may inhibit safe clipping in. Check and make sure pedals are firmly attached to the crank.

6: Running Shoes: Look to see that they are not worn out of alignment or that the midsole is crushed. Cut down or replace any long or frayed shoe laces. If using elastic laces make sure that have not lost elasticity and that any plastic is still in good working condition