Monday, October 1, 2018

Wake-up call comes with a scraped helmet

By Lisa Rasor
Lisa Rasor
A few years ago, I started keeping my mountain bike in my office in downtown Topeka so I could bike the Shunga and Landon trails after work. I liked to do 10 to 15 miles before heading home to Lawrence for the night. The Topeka trails are great, with lots of curves and no real hills; perfect for an easy after-work ride. (Lawrence has nice trails too, but you have to cross roadways and look out for cars, so they’re not as fun.)
But a fun, easy route doesn’t mean you can let your attention wander. I bicycle regularly on paved trails, county roads and state highways; I know riding takes caution and concentration. But sometimes the reminders arrive the hard way.
One evening I rode the whole length of the Shunga Trail to Fairlawn Road and was headed back toward downtown. I was going at a good clip as I passed under Kansas Avenue and approached the rather sharp curve to the left the trail takes there. My thoughts were not on where I was or what I was doing. I was thinking about some errands I needed to do later, and the rest of my to-do list, as I took that curve.
In the space of a second my mind was yanked back to the present as I realized that: (a) I was not turning as much as I needed to, and (b) I was not going to clear the curve.  I managed to get my right hand off the handlebars just before they hit the metal railing on the outside of the curve. The impact threw me off the bike. My right leg hit the handlebars, now twisted parallel to my front wheel, as I went over.
I hit the concrete and slid a bit. As I sat up, my main concerns were my bike (obviously not rideable) and my left elbow (bleeding, but not too badly). Legs and feet were bruised, but clearly nothing was broken. I was just a couple miles from my office, so as soon as I got my breath back and dabbed at my elbow a bit, I walked my bike back downtown.
It wasn’t until I took my helmet off and saw the ragged scrape on the outer shell that I realized my wreck could have been worse—a lot worse. I was glad then of my habit of wearing my helmet on all bike rides, even short ones on a trail.  As it was, I was bruised up pretty bad and had to take a break from riding for a couple of weeks.
The bike shop fixed my bike and I bought a new helmet (necessary after a wreck, or every few years — whichever comes first).  I do try to stay in the moment as much as possible on rides. Being distracted while riding a bicycle, similar to being distracted while driving a car, is not likely to end well.

Lisa Rasor is a Litigation Paralegal in KDOT’s Office of Chief Counsel.



  1. Lisa, Thanks for the great reminder during Put the Brakes on Fatalities. Sometimes we get focused on driving a motor vehicle safely, that we forget the need to exercise safety in other means of travel. Such as wearing a helmet while biking and paying attention while walking. Thanks for the reminder. P.S. Thanks for giving Barnes, Kansas, a shout out with your photograph in front of the Hometown Cafe.

  2. Lisa - glad to hear it was just your helmet that was scraped up and not your head! I had a similar experience when I was hit by a car 4-1/2 years ago. I later found out my helmet actually had a large split in it after I hit the ground, that could have easily been my head!

  3. Lisa, I appreciate your story. As one of a "mature age", I did not grow up wearing a bike helmet, so that is something that takes an adjustment to get used to. Ask Gelene about the importance of wearing a helmet, as well. Denise O'Dea

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience, Lisa. This is a great reminder that riders of all ages need to take safety precautions, no matter their level of expertise. Hopefully you can continue to enjoy riding.

  5. Lisa, having destoyed a couple helmets myself, I couldn't agree more.

  6. Lisa, thanks for sharing your bicycle riding experience. I am glad that you were not seriously hurt even though you had cuts, bruises and some pain from a crash with a metal railing on the outside of a curve. Thank goodness that you were wearing your helmet.
    Riding a bicycle has always seemed to me as a good way to get exercise as it was for you. The reality you experienced follows that some basic safety criteria should always be followed just as driving any moving vehicle (motor or otherwise). Always be attentive and focused on the road or path ahead, travel at a speed that is posted or appropriate and wear the appropriate attire and protection for what you are driving or riding. Thanks again for sharing what happened to you during a bike ride and hopefully you have had many enjoyable rides since.
    Larry Emig