DO NOT RIDE WITHOUT A HELMET. Yes, I am yelling.
I rode Oak Mtn state park near Birmingham, AL today and had by far the most frightening accident I've had in my 14 months of riding.
I was nearing the end of my ride and had just cleared a section known as "blood rock", and was feeling really confident. Just a mile or so left and I would be back at the trailhead. After blood rock is a pretty nasty rocky section... level, but very treacherous. I knew I needed some decent momentum to clear it, so I pedaled hard into it. There is a very large rock in the middle of this section... the smart move is to the right since there is about a 15 foot drop to a rocky creekbed to the left. It's such a blur for me... next thing I know I am off the trail to the left falling toward the rocks. I just remember curling up and tucking my chin to my chest. BAM, it seemed that my head took the vast majority of the hit.
I laid there for a few seconds, but it seemed like an hour. I could not believe I was still breathing. Stood up and walked around a bit... bloody knees, sore hands, bent wheel, and a very cracked helmet. I can't help but believe that the impact sans helment would have killed me... but I just have a few scratches on my forehead, thanks to my Bell.
I'm very thankful I get to go see my little brother's last high school football homegame tonight. I'm also thankful I get to see my baby girl born in December.
I see plenty of folks at my local trail (Haw Ridge, Oak Ridge, TN) out without a helmet. It just doesn't make any sense. I know this same story has probably been posted a million times before, but I don't think you can see it enough. WEAR YOUR HELMET.