The sky is rumbling with thunder and there are waves of rain falling from the sky. The sun has not set yet, though the sky is as dark as twilight. What little light we have left is infused with the foreboding of a twister. The rumbling of thunder bounces like a pinball from mountainside to here sounding like the worlds largest stereo system.
The day did not start this way, only in the last few hours have the sounds of the Almighty been keeping us entertained. The day started like a beautiful late spring day. The sun brightening the sky while the stars slipped away. The temperature was cool and a little breeze stirred the insects around.
We had breakfast and packed our lunch, I put the little windshield on the bike and we rolled on out for the swimming hole. I decided to wear the brainpan today, this being the reason I put the windshield on earlier. I just wanted to smell the world and see without having the cumbersome full helmet encasing my face.
There are times when I want the feel of that heavy thing securing my noggin, most of the time really, but there are times when the unencumbered feeling of a lightweight helmet is more desirable. Today was one of those days. I knew we would not be riding too far and the roads are open enough so that, should a situation arise, I could get us out of it fairly easily (my luck held, knock on wood). While we were riding to Hooker Falls, I let my mind wonder-on about the mind-set of those who wear different types of helmets.
There are three basic types of motorcycle helmets out there for the enthusiast to pick from. The first is the full faced version. It provides the greatest amount of safety, but is the heaviest of the three, so there is some controversy about neck injuries. The next is the ¾ style. It is the kind that Peter Fonda wore in Easy Rider. Nowadays we have plastic shields that can go over the face and protect against bugs and wind. This helmet is good and provides ample protection, but if a rider falls off and skids across the pavement the chin can be broken or just badly road rashed. The last is the least protective, but it may be the most popular of the three because it is the lightest and offers the most exposure to the elements.
Why did I decide to ride with the least safe helmet today? I guess the answer is inside the helmet someplace, but the truth is I don’t have a “concrete” reason. I knew I could talk with the Runtyun easier and the world would be closer, what with no plastic between me and the world. Then I started to wonder who wears what kind of helmet. Well, the Runtyun wears the helmet I give her, it is ¾ with a shield that lifts to make it easier to take off and put on. It is light yet protective enough.
I have practical reasons for wearing the different kinds of helmets. Most of the time I wear the full helmet, as I stated earlier. This is because I like the security it offers. It also isolates me from the wind noise that is generated with higher speeds. When the temperature is hot I can open the shield and let air flow through and cool my over heated brain. There is more than one time when I have taken off the thing and found t to be saturated with sweat. However when I wear the ½ helmet I really do not have any real reason to wear it except…
Nope, I can’t find one. But the world was so much closer to me during the ride. I felt the wind buffeting my cheeks and smelled the sweet scent of the late spring. I even felt the sting of kamikaze bugs bouncing off my cheeks. Yet this ride was more relaxing than the same one a week ago. Why? What was the difference? The helmet? The fun we had at the swimming hole? Our lunch? Or maybe just my mood.
The lunch was pretty good; fried chicken legs tossed with ranch dressing. And the swimming hole, Hooker Falls, was absolutely perfect. There were not too many people and the water was cold and fun! The ride was nice too. We did not test the road, or go overly fast, there were cars, but I did not care. The Runtyun was happy, I could feel her moving around behind me, we talked a little, but I could feel her contentedness too.
I guess I’ll just chalk it up to all the right juju getting together at the right time and leave it alone from there. We had a nice ride and the day was just as nice. The kid went to bed at 7:30 and slept through until 5:30. Every time I went into her room to look at her, she had a sleepy smile.