Now I’m no expert, but... and speaking strictly personally here, I’ve never had a problem wearing protective gear. I’m no ‘Safety Nazi’ but when it comes to body and bonce, if I am going to do anything which remotely puts either at risk of injury, I’ll wear whatever the ‘ industry-standard’ is. Whether it is mandated by law ( motorcycle and cycle helmets) or is simple common sense ( MX boots, pants, shoulder pads and gloves) when riding a dirt bike off-road. One of the reasons is that in a lifetime either participating in, or reporting on activities as diverse as motorcycle and car racing, and triathlon and road and off-road ( MTB) cycling, I have both experienced first-hand, and been on the spot when things have gone pear-shaped. Sudden, in most cases completely accidental, death has a terrible and both immediate and lingering effect on everyone directly and also indirectly involved in an event – the reason many are immediately cancelled in the aftermath of a fatal accident. Serious injury also leaves a kind of pall over a place and time. Though, to be fair, I have been lucky. As a kid I remember skidding off my pushbike on pea gravel left by careless workmen after a pothole repair... and waking up after being knocked out cold for 30 seconds or so. And more recently – again literally – I split a $ 200+ Giro MTB helmet in two after head-butting the ground when I overbalanced and rode off the edge of a two-metre high wooden obstacle at my local MTB park. Apparently I calmly picked myself up, dusted myself off and finished my ride... but I can’t remember a thing about that. All I know is that a fellow rider saw it happen and selflessly accompanied me back to the car park when he couldn’t make any sense of what I was saying! I’ve also – a hundred years ago in a past life ( as they say) when I was into trail bikes, and more recently at the MTB park – been the first person to arrive on the scene, and offer assistance to, fellow riders who have hit their heads hard after big crashes. And, let me tell you for a fact. It ain’t pretty. I raise the subject here for two reasons. One is simple and applies to any activity where there is a heightened risk of accident or injury. In our case the obvious one is when we are off-road and miles away from the ‘authorities.’ Just because you are, don’t – ever – think that not wearing your seat belt is a good idea… The other reason relates to that oxygen thief – Jeremy Teague – who organised a recent demonstration ( which attracted just 25 people despite nationwide publicity) AGAINST the law which requires anyone riding a bicycle to wear a helmet. Claiming he wanted to see more people cycling, he told media covering his demo that having to wear a helmet sent the ‘wrong message’ to people, and in particular to children – that cycling was dangerous. And that if helmets were optional, more would ride bikes. To which all I can do is roll my eyes, and borrow a quote from ACT Party leader David Seymour in the lead-up to last year’s general election. Referring to a hapless statement made by NZ First candidate Richard Prosser in regards to returning electricity assets to state ownership, Seymour famously said – and I quote – “I realise in a role such as mine you are supposed to have a certain amount of decorum. But that makes me really angry – what a f***ing idiot!”
NZ4WD editor Ross MacKay.