I’ve been a helmet wearer for a couple of years, and also promoted it to other unicyclists, especially beginners or anyone doing anything remotely extreme.
My take on safety gear has been wrist guards and a helmet- wrist guards because it’s common in a fall to land on the wrists, and helmet because, although head impacts are very rare on a uni, they are potentially very, very serious.
However, for this summer I’ve got into the habit of wearing a hat or bandana when I’m just doing easy mild riding. Basically thinking that the weathers hot, I rarely fall off, and much of my riding is just getting from A to B.
So I’ve been saving the helmet and guards just for more extreme stuff.
That stops now because tonight I experienced my first head impact coming off my uni.
I didn’t have the helmet cos it was just going to be a straight ride round the streets, maybe climb a few verges and hillocks in the park etc.
Ironically I rode past a nurse and pulled up for a drink of water
She stopped and asked a few questions about the uni and balance etc.
More ironically, one of her comments was that she was wondering, as I rode past, what she’d do if I fell off. I laughed, explaining that I hardly ever fell off, and, when I did I invariably landed on my feet- no medical assitance necessary
After chatting for a while I continued and rode into the park, where I climbed the steep grass surrounding the tennis courts- rode round the top, rode down, turned, climbed up, and came back.
At this point I was aware of being watched by a Chinese bloke, as I rode down terrain on which I anticipated no problems whatsoever.
Then suddenly I’m off the muni, my arms go out and my head bounces off the gravelly concrete surface- I feel really surprised that my head has hit the ground and can’t understand how my arms failed to stop it.
As well as the impact I’m also aware of the disturbing sound of my skull hitting the ground.
I sit up and pause awhile to collect myself. As I stand I reach up to feel my head and my hand comes back bloody.
At this point I realise that the Chinese guy seems to have lost interest and is slinking off in the other direction- at the time I find it fairly mind blowing that anyone can watch a unicyclist smash his head into the ground then just wander off! Where’s my nurse? she would have been quite handy here.
I feel OK and jump on the uni to go home so I can look at the damage.
Luckily it’s not too bad, a minor cut tucked away in the eyebrow and an area of grazing above it.
Certainly it’s not as bad as it could have been, given that the eyebrow is fairly close to the temple, and that the impact could have been harder- I feel lucky.
Also, the area I fell on was low to the ground, 30 seconds earlier I’d been negotiating a corner on which I was a great deal further from the hard ground- the same fall there would probably have fractured my skull.
So from now one, my helmet and wrist guards are as integral to the One Wheel Dave experience as my unicycle wheel.
One of the things here is that it’s easy to say I’m just going for an easy ride in the sun, but then I come across an interesting looking grassy hillock/muni type detour, and I’m away.
Another is that I generally consider even the muni terrain I do to be pretyy non-extreme, after watching videos of the likes of Chris Holm dropping six feet of a boulder on a rock strewn hill, what I do seems pretty tame.
But, relative to what I was doing a year ago, it is fairly hardcore and, as today has made very clear to me, I can get hurt doing it.
Lastly, it may be rare to land on the head, but riding 6/7 days a week for an hour or two at a time, as I do, is a good way to push the odds of it happening to near certainty.
So, if you unicycle, my advice is to wear a helmet (and wrist guards).
And tonight I’m happy, because I’ve been lucky enough to not be hurt by my stupidity