The exhilaration of being helmetless

For the first time in the three-or-so years that I got back into cycling, I went on a ride Thursday without a helmet.


Now, I’m not here to debate the merits of whether helmets are a total must or not. I think that debate has been raging on for quite a while and you can Google search that topic at your leisure.

Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn
Vanderbilt Ave. Brooklyn
NYC DoT|Flickr
I will say however, that being in New York City, I never imagined myself helmetless while on the bike. Why? Well, safety is a huge concern and when you learn drivers’ behavioral patterns in certain neighborhoods you just want to be prepared for the possibility.

My safety concern is not overblown. It’s not exaggerated. I know the risks of being on a bike. And for that, I always wear a helmet.

But there is a kind of liberating, exhilarating feeling when biking without a helmet.

The sun felt slightly hotter on my head, but the breeze was a nice counter to it. Despite this though, I found myself forgetting that I wasn’t wearing a helmet. This is a new feeling.

I’m not going to go out without a helmet every time I ride. All I can say is, assess the risks and do what you feel is comfortable. If you’re comfortable without a helmet, kudos to you. If not, strap a helmet.

But Thursday wasn’t just about riding without a helmet in the city for the first time. M has finally moved up to the Big Apple, and I took him on an introductory ride around parts of Brooklyn.

He largely enjoyed riding on the streets. Back in Maryland we had access to the Capital Crescent Trail and largely avoided riding with traffic, so this was a different experience. One that he found exciting.

Our first stop, one that I thought would be a nice intro destination from Bushwick, was the Bushwick Inlet Park. It didn’t take us too long to get there, and since it wasn’t all that hot we decided to keep going.

I took him down the Kent Avenue bike track, onto Flushing Avenue where we made our way through DUMBO to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Here, we took a short break and had some ice cream from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. Butter pecan = tasty. Strawberry = tasty.

I’m sure we could’ve kept going but we made our way back to Bushwick instead.

With sore legs and wrists, and a huge hunger we ended our day with chicken tacos. Tacos make bike rides that much better.

‘Til the next adventure.

Bushwick Inlet Park
The inlet park in all its glory, with the beautiful Manhattan skyline.
Kai Brinker|Flickr



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