Roller Ski Safety: Compelling Reasons to Wear a Helmet

Two weeks ago, Rockaway Township finished paving a critical section of Lake Denmark Road.  Smooth, fast new asphalt replaced the section near the picnic area that had turned into a minefield.  I got the county into a Twitter conversation about paving their section of the road, but don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

On Wednesday, I drove to Lake Denmark for roller ski intervals.  The previous night’s storm littered twigs and branches on a stretch of that groovy new pavement. I spent 15 minutes cleaning up the most egregious bits and then got down to it.

Twenty minutes into my warmup, I crashed.  I can’t remember whether I hit debris or lost my balance trying to avoid it, but I went down hard.  And for the first time ever, my head hit the deck.  Thank God I was wearing a helmet.

Until I got up, wiped my face on the sleeve of my shirt and saw blood, I didn’t realize that my head had hit the pavement.  I had the usual scrapes on my knees and elbows.  My knees are all scarred from various falls over the last 30 years, both roller skiing and running.  If you don’t fall once in awhile, you’re not going fast enough, right?

I skied easy for another 15 minutes, but an interval workout wasn’t gonna happen.  I figured it was OK to bag the workout and head home.

My wife was telecommuting that day, and she was shocked when I walked in the door.  She helped me clean up and plaster bandaids on.

That was the hardest I’ve hit the deck, ever.  And I wasn’t going that fast.  My elbows and knees are bashed up per usual.  I’ve got serious bruises on one leg.  All last winter’s physical therapy on my right shoulder was undone by that crash.  And I have a couple of big scabs across my cheek and eyebrow.

That evening, I finally noticed the scuffing and scrapes on the right side of my helmet.  If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet, it would have been way worse.  Concussion for sure.

I’ve beaten the drum for roller ski safety before, but this brings it home.  Wear a helmet.