My Helmet Gave Its Life to Save Mine

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 5:25 AM GMT
    I faceplanted over my handlebars today and cracked my helmet.

    I was riding my road bike to the lower left corner of the country...Border Field Park, right along the US-Mexican border. A section of the road was washed out, so I hopped up on a dirt path that got progressively worse and worse the farther I went, but I was thinking, "Paris-Roubaix is tomorrow, this is nothing. Keep riding, you pussy." Then my wheel dropped in a hole and I flipped over the bars right onto my forehead, cracking the helmet and wrenching my neck.

    When I got up, my vision was blurry and I couldn't focus for about two minutes. I picked up my bike, knocked the shifter back into place, took a few swigs of water and decided I could ride home. I was literally nowhere and the only people nearby were Boarder Patrol agents on the fence, which was a hundred feet away. I used to be an EMT, and I also helped write the concussion protocol for a school district, so I knew enough about what to watch for. This isn't the first time I've had to do a self-assessment after a cycling disaster, haha. I did go to urgent care as a precaution and I'm fine. A double espresso, 400 mg of Advil I picked up in France, and a gimlet later and I'm feeling no pain, but not looking forward to waking up all stiff tomorrow.

    Anyway, I'm sure I'll show up on the Border Patrol's Funniest Surveillance Videos, but the real point of this post is to remind everyone to wear their helmets properly, no matter how good of a bike handler they think they are. This is my third real crash and second helmet I've cracked.

    The two cracks in my helmet don't photograph well, but the angle of my left shifter below is pretty much the same angle my neck hit the dirt.

    10154183_10203317017596831_5197005712448
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 1:23 PM GMT
    if your serious about a particular sport a helmet adds so much.
    -did you consider a crash jacket? Dainese makes a nice one.
    -helmets with scratches and or >3years old should be discarded
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 1:51 PM GMT
    I have 2 bicycle helmets at present: one for short city riding and one for longer day rides. The city one has a mirror built into the visor, a snap-on rain cover, a rear mount for a taillight, and is hi-viz orange, features meant for commuting in traffic. The road helmet is super-ventilated and extra light, a several hundred dollar Specialized S-Works model.

    I don't even get on my bicycle without a helmet. The same is true with motorcycles, beginning with my first license in 1966. Helmets have definitely lessened my head injuries during crashes on bikes & cycles, and almost surely saved my life in one very bad collision that put me in the hospital for a week. Helmets are expendable but your head is not.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 2:31 PM GMT
    erik911sd saidI faceplanted over my handlebars today and cracked my helmet.

    That happened to me almost exactly 7 years ago to the day, shortly after I moved to Florida permanently. I was riding on a residential street, when suddenly the bike stopped dead in its tracks. I never learned why, my memory afterwards is spotty, but I think a car was involved that fled the scene. Several years later I was knocked over by another hit & run car, that one I do remember, once again my helmet limiting my injuries. South Florida is very dangerous for bicyclists.

    Anyway, I do remember going over the handlebars and faceplanting on hard pavement. Shattered my brand-new prescription sunglasses, cut me up, but broke no facial bones, I think because the helmet limited the impact. My ribs weren't so lucky, slamming into the handlebars.

    A passing motorcyclist phoned 911 and the EMS came. I refused to be transported, which surprisingly they honored, instead bandaging my cuts on arms, legs and face right there. I didn't tell them I could barely breathe, because I was on my way to my shift at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center (GLCC) that I didn't want to miss. Which I did make and complete, the bike still rideable.

    But that night I couldn't sleep for the pain, and went to the VA clinic next morning. They found I had cracked ribs, and they redressed my wounds. Three days later an ex-BF was scheduled to stay with me for over a week, including reservations for several days at Island House gay resort in Key West, another thing I couldn't miss as his host.

    Believe me, trying to have sex with broken ribs really cramps your style. Fortunately as exes we didn't consider ourselves exclusive, and I was glad he found lots of other action to keep him busy in Key West, whenever I wasn't able to "entertain" him.
  • madsexy

    Posts: 4843

    Apr 13, 2014 3:05 PM GMT
    Good for you, man - keeping your head, literally and figuratively. And the helmet caution is a great service to everyone. I can't tell you how many people I see on campus and around town riding bikes without helmets in and out of traffic. All it takes is once to change your love in a very bad way and all it takes is a helmet (as you said worn and fitted properly) to avoid it.

    I biked for a while but I finally figured out I'm not nearly as balanced on a bike as I am on my feet so running is for me. icon_redface.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 3:16 PM GMT
    I've gone over the bars on a mt bike and I was very glad I had my helmet. My shoulder took most of the impact but my head was right there too. Although I may have a few marbles loose, it's not from that fall!

    Glad you were wearing yours! Glad you're OK. A lesson for all who cycle, regardless of what type! Thanks for sharing your story!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 4:05 PM GMT
    I'm glad you're OK.

    That said, most of us don't really know how things might have happened differently if we weren't wearing a helmet. You may have chosen your fall differently, or chosen not to take that dirt road.

    There is very good documentation of "risk compensation" Applied to cyclist, this means that when cyclists wear helmets, they are more likely to make bad decisions that they may not have made without a helmet. There is also evidence that cars actually pass closer to cyclists wearing helmets than those without.

    Personally, I wear a helmet on all long rides, but find them to be too much of a hassle for everyday getting around. And in places where a lot of people bicycle (Northern Europe) no one wears helmets.

    So once again, glad that you are OK, but let's not be too quick to jump on the "everyone needs a helmet" bandwagon based on our personal experiences.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 4:30 PM GMT
    CFL_Oakland saidI'm glad you're OK.

    That said, most of us don't really know how things might have happened differently if we weren't wearing a helmet. You may have chosen your fall differently, or chosen not to take that dirt road.

    There is very good documentation of "risk compensation" Applied to cyclist, this means that when cyclists wear helmets, they are more likely to make bad decisions that they may not have made without a helmet. There is also evidence that cars actually pass closer to cyclists wearing helmets than those without.

    Personally, I wear a helmet on all long rides, but find them to be too much of a hassle for everyday getting around. And in places where a lot of people bicycle (Northern Europe) no one wears helmets.

    So once again, glad that you are OK, but let's not be too quick to jump on the "everyone needs a helmet" bandwagon based on our personal experiences.


    I feel I must take issue with your statements, and do so not just to disagree but to provide some reliable information that may be useful to others. Helmets should be worn by cyclists and motorcyclists at ALL times, on even the shortest of trips, because it's on those everyday getting around trips that many accidents occur. A glance at SD's newspapers over a monthly period will confirm that serious, and often fatal, bicycle accidents occur all too regularly here on just those kinds of trips.

    I was struck by a hit and run driver in DC several years ago, while I was on just such a trip, and foolishly not wearing a helmet. I had no choice in how to fall, but was slammed head first over the handlebars and onto the pavement, suffering a coup contra coup, three broken ribs, and an abdominal hematoma in the process that left me on state-certified disability for 6 months. When the DC paramedics arrived at the scene - as incompetent a pair of EMTs as I've ever seen - they failed to lock the gurney into position when they tried to transfer me into their ambulance, causing it to fall 4 feet with me strapped in it; I can still hear the onlookers' gasps and grumblings at those idiots. But it gets better: on their way to the hospital, they hit a car! Fortunately, some passing EMTs from one of DC's MD suburbs happened upon the mess and extricated me from it, and I survived. And the DC's EMTs? They filed a worker's comp claim for soft tissue injuries allegedly suffered as a result of their own neglect. I later learned that their claim was tossed, much as I was courtesy of their incompetence.

    Apocrypha aside, because in my legal career I also served as the League of American Bicyclists' counsel and handled a large amount of bicycle accident cases, wearing a helmet gives you the added protection that your skull simply can't. And I can't overemphasize the need to wear one at ALL times.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 5:19 PM GMT
    Glad you're OK, and thanks for the reminder. I never get on a bike without a helmet. Bob is right about Florida. I recall reading an article in the Atlantic Monthly a few years ago that listed the ten worst cities in America for bad drivers, measured by the number of pedestrians struck per capita. Florida had four of the top ten cities. Most people assume it's the old geezers who are a menace, but it's more commonly guys my age driving like idiots.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 5:25 PM GMT
    CFL_Oakland said...
    There is very good documentation of "risk compensation" Applied to cyclist, this means that when cyclists wear helmets, they are more likely to make bad decisions that they may not have made without a helmet. ...


    Having started using a helmet a couple years ago, I do see the value of wearing one at all times, even if I do not necessarily do so. A recent tumble I took which could have easily been worse did not involve my head/helmet at all, although it produced a tear in the arm of my jacket from scraping on the pavement. My other tumbles have been examples of risk compensation involving curb issues, one a serious fall in which I hit (and split open) my chin and chipped a tooth and the other a very low speed tip over. In both cases, in the seconds immediately before making the move, I had the thought this is not a good idea. In my case the assessment had nothing to do with wearing a helmet or not, but it does demonstrate how even an experienced cyclist can execute moves which unexpectedly result in disaster, even in "short" trips and/or "safe" environments; hence a helmet is prudent against such unexpected occurrence. It is a balancing of injury risk versus freedom one must make. Prudence opts for a helmet, yet under certain circumstances one can understand how one would forego the protection at the risk of one's peril. However, one should consciously think about the choice each time one mounts a bicycle.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 5:26 PM GMT
    MGINSD saidI feel I must take issue with your statements, and do so not just to disagree but to provide some reliable information that may be useful to others. Helmets should be worn by cyclists and motorcyclists at ALL times, on even the shortest of trips, because it's on those everyday getting around trips that many accidents occur. A glance at SD's newspapers over a monthly period will confirm that serious, and often fatal, bicycle accidents occur all too regularly here on just those kinds of trips.

    I was struck by a hit and run driver in DC several years ago, while I was on just such a trip, and foolishly not wearing a helmet. I had no choice in how to fall, but was slammed head first over the handlebars and onto the pavement, suffering a coup contra coup, three broken ribs, and an abdominal hematoma in the process that left me on state-certified disability for 6 months. When the DC paramedics arrived at the scene - as incompetent a pair of EMTs as I've ever seen - they failed to lock the gurney into position when they tried to transfer me into their ambulance, causing it to fall 4 feet with me strapped in it; I can still hear the onlookers' gasps and grumblings at those idiots. But it gets better: on their way to the hospital, they hit a car! Fortunately, some passing EMTs from one of DC's MD suburbs happened upon the mess and extricated me from it, and I survived. And the DC's EMTs? They filed a worker's comp claim for soft tissue injuries allegedly suffered as a result of their own neglect. I later learned that their claim was tossed, much as I was courtesy of their incompetence.

    Apocrypha aside, because in my legal career I also served as the League of American Bicyclists' counsel and handled a large amount of bicycle accident cases, wearing a helmet gives you the added protection that your skull simply can't. And I can't overemphasize the need to wear one at ALL times.

    What a nightmare. Although perhaps it was just a dream. Apocrypha are usually understood to be stories of doubtful authenticity. By using that term, are you saying that yours is just an allegory?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 5:41 PM GMT
    shortbutsweet saidGlad you're OK, and thanks for the reminder. I never get on a bike without a helmet. Bob is right about Florida. I recall reading an article in the Atlantic Monthly a few years ago that listed the ten worst cities in America for bad drivers, measured by the number of pedestrians struck per capita. Florida had four of the top ten cities. Most people assume it's the old geezers who are a menace, but it's more commonly guys my age driving like idiots.

    That, plus South Florida has a great many tourists who don't know our roads and traffic rules, not to mention all the distracted cell phone users. Florida bicyclists have an equal right to the roads by law, and motor vehicles must keep a 3-foot distance away, also by law. We even have bumper stickers that say that, which you'll often see displayed on police cars.

    But I'll still have irate drivers pull up along side me and scream at me for not staying on the sidewalk (which in some jurisdictions is the real violation for a bike). I've been hit myself, and just a few months back I visited the COO of our Pride Center while he was in the hospital from injuries he sustained from a hit-and-run driver, breaking ribs and his collarbone. He was wearing a helmet, BTW.

    As for helmet use, I would dispute studies that say that helmet use is LESS safe. My regular observation is that helmet wearers are the safest of bikers, much more conscientious about obeying laws. It's the ones without a helmet who ride recklessly and violate traffic laws, inviting a collision. Plus a helmet can give you added visibility to drivers, as mine does. And as everyone says, a helmet protects your head when somebody ELSE makes a mistake or breaks the law, despite all your own good riding practices.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 5:55 PM GMT
    a helmet should really be worn all the time while riding. Its the short neighborhood rides that you crash on.

    I personally dont care, its your life on the other side its affirming to see riders with helmets so more people will use them.

    any get off can be traumatic; demonstration:
    Go up one rung on s step ladder and take a fall on purpose. Dosnt take much to bust a rib hit your head, scratch up your arm.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 6:04 PM GMT
    pellaz saidif your serious about a particular sport a helmet adds so much.
    -did you consider a crash jacket? Dainese makes a nice one.
    -helmets with scratches and or >3years old should be discarded


    Thanks for the reminder on the 3 years part. I need to order my new helmet today in case our winter ever ends and I can get the bike out.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 6:08 PM GMT
    NDmike said
    pellaz saidif your serious about a particular sport a helmet adds so much.
    -did you consider a crash jacket? Dainese makes a nice one.
    -helmets with scratches and or >3years old should be discarded

    Thanks for the reminder on the 3 years part. I need to order my new helmet today in case our winter ever ends and I can get the bike out.

    I thought the impact foam expiration date was about 5 years, not 3.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 6:24 PM GMT
    I found this online:

    The five-year [helmet] replacement recommendation is based on a consensus by both helmet manufacturers and the Snell Foundation*. Glues, resins and other materials used in helmet production can affect liner materials. Hair oils, body fluids and cosmetics, as well as normal "wear and tear" all contribute to helmet degradation. Petroleum based products present in cleaners, paints, fuels and other commonly encountered materials may also degrade materials used in many helmets possibly degrading performance. Additionally, experience indicates there will be a noticeable improvement in the protective characteristic of helmets over a five-year period due to advances in materials, designs, production methods and the standards. Thus, the recommendation for five-year helmet replacement is a judgment call stemming from a prudent safety philosophy.

    * The Snell Foundation certifies motorcycle & bicycle safety helmets. All quality helmets in the US will have a Snell certification sticker inside them, and you should not buy a helmet without that Snell approval.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 6:46 PM GMT
    shortbutsweet said
    MGINSD saidI feel I must take issue with your statements, and do so not just to disagree but to provide some reliable information that may be useful to others. Helmets should be worn by cyclists and motorcyclists at ALL times, on even the shortest of trips, because it's on those everyday getting around trips that many accidents occur. A glance at SD's newspapers over a monthly period will confirm that serious, and often fatal, bicycle accidents occur all too regularly here on just those kinds of trips.

    I was struck by a hit and run driver in DC several years ago, while I was on just such a trip, and foolishly not wearing a helmet. I had no choice in how to fall, but was slammed head first over the handlebars and onto the pavement, suffering a coup contra coup, three broken ribs, and an abdominal hematoma in the process that left me on state-certified disability for 6 months. When the DC paramedics arrived at the scene - as incompetent a pair of EMTs as I've ever seen - they failed to lock the gurney into position when they tried to transfer me into their ambulance, causing it to fall 4 feet with me strapped in it; I can still hear the onlookers' gasps and grumblings at those idiots. But it gets better: on their way to the hospital, they hit a car! Fortunately, some passing EMTs from one of DC's MD suburbs happened upon the mess and extricated me from it, and I survived. And the DC's EMTs? They filed a worker's comp claim for soft tissue injuries allegedly suffered as a result of their own neglect. I later learned that their claim was tossed, much as I was courtesy of their incompetence.

    Apocrypha aside, because in my legal career I also served as the League of American Bicyclists' counsel and handled a large amount of bicycle accident cases, wearing a helmet gives you the added protection that your skull simply can't. And I can't overemphasize the need to wear one at ALL times.

    What a nightmare. Although perhaps it was just a dream. Apocrypha are usually understood to be stories of doubtful authenticity. By using that term, are you saying that yours is just an allegory?


    LOL! No, I was just playing devil's advocate - to keep the religious metaphors consistent - and poking a little fun at myself in the process; such is my sense of humor. The dream was the vacation I'd planned while in DC; this all took place on only my second day there!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 6:47 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    shortbutsweet saidGlad you're OK, and thanks for the reminder. I never get on a bike without a helmet. Bob is right about Florida. I recall reading an article in the Atlantic Monthly a few years ago that listed the ten worst cities in America for bad drivers, measured by the number of pedestrians struck per capita. Florida had four of the top ten cities. Most people assume it's the old geezers who are a menace, but it's more commonly guys my age driving like idiots.


    As for helmet use, I would dispute studies that say that helmet use is LESS safe. My regular observation is that helmet wearers are the safest of bikers, much more conscientious about obeying laws. It's the ones without a helmet who ride recklessly and violate traffic laws, inviting a collision. Plus a helmet can give you added visibility to drivers, as mine does. And as everyone says, a helmet protects your head when somebody ELSE makes a mistake or breaks the law, despite all your own good riding practices.


    Your "observation" is mere anecdote, and even if it were statistically significant, it could be easily explained by the difference between recreational and practical cycling. When I'm going to the grocery store (helmetless), I have to pass through several stop signs along the way. When I'm out doing a long recreational ride, I may go miles between any sort of traffic control. People who use their bikes for all their daily transportation needs (and thus who do a lot of urban cycling) are the ones who find helmets the biggest hassle.

    You are also making the mistake of assuming that "obeying laws" = "safe". Our current traffic laws were clearly not designed with cyclists in mind, so they very well may not make any sense or be any safer for cyclists to follow.

    Also, your first line of defense against someone else's mistake, as you mention, is not your helmet, it is still your own cycling skills.

    I agree that all things being equal, you have a better chance of surviving a crash with a helmet on. But all things are never equal. Let me point to the Netherlands where nobody wears helmets, yet the rate of bicycle injury is far lower than it is here. The biggest difference is that they have more people cycling - it is an integral part of the culture. Propagating the misinformation that you need some sort of body armor to ride a bicycle to the store is in direct opposition to increasing cycling culture here (and thus making it safer for everyone).
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 7:20 PM GMT
    MGINSD said
    shortbutsweet said
    MGINSD saidApocrypha aside, because in my legal career I also served as the League of American Bicyclists' counsel and handled a large amount of bicycle accident cases, wearing a helmet gives you the added protection that your skull simply can't. And I can't overemphasize the need to wear one at ALL times.

    What a nightmare. Although perhaps it was just a dream. Apocrypha are usually understood to be stories of doubtful authenticity. By using that term, are you saying that yours is just an allegory?


    LOL! No, I was just playing devil's advocate - to keep the religious metaphors consistent - and poking a little fun at myself in the process; such is my sense of humor. The dream was the vacation I'd planned while in DC; this all took place on only my second day there!

    Sounds like my trip to Istanbul. The second day I was almost dumped in the river by a band of con artists. The third day I was nearly blown up by terrorists. But that's a whole other story.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 9:09 PM GMT
    Great PSA! Glad you're alright. And on a lighter note, if you do end up on YouTube, be sure to share. icon_wink.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 11:16 PM GMT
    Glad that your okay man. I always wear my helmet, no matter what. I am always shocked especially here in California when I see cyclist without helmets. Not sure what they are thinking.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 13, 2014 11:39 PM GMT
    CFL_Oakland said
    Your "observation" is mere anecdote, and even if it were statistically significant, it could be easily explained by the difference between recreational and practical cycling. When I'm going to the grocery store (helmetless), I have to pass through several stop signs along the way. When I'm out doing a long recreational ride, I may go miles between any sort of traffic control. People who use their bikes for all their daily transportation needs (and thus who do a lot of urban cycling) are the ones who find helmets the biggest hassle.

    You are also making the mistake of assuming that "obeying laws" = "safe". Our current traffic laws were clearly not designed with cyclists in mind, so they very well may not make any sense or be any safer for cyclists to follow.

    Also, your first line of defense against someone else's mistake, as you mention, is not your helmet, it is still your own cycling skills.

    I agree that all things being equal, you have a better chance of surviving a crash with a helmet on. But all things are never equal. Let me point to the Netherlands where nobody wears helmets, yet the rate of bicycle injury is far lower than it is here. The biggest difference is that they have more people cycling - it is an integral part of the culture. Propagating the misinformation that you need some sort of body armor to ride a bicycle to the store is in direct opposition to increasing cycling culture here (and thus making it safer for everyone).

    You counter my anecdotal evidence (and I never claimed it was otherwise) with your own anecdotal evidence, and personal assumptions.

    Obeying traffic laws can indeed be safer for a bicyclist. I can't imagine you claiming the opposite. When bikers swerve across traffic mid-lane without giving signals or warnings, when they run through stop signs & stop lights (not stopping as required by Florida law), when they disregard designated bike lanes, and ride in the wrong direction, they are most definitely less safe. And I believe those Dutch riders you cite do a very good job of following traffic laws, unlike their American counterparts. I lived in Europe for years, where I also rode a bike.

    All my cycling skills were for naught when a car came up behind me and simply knocked me aside several years ago, because he drifted onto the shoulder. What skills should I have employed? Mental telepathy? But my helmet helped prevent a head injury when I struck the ground.

    A helmet is not "body armor" but a prudent precaution. Should we assume you're one of those guys who won't wear his car seat belt, either? I'm sure you're a wonderful driver, who can always employ his superior driving skills to avoid any mishaps on the road. icon_rolleyes.gif

  • LJay

    Posts: 11612

    Apr 14, 2014 1:02 AM GMT
    Glad you are OK.

    I was afraid this was going to be about circumcision.
  • madsexy

    Posts: 4843

    Apr 14, 2014 1:37 AM GMT
    LJay saidI was afraid this was going to be about circumcision.

    icon_lol.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 14, 2014 4:12 AM GMT
    Thanks to everyone who wished me well in this thread. My neck is still a bit sore, so I'm skipping the velodrome tomorrow. I'm hoping I can be back on the bike by the weekend.

    A few other thoughts--

    Just like Art_Deco, this isn't the first time I've flipped over my bars. My first crash was a little over 11 years ago when I was starting out. I took a last minute shortcut around a tourist traffic jam down a choppy road and when dodging one pothole at a little over 20 mph, my wheel slipped into a rut and I did a forward 180, hitting the back of my helmet on the bumper of a parked Explorer. As I was upside down, I heard my helmet crushing and breaking and I thought, "I'm glad I'm wearing this," and then suddenly all my weight (and the bike I was still clipped into) was on my neck and I thought, "I'm not out of this yet." Then I slammed down on the road flat on my back. Then the bike fell on my chest. That crash left me in pain for months, but no head injury that time.

    So yeah, twice I've been lucky not to snap my neck and twice my helmets did their job.

    And while I had my ID, cell phone and RoadID on me, I was riding alone in the middle of nowhere with not a lot of people nearby. I decided if I'm going to ride solo I should get an ICE Dot. I've been thinking of getting one for a few months and I ordered one today.

    The ICE Dot is an accelerometer that attaches to your helmet and when it detects a crash alerts your cell phone via bluetooth to send a message to predesignated contacts along with your location. There's a customizable countdown so you can turn it off if you're okay before the message goes out. It's not limited to cycling--it works for snowboarding or motorcycles. It's pretty cool.