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Helmets and professional bike check-up are musts before family ride season | READER COMMENTARY

Volunteer Rich Allen, right, teaches Robyn Daggarty, 9, how to true a bicycle wheel during an Earn-a-Bike class last December in Hartford, Conn. The Earn-a-Bike program is an eight-week evening course that teaches teen participants about bicycle maintenance and safety. At the conclusion of the course, the young person has a bicycle to take home that they themselves tuned. Photo by Brad Horrigan | bhorrigan@courant.com
Volunteer Rich Allen, right, teaches Robyn Daggarty, 9, how to true a bicycle wheel during an Earn-a-Bike class last December in Hartford, Conn. The Earn-a-Bike program is an eight-week evening course that teaches teen participants about bicycle maintenance and safety. At the conclusion of the course, the young person has a bicycle to take home that they themselves tuned. Photo by Brad Horrigan | bhorrigan@courant.com (Brad Horrigan / Hartford Courant)

In the Family section of Sunday’s Baltimore Sun, there was an article, “Ready to roll?” by A.C. Shilton of The New York Times. The article dealt with various considerations before taking a family bike ride. Having worked in an REI bike shop in Timonium assembling bikes for about a dozen years and having ridden over 120,000 miles on the roads in Maryland as an adult, I can easily spot bike problems.

The article addressed various aspects of making sure your bikes are in good working order before the family goes out for a ride for the first time. The two things that prompted me to write this letter were the comments about adults wearing helmets being optional and the accompanying photo of a woman and a child with their bikes. From many years and miles of cycling experiences, I say that wearing a helmet while cycling anywhere is absolutely essential. Protecting your brain is far more important than taking a chance you won’t get injured. Knees and elbows heal, but your brain may not.

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As to the accompanying photo, look at the woman’s bike. After reading the article about all the components of the bike that need to be checked, the bike she is sitting on has the fork that holds the front wheel reversed relative to the handlebars! The article mentioned the quick releases for the wheels but fails to mention the proper orientation of the fork and the handlebars. The “rake” of the fork should always face forward. On the bike in the photo, the reversed fork probably would make that bike not rideable due to the front tire hitting the down tube.

The article also suggested that taking your bike to a bike shop before setting out on a first family ride in a while is an option. Maybe the article should have said that for your families’ safety and enjoyment you should have a bike shop do a quick look to make sure things are as they should be rather than doing the checking yourself. Sometimes articles like this leave out relevant information or provide misleading visual context. Readers beware.

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Russell Loy, Cockeysville

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