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Ultimate Stupidity.
Editorial by Tom Demerly.

Two cyclists riding on road.

The fact that I actually have to sit down to address this topic makes me angry enough. It seems like a waste of time. I'm angry I have to spend time and energy writing about it, but obviously I have to.

I'm shooting from the hip here, so pardon my vernacular in advance.

We posted a "Local Ride Schedule" to our home page a couple weeks ago. It's the red panel on the front page of this website you click on to find out what rides are happening when and where in our area. We did it for several reasons: To attract active cyclists to our store as a gathering place with the hopes they would think of us when they needed to buy something; as a resource to the cycling community and to help us have better training rides as well as spread knowledge about group riding skills.

We spoke briefly with two attorneys regarding our exposure to liability should someone be killed or injured on one of these rides. They characterized our exposure as "substantial". One recommended we not do it. But I love the sport and I want to grow my business so I gathered my advisors, ask their expert opinions, considered the information and made a command decision to accept the risk of posting this information on our site.

Please understand the risks are as follows: Someone crashes on a ride that was shown on our ride schedule and they are injured, permanently disfigured or disabled or killed. We are named as a corporation, and then separately as individuals sharing in some "fault" or liability for the accident. The chances of me loosing my business and my personal assets as well as our employees doing the same are very high. We have had these lawsuits before, and are prohibited from commenting on them specifically.

In short: Someone screws up on a ride due to his or her own stupidity and I loose everything I've worked for.

People, you will not do that to me.

I have been through hell over the last ten years and the ten years before that building this place up and I am not about to loose it to the family (and attorney) of some stupid asshole who can't be bothered to wear a helmet on a training ride. I don't give a damn who you are. I don't care if you're Lance Armstrong. If you attend one of the rides leaving from our store you will wear a helmet. If you show up without wearing one I will politely try to lend you one. If you don't wear it I will do the only thing I can realistically do: I will take the ride board down at once and no longer sponsor any local cycling clubs. Last year we spent over $14,000 on local event sponsorships and club sponsorships for the Wolverines, Cycling Saddlemen, local triathlons and clubs and teams. I guarantee you: Show up once more with no helmet and I will stop it all instantly. I will use the $14,000 to buy a new car for myself that your stupid lawsuit can't take away from me and when someone comes looking for sponsorship, I don't care if it's a free inner tube, I will say:

"We no longer support the local cycling community because _________ (insert asshole's name) did not wear a helmet on a training ride and placed myself and others at substantial risk of lawsuits and personal loss."

I will use your name. I will use the 4,441 readers who saw this website yesterday. I will tell everyone it was your fault personally. Because it was. And I will put the brakes on supporting the cycling community so fast it will make your head spin.

When you show up to a group ride without a helmet you are placing others at risk. I won't lecture you about your own safety. If you ride without a helmet you are obviously so stupid and naïve I'd be wasting my time. But for God's sake, take a second to think about others.

I do not want to be in the middle of a ride, have to stop, clear your airway, stop your bleeding, maintain your circulation and try to summon help. That is not what I got on my bike on a Saturday morning (or any other day) to do. I don't want your blood and gore on my clothing, I don't want to see the inside of your skull broken open and your head injured so severely you are having a seizure while me and others on the ride try to save your life. I don't want to perform CPR and mouth to mouth on a person injured severely because they had no helmet.

Let me ask you this: Do you want to press your lips to mine when they are blue or white from oxygen deprivation, my jaw is crushed and teeth broken and my airway blocked because of shattered cervical vertebrae? Do you want to pull your face away from my unconscious head as thick blood pours out the back of a fractured skull? Do you want to try to maintain your composure as you do chest compressions and count the seconds for EMS to arrive while an innocent driver stares at this gruesome scene in front of them? Do you want to come to grips with the fact that I died right in front of you on something as innocent as a bike ride?

No, you don't. And because I know you don't I wear a helmet on every group ride. And if you are on one of the rides posted on our ride board you will wear one too. Without fail. Without excuses. I don't care who you are, you start a ride from my store you WILL wear a helmet.

Last Sunday (March 23) someone did crash not wearing a helmet. I found out about it yesterday. I cannot describe how mad I am. I am tempted to pull the ride board right now and even discontinue sponsorship of the club the person belongs to. Realistically I have no other recourse. One of my employees has two children and I have an obligation to maintain a business so that person can get a paycheck. You will not threaten that with your stupidity. I will not allow it.

Show up on one of these rides one more time with no helmet, then refuse to wear a loaner helmet and I will pull the ride board immediately and stop paying your club's sponsorship. Period.

It is simple people: Wear a helmet.

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© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
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