Today was my third Saturday of trail bicycling riding. It is like mountain biking because it is dirt, there are some hills, an occasional rock or root, curves, and its in the woods. It is NOT like mountain biking because the trail is wide - almost as wide as a one lane road. This particular trail is about 7 miles and circles a lake. It has always been my most favorite place to run. This is where I have been going to walk with my friend for a year or two now. I had been doing a quick run before our walk and I cannot do that currently.
This is my first venture into trail cycling and I just LOVE it. I find it much more fun than road cycling. Anyways - most of the cyclists using the trail- some of whom are pretty intense- wear helmets, myself included. You can usually tell who is there for a workout and who is just "hanging out" by their helmet status. Some of the non-helmet wearers think that because they are not riding in the road - no cars - no worries. But one must be alert on the dirt trail for walkers, runners, rocks, hills, curves - it takes a good deal of attention.
I have noted before that it doesn't take a car to make a cyclist crash and that dirt, pavement, grass and gravel can all do substantial damage to a body and a skull. Today I came pretty close to a crash and the subsequent aftermath. I came around a curve on my third lap, going pretty fast (relatively speaking). I was on the right side of the trail. Midway in the curve, I came face to face with an entire family of cyclists. Really. They were abreast across the trail. It appeared to be a Mom and Dad and two or three children. This happened very quickly so I am recreating what I think I saw. One of the parents had a cycle stroller (like a jog stroller, but it is low to the ground, covered and attached to the back of the bicycle) with a small child inside. A child on a small bike and a smaller child on a tricycle were amongst this "crowd". I came face to face with the little one. All of them were wearing helmets to the best of my recollection. I know the little boy was. I had to grasp the brakes pretty hard and fast, I slid and teetered. I yelled out in alarm. I did not fall - but I would have if it had been the only option besides hitting the child. As it turns out, we were both fine and no one hit dirt.
The user error in this case was being in the wrong lane - the child not me, but the safety measure was the helmet, had it been needed.
Click here to see a nice map of our trail and be sure to visit if you come to Winston Salem, NC.