This Summer strap on your helmet and go for a bike ride!

Hunter Warren and Xavier McNeill are mates and love to ride their bikes together. “I like to ride at least twice over the weekends and getting outside with my friends.” Xavier said. “It makes me feel good getting outside and makes me fit.”

Hunter agrees. “I like to ride as much as I can, as it makes me feel happy being outside with my friends and it’s good exercise.”

The boys make sure they strap on their helmet securely before hopping on their bikes and this was no different when they went on a ride together a couple of weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon.

They went bike riding down the Snake Track and after gaining a bit of speed, Hunter hit an obstacle and went flying over his handle bars.

“I was ahead of Hunter and didn’t know he had crashed until a little bit later and I turned around, went back and found Hunter lying on the road with the bike on top of him,” Xavier said. Hunter looked like he was “asleep” and as he was in the middle of the road, Xavier rolled him off the road to make sure Hunter wasn’t hit by a car as well (as it happens, a car did come and drove past just as Hunter was regaining consciousness).

“I wasn’t sure what had happened and what to do.” Xavier said. Fortunately, the boys (and their mums) always made sure they had at least one mobile phone on them. “I knew mum knew what to do, so I called her.” Xavier said. Due to bad reception for some mobile phone services in Timboon, Xavier had to run up the hill to get in contact with his mum.

“Getting the phone call from Hunter’s phone was not unusual as I always ask them where they are riding and that, if they change their minds, that they need to let me know,” Xavier’s mum Belinda said.

The second she heard her son’s voice though; she knew something had happened. “He was scared, but he was also in control and got across all the information that I needed to be able to get to them.” Belinda said. When Belinda got to them, Hunter was just sitting calmly on the side of the road and Xavier was comforting him.

“I couldn’t believe that they were both so calm.” Belinda said. “They went through exactly what happened and then I decided it was best to get Hunter back to my place, so we could assess what he needed and call his mum.” She realized it wasn’t the best of phone calls to a mum, but luckily Belinda and Hunter’s mum Jenna Warren are very close, and they had spoken about the fact that they might have to make a phone call like this at some point.

Being still in married bliss from getting married the day before, Jenna wasn’t really prepared for receiving a phone call from Belinda telling her Hunter had a big stack off his bike.

“Even though Belinda and I had gone through the probable scenario of something like this happening before – being mums of young active boys, I got a bit of a shock,” Jenna said.

They took Hunter to TDHS for an initial assessment and as Hunter had hit his head, an ambulance was organized to take him to South West Healthcare. His helmet with vizor was cracked in different places.

“We sat at South West Healthcare for 4 hours while Hunter underwent the 4-hour concussion test and we were sent home after that with a fare few ‘war’ wounds (gravel rash on nose and back) and a severe concussion.” Jenna said.

Hunter doesn’t remember much about the whole ordeal. “I just know my head hurt and I can vaguely remember Xavier dragging me off the road.” Hunter said. “It’s great to have such a good mate to look after me and I also know that it would have been very bad if I hadn’t worn my helmet.”

Hunter endured most of the concussion symptoms for a couple of days, like vomiting, headaches, sleeping a lot and very lethargic. “He definitely wasn’t our Hunter.” Jenna said.

Both mums are extremely proud of both boys of how they dealt with the situation.

“I am so proud of how both the boys handled the situation and how brave they were in dealing with what needed to be done.” Belinda said.

Jenna said that after listening to Xavier tell the story of what happened to Hunter once she arrived at their house, she was blown away, that this boy, Hunter’s friend Xavier, came to his rescue and did everything right. “He is a hero in our eyes,” Jenna said. “That is what a friend should do and be like in that situation; we can’t thank him enough.”

Xavier doesn’t think much of it and feels that helping his friend was nothing special, just something you do. What he does know is that it could have been a whole lot worse if Hunter hadn’t worn his helmet. “I even think the vizor on Hunter’s helmet protected his forehead.”

Hunter agrees with his friend, but also thinks he’s very lucky to have a good friend like Xavier. “When you go bike riding, wear your helmet and strap it close, but also make sure you always ride with somebody else and have a mobile phone with you.” Hunter said as Xavier nodded his head in agreement.

Good advice according to both mums as well. “A big thank you to Belinda for going to the rescue,” Jenna said. “And thank you to Timboon hospital and Ambulance Victoria for their wonderful care. And to all parents reading this, please make sure your children have helmets on, have a friend like Xavier to ride with and some way to contact a parent.”


Research indicates that bike helmets greatly reduce the risk of head injuries, which are the major cause of death and injury to bike riders.

  • A comprehensive systematic review of 40 studies was published in the prestigious International Journal of Epidemiology in 2016 and found that bicycle helmets reduce the chances of a serious head injury by almost 70 %
  • Two years after introducing bicycle helmet laws in 1990 there was a 16% reduction in head injuries in metropolitan Melbourne and a 23% reduction in head injuries in Victoria.

Read more on the VicRoads website.

 


 

Cycling for health and fitness

It only takes two to four hours a week to achieve a general improvement to your health. Cycling is:

  • Low impact – it causes less strain and injuries than most other forms of exercise.
  • A good muscle workout– cycling uses all the major muscle groups as you pedal.
  • Easy – unlike some other sports, cycling does not require high levels of physical skill. Most people know how to ride a bike and, once you learn, you don’t forget.
  • Good for strength and stamina– cycling increases stamina, strength and aerobic fitness.
  • As intense as you want– cycling can be done at very low intensity to begin with, if recovering from injury or illness, but can be built up to a demanding physical workout.
  • A fun way to get fit– the adventure and buzz you get from coasting down hills and being outdoors means you are more likely to continue to cycle regularly, compared to other physical activities that keep you indoors or require special times or places.
  • Time-efficient – as a mode of transport, cycling replaces sedentary (sitting) time spent driving motor vehicles or using trams, trains or buses with healthy exercise.

Read more on the Better Health website.

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