Singletrack Issue 121: MIPS: You’re Twisting My Melon Man

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MIPS invited us to Sweden to explain its in-helmet safety system in words that non-neuroscientists can understand. Luckily we have our own actual PhD neuroscientist, so we sent Barney to translate.

Words & Photography Dr Barney Marsh

If you ride a mountain bike (and it’s a fair bet that the majority of people reading this article do) then it’s more than likely that you wear a helmet. If you don’t, why not? You mentalist.

After all, helmets are A Good Thing. They provide a first point of defence between your noggin and the hard pointy things which want to interfere with its smooth function and undoubtedly suave and elegant looks. In the dim and distant past, perhaps, such safety-conscious thinking came at the expense of – uh – looks. I well remember my first helmet, which resembled nothing more or less than a giant mushroom smirshed around my head and ears, but these days, whether it’s a result of cultural habituation, the progress of technology, cunning marketing, or all three, helmets can look pretty durned cool. In fact, if I see a rider without a helmet they look a little odd. Underdressed, frankly. There’s an unspoken assumption that the bare-bonced rider isn’t all that serious – and certainly won’t be trying any of the death-defying features that we steely-eyed adventurers will shortly be schralping, no sir!

But take a look inside that helmet of yours. Technologically, it’s a fair bet that it’s essentially unchanged inside for the past 30-odd years – maybe more. Polystyrene. A bit of foam to make it a bit more comfy. And that’s about it.

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Barney Marsh

Singletrack Magazine Contributor

Barney Marsh takes the word ‘career’ literally, veering wildly across the road of his life, as thoroughly in control as a goldfish on the dashboard of a motorhome.

He’s been, with varying degrees of success, a scientist, teacher, shop assistant, binman and, for one memorable day, a hospital laundry worker. These days, he’s a dad, husband, guitarist, and writer, also with varying degrees of success. He sometimes takes photographs. Some of them are acceptable.

Occasionally he rides bikes to cast the rest of his life into sharp relief. Or just to ride through puddles. Sometimes he writes about them. Bikes, not puddles.

He is a writer of rongs, a stealer of souls and a polisher of turds.

He isn’t nearly as clever or as funny as he thinks he is.

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