About halfway through an epic road/trail combo ride with local JT Cody as our guide, we came across a very scary situation on some bike trail in a park in downtown San Antonio. A rider was slumped on the side of the trail disoriented and obviously seriously injured. I could tell immediately from his sandals and baggy shorts that he was likely not a very experienced rider. His face was a muddy mess, a result of blood mixing with the gravel and dirt he'd faceplanted in. His helmet was next to him, a mangled mess. Pebbles and small rocks had punched through the hard plastic and lodged deep in the foam. We handed him a bottle of water to start cleaning his face of with, and over the next few minutes as he washed the dirt away, we got a look at the extent of his wounds: From right below his nose to the bottom of his chin were a number of very large gaping lacerations. His upper lip seemed to have nearly been severed off, and a good 1/3 of his chin was hanging free. Miraculously he still had all of his teeth.
From there JT rode off to retrieve his car, which was luckily parked just a mile or so away, while Rick and I helped him up the trail to the parking lot. We found his bike (a classic "WalMart-er") in a ravine below. The fork had been bent in half, and the front wheel was way off in the bushes. I found his glasses completely smashed nearby. The guy had basically done the mother of all faceplants.
We loaded his bike in his car, and while JT and I rode, Rick drove him to the nearby Urgent Care clinic (another stroke of luck). After dropping him off, and a mere 15 minutes after coming across the situation, we were back on our way. As we got rolling, Rick looked over at us, stoney-faced, and said the cardboard box the helmet had come in was sitting in the passenger seat when he got in the car... the fellow had bought it the previous day. We all agreed that had he not been wearing it, we may very well have come across a dead body instead of the mildly concussed and cutup one we did. He was undoubtedly going to need some facial reconstruction, but he was alive.
Folks, go ride your bike, but don't forget that helmet!