Sunday, September 17

A Hairy situation, helmet woes & the Firstgear Kilimanjaro jacket

As you read this, hum the chorus of "Hair" from the musical of the same name.

This is *the* hair, my hair, about which perfect strangers feel free to comment and ask a lot of bizaare questions (e.g., "can you wash it?"; or, "do you have to burn the ends to make it stay?"; or, my favorite, "where is it hooked on?"). I am annoyed by these intrusions at least once a day!

My hair, which has never bothered me before has now become a major part of riding Queenie, my motorcycle. I'm thinking about it way too much!

My mid-butt length hair, which is real, is clean and washable and is not hooked on but sprouted from my very own hair follicles. Lately, I've been asking myself: "Should I cut it or keep it?" To some that might be a simple question with an easy answer. If it gets in the way of riding, chop it off. But that gives in to all those who keep ordering me to cut it. That my hair seems to bother others, give me a sort of perverse pleasure in knowing that I have the power to annoy others just by being myself. Keeping it is my answer to those who feel they have a right to tell me what to do with my hair. Besides, after ten years, I've grown attached to my hair. Over time, the style has taken on a spiritual dimension that is hard to explain.

But do I need to be inconvenienced just to prove a point?

Fitting all my hair under my Sy-Max HJC helmet is impossible. So, I low pony-tail it most of the time. Still, on any ride over 30 mph it becomes a swirling tangle of tentacles that whip around me. Braid it, you say. My hair is so thick that a braid makes fitting on the helmet a tiring tug of war. It creates a huge knot at the nape so the helmet must be forced down to wear. After riding a bit, the helmet can become bothersome. Braiding it lower works some of the time so I aim for that. Most of the time, I go the low pony-tail route but wearing it blowing free in the wind makes the best helmet fit--hair whipping around me notwithstanding.

Wearing my favorite jacket + my hair takes patience. The Firstgear Kilimanjaro jacket is worth every penny. It works in hot and cold weather with a system of removable liners. It is waterproof and a sure bet every time you wear it. One of the best decisions I made was to take it on the LMCT. It served me exceedingly well. Thus, I decided to ignore the daily hair battles as a result of this jacket. The Kilimanjaro is replete with covert and overt pockets, zippers, snaps and velcro flaps that allow excellent ventilation, great padding, and in all the right places, reflective piping. What more can one ask?

Well as much as I love this jacket, now that it's become my all around favorite, I've been fighting with it a lot. I've not been completely honest about the one major design flaw it has--at least for my kind of hair. I have thick, kinky, wooly hair that I have refused to chemically straighten (don't get me started...) since I was 17, which is a lot of years ago. Until ten years ago, I wore a TWA (tiny weeny afro), which, by the way, people bugged me about too, noting my similarity to cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy! I now wear locks--not "dread" locks--as there is nothing dreadful about it. I wear my hair in beautiful, healthy nubian locks that require the same care you'd give to extra-fine cashmere.

The Kilimanjaro jacket owes much of its versality to Velcro. My hair is the soft fuzzy female side that mates with the wiry plastic male side of Velcro. When my jacket is on, my hair becomes a super magnet for wiry parts, which seek it out and instantly adhere to it. If I'm not careful, getting my jacket on is a chore. I have to remember to gather my hair to one side and slip the jacket on. Still, parts of it often catch on its wiry mate and I have to literally rip them apart, producing that jarring skrunchy sound we're all familiar with. Taking the jacket off can be a real headache too. I can remove it and still have it hanging on me by an open Velcro pocket or the collar because my hair has wrapped itself around these sections. If I'm not watchful, this impromptu mating can prevent me from turning my head at will as grops of locks have joined in group matting along a long Velcro strip. Someone recommended putting my hair inside my jacket. I tried that. Can you say "Quasimodo"? The hump underneath my ever-present knapsack made people whisper--or so I imagined them doing. In any case, it took my mind off the ride, which is never good.

I shouldn't hold my hair issues against helmet or jacket makers. Clearly, neither makes its products with with me in mind. Of my three helmets and four jackets, these are the best. I love this particular helmet and this particular jacket but I might be forced now to look for more lock-friendly gear. Or, YIKES...cut my hair.

If your hair is unlike mine, you can't go wrong with this HJC helmet or Firstgear jacket. Posted by Picasa