Sunday, January 01, 2012

A new year, a new helmet..

With 2011 drawing to a close, there are a few things that need attending to:
- Making sure any last minute charitable givings are in place for the tax year
- Using up any unused vacation days
- Adjusting your 401k
- Re-enrolling in your benefits
but there is one people often overlook: Using up reward points from your credit card before they expire...

Midway through the year, I realized I had 60,000 points that would expire on December 31st. I used 25,000 points for my wife's birthday, bringing here friend Christine to town. That left me with 35,000 to burn.

With a week left in the year, I couldn't see wasting the points on a toaster, or any of the other options available for 25,000 points when a flight could be had for an equal amount - I had opportunity cost losses..

So the wife and I began looking into vacation idea. We settled on Breckenridge, Colorado. We've never been to Colorado to ski - so lets use the miles to get there. Fortunately I was able to secure 2 non-stop round trip tickets from Columbus to Denver. A little searching on VRBO and we had a condo lined up. A trip to hotwire and a rental car for the week for less than $100..

I then began looking into equipment rental, knowing my skis are ridiculously heavy and not suited for west coast skiing, and Continental/United rape you with their baggage fees..

For $70 round trip, I could bring my skis with me, or for around 120 I could rent for the week from Blue River Sports. When I spoke with the owner, he reminded me I would need to rent a helmet. After a trip to Utah to do a product eval on LANDESK I spent a few days skiing with my buddy Temple (if you ever consider using LanDesk, he's the guy to talk to) I had a fall where my head hit on a rock in the middle of the run.

So for $6/day I could rent a helmet, - $36 bucks. Couldn't I just buy one for that much and stuff it in my suitcase??? This started me on an online search for a helmet but nothing really impressed me.

Then inspiration did.. What is the best helmet in the world? The answer is obvious. If you don't already know you can read about it here, or here.

A quick check ofto MDen and Moe's confirmed my fears. There is not officially licensed ski/snowboard helmet out there...

I decided the best possible use of my last vacation day of 2011 was to make my own helmet. A little research on the internet convinced me that no one really knows whether its safe to paint a ski helmet, but everyone in the world appears to be afraid to do so. What everyone agreed to though - many spray paints will erode the structure of plastics. The first step would have to involve a primer designed for use on plastics.

I needed some inspiration before heading out, so I pulled up a video feature Jon Falk and the winged helmet. If you've never watched it - you should immediately close this window and go watch it. It is far more informative and entertaining than anything I could every tell you about.

I stopped at Aspen Ski and Board (over priced, but the widest selection) long enough to scoff at the $150 price tags. A stop at Dick's disappointed with only 5 models in stock. TJ Maxx had only 1 in my size.

By this time, it was 11 and I knew where I had to go. Play It Again Sports on Sawmill has always had a great selection at great price. (Both new and used - I wouldn't suggest a used helmet).

I found 2 acceptable options in the $50-$60 price range, and walked out with a Rossignol:

A quick trip to the hardware store and I had everything I needed.

The first step was taping off the inner lining. Really, I'd prefer not to have paint on my face.

Then a base coat of primer:

Despite my best efforts, I still ended up with a little seep through..

Now time for adding the layer of maize:

It took another coat to cover a few spots I had missed, but then after it dried it was time for taping. After I realized I didn't have any 1 inch electrical tape (the standard width for the stripes on a Michigan Helmet) I had to run back to the hardware store. Unfortunately they didn't have 1 inch electrical tape either. Instead, the best I could come up with was Frog Tape:

It was time for the taping to begin. This was actually one of the hardest parts of the whole process. I had to decide which winged helmet I wanted. I had long loved the parallel stripes on Desmond Howard's helmet on my cover of Beckett from '92:

But there were plenty of other variations. After a few tries putting the stripes on, I ended with this configuration:

Then came the wings. I decided to follow the method described in the video, and found that electrical tape is far easier to work with than frogtape.

After taping off the rest of the wing, it was time for the coat of blue:

After an hour, the paint was starting to get tacky, so it was time for the reveal:
The finished product:

There was some leakage, so I'm going to have to do some touch up, and then a coat of clear coat to prevent any chipping/scratching.. but I am happy with the end result..

All the pics are here.

Go Blue!

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