Comrades, I have returned! But where have I been, you ask? Well.
I have been to a dark and terrible land, a fearsome place that I pray to all the oldest and darkest gods you will never have to see. I have been… Off The Bike. Words cannot describe the horror.
OK, so it’s not as bad as all that. But it wasn’t fun.
The thing is, a few months ago an old knee injury woke up and started making a fuss about how I never pay attention to it anymore. I treat it just like any other knee, it doesn’t feel special, blah blah blah. It just kept whining. Every pedal stroke hurt. Not a lot, but it was cumulative, and pedals strokes do tend to travel in large groups. After long rides, walking became… let’s call it an interesting challenge.
My initial reaction was to ignore it and wait for it to go away, but that didn’t work. I tried readjusting my left cleat in every way I could think of, but that didn’t work. I tried sticking to street shoes on Kaufi and lightened the tension to the minimum on Quick’s pedals, and it might have stopped getting worse at that point, but it didn’t start getting better. Eventually I conceded it was maybe time to try staying Off The Bike for a week.
And let me just say, while I spent years not owning a bicycle, or having any desire to ever own or ride one again, this past week has convinced me beyond any doubt that Off The Bike is definitely no longer a place I want to be.
Things seem to have improved a bit during the rest. Another week might be prudent, but that’s not going to happen. My STP gang is doing our first official training ride this weekend, and there’s no way I’m missing that.
New coping strategies include:
- Ibuprofen. Everyone knows there’s a big safety margin built into the maximum dose printed on the label, right? (Don’t take medical advice from me. I’m not a doctor. I don’t even talk to doctors. You know how some people freak out if they see a snake or a spider or a clown, even from a safe distance and with no risk of actually interacting with it? I’m like that with doctors.)
- Attitude adjustment. I like it when my muscles are sore. It makes me giggle when DOMS has gripped my legs so tightly that I’m hobbling like a little old man with his shoelaces tied together. Opening heavy doors with sore obliques is such fascinating fun that I sometimes go in and out of office buildings several times, just to really get to pay attention to the feeling. So — if acute muscle pain is so much fun, why can’t chronic joint pain be fun too? Right? Anyone? Maybe? Oh well.
- Floatier pedals. Pretty definitely going to give this one a try. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, reading up on options, drooling in bike shops. It’s time to do it.
- Heat. Whatever is wrong with that knee is almost certainly a tendon or a ligament, and they’re both less forgiving in the cold. Probably not a coincidence that I rode pain-free all summer and the problems started up in cold and rainy weather. I hear rumors it will be getting warm again soon. There also seems to be quite a lot of wool around here, and perhaps I could take some pointy sticks and pull loops of the wool through itself until it assumes a stretchy, joint-insulating tube shape.
If all else fails, another round of “ignore it and it will go away” might do the trick. Sometimes it’s just a very slow cure. Really, I’ll try just about anything… except going to a doctor or going back to the untold horrors of Off The Bike.