Let’s talk about it.
I am an expert on knee problems for cyclists at this point. I have determined that I have quadricep tendonitis, with pain on the medial side of my kneecap. Well, this is caused, ultimately, by tissue degeneration for one reason or another. For me, it is a combination of poor bike fit and over-use. I was not able to train, because I hurt myself training, because my seat was too low, I discovered today. Thus, I am not in shape for what I am doing. I felt really good, actually, when I started out. Strong. After wind, hills, more wind, and a long day I was off to a bad start. Initially I had scheduled a zero day in Lisbon, but my first flight was cancelled and I arrived a day late. So I pushed, and by the end of that first day I felt the old knee thing pop into my awareness. I immediately stopped and camped not twenty yards further up the road! Smart. The next day I felt good until the early afternoon, when the pain suddenly returned. Immediately, I pulled over at a pharmacy and got some anti-inflammatories. Smart.
Will it save me? I do not know. This injury, if serious, can take up to three months to heal. Of course, I cannot spare three months. If it is not serious, three weeks to a month shoud do it. Okay. I can only be in Europe for three months. I have an expensive Russian visa scheduled. I may have to work on a farm for a month in Spain. I already know which farm I’ll apply for if need be- then take a train or bus, skipping ahead to the flat section that begins in Italy and continues down into Greece, basically. There I can slowly train up and hopefully heal my knee. But…
I THINK I FIXED IT! My ilio-tibial band on the outside of my upper leg was getting overworked and tracking my patella out of the femoral groove, which is as painful as it sounds. I bumped my seat up a full inch (I raised it for this trip initially, but not enough), focused on higher pedal cadence, which implies staying out of my big ring and putting as little strain on my joints as possible. Today I channelled the snail and relaxed. I made it to a hostel in Santa Cruz in great time without hurrying. I took the hills slow, resting frequently, focusing on good posture, with my knees in, feet straight, and pedaling circles as opposed to smashing down. This along with the anti-inflammatories took the strain off my knee almost completely. I can tell it is damaged though. The big question is, how bad is it? Is it past the point at which it will heal? If it is too swollen the motion of cycling agitates it. I will keep going as long as I feel like I am not incurring (significant) damage.
I was hesitant to change my bike position, because I have been comfortable. Raising the seat made a huge difference though, it feels much better! Stubborn. I need to learn patience; once the mind becomes stronger than the body, using it as a tool instead of listening to it, problems arise. Oh body, how I abuse thee! I was afforded a modicum of grace today, however, for the riding was almost completely flat! I think I may be praying twice a day for a while. This was my worst nightmare situation after I injured myself initially, but it is difficult to stay down for long; this is a fantastic experience already, and I’m only three days in.