Knee Problem

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.


Published by: bipedalgunnar

This is a blog about my trip across Europe and Asia. I am back in the States now, and turning this sequence of unedited, flurried and often poorly documented posts into a book, and hopefully a good one. That is proving to be a piece of work, but I am eager to do it. Now I'm back to work, trying to learn a thing or two about welding, get a career opportunity secured, and climb some rocks when I have a chance. Hope you enjoy it, but the book will be better *wink*.


3 thoughts on “Knee Problem”

  1. Hey, sounds like you’ve sorted it out some but I actually experienced pretty similar pain on the bike trip I met you. I started out way too hard, then took 4 days completely off the bike in Seattle and I think it caused everything to just tighten up and caused a lot of pain riding from there to Portland. Saw a bike fit specialist and the two things that changed a lot were my saddle height going up significantly and my cleats being aligned so that my heals were closer to the bike than my toes (resembling how my feet would naturally be if I was standing/walking).

    He also gave me an exercise that helped me a lot, which was just to sit down on my feet for a few minutes in the morning/evening and during any pretty extended rest during the day before getting back on the bike. An image to make sure what I’m mentioning is clear:

    For me his theory was the overuse/then subsequent tightness was causing my muscles to pull on my kneecap in a way that was causing the pain. That stretch helped alleviate that pressure.

    Remember there’s no shame in taking some time off the bike to recover or just taking some very short days. Let your body adjust to this new overuse and it’s better to be behind on schedule than work yourself until you have to abandon the trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Tyler! That is my tack as well, better behind than out! I really appreciate it. Scary stuff. Yes, I am a bit duck footed, seems like what ever position keeps your knees aligned is best. My achilles are pretty sore too, which is probably from overuse, but maybe my seat is a tad high now, ugh- I foresee a rest day or two in my near future. 27 miles yesterday, I’ll do something similar today. We’ll see how it goes!


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