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Monday, 26 August 2013

5 mm to save your knees?

Cleats and strained knees

Last autumn, having recovered from the injuries that ensured I wasn't drowned doing the JOGLE,, I decided to get fit, out of the rain, on the turbo in the garage. As I didn't have a job at the time, my daily hour on the bike was fun, I got to know Radio 6 Music rather well and my numbers got better, week on week.

One thing that bugged was my cycling shoes. They sure as hell didn't own me anything, as they have seen out many a season of mud and crashes in Swinley forest,and the vecro was tired. I had bought an "identical" pair and it was time to fit them with cleats and get them worn in. especially as I still had visions of doing the C2C, in a week should the monsoon break.

So, I sat down and fixed the shoes up, measuring the position of the cleats, carefully matching the distance from the front of the slots into which my SPD cleats were fitted, matching them to the old shoes - job done.

A couple of weeks later, my left knee started hurting. I had some time off the bike, ice and pills and physiotherapy (is that a song...) and it got less bad. But I couldn't shake of the pain in my patella tendon. I ended thoughts of the C2C and just tried to do enough short training sessions to keep fit enough to go skiing in January. I skied, I put snow on my knee every day and I got through 14 consecutive days of skiing, just....

I went to the physio again. I didn't (stupidly) tell her about the new shoes - I mean, why would I? I was advised that as my left knee was showing the signs of wear and tear from too many years of "fast" bowling, I should add the tendon problem to the list for a visit to the knee surgeon....

Not fancying the knife just yet, I left it and as I had a new job with a 20 minute each way walk from the station, I thought I would leave it alone and rest from cycling.

My knee was ok, it felt a bit off due to all the other problems, but the tendon seemed ok, it got through a weeks skiing in late April and I kept walking. I lost a small amount of weight (not much, but better than nothing) and didn't cycle.

But there comes a time when you really need to see if you can still do some serious exercise. So last weekend, I went off for a 70 minute ride and after about 35 mins, my knee tendon was feeling a little "tense". Looking down, it seemed that the shoes were not attached to the pedals at the same point - but knowing that patterns on shoes are not a good guide, I cycled gently home, ate some ibuprofen and had a think about the shoes.

A week later, I got out the tape measure and compared new and old shoes. To my surprise, I found that the new shoes had improved, longer slots on the soles for fixing cleats and I as had measured from the front of the slot - my cleats were 5mm out. Was this the cause of all my tendon probs? Well, to see, I cycled for an hour with my old shoes on and whilst not perfect, the niggling of the previous week was much reduced.

Now, one swallow does not make a summer, but it may well be a lesson well learned if that turns out to be reason my knee has been bad for nearly 10 months.

Tyler Hamilton

Just reading Tyler Hamilton's book "The Secret Race" which sets out the "doping years" when EPO (Edgar..) was king and blood transfusions the norm. Apparently, when the Spanish police raided a doctor they found 200+ bags of blood, waiting to be transfused back in to cyclists (and possibly other sports people) The book is riveting and an eye opener on both the world of pro cycling and of the human condition.  
The thing that stood out was the way in which people justify the means. Tyler comes across as a good guy, but in the end had no option but to dope, if he was to compete on a "level playing field" It wasn't that level as the doping "war" moved on. I won't comment more - other than to say you'd have to be there, I guess, to realise how you might too have got sucked in. I was more impressed by the story of those riders who left the sport rather than dope. That took guts

Can you be a cyclist and not cycle much?

An odd question, but I still called myself a cyclist when I have had time off the bike, but was I right? I have been to BUG meetings at work and make out like  I still know what's what in the work of bikes. I did watch the Tour de France (hopefully dope free) every day (well the highlights - I did have to go to work...) and I still bought the odd MBR magazine. But still it bugged me, was I still a cyclist? I own bikes, I bought a new inner tube and still visited cycling websites

So did I come to a conclusion? Well, like at AA meeting, when you have to say "I'm John Smith and I'm an alcoholic", I think that I am Mike and I am a cyclist. I'm not trying to give it up, but its in my make up. Even over the years, I didn't cycle, I still knew that I could and I would. 

So yes, you can be a non cycling cyclist....I think

Recipe time

Two for the price of one - from Celebrity Masterchef

This is a good recipe - I don't do nuts but you can use pretty much any friut using this general method

The tart is great and easy. I didn't bother with the tapenade and the herb oil only needs garlic and basil TBH

Nice with any salad

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