number three: damn body

As I mentioned previously, I’m currently training for the Tour de Victoria. I’m planning on doing the 140 km route, which will be 40% more than I’ve ever ridden before. My training was going pretty well until I got new pedals and shoes. Ever since I started road riding I’ve been riding with mountain bike pedals and shoes. The shoes have been with me for a decade, maybe close to two. They are still functional, but the pedals are getting a bit hard to get in and out of, and Greg pointed out I’d get more power out of some proper road shoes and pedals. It’s been on my mind for over a year to upgrade, and I’ve even tried on a few pairs of shoes, but that’s as far as I’ve got.

Then Ryder’s Cycles had their going out of business sale. Greg dropped by and saw some road pedals on sale. I went up and found shoes as well, and managed to equip myself for well under $200.

It’s unfortunately been downhill ever since. As soon as I started my first ride, my left knee felt strange. This is the knee I wrecked in high school, and it never feels normal, but it felt worse with the new pedals. I can’t describe it as pain, just discomfort, and the feeling that my foot was too far in. I messed with the cleats for a couple more rides and then decided to get fitted properly. Through all this my right knee has had no issues, and felt very comfortable.

The guys at the bike store were able to identify a couple of issues and they tweaked things a bit. That evening I went for a long ride, and it felt better (not perfect) for a while, but about an hour in, the back of my right knee started hurting. I kept riding, because people in general are stupid about listening to their bodies, and by the end of the ride I almost had to phone Greg to pick me up. It was very hard to bend my knee, and very hard to apply any pressure on the pedal. The next day I was in a lot of pain, but surprisingly I recovered fairly quickly. So of course I went for another ride about a week later. Again, I was fine for a while, and then the pain set in. I was a bit smarter this time and headed home early, but I wasn’t too happy with the situation.

I decided to abandon the new pedals and shoes, and Greg put my old pedals back on my bike. After an 8 day break, I went for another ride. My left knee felt no discomfort (which was expected, being back in the old position), and for almost two hours I felt great. And then the right knee pain set in again. I rode for another 90 minutes, but it wasn’t fun.

So now I don’t know what to do. My suspicion is that the right knee issues have nothing to do with my pedals, and I’ve actually injured myself. The next logical step would be to seek help…but I’m fairly sure that help will tell me to stop riding for a bit. And even if they don’t, I’m scheduled for a 140 km ride in a month and the longest I’ve ridden is 90 km. And most of my long rides have been painful, so the thought of adding another 50-60 km is not appealing. But I want to do it because I’ve never done it before. I don’t want to do just the 100 km again, and I don’t want to bow out (the money alone would bug me, let alone sitting on the sidelines).

I was thinking about the differences between this year and last, and apart from the pedals, last year I was on my bike a bit less, and I was running and swimming as well. This year I’m doing nothing but riding.

So I’m going to give myself another week break from riding, and get back into the pool. I suspect it’s not going to help, but I’m going to give it a try. I know the smart thing would be to just stop and figure out what’s going on, but I’m not prepared to do that yet. I suppose it doesn’t hurt enough yet. (But at the rate I’m going, I’ll get there.)