It’s that time of year when I just wonder about crackling joints. Um, no… not those kind. Gave that up a loooong time ago.
I was out walking the dog about a half hour ago - roughly high noon (hmm…another spliff reference!) - when a gaggle of riders eased past. Of the 6 folks out enjoying their lunchtime loop, three of them were bare-kneed. I could almost hear the cartilage crackling with each pedal stroke. Those three all had newer bikes and their hardware had that showroom shine rather than gritty patina of use.
My back porch thermo reads a definitive 50 degrees right now, and that’s on the warm side of the house. Last night, all the neighbors and I were throwing old sheets and blankets over their more delicate trees and plants. While it certainly isn’t snowing in these parts, it’s cold enough to protect oneself.
Maybe it’s the bike shops, who sold these folks all the right gear back in June or July and didn’t mention that the knee is a bodily hinge worth really protecting. Maybe it’s some hesitation on the part of a newer riders, who already feel that tight cycling shorts are a bit iffy, and using leg warmers nudges them that much closer to a walk-on roll in “Flashdance 3 - Cyclists Uprising!”
But, I must say, when I first started rigging up a singlespeed bike, one of the more curmudgeonly mechanics said something about how all these people riding fixies were going to be limping around with destroyed knees in a couple years. That was, what? … ten, eleven years back.
One of the things I religiously have done over that time is to keep my knees warm. Oh, I’m sure that I have some lucky genetic construction (knock wood!), and I’ve ridden bikes which were set up correctly for me. However, keeping a thin layer of wool or lycra around those damn-lucky-to-have-made-it-through-high-school-football joints has got to have helped. Warm tendons and connective tissues are happy parts.
So, today, when those riders angled towards me, and I saw the flash of unprotected kneecaps, leading into 50 degree ambient temperature, cooled by the effective windchill of 17 mph progress, aided further by the convection cooling of sweat off of that leading edge, I just shuddered.
Y’gotta take care of your parts. Be good to yourself, folks.