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12/18/08
K-nees a-K-nocking
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 1:37 pm

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.

5 Responses to “K-nees a-K-nocking”

  1. Mike Says:
    Boy, I don’t get that either. My knees are covered when temps get below about 65. I see all sorts of riders on this side of the hill (which is significantly colder than your side). I’m still amazed at the shorts/ss jersey wearers when it’s cold out. I did a few 24hr races out in Tucson and was always amazed at waiting in the staging tent next to guys in sleevless jersies, no base layer and shorts on a night with temps well into the 40s.
  2. the tourist of cyclos Says:
    yep, yep, and yep. Best thing ever are the MUSA knickers for that very reason. Just enough to keep my knees happy. I’ve had a LOT of problems w/ my left, and am hoping I don’t have to have surgery, but I see it in the future… hopefully waaaaay in the future, but who knows. Had a combo cortisone injection that worked really well until… I went riding in cold temps w/out a covering! Instantly back to where it was. The shot hurt so bad (for around a week) that I would rather deal w/ the low level chronic (ha, like you, not that kind) pain.
  3. beth h Says:
    I watched Tuesday (high temp: 28 F) as someone rode past the shop wearing a ski jacket, stocking cap and SHORTS.

    ..::shakes head::..

    I just don’t get it. Here’s a good combo: baggy wool tights or long-johns under “street” knickers — a sort of Grant Petersen-meets-Magpie Messenger thing. It’s goofy looking but it works. Especially when the thermometer reads below freezing. Add pink wool mid-calf socks layered over the tights for dramatic effect.
  4. Chris Says:
    It’s all really what you are used to! My nephews came down from Wisconsin (the frozen tundra) last march and the temps were in the 30’s here and they were outside playing in shorts and T-shirts…??? I guess when it’s 0F at your house that big change is a delightful pleasure.
  5. Ken Yokanovich Says:
    I bet they were riding bikes where they would have been hard pressed to carry a pair of spare knee warmers? I remember the days of foolishly heading out the door unprepared and under-clothed. Once I discovered and was honest with myself about how my body feels, I learned the merits of good clothing. I also learned to appreciate a bike that can carry a bag that can hold a long-sleeve jersey, a pair of knee warmers, or a PB&J sammich :)