Saturday, December 29, 2007

My year in miles

Date: Dec. 29
Mileage: 14.4
Hours: 1:30
December mileage: 710.3
Temperature upon departure: 28
Precipitation: 4"

When I break down my 2007 miles by month, I realize I've had a fairly inconsistent year:

February: 361.1
March: 14.4
April: 25.3
May: 168.9
June: 598.2
July: 874.6
August: 1,009.1
September: 475.6
October: 648.1
November: 793
December: 710.3

What surprised me is the total: 6,572 miles. That's still about 1,000 more than last year, despite a three-month period between mid-February and mid-May in which I essentially did not ride a bicycle. Looking back on my year of riding, I'd say the "most challenging" month was January. The "most fun" month was August. The "most eye-opening" month was February.

Cycling hasn't been the same since February. I'm beginning to understand that it never will be be the same. When my right knee locked up on me in February, I began to realize how precariously close I am, all the time, to not being able to do this thing I love. The threat rolls beside me like a shadow, much more well-defined than vague fears like death and disaster. The shadow reflects my weaknesses and muddles my strength. My strength is my willpower. My weaknesses are my knees.

I set out on a short ride today and cut it shorter. Several inches of new snow made for some hard pushing, but that didn't justify my inclination to pull my left knee off the pedal at rapidly increasing intervals. I realized at mile 7 that I wasn't in great shape, and wasn't going to improve, so I turned around and soft-pedaled home by sliding as far back on my saddle as I could sit and pushing the edge of the pedal with my heel so I was practically recumbent on my bike. When the surface wasn't too slippery, I stood. I felt despondent, for a little while. But after I got my head together, I realized that this is not the end all. I have eight weeks until Feb. 24, and this is only a minor onset of what feels a lot like (and probably is) chondromalacia. Not nearly as advanced as my right-knee symptoms earlier this year. I can be proactive about it and still stay on track. First, I plan to stay off the bike for several days. I'll revisit my old swimming haunts, go hiking, and the gym is always good. Today bought a bunch of different over-the-counter arthritis medications and supplements, and I'm going to try them all. (Glucosamine, yum). If I don't feel substantial improvements after a week, I'll get my doctor involved. I'd rather avoid that route for now, because a new year means a new deductible.

2007 has been a year of dedicated cycling accentuated with cross-training, IT band stretches, low-weight-high-rep lifting, attention to pedal stroke and regular icing. I tried to do this injury free. I tried the prevention route. I tried my best. So this is where I wrap up my biking year. Not with a bang, but a whimper.


  1. jill, i started reading your blog this month at the recommendation of the fat cyclist. i have thoroughly enjoyed every entry i've read. they are interesting, entertaining, & inspiring.

    i congratulate you on a new personal best year-to-date mileage & setting difficult but obtainable goals. i have ridden a similar number of miles this year & have had my share of knee problems to contend with so i can empathize with you. i hope a short break rectifies the situation.

    i wish you a short & full recovery & a happy new year where you meet or exceed all your goals (particularly the cycling ones).

    thanks again for the great blog!

  2. I don't think these posters are real, or they are your family members. Nobody is ever that nice to me.

    I think March looks pretty sweet.

  3. Jill,

    I'm also new to reading your posts. I find them heartfelt, very open and real. I received your cd thank you for sending that along.

    Hang tough. The knee is telling you to rest a bit. It's really hard to understand that a week off will put you ahead and not back like you would think.

    Looking forward to the new year and your adventure.


  4. Mmmm. Glucosamine. Mine is supposed to be licorice flavored, but it tastes like booty.

    Taking a few days off really seemed to help my knees. Considering you rode 111 miles in one day last week I'd say you deserve a break!

    Good luck in the New Year.

  5. Here's to a whole new year on two wheels.

  6. I'm a huge fan of Glucosamine...I think that it really makes a difference.

    Keep up all of those crazy long rides in the snow and Happy 2008!!!

  7. Jill,
    With the base miles you have you could train by pushing your bike for 6 weeks, cross training and getting gear dialed and do just fine. Be nice to the knee and don't stress about loosing fitness.
    I'm a poster child for being totally certain that my cartridge was screwed up and deteroriating but it turned out to be ok once I took a look...

  8. Yeah, I agree with Eric. From what it sounds like, I don't think riding fitness is going to be your limiting factor. You seem to have a natural ability to ride far and long. Advil might be good to bring. Kind of reminds me of Soggy this year (only Soggy was on a smaller scale). I kind of had to make a decision in that race to finish and give up 2-3 weeks of riding due to knee pain, or drop out, Chose the former. Not saying it will come to that for you - I bet it won't cause you're being smart!

  9. Hey Jill,
    AWESOME!! 6572 miles! Not too shabby!
    I'm sorry about your knee acting up, and I echo what Eric said.
    You're smart, you listen to your body, and using fore thought, so chances are exceptionally good, you'll ward off disaster.
    Anyway.... HAPPY NEW YEAR! You have really accomplished A TON in 2007, Girl!!

  10. Hey Jill,

    You're blog always makes me jealous. I'd recommend finding a chiropractor, massage therapist or physio who does ART. I find it works wonders (and not just because my wife is a practioner who uses it).

  11. I know, I know. Everyone and their mother has medical advice. I've been riding a long time and know what works for ME. Once, I did this "fit kit" thing and screwed up my knee. Then, things like walking (any use) continued to hurt it. Once it was tweaked, it needed to be left alone...period. I was once way burned out on training and did nothing at all for two weeks and kicked butt on a regular group ride in a way I never had. Sometimes rest is the best.


  12. Hi, I know nothing, but I read once about a magical old man who helped a cyclist with a knee injury by training him on a fixed gear bike. The idea boils down to very low gear and the ability to "spin" very fast. This becomes in turn, training for strength and coordination that prevent knee injuries. Is it myth? I don't know, but I have a single gear folding bike that I thought was geared too low, but now I'm reconsidering using it for spinning practice.

    By the way, I think your snow bike is fascinating... =)


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