November 1, 2012

Fall Foibles

It's November 1st, and that means bidding farewell to October - a month that found me sleeping later than I should have, and enjoying a few too many seasonal ales - and some Halloween candy.  All good things in moderation:  I'm not being as hard on myself as I've been in the past.  Dang it, I refuse to let an Octoberfest brew go un-tested on my watch... so, if October becomes the new February - well, I suppose that's okay.  We only live once - and while most would poo-poo exercise and healthy eating by dropping the exact same quip, I'd rather try to stick to moderation and ensure that my "one lap" of life remains relatively healthy.  I bravely face off with Fall and Winter in the midwest, and strap down some old habits that have been left flapping to tatters in the outflow of my slackerdom.

Someone of local blog-fame mentioned in the last year that clipless pedals stand as one of the biggest atrocities ever to befall adult bicycling.  Part of me is starting to believe that thought.  Surely as I enter the 2nd half of my 40th year, the signs of middle-aged-ness begin to materialize in the form of a recent handlebar bag purchase and a strong desire to try those SPD sandals again.  Along with that trend is a keen eye towards MKS touring pedals -- well made, aluminum, just as light as my SPDs, and with infinite foot positions.  All of these recent thoughts come out as a byproduct of a clicking right kneecap.  No pain - but, for some reason the clicking which started a couple weeks before the Kickapoo Two ride back in August has continued sporadically on every commute and randonnee since.  I've been patient this time around, yet, I'd decided to remedy the noise with an adjustment.  I therefore raised the saddle 3mm back in September, and waited for signs of back-of-leg tightness or hip-rocking, which never showed up - a good thing, meaning that I probably benefited from the change and have reduced some of the stresses at the front of the knee as a result.  A month later, the noise has lessened.  In time, the noise may fade completely - but I also think a little noise and joint popping at my age is probably just "normal".  

What I'm absolutely NOT doing is digging out the tape measures, levels, plumb-bobs and cameras, and over-analyzing.  I don't have time for that nonsense anymore.  The core of what has really happened here likely goes back to the whole "fit" thing, wherein since I'd become so gun-shy of injury I'd managed to modify my stroke into a "pull-only" sort of arrangement.  I hadn't noticed until entering the gym for cross-training, and hopping onto an exer-cycle with flat pedals.  With increases in resistance, I'd pull my legs directly up and off the pedals - much to the confusion of my adjacent gym-mates.   Back on the road bike, I'm pretty much soft-pedaling to a point where I notice my right foot occasionally "rattling around" inside the pedal binding.  I've modified my stroke so much, trying to compensate or protect myself, I'm barely pushing down enough to maintain contact with the pedal body!  One solution involves flat pedals, another involves not thinking too much and simply returning to a good stroke.  Bad habits to unlearn.  Regardless of the solution, this has created solid proof that I, given the opportunity and left to my own devices, can over-think things SO much, I can even ruin the simple act of pedaling a bicycle.  My therapist will be so proud!

No matter HOW I pedal, though, I'm not stopping.  My schedule lately has made it far too easy to grab the car keys instead of the bike helmet, but a new month brings a clean slate and the excuse to ditch all of these poor habits.  With a combined average of 15.875 MPH over the last four randonnees, I'm close to my goal of making R-12 #3 at 16.0 or better .... only a couple slightly faster rides needed to make that happen.  In addition, I find myself on a trend towards longer distances - all with eyes on 2013 and shooting for another 600km ride.  The October ride came in at 225km, and I'm planning on another new-to-me route for November which is listed at 250km... that sets up December for a 300k!  Weather will dictate... but, it seems like a worthy goal, and if I play things right I could potentially tackle the "Hell of the North" route and enjoy a tailwind on the return trip, which should be normal for December.  Sure as I type it, yeah....right...  let's just take things one month at a time, eh?

So, here's to November -- more commutes, less slack, and more new discoveries on the open road.



Monkeywrangler said...

What about some practice on a set of Kreitlers to repair your pedal stroke? Heck, you're just a stones throw away from Kreitler HQ!

Monkeywrangler said...

My mistake...Kreitler HQ moved to the Rocky Mtns after Al passed away in 2001. No longer just a stones throw away for you!

Matteo said...

Hmmm, interesting comments regarding pedals. I am currently putting toe clip pedals back on all my bikes. I just really have no need for clipless, and really never did anyway. I just put half clips on my upright Fuji Bedford, and really enjoy riding that one. I rode 22 miles on it the other night.

kG said...

Yeah - I have a couple other friends that have gone back to platform pedals (in one form or another) of late...which I'd originally scoffed at, but now I kinda see the point. It may be some time before I make the leap "backward"... and honestly, the sandals might solve some of my "issues": they have more room to move around in, compared to shoes - so cleat position becomes less of an issue altogether.

On the rollers thought - huge agreement there, too... if one has a sloppy stroke on rollers, they're through the drywall! hahaah... that'd correct some bad habits very quickly... and might help that long-overdue downstairs exercise room remodeling project.