Fitness

Bike rally reflections: More thoughts about knees!

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Me: I’m in my prime, my knees: the fuck you are

So this month I both rode my bike in the Friends for Life Bike Rally and I’m having total knee replacement surgery.

I didn’t plan it this way at all–I signed up for the bike rally a long time ago and I just got the call about knee surgery a few weeks ago.

I’ve been amused at the variety of reaction I’ve gotten for this and I have some thoughts of my own.

My favorite reaction was from the massage therapist at the rally. She laughed when I told her my knee was sore but not from riding. It’s just always sore. We focused on my back and ignored the knee. “You don’t owe that knee anything, ” she said. “It’s nice that you don’t have to baby it through the bike rally. You’re just going to finish the rally and then say goodbye to it.”

My regular everyday ongoing knee physio people are impressed. They talk about the important of strengthening the muscles around the knee prior to surgery and that riding a bike is a good way to do that. We never waste time in physio sessions bike riding since I also ride my bike to get there. They’re keen to get me back at physio within days of surgery. Currently surgery is Monday and my first physio appointment is Friday. But I won’t be biking there that time. Or driving either. My mother likely will be taking me.

Lots of friends are confused about my ability to ride my bike so far. “But I thought you were having knee replacement surgery?” Yes. But it’s never been about riding my bike. It’s that once I get off the bike I can barely walk around the block and I can’t stand for very long. That’s true even if I don’t ride my bike at all. My knee actually feels better when I’ve ridden my bike.

For a few years now I’ve come to rely on cycling. Sometimes I ride around campus. I travel with my folding bike so I can get around a new place without walking. At first it was a matter of giving up on other athletic activities–soccer, running, Aikido etc. But lately it’s been a matter of giving up more everyday stuff. For example, I wait in the car while Sarah goes grocery shopping. Cheddar just gets short walks around the block. And I carefully plan my trips up and down the stairs.

The bike rally was a good example of how limited my life is outside of cycling. Yes, I could ride my bike 110 km each day. But once I got to camp I needed Sarah to put up the tent. The walking around the campsites wasn’t easy. I’m really looking forward to being able to do more, besides ride my bike, as much as I love it.

Mostly I’m looking forward to long walks, hiking, and canoe camping with long portages. But also everyday things like sleeping through the night without knee pain and being able to get groceries and put them away.

Wish me luck. Surgery on the left knee is one week! Surgery on the right is 6 months to a year after that.

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