I had an excellent ride earlier this week – 87 miles through the rolling countryside of upstate New York, featuring views of Lake Ontario. The day before, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to ride the next at all.
About two miles from Monday’s first rest stop 33 miles out, my knee cramped up and wouldn’t bend, and I had to make it into the holding area using one leg. When I dismounted, I had a pronounced limp and had to give up my ride for the day. I was worried my Tour was over.
Katie, one of our message therapists brought to the STIHL Tour des Trees by West Coast Arborists, worked on my knee, and let me know that one of the problems might be tight “IT bands” which are on the outside of the thighs. She suggested ice, stretching and ibuprofen. She gave me another message later in the afternoon, and I dutifully followed her advice.
Veteran riders came forward and showed me some specific stretches, and advised me to ride in low gears and slowly the next day in the hope of loosening my tight tendons. They also mentioned that my problem could be caused by using too high of gears and suggested I go to lower gears and higher peddling rpm.
Well, it worked. I rode out of Syracuse, N.Y. at 10 miles an hour in first and second gears and brought up the rear. At 15 miles my knee started to feel good, and by mile 20 I was picking up pace to my usual speed. I increased my peddling rpm using lower gears than I usually would in a given situation as I was told. My knee is still a little sore, but it worked fine. I ended up riding well, and finished the day feeling ready for tomorrow’s segment.
I went from being worried my Tour was over, to riding as hard as I would have without any injury at all. It’s a testimony to the professional support staff and the community of knowledgeable, experienced riders who are more than happy to help out a first time rider like me.
Randall H. Miller, Chairman-Elect of the TREE Fund Board of Trustees and Director of Vegetation Management, PacifiCorp