the kneepoch

it’s been precisely 10,996 hours since I first/finally accepted that i’d fkd up my knees as a result of riding my mind, body and soul into complete oblivion in an attempt to expedite the processing of an emotional calamity that had befell me. I’ve spent many a sentence on here (and thought trains) uttering my qualms re this scenario and i dare say many more, but for now i feel the need to itinerate the kneepoch as it’s been one of the more pertinent issues in the scope of my existence in it’s most recent years.

I’ve ranted about the chronological mechanics of the injury phase on here before, im not writing about that this time, but feel the need to summarise (for the sake of timestamping my psyche).w

race rigged – Washington State

Essentially I was depressed as shit, went bikepacking one weekend and it felt so fucking great, therein realising that all i needed to do to feel better was bikepack, so i bikepacked. The week after that first ride I decided I wanted to race too, so I found a race (basically the last one for the 2022 summer season in North America) and it so happened to be extremely brutal, with more elevation than Everest and only 400km and I committed, committed like never before.  My therapist was stoked on my focus, I was stoked and everything was fkn great for the first time in a while.  Over the next couple of months I rode every weekend and it will forever be one of my life’s all-times, but i also rode during the week and always hard (im real bad with pacing, also the pain felt great).  I wasn’t aware of the impact this was having on my body, mainly my knees, because of my complete rookiness, assumption that riding was low-impact and it being my first ever dabble in any kind of physical endurance pursuit.  In the process I induced a hefty overuse injury in both of my knees (from climbing too much with the wrong gearing and loaded bikes, among other things) and was so deeply devoted to deny anything that would stop me riding that race that I basically became “injured” immediately after the race, driving home from it was one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life.  I took a week off (not the 4-6 months I needed) before traversing a bonkers range between squamish and whistler and from that point on my knees woke me up for a month, throbbed for another 2 months and then felt/feel weird even to this day, a year and a half later.

forest fire haze – Vancouver Island

swamp views and feels – Port Coquitlam

This is when stuff got really bad – turns out the bikepacking didn’t really at all solve any of the emotional trauma as a result of splitting with Mary Lou after 7 years, it just delayed and perhaps compounded it, and now I felt the looming anxiety related with knowing I could no longer do the thing that made me feel good because of the injury, plus the injury itself (so i couldn’t do anything anyway) and winter had started… I bought an f1 sim and was playing it in real time and at full race lengths, that killed some time.

About 1.5 months after accepting that my knees were fkd (what i felt was a decent rest period) I went to see a physio and they basically said I blew it and that I shouldn’t ride for a while.. a while more >< which was fkd, I needed them to fix me.  I got a bike fit from the same person and said my bike fit was great, which sucked, cuz I was really hoping that the geometry of my bike setup was the problem….  The diagnosis was over-use, for which there is an acronym: PFPS (Patellofemoral pain syndrome) which is a long fancy word for fkd knees, and from what I gather basically everyone gets it, its just a matter of time (or you die first).

 

i could sleep standing up so this was luxury

for my fellow dairy pounders

I basically stopped riding, if you asked me last year I would’ve said I stopped completely, but when I bought a garmin dive watch last year it connected a bunch of data from my other garmins and I saw that in late nov/early december I was still riding.  It wasn’t until I realised that even using the pedals on my F1 simulator was making my knees hurt that I stopped riding (which happened after the aforementioned physio visit). I stopped entirely, but when I moved back here to Australia in March ‘w23  I started riding again – I didn’t want a car so I figured Id just ride, and my knees felt good when I started again, but Brisbane is not very dense… for eg, to see my mates was a 30-40km ride, in Vancouver that was 5.

wenatchee forest – Washington

So finally I started properly respecting the injury and my knees.  I’m a substantially active lamb and looove no feeling more than my heart beating in my eyeballs (except for when its because of a migraine) so I started swimming and eventually kayaking in order to get those kicks without putting strain on my knees.  I fell in love with them too.  Kayaking especially.  These new hobbies stopped me thinking my life was basically over because I couldn’t ride (maybe never again) and with that my general wellbeing improved and the daunting task of not riding for a long time (for the chance to ride again) became something I wasn’t afraid of any longer, bummed still, but not dealing with the deeeep sense of qualm that had plagued me over the previous 8 months.

my hand’s favourite

  I stayed off the bike for a month, went for a small chill ride (as per the physio’s plan) and my knees hurt again :(((( so I went back to see him (also my lower back injury had reared its ugly fkn mug again) and he was like ‘well this is good to know’ and, although unrelated, figured out the route cause of the-now-4-years-old back injury, which was routed iliac crest and psoas etc related – which i can happily report is basically gone thanks to kayaking and dr eric goodman’s foundation training.  getting old sucks hey, well not really, i just can’t do the one thing i obsess over all of the time, i need to do things to support my obsession.  in that session he was basically didn’t confront my knee pain, he said nothing has changed and it’s for sure getting better and that maybe I should think about seeing a sports psychologist.

route building mid-week was one of the highlights, often/always a huge gamble basing deeeeply isolated routes on gmaps

especially when it’s singlatrack cuz sometimes it’d be just routes, or a fence-line that wasn’t rideable, sometimes it was like this though.

the first time i was riding around a forest fire – sorry lungs but you and i both know there was no turning back

the sports psychologist suggestion seemed strange and pretty out there, and I felt that such a professional was for treating people who rely on sports for work, which i do not, and i figured all they do is train you to ignore pain (still not sure if thats true), but I never ended up going.  His reasoning was that the emotional trauma I was grappling with re Mary Lou when i caused my knee injury (which was basically caused cuz riding dulled that trauma) probably became attached as a result of their coexistence in my psyche (and non-stop thinking about) and that it’s possible I basically turned my knee injury into a mental illness. i don’t think that one can/couldn’t heal independent of the other, but in hindsight the healing of my knee injury and my healing from the depression share a semi-aligned timeline.

as comfy as i got

misc BC

Bellingham, USA

After that 2nd visit I started looking at my knees in a new light, and was even more cautious and committed to the rest – its now transactional: i have x amount of knee-health per day, so what do I want to spend that on.  Over the last 4 months I’ve been ramping up my rides and power with only minor qualms, but still qualms.  I’d find weird feelings in my knees plough into my thoughts and then disappear and I was like ‘oh they’re still fkd’ but it wasn’t pain, it was just weird..  This feeling didn’t really change as I continued to ramp up, or when Id not ride for a week or two for whatever reason, but I thought about it, I thought about it a lot.  I also started thinking about doing huge rides again and I remembered opening RideWithGps to plan a route and my knees started hurting. I’d find my knees being weird when I hadn’t ridden for a while either… The thing about all of those feelings is that they were temporary but when I was properly injured the pain was a constant drone starting in the top of my knees and moving into my very soul.

no bears allowed

early in my relationship with the Trans Canada Trail

The other day I went for a big one, the longest in length post-wig/injury but also had about 20km in a CX/DH zone (Bunyaville) which is extra tough on the knees (especially riding rocks and drops on my gravel bike), I got home and I was fkn cooooked, toasted and poached.  It was basically the first time I grasped how silly the riding I was doing when I injured myself (3-4x that ride, both days of the weekend and with kms of elevation) but here i was after a 60k ride and I felt deader than ever.  It clicked that to cause such an injury required such riding, and that the mellow riding I’m doing now isn’t going to inflict such an injury, and since then my knees have felt great hjahah.  fuck you brain, and i love you knees. 

i can feel the tenderness from here

typical wakeup, minus the bivy mesh obfuscation

kneedless to say, all this thinking about my knees got em aching

kneepoch-featured

the kneepoch

it’s been precisely 10,996 hours since I first/finally accepted that i’d fkd up my knees as a result of riding my mind, body and soul

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 mid/late 2022 I got deeeeep into long distance bike packing on my weekends, but not bikepacking like ooh yeah lets cruise to a nice campsite on a bike.. bike packing like fk this shit im gonna ride my body to a pulp and sleep on the side of the road – typically riding 250-400km over a weekend.  I loved every minute of it in a way i can’t capture with words, nor hindsight nor any other asset in my quiver of descriptives. I think it was a fleeting embrace between the downward spiralling lamb and the upward spiralling lamb, an exchange of these two selfs – and one that I feel I was only able to engage with so deeply by way of the riding-induced deprivation i felt for weeks on end. I was stronger than ever but felt frail, I was grappling with the tougher/toughest emotions of my life but I was too tired to even think about it, all I could muster was making enough food to feed a family, pretending to work, smoking weed in the bathtub and sleeping away my week days.

the espresso paradox considers the point where the espresso’s speed benefits result in a longer completion time than if one had not spent time acquiring and consuming the espresso in the first place.  this point is mostly controlled by one’s desire to consume the espresso, not the resulting time gains.  

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