As I chose today’s topic, I had to ask myself: “Is there any possible way this won’t come across as the most random collection of advice, observations and anecdotes I have ever written?”

That is because I have chosen “knees” as today’s topic. Which explains why I’ve titled today’s post “Knees.”

I’m already losing focus, I can tell. Sorry. I’ll try to stay on point going forward. Although, before I do, I would like to point out that the word “knees” looks like you’ve spelled it wrong, even when you’ve spelled it right.

And you can’t say the word “knee” without sounding like you’re in a Monty Python sketch.


How to Look Like a Better Cyclist Than You Actually Are

Try this experiment. Go out and ride your road bike for two hours. From time to time, take note of the lateral distance between your knees and your top tube. Here’s what this distance means:

  • Less than 2 inches: You look like a pro
  • 2 4 inches: You look like a recreational enthusiast
  • 4 8 inches: You look like a circus bear on a bike
  • 8 inches or greater: You look like you’re convinced your bike is actually a horse

It’s true. Watch any serious expert racer or pro on a bike. They keep their knees tight in to the top tube. Why do they do this? In truth, I have no idea. Maybe because it’s more aerodynamic? Maybe because you get better power transfer? Maybe it’s better for your knees? Maybe it’s modesty? Maybe they all do it because everyone else does it?

Regardless of why, the fact remains: you’ll look more like you know what you’re doing if you keep your knees close in.

Bonus Tip: This is much easier to do, I’ve noticed, if you don’t have a big ol’ gut getting in the way of your knees on the upstroke.


What to Do If You Are Experiencing Knee Pain on Your Bike

If during a long ride, you begin to experience pain in your knees, it means your saddle is not at the right height, or is positioned too far forward or back. Here’s how to correct this problem:

  1. Move the seatpost down a little bit
  2. If the pain gets worse, move it up
  3. If that still doesn’t work, move the seat forward on its rails a little bit
  4. If that doesn’t work, move the seat back on its rails just a smidgen
  5. Repeat steps  1- 4 until you have just about lost your mind, without experiencing even the tiniest bit of relief from your pain.
  6. Go to a bike shop and have someone who knows what he’s doing fit you for your bike and adjust your bike to that fit.

Bonus Tip: If, while adjusting your seatpost height, the seatpost comes out of the bike, you have adjusted the height too high.


The Most Obnoxious Thing I Have Ever Heard In Response to a Compliment

Bob, Dug, and I were picking up our race sweatshirts — the ones with our finishing times screened on — after the Leadville 100 one year. As someone we had never met came and picked up his sweatshirt, one of us (I forget who) politely asked how he did. He told us his time (I don’t remember what it was), and then said, “And I did it on a singlespeed!

Clearly, we were supposed to be impressed.

Obligingly, Dug said (Pay attention, now: this is where the tie-in to today’s “knee” theme comes in), “You must have knees of steel.”

“You mean balls of steel!” the guy said, triumphantly.

I remember very clearly the awkward silence that ensued.


Something I’m Reluctant to Admit That I Really Enjoy

Occasionally, as I ride, I’ll start to feel a grinding sensation in my left knee. It will go on for about fifteen or twenty revolutions of the crank, after which there will be an audible “pop” in my knee, and then the grinding sensation will go away.

I love that pop — both the sound and the feel of it.

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