About 10 days ago, while on a weekend test ride, I fell off my bike going down a steep, rocky, washed out forestry road. I skinned my elbow and banged my knee. It didn’t seem too bad but the pain in my knee was worrying. I’ve had this same pain a couple of times over the last few of years. The doctor suggested that it was the beginning of arthritis and that I could mostly just keep riding if it came up. Luckily, it hasn’t really bothered me much for a couple of years. I was worried about it when I rode across Canada in 2012 but my knees worked flawlessly the whole trip.
To help make sure the knee wouldn’t be an issue, I didn’t do any training rides over those 10 days and only did light “running errands” rides around town just to see how the knee was doing. The pain mostly went away and I felt like this was only going to be a short term issue.
Yesterday morning, I started my ride to Banff. The idea was to give myself a good warm up for the Tour Divide and make sure that I could "hit the ground running” from day 1 of the race. It was also to counteract the effects of not training over the last 10 days.
Unfortunately, from almost the first peddle stroke, the knee pain was there. I stopped a couple of times to give the knee a rest, hoping for a “reset” but the pain would come back pretty quickly once I started riding again. The pain was manageable so I keep riding. My route took me on road up to Cultus Lake where I started the cross country portion of the ride and it the forestry roads. That was about 110 km into the ride with about another 110 km of forestry roads to make it to Hope where I expected to spend the night.
The forestry roads were not particularly difficult at this point but it was becoming increasingly evident that the pain was getting worse and I wasn’t going to have the power in that leg to get up the much more difficult trails on the east side of Chilliwack Lake. Even if I “powered through”, there was no way I was going to get to Hope by evening. In itself, that wasn’t a problem. I had the equipment to camp anywhere. But what about the next day?
I considered backtracking a bit and heading to Hope via paved roads. Maybe the easier pavement would let my knee settle down. I turned around, heading back towards Cultus Lake and then back towards Yarrow. The knee wasn’t getting any better, in fact, it was getting worse. It was locking up and the pain was really getting bad, even if I peddled only with the other leg. I decided to start heading home and was hoping to make it to Surrey so that I could catch the Skytrain home. Even that was too much so Rochelle drove out and picked me up in Abbotsford.
So what to do now? The Tour Divide starts in 13 days. I could take it easy, hope the knee heals, and give it a shot. One problem with that is that I’d be starting a 4400 km race with having almost no training in the month beforehand. Also, from experience, this knee issue has taken months to really heal so it seem unlikely that even that amount of time off would do solve the problem.
So it looks like the Tour Divide is off for me, at least for this year. It’s incredibly disappointing. I’ve spend about 8 months training and preparing for this event. Up until that fall, I was feeling really good about a successful race. Our whole summer was built around this so there is a lot to reevaluate.
My default feeling is that I will aim at trying this again next June but I’m going to have a deeper look into the knee problem before then.