My aching knees

Sunday’s ride was the fastest I’ve ridden in about 12 years. I tried bike-commuting on Tuesday and reduced my morning commute time to just over 1:30, which is about 1/2 hour less than when I started a year ago. Coming home, my knees started to hurt and for most of the week, they’ve been very clicky with various dull aches. I’ve been icing them down and laying off the riding for the rest of the week, but I am starting to feel my age. My real concern is not so much the pain — I can deal with that — but that they might get worse.

Last summer, I approached Issaquah Ski & Cycle about options for gearing better suited for my needs (read: make biking on steeper hills easier). I had expected to need all sorts of weird things done to my 11-year old bike, but they suggested swapping out a front chainring and the rear cluster. Total cost: $50 with labor, a lot cheaper than upgrading my bike to 9-speeds.
There are three noteworthy things about my gearing:

  1. Not all combinations of the 21 gears are really feasible with the wide ratio I have, a triple (26-42-50) chainring on front and a 7-speed cluster (30×13) on the back. This really affects things on the extremes, like driving the big front ring with the big rear one or the small front with the small rear. I deal with it by shifting.
  2. 26×30 is a pretty happy combination for going up a hill. I rarely have to stop on anything 8% grade or lower, nor do I need to get out of the saddle.
  3. I’m still really slow, but my knees don’t hurt going up hills.

I have the Camano Climb coming up Sunday, but am less worried than I would normally be.