Convince me to keep SSing, Please!- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    sonoranbiker
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    Convince me to keep SSing, Please!

    So here's my deal. I have been riding SS for about 2 1/2 years, starting with a 26" conversion, then adding a MC29 (which I love), and adding a SS road bike for commuting. My knees have been feeling a bit creaky for a while, and then over the fall I led a 3-week backpacking trip in the Blue Range Primitive Area (read 70+ lb. pack, off-trail for 3 weeks). It was VERY hard on the knees, and after the trip they hurt nearly all the time (mainly under the kneecaps, when I ride, after I ride, when I crouch down and stand up). I went to see a doctor, and he said to use them 'till I can't then get surgery (helpful, huh?). I also get chiropractic adjustments every week, and he does work on my knees.

    I absolutely love SSing, but am concerned that my knees are getting trashed, and I don't want to be one of those 40-year olds who is crippled and can't do anything athletic. I'm thinking of selling the MC29 and the road bike, and getting something like a D440 (1x8) that I can use for both commuting and trail riding.

    Any other suggestions? Anybody have any good arguments to keep SSing?

    Thanks in advance- Evan

  2. #2
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    what gearing?

  3. #3
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    Maybe a professional fitting to be sure that everything is set up ideally before you do something drastic.

  4. #4
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    If you're seriously messing up your knees then you might need to make some adjustments in how you ride. Maybe you need to adjust your riding geometry? Raise your seat, shorter stem, that sort of thing? If you have exhausted your alternatives then keeping your knees is a pretty good reason to move to a gearie, if you ask me. I've ridden a D440 and it's a damn good bike, and I really like the 1x8 setup as a compromise.

    Just don't stop riding old man! (and I'm getting there myself)

  5. #5
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    Singlespeeding is not for you. You should give it up. What size are your bikes, I may be interested.

  6. #6
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    pedal masher? Just curious.

  7. #7
    sonoranbiker
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    My gearing is 32/20, which seems to be the best bet for Tucson. I could probably go to 22, but then I'd never get anywhere on the flats.

    I'm pretty sure that fit is not an issue, as both bikes have gone through numerous tweaks to fit right. I may look into the cost of a professional fit, though, to be sure.

  8. #8
    sonoranbiker
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    Quote Originally Posted by ernesto_from_Wisconsin
    pedal masher? Just curious.
    What do you mean by pedal masher? I get out of the saddle on climbs that I can't maintain a good seated cadence on, and try to avoid the super-slow seated grind...

    BTW- I weigh about 215-220 with gear, which is probably harder on the knees than if I weighed 160.

  9. #9
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    You need to stand up more.

  10. #10
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    in my dictionary a pedal masher is someone turning less than 70 rpm's at the cranks. Ideally I try to maintain 80-90 rpms off road.

    As a 40-something single speeder who has been riding and running for all of my adult life I understand your concern. There have been times when my knees have been aching after running or a ride. The best treatment has always been time and rest. Changing the type of workout helps too.

    I can't imagine carrying a 70# pack would be good regardless of your pedal cadence. It could be your knees simply need some time off.
    Authorities speculate that speed may have been a factor. They are also holding gravity and inertia for questioning.

  11. #11
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    I don't think that a SS would hurt your knees. Cycling is low impact compared to running
    which can be brutal on your joints. I used to get shooting pains behind my knee caps once and a while. I had this problem at 40, that was nine years ago. I just kept riding and it eventually went away. My knees don't hurt anymore (everything else does). I ride my 34:16
    SS daily. Maybe it's as simple as some Motrin before you ride. Your situation might be
    different, but try not to give up, it might get better on it's own. Just don't ride Fixed (You want to talk about knee pain?)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caffeine Powered
    The best treatment has always been time and rest.

    It could be your knees simply need some time off.

    I agree. I'm only 22 and have only been SSing for about 6 months so my opinion may not matter but when I first started SSing I started getting a pain like you're talking about under my kneecap. Sounds exactly like the type of pain you're describing. I figured it'd go away if I just let it go and worked through it. It kept getting worse to the point where I'd wake up in the morning and have trouble walking. I took about 2 or 3 weeks off from any type of riding (which SUCKED) and started up again. After about a week or two I had a little pain and backed off for a couple days. After a few of these on and off weeks the pain went away and now I'm back to riding every day I can.

    I guess try and rest it and see if that helps.

    If not you could gear down or just get the other bike and ride the SS when you're feeling good. That'd give you knees break time but still give you the option.

    Also I don't know what pedals you're riding but check your foot alignment on the pedal and if your pedals have a lot of float (like Eggbeaters) check that your foot isn't floating around too much when you pedal. Any twisting of your foot on top of pushing the SS will tear your knees apart.

  13. #13
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    Do a couple of weeks of ice therapy before you make your decision. Worked for me. Oh yeah, Aleve before a ride.
    Larry

  14. #14
    sonoranbiker
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    Counting the backpacking trip, I took about 2.5 months off from SSing, and have been riding less since I got back. I also used to run regularly, and have taken a long break from that b/c of knee pain. As soon as I started back on the MC29, the pain got worse.

    I guess a big question is: if I need to pop Vitamin-I or Aleve and ice before and after every ride, shouldn't I just accept defeat and ride a bike that doesn't require damage control?

  15. #15
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    you maintain 90 rpm on trail? wow!

  16. #16
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    Sound to me like a.)You probably don't have a lot of cartilage left in the place that's hurting (b) You've just way overused it. My knees hurt for years in the same place you're describing with both hiking, and SS biking, when I first started. I knew I could do one or the other, but not both. I've inherited crap knees from my father's side; he's already had 2 total knee replacements. I chose biking because everyone knows that, done properly, it's the best thing for shot knees. You can get somebody on a bike in PT before they can even walk. Seems like it was a good choice, because now my knees are a lot stronger, (standing and pedaling strengthens all the supportive tissue, sitting and grinding wears it down), and they don't hurt much. I still tweak a knee every 3rd or 4th ride a little bit, but it's nothing that a day of rest, ice and or a little bit of Aleve doesn't fix. My father at the same age was already limping, and walking with a cane, because the 1st total knee was a botch job.
    So, I'd say belay the backpacking, belay even SS'ing for awhile. Just do some light spinning, see what happens. If you're still in pain, then I'd get an MRI. You may need some professional attention, at that point. Good luck, and do look into your fit as well. Sometimes a relatively minor adjustment can make a huge difference.
    Last edited by Doggity; 12-06-2008 at 08:12 PM. Reason: typo

  17. #17
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    I'm 46 and used to have a lot of knee pain when riding geared. ( I also used to be a runner)
    Since I've gone to SS I find I stand almost all the time (except on the flats) and my knees feel much better.
    So, I know everyone is different, but for me SS actually savd my knees

    -Rich

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by rzims
    I'm 46 and used to have a lot of knee pain when riding geared. ( I also used to be a runner)
    Since I've gone to SS I find I stand almost all the time (except on the flats) and my knees feel much better.
    So, I know everyone is different, but for me SS actually savd my knees

    -Rich
    That's what I was trying to say, in a more long winded way. BTW, thumbs up on your choice of the D440. That's my 'other' bike, and I find it to be the perfect complement to a SS.
    Last edited by Doggity; 12-07-2008 at 11:27 AM.

  19. #19
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    It's not just SS'ing that helped but biking in general because of the reasons already expressed and mainly because you don't carry all that extra weight on your knees with pack and body weight. That is a lot of stress on the knees. It sounds like you've made you're decision and a 1 x 8 isn't the end of the world. I would hang on to those SS's just in case.
    Larry

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by rzims
    I'm 46 and used to have a lot of knee pain when riding geared. ( I also used to be a runner)
    Since I've gone to SS I find I stand almost all the time (except on the flats) and my knees feel much better.
    So, I know everyone is different, but for me SS actually savd my knees

    -Rich
    +2
    I was experiencing knee pain in my right knee on and off the bike for 6 months.
    After two cortisone shots, a MRI, and arthroscopic surgery in which the Dr. found nothing more than inflamed tissue which he removed.
    I still had knee pain on the road bike. On the MTB I was fine though.
    Started riding SS, and standing when I climbed, and knee pain went away.
    I'm 43.

  21. #21
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    I am 46 and I am definitely a "masher". My cadence is below 70, even on the road. I used to have your problem until I started working my hamstrings religiously, twice a week. Problem solved.

    The pain below the knee was created by a huge imbalance between thigh and hamstring. At least that was my case. You may have a different problem, so use this information as a data point only.
    My rides:
    Lynskey Ti Pro29 SS
    RM Suzi Q 90 RSL
    KHS Team 29
    S-Works Roubaix
    KHS CX 550 cyclocross

  22. #22
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    sounds to me like you should give up hiking around with a 70 pound pack on your back.

  23. #23
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    Running isn't for everyone. I tried running and it came down to running or biking. Running killed my knees and hips. Try training on an Eliptical machine at the gym, very low impact.
    Your major advantage is that your 22. I was a quick healer at that age which was good
    because I did alot of stupid sh#t. All you are really doing is running, hiking and biking. Those are good things. It's not like you're at the gym trying to squat 600# or leg pressing
    a full sled. You should be fine. I wish I was 22.

  24. #24
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    So stop...why do you need to be convinced? Do you always do what on line strangers tell you to do? Riding is fun but you'll need yoru knees way past 45 years old.

  25. #25
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    Hiking boots are hard on the knees. They lock up the ankles to protect you from sprains which transfers all stress up to your knees. Two things that work for runners is ice and strengthening of the hips and ankles. Stress caused by imbalances and weakness in those areas is transferred to the knees. In many cases, the knee itself is not the problem. The knees take a long time to recover from injury. Take a break from single speeding and hiking. Ceasing activity though, is not rest and recovery, it is disuse and not a good idea. Get your creaking body to the gym and do some leg extensions and hamstring curls and core exercises for your hips, stomach and glutes. Balance that overused body! And if you have to keep going to a chiropractor, it's not working.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by liem
    Hiking boots are hard on the knees. They lock up the ankles to protect you from sprains which transfers all stress up to your knees. Two things that work for runners is ice and strengthening of the hips and ankles. Stress caused by imbalances and weakness in those areas is transferred to the knees. In many cases, the knee itself is not the problem. The knees take a long time to recover from injury. Take a break from single speeding and hiking. Ceasing activity though, is not rest and recovery, it is disuse and not a good idea. Get your creaking body to the gym and do some leg extensions and hamstring curls and core exercises for your hips, stomach and glutes. Balance that overused body! And if you have to keep going to a chiropractor, it's not working.
    Belay the leg extensions with weight! That is one of THE worst things you can do for sub patellar pain, as it loads greatly the very area that is already inflamed. The rest is fine.

  27. #27
    local trails rider
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    Here's a piece of advice I got from a doctor, years ago:
    "If it hurts, don't do it."

    Last summer it meant several weeks of riding the 1x9 FS bike, as my thigh was not up to taking the bumps of hardtail riding.

    I really like singlespeeding... but a gearie FS bike is fun too. And sometimes that gearie FS bike might be the only thing that keeps you riding at all.

  28. #28
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    I'd suggest looking at Orthotics. Maybe your ankles are "collapsing" causing your leg to not track properly. An easy test is to sit on a trainer with a large mirror in front of you and after sufficiently warming up, watch how your knees track.
    MTBR is serious stuff.
    You never get better until you get out of your comfort zone.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doggity
    Belay the leg extensions with weight! That is one of THE worst things you can do for sub patellar pain, as it loads greatly the very area that is already inflamed. The rest is fine.
    No argument there really. In my case I had to start out with virtually no weight and work from there. This exercise is more for prevention but if it doesn't hurt, go ahead. I never use much weight. It is one of the few ways to target the muscles adjacent to the knee Loading an injured area in a controlled manner is NOT always a bad thing, but again, if it hurts like heck don't do it. The important thing is to find exercises that continue to load the legs while giving them a reprieve from the repetitive strain of your usual fun and to use the break to correct imbalances. I think we all know this, we just hate doing it.

  30. #30
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    Hmmm, as an ancient relic, much older than anyone here, I have never had extensive knee pain. I race in 12 & 24 hour events without problems.

    I think most knee problems are due to fastening your feet to the pedals rather than single speeding. I ride in walking shoes with lugged soles and track pedals and get enough grip on the bike that way. An old fashioned pedalling technique called "ankling" means I can pull up on the pedals if I want - mostly I don't bother.

    If I get twinges in my knees when riding I'll lower my gearing for a few weeks or pick easier rides.

    Probably the biggest factor is that most of the stress occurs at those points where you should really get off and walk because it's faster. Don't be macho about not using your bottom gear

    Being macho about joint pain when you're young means that you won't be enjoying the use of those joints when you're old (like some of my once heroic friends who can now barely get out of their chairs).
    Last edited by Velobike; 12-11-2008 at 09:24 AM.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Tom)
    sounds to me like you should give up hiking around with a 70 pound pack on your back.
    http://www.backpackinglight.com

    I also guide backpacking and SS MTB, and realize that when guiding backpack trips, you need to carry more weight than backpacking personally. But the weight of a heavy pack can be a safety hazzard as well - so bringing a big first aid kit and sat phone can be a safety liability if the extra weight gets you hurt!

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike
    Hmmm, as an ancient relic, much older than anyone here
    D'you reckon ??

    Good advice though...

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by sonoranbiker
    I went to see a doctor, and he said to use them 'till I can't then get surgery (helpful, huh?).
    That's a great treatment plan

    Step one is to find a doc who treats athletes and understands that you want to ride a bike pain free.

  34. #34
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    Stay off the leg extensions. There is no movement in sports which that exercise benefits, except running backwards. Leg extensions are a waste. If you want to get good at running backwards then run backwards some. Don't take Advil or other anti inflammatories before a workout. It will mask pain if something isn't working right and you could worsen any damage being done. If something starts to hurt you should know it as soon as possible and stop if you need. Treat them afterwards with advil. That hiking trip was the problem. How much specific prep did you do before hand? You needed months of building up to carrying that kind of weight, and man 70 pounds is a lot even on perfect terrain. If you are 210 that is 33% of your body weight.

    Same with the single speed, your body can an will adapt, start slow and give it time. Start with a lower gear and get conditioned to pedaling before adding a big torque load to things. Listen to aches and pains, adjust, stretch, crosstrain to keep fresh. I think the ss is a great way to ride, it forces your body to adapt to different loads and use different techniques. If you start slow and ride enough your body can get efficient at standing and sprinting, standing pushing hard at slow rpm, spinning fast seated, pushing hard seated.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike
    Hmmm, as an ancient relic, much older than anyone here, I have never had extensive knee pain. I race in 12 & 24 hour events without problems.

    I think most knee problems are due to fastening your feet to the pedals rather than single speeding. I ride in walking shoes with lugged sloes and track pedals and get enough grip on the bike that way. An old fashioned pedalling technique called "ankling" means I can pull up on the pedals if I want - mostly I don't bother.

    If I get twinges in my knees when riding I'll lower my gearing for a few weeks or pick easier rides.

    Probably the biggest factor is that most of the stress occurs at those points where you should really get off and walk because it's faster. Don't be macho about not using your bottom gear

    Being macho about joint pain when you're young means that you won't be enjoying the use of those joints when you're old (like some of my once heroic friends who can now barely get out of their chairs).
    To keep knees healthy apply force in a "natural" direction that mimics its function of supporting the body while walking. One of the thing not to do is to try to pedal in circles, at least with the force SS requires.

    P.S. You're now second oldest.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by pacman
    ...P.S. You're now second oldest.
    Not by much

    I think the one important thing I've learned in my slightly less years than pacman is not to further stress any joint that's hurting, and not to use pain maskers.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  37. #37
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    When I was young, I would brag to you about carrying a 70# pack. Tried it--guaranteed knee killer.

    Now that I am older, I am more inclined to tell you about how light my pack is. I know that carrying 70# on my back exceeds the design limits of my skeleton, and ergo, is not a good idea. So...

    1. Should you keep SSing? Um, yes.

    2. Should you cease carrying 70# on your back? Um, yes.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid.

  38. #38
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    Some good advice in here. Sounds like you need some good physical therapy treatment, something other than use it til it wears out. Awful advice. Something is causing the pain. Fix the something, it is not that complicated.

    Strengthening the other joints other than the knees was a good suggestion. If anything is wrong from the spine down it will cause other problems. Good luck and dont give up yet.

  39. #39
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    Have you tried supplements with glucosamine?

  40. #40
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    I'm 34 and in the military four fifteen years now. I've done road-marching, running cycling and running about the desert with heavy body armor on.

    My experience with knees is that there are a number of things that can cause you trouble. Not only on the bike, but off it as well. You have to tweak every part of your life and use the process of elimination to figure it out. Here are some suggestions from someone who has battled knee pain, and won without surgery... yet!

    -Try to isolate the conditions that COULD contribute: 1) ride a geared bike with the same shoes, pedals etc. for awhile (several weeks at least). If that doesn't help change things one at a time first pedal position, then maybe an entire new pedal/shoe combination etc. The key is that you ONLY change ONE factor at a time to isolate what the real problem is, and keep at it for a few weeks at a time.

    -Look for out-of-the-saddle causes. When you're not riding, you're recovering. This means the shoes you wear during your regular daily routine can have a significant impact on your knees, especially if you walk around a lot. It can have an impact on your knees that you don't percieve until you put them under a high demand situation like cycling. Don't cheap out on your daily shoes. If you have to wear dress shoes, get those that are a little more expensive and are designed to be better for your feet. I had some problems with some heal pain when I was over in the desert wearing armor on a near-daily basis. I shoveled out a little extra $$ for some better boots, and it made a big difference.

    -Finally, stop doing stuff that hurts. If it turns out that the singlespeed thing is the culprit then just go geared. Riding is Riding is Riding! If you're in the saddle and enjoying yourself than it's a success regardless of the gears, tires size, brand name emblazened across the top tube etc. Maybe single-speed ain't for you, but I'd figure it out through process of elmination first, then go with what works.

    Jonesy

  41. #41
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    Most of the times cycling is very beneficial to the knees.

    Since you stated you have proper fit.

    Do you stretch?

    Do you warm up before mashing or spinning hard?

    Cycling increases strength in the quads (front of leg), yet the hamstring (back of leg) remain weak.

    Many times the imbalance can pull on the back of your knee causing problems.

    Stretching and strengthening the hamstring can help many cycling related knee problems.

    If there is a muscular imbalance causing the problem.

    Of course, seek professional advice in person.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike
    Hmmm, as an ancient relic, much older than anyone here, I have never had extensive knee pain. I race in 12 & 24 hour events without problems.

    I think most knee problems are due to fastening your feet to the pedals rather than single speeding. I ride in walking shoes with lugged soles and track pedals and get enough grip on the bike that way. An old fashioned pedalling technique called "ankling" means I can pull up on the pedals if I want - mostly I don't bother.

    If I get twinges in my knees when riding I'll lower my gearing for a few weeks or pick easier rides.

    Probably the biggest factor is that most of the stress occurs at those points where you should really get off and walk because it's faster. Don't be macho about not using your bottom gear

    Being macho about joint pain when you're young means that you won't be enjoying the use of those joints when you're old (like some of my once heroic friends who can now barely get out of their chairs).
    See? What'd I tell you? I had iliotibial band syndrome from riding clipped in. Ditched the stoopid clip ins, ride plats now just like the man said. No more ITB. I know that ain't what you've got, with your sub patelar pain. But my point is, the body isn't designed to do the same EXACT movement thousands of times like a robot, and that's just what you're doin' if you're pedalling clipped in. On plats, you shift your foot and weight around naturally, and thus don't stress the connective tissue in the same manner. Might be a factor, with your situation....

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