In the month or so between finding out that my left knee troubles were caused by a torn meniscus and the surgery to remove/trim the offending parts, I did lots of research. Most of it was encouraging and the odds looked good for returning to cycling pain free eventually. Even when the Doc made the operating table decision to take out a bit more of the meniscus than he’d originally thought he’d have to, I wasn’t too alarmed.
My previous research revealed case after case of amateurs getting back on the bike relatively quickly, although most of them also mentioned “no more running” and the eventual spectre of the dreaded “osteo-arthritis”. As much as I enjoy running, it was probably the main culprit in my meniscus degenerating in the first place, so I’ll live with giving it up IF I have to.
But after doing some more research today into pro athletes having meniscus surgeries, then who knows, maybe there is still a future in triathlons for me. I only want to do the short stuff anyway, as I was one and done with the Ironman experience.
I couldn’t find any instances of well-known cyclists having meniscus problems, which is surprising considering the amount of crashes in the sport. It turns out that pro basketballers are the sportsmen particularly susceptible to torn menisci. And most, but not all, make a full recovery and get back to pounding their colossal frames up and down hardwood floors. So if they can come back surely a non-impact sport such as cycling shouldn’t cause me too much trouble.
But something else I read today might mean I have to change the way I ride. I like to turn a big gear, I can’t help it, it just feels right. It’s been commented on many times by friends or just people I’ve ridden alongside in a race, that I was probably asking for knee trouble churning such a low cadence. After a typical ride, whether fast or slow, when I upload my data, the cadence will always be at or below the 80 rpm mark. The generally accepted wisdom is that the most efficient cadence is 90-92 rpm.
So maybe it was years of mashing big gears that did my knee in, or maybe it was the running or a combo of them both. Pre-op I couldn’t stand up on the pedals or hit a hill in earnest without moderate-to-severe pain, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens when I eventually get to the point of testing it again. And if learning to spin a higher cadence helps, then obviously that’s something to consider.
There was definitely no testing of the knee today. It was a bit stiff and swollen when I got up this morning and so I didn’t tempt fate. The situation has gradually improved as the day has gone by so I’m hopeful of an easy spin tomorrow.