40 Year Old Knees

It’s two days before the Waves to Wine 2010. I’m a little worried because even though I’ve got 2400 miles under my belt this year and I’m in good cycling shape, my knees have been bothering me the last several weeks.
Oddly enough it srarted on a flatish ride from Walnut Creek to Sunol and back which is the traditional warm up ride for Monterey. I started to feel some pain in my right knee, just a little twinge at first, but by the end of the ride, it felt like someone was trying to drive a spike through my knee on each pedal stroke. Not very pleasant.
Walnut Creek/Sunol was a 50 miler. So how the knee going to hold out on the 120 miles from Pacifica to Monterey? Not too bad in fact. Not sure why, but I didn’t really have any problems. It’s strange because the next day on a 17 mile recovery ride around Carmel and Pebble Beach, it was back. Not good, but at least I had gotten through Monterey without any trouble.
So when I was on the bike, it was excruciating. I found myself doing all the pedalling with my left leg. This helped, but it’s not exactly efficient. Off the bike, there was no pain at all. I iced it some, but it really didn’t seem to do much.
Last weekend, the club did a 20 mile climb up Mines Road in Livermore. I was totally fine going up, but coming back down fighting a fierce headwind blowing up the valley, the pain was back. Again, not good.
I got myself a neoprene and did a little 8 mile test ride around Berkeley yesterday. It seemed to be fine, but it’s impossible to tell on such as short ride. The brace is a really nuissance though and I’d much prefer not to have to use it, of course.
The first day of the Waves to Wine is pretty challenging. Not only is it 100 miles, but there’s fairly severe climbing, most notably up to the Muir Beach overlook. This is get out of the saddle and grind up the mountain stuff and it’s going to be a real test for the knee. For most of the ride, I plan on sitting at the back of pacelines, doing a pull if here and there, but mostly letting others doing the bulk of the work. But you can’t do this on climbs.
On the positive side, if I’m not feeling up to the whole 100 miles, there are several places where I can choose to bail and take a shortcut. I hope not to have to resort to that, but I will if necessary.

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