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To answer this question from May (sorry, I was away from this site awhile) and offer an update:
1. I will be fifty in a few months and my knees are a bit older than that. I decided to listen to my knees by taking most of the summer off from racing.
2. I was going to skip racing completely this year but the siren call was too hard to resist; so I signed up for the final three races of my local short-track xc series.
One big change: I gave up racing singlespeed and switched to a geared mountain bike, which forced me to change categories (from Singlespeed Women to Masters' Women 45+) as well. To my surprise, although I was horribly un-trained and out of shape, I found that once I made the adjustment racing with multiple gears wasn't so bad -- my knees no longer hurt during or after a race! Plus, all the daily commuting and cargo-biking I'd continued to do had given me a mileage base that made it possible for me to race at all.
Alas, a career transition this summer (and limited funds in general) means that I will no longer be able to race cyclcross on a regular basis (I teach on Sundays now and prefer not to race on Saturdays), though I will still be able to go out and cheer my friends occasionally. Look for me at the short-track courses next summer, and all the best --BH
Hi Beth, may I ask how old you are? I'm 36 (turning 37 this summer) and have been having lingering knee pain for quite awhile now. I've reduced my activities only because I feel like my knees could use a break. It started with my son, who is 21 months. I look after him during the day and he has multiplied my daily activity. He was gone for 2 weeks recently and my knees felt normal. The minute I started schlepping him around again they hurt. Baby number 2 just arrives so whoo-hoo. I'm concerned as I can't do anything to get rid of the achy feeling.
So here's the deal: My knees began hurting a lot more this past year, even during short-track season, even after I'd begun working out with weights and doing stretching and everything else. I had a glorious short-track season in 2011 and surprised myself with both results and stamina. 'Cross was another amtter. I enjoyed myself but as soon as the temps dipped below 50 degrees my knees hurt at every single practice and race. I tried everything, including tights/warmers/embro/stretching/proper recovery and all the rest. It didn't matter. My knees began to hurt just going up and down the stairs at work, and when my hands began to feel stiff in the mornings, I pretty much knew what was happening: I was developing the symptoms of hereditary rheumatoid arthritis. A trip to the doc's and a few tests this spring have confirmed it. The treatment? Manintain as much physical activity as I can handle (RA responds well to moderate activity, while Osteo Arthritis does not) without overdoing, especially when the weather turns cold and wet.
I took the year off from racing this year. I will still go and cheer on my teammates of course, and I expect to have a good time regardless. But the changes in my body have dictated that I hang up the singlespeed bike for good. I sold it to a friend for her daughter; and I have a "regular" mountain bike that will get overhauled and rebuilt for short-track next summer, when I hope to return and race in my masters' age group. Cyclocross remains unlikely for me in the future but it has been a really fun ride. I am content and happy.
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