Tuesday, April 10, 2012

it's done.

Last night, after a long work day in which my knees ached with every trip up and down the stairs and after five months of mornings in which my fingers regularly "popped" into a closed position when first waking up, I recognized that I cannot be a bicycle racer anymore. At the very least, I cannot be a singlespeed racer anymore, and since I love singlespeed so much I seriously doubt I'll want to race any other way.

Without health insurance and the ability to pay for knee replacements, my only recourse is to listen to my body and admit that things have changed. In fact, things were changing well over a year ago, while I was lifting weights and stretching to prepare for the 2011 sason and I felt my knees twinge regularly. My knees have twinged now and then since high school, so I said nothing about it at the time, hoping that continued stretching and strengthening would help. My knees got worse, and hurt more. By my last cyclocross race I suspected that I would have to stop racing, at least singlespeed. In the end, my muscles got stronger but my joints did not, and I was left with the only conclusion I could make. I am getting older. My joints are getting older faster than the rest of me. I am lucky to have had to ability to do demanding things with my body for as long as I have, but in the end I know the time has come to close this chapter and move on.

I told my teammates, and my friends in OBRA that I was done racing. I will put my beloved Stompy up for sale so that it can continue to be ridden and raced. And I will sell off a graet deal of my racing-oriented bike clothing that I don't need anymore.

I am sad, but also relieved. And while getting older is sort of a drag, it's also an amazing process to watch and feel and experience. I may look ten years younger than my real age, but my knees are ten years older than the rest of me, and noting how they've changed and stiffened over the last several years has been at least as fascinating as it has been frustrating.

I am grateful for the ride.

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