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On my knees...

This past year has been pretty different for most and difficult for some because of Covid. But, the bicycle industry is BOOMING and I see roadbikes and mountainbikes flying by on the road and dirtpath past my tiny cabin all the time. I envy them! I'm not riding by far as much as I'd want to. Wonder why?

 Hera van Willick
Bicycle Santos Travelmaster 3+

It’s been well over a year since my beautiful, cold, challenging, heavy, sunny, rough, wonderful bikepacking tour in Spain and Portugal. I got back half January after two months of ‘riding rough’, but somehow I didn’t hear about that boat laying quarantined off the Chinese coast till the end of February. A virus on the loose in China. Because I live without newspapers or TV and with little online media the news got to me relatively late. Just two weeks later both the Netherlands and the rest of the world ‘closed’. I thanked on my bare knees that I’d just spend some months on my freshly rebuilt bicycle on the southern tracks and trails.

The optional bikepacking plans I had for that spring fell through and I got back onto Fuego (the single speed Race lite) to work as a bike messenger. Because people had to call in sick at the slightest sign of a cold and had to wait for the results of Covid-tests, there were many extra shifts to fill. I liked the job. Finishing a shift around 10 a.m., wide awake and a work-out  already done. Often another ride in the afternoon and then complementing calories at the evening meal. But then my knees started protesting..

Because the light but nagging pain around my kneecaps didn’t lessen I inquired with a physiotherapist. After all, he and I had dealt with a similar injury six years ago. In the months before I left on my bike to Asia he’d helped me to get back in the saddle. It wasn’t easily solved back then either but we did and during the 14 months of travelling that followed I didn’t have the slightest knee pain.

But this time the treatment didn’t help. The exercises were painful and also keeping rest didn’t induce any progress. I started couriering less and lighter, but the pains increased nonetheless. So I made a tough decision and erased the plan to go on a long bike tour soon out of my agenda. I sadly stared at the empty pages that lied before me. Now what?

During summer holidays in the Karwendel mountains in Austria I cycled, hiked and climbed with reservation. I enjoyed the time in the mountains, but as the pain nagged in my knees, the fear nibbled in my head. Where is this going? During a hike to a mountaintop I enthusiastically praised my ‘new secondhand’ light hiking poles. Going up was easy. But descending in pain I cursed myself for the stupid action. What a dumb-ass was I! Why hadn’t I tried what it was like to walk downhill before I thoughtlessly headed for that peak?

Read her full story here.

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