Lots of people have been asking me how my legs feel now I’ve stopped cycling. I will prefix my answer to this question by talking about how my legs felt towards the end of the ride.
By the time I got half way across the US my legs had reached equilibrium; they had expanded and contracted up to that point depending principally on diet and how well/unwell I was. They were, and still are, composed of endurance muscle; not massive tree trunks as many people were expecting, but somewhat svelte. Not Sir Hoy sprinting machines but perfectly capable of turning over for 14+ hours a day.
The tendonitis that I had in both ankles towards the beginning of the trip was long gone. As an aside, that sort of pain is relatively easy to ignore, mainly because tendonitis doesn’t really have long term side effects (or so I’m told). Whenever I had a particularly hilly day my left knee would develop pain underneath the patella; this continued throughout the 6 months but disappeared as soon as the terrain flattened out.
Since my return I have taken one piece of advice that has come from several reliable people; make sure you cycle a little bit every day. To be honest I haven’t cycled every day but this is more due to convenience than being unable to face the saddle (I still love to pedal). When I have cycled I’ve done around 10 miles. I think that my body has decided that we don’t do long distances for the time being; I went as far as I had to and now everything needs a break.
I have also been doing a fair bit of walking to try and re-build those muscles that haven’t been used so much for the last 6 months. I’m going to try running in about a week. Decorating the new flat, carrying boxes upstairs and tidying up my workshop have all helped. During the first week back being on my feet caused me some pain in my knees and shin splints, but this has gone now. The legs are not normal, but they are getting there.
Something that I think helped me enormously during the ride, enabling me to maintain the same position for hours and days on end, is good core strength and reasonable posture. I did work on this before departure but I think doing physical work throughout my 20’s gave me a good base. Either way, my posture has not suffered and I’m not trapped in a cycling crouch as some had feared! I have noticed that my feet are slightly splayed when I walk, but this should get back to normal fairly quickly.
I’m seeing a physio this week; I’m sure this will bring up some details that I am missing, so I’ll keep you posted. For now, don’t ask me to cycle more than 10 miles, I’m not allowed.