Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Mon 23rd Oct, 2006

The Curse of the Waypers

Last weekend we did the Alpine Rail Trail with a friend from Albury. 'Did' is probably not the right word: firstly, we didn't go all the way from Wangaratta, but started in Beechworth. This means that your ride starts with about half a kilometre of mild uphill then fourteen kilometres of almost continuous descent through the hills toward Everton. Then you perform a near-tergiversation and head east toward Myrtleford and Bright. We did pass various people going up that long hill, a job I don't envy.

Secondly, I didn't go all the way. This is because my knees decided to invoke a little-known clause in their contract that states that they are allowed to invoke excruciating agony on prolonged use if not wearing the right footwear. I first discovered this on a bushwalk along Wilson's Promontory, where both my brother and I were afflicted. The shame of having to distribute both our packs to the other three people on the walk and hobble along as best we could damns me to this day. I now no longer suffer under the illusion that Colorado boots are for hiking. I had since then discovered that wearing appropriately designed shoes with arch support allowed the knees to work normally and not invoke their bodily rights. Alas, I was wearing the very shoes that I had successfully done two week-long bushwalks in with full pack, so I couldn't just blame the shoes.

However, I had rashly forgotten to bring my clip-on cycling boots, cheap Shimano things that were on sale at the time I bought the bike. I've cycled for over a year on various tracks and distances - forty kilometres around Canberra, riding hard up and down hills to work - with nary a twinge of unhappiness from the knee department. Sure enough, I rode to work today, and while my knees kept reminding me that they had suffered in the past, it was really only a reminder and no injury flared up, despite standing on the pedals up Clunies Ross Street. So the Shimanos work and my Raichles, despite being an excellent bushwalking shoe, do not work for cycling. Lesson (painfully) learnt.

Ignoring this, the ride was really quite enjoyable and easily doable even for a person of my moderate fitness. It was also wonderful weather - despite the very warm temperatures earlier in the week, a cool change came through that meant that I spent half of the ride wearing a jumper. We stopped in at the Gapsted Winery, ate our lunch and sampled their wares. The knee problems came very suddenly - almost within a hundred metres I had gone from a slight twinge in my left knee to continual pain in both legs. We arrived into Myrtleford, stayed at the Golden Leaf motel (named for the tobacco industry that is part of the valley's farming) and took taxis to and from The Ovens Hotel, which has excellent meals and bar staff whose passion for beer shows in the availability of James Squire Golden Ale and Porter, and Beechworth Premium Ale (brewed locally) on tap.

On the Sunday we had breakfast and the other two headed off. At that moment I received a call from my Dad and we briefly troubleshot his network problems. In this conversation it was revealed that he'd had knee problems, and so had my brother and sister. So, I can blame it all on having Wayper Knees! Wonderful. I got the Bus-a-bike service to take one person and bike from Myrtleford rather than three people from Bright; unfortunately the price wasn't much less. I then picked up some wines, checked out the berry farm, picked the ladies up, stopped in and got some lawsonberries and blueberries (frozen) and some fresh asparagus (from a different place, not frozen), and drove back home via Albury to drop our friend off.

So, overall, it was a reasonably pleasant weekend. I need to see a specialist about my knees, because I'd like to do some more cycle touring and want my knees to last the distance next time!

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