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    Newsletter #18 From Givet, France…(UK)

    Just a hasty update from Givet, northern France where I’ve been staying for two weeks now due to a knee injury.

    To the late-comers: I Bourges, France – beginning of January – I got some new and heavy winterboots ‘cos I couldn’t keep my feet warm on the bike. The boots have a thick 3-4 cm sole which, naturally, affects the distance from my crotch to the pedals. I was aware of this, but couldn’t be bothered doing anything about it (e.g. adjusting the saddle height accordingly). My bad.

    After a few days of cycling in hilly and cold central France my knee started feeling sore. I had the accomodation situation planned well ahead, and thus didn’t really “have time” for listening to this sudden knee soreness nor to stop and rest/find out what was wrong all of a sudden, after more than 60.000 km on the bike.

    The pain was pretty bad when I arrived here in Givet 14 days ago, knee swollen and the stairs caused me a lot of trouble etc, and further pedalling didn’t really seem like an option. Luckily, I was invited by Elodie to stay in her apartment for as long as I wanted. As I said, French hospitality never failed on me.

    It’s been a great rest here. New friends, WT-projects done, lots of Australian Open tennis from Melbourne, eating well, drinking ditto, resting, thinking…Looking back, I can’t really believe that I’ve been here for so long – actually the longest break where I’ve stayed in one single place since Sydney in March 2008.

    The pain in my knee didn’t really get any better within the first few days, so after a long research on the internet I realized that patellar tendinitis was the name of the game. Off the the pharmacy I went, and over the next 9 days I swallowed more pills than ever before (50!). The swell is gone, I’ve been doing basic exercises for my knee everyday, I’ve been on gentle rides (5 and 20 km) to check the knee, and everything seems (knock-on-wood) to be fairly all right.

    So I’ll be off very shortly. My bike’s been crying loudly lately (from the laundry room next door) for me to come back and caress it/her. Belgium is just a few kilometers down (north) the Meuse River, and it will be my country #50 in WT-time. Namur, then Zonhoven is the first stops in Belgium – the remaining route through the Netherlands and Germany hasn’t been planned yet.

    Thanks for the perpetual support, guys and girls. It (still) means everything to me.

    Thus perceived – and with love,


    On this day..


    5 Responses to “Newsletter #18 From Givet, France…(UK)”

    1. Maxime Says:

      Hi Nicolai,

      I hope you will enjoy Namur, this is a charming little town.

      You can find the meteo for the next days in Belgium on this website : http://www.meteobelgique.com

      Don’t forget to drink some good Belgian beers !

      Take care for your knee 😉

      Maxime, Tournai (Belgium).

    2. Jana Says:

      Hi Nicolai,

      Sorry to hear about the knee predicament. Hope it feels better soon! The way you reached your diagnostic via the internet made me smile, as that is what my wife does all the time — so obviously to avoid going to the doctor! 😉

      Have been reading, viewing and watching various pieces of your website since discovering it on Sunday. Your trip has been a veritable inspiration to me and, quite obviously, many others. I am glad I can add my support while you are still on the road.

      Among other great aspects of your website, I wanted to salute your attention to detail when describing the equipment that sustains you on the road. Fascinating stuff. This has raised some logistical questions when imagining what it must be like to carry everything with you day in, day out, through a range of settings. For instance,

      – have you ever worried about someone stealing your bike/stuff while camping in the open? How did you safeguard it all? I assume you have sometimes felt the need to look for remote, out-of-the-way places when setting up your tent.

      – did you have to look for a box to pack your bike every time you traveled by air? I can only assume your bike has been well treated so far… Did you consider folding or packable bikes when planning your trip?

      – how did you back all these nice Ortlieb bags when checking in with the airline?

      As you would guess, I am curious about these things as my own motivation to do a (much more modest!) trip is taking form…

      Following you vicariously for now – cheers.

      New York City

    3. Martin Says:

      Ouch.. Stay away from those Belgium beers! They are dangerous 😉

      (even though they are tasty like nothing else…)


    4. Mark Cunnington Says:

      Hi Nicolai,

      I had to cringe when I heard about your knee problem, I have been fighting with this exact same thing, it just came out of nowhere during a cool ride one day early in the season (without enough training). I also self diagnosed my problem from the internet as patellar tendonitis.

      You have probably learned that eccentric exercises are the way to fix it. Concentric won’t help much apparently. Eccentrics are when the tendon / muscle expands when firing, rather than contracting. This is what happens during the down movement of a squat, or when going down stairs (not up).

      You have to be careful with this injury or it can get way out of hand. I’ve barely been able to walk for 4 months because I let it get out of control, but I had another problem which led up to my susceptibility this time.

      I’m in physio and progressing well, I can pretty much walk normally now and should be back up and running in a couple months, but my knee was in much worse shape than yours so you should be fine in a couple weeks if you take care of it.

      Here is a great website:





    5. Mark Says:

      Just another comment, if I may play doctor here, you don’t have patellar tendinopathy (which is a degeneration of the tendon), but rather tendonitis, which is inflammation. This is how it all started for me, as tendonitis, and I didn’t treat it properly and it seems to have degenerated to a mild form of tendinopathy, but I should be able to fully heal in a couple months based on my history and otherwise excellent health.

      So your condition is totally curable within a few weeks, maybe a month or so depending on how hard you pushed despite the pain, since the inflammation will go away and you will be fine again. But you can’t push through the pain, it’s not like muscle pain!

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