So I've been back on my bike a little more than 2 months now after years away. I've gone about 500 miles since the middle of February. Started on flats and now onto rolling hills with some relatively small climbs -- and one medium long one. I'm riding a converted 24-speed mountain bike, with slicks and new Speedplay clipless. My LBS has helped me adjust the fit of my bike (we ended up raising my seat a lot) and I'm having a blast.
I'm considering changing the chain ring as I've noticed I'm using the lower set of gears less and less. I experience zero problems on the bike except for some of the usual aches and pains of getting back into working out and riding regularly. Tuesday I did a fairly easy 15-mile ride with a couple of friends and we pretty much took it slow -- it was them not me. I wanted to go out harder though so on a few hills, I pedaled out ahead, tried to keep my gears high so I could get some burn in. I've felt stronger with each ride so I figured it was just a natural progression.
Only that night, my knees were barking at me all night. The pain is on the top of the knee and it's a dull ache as opposed to a sharp pain. More annoying than anything else. I took a couple of days off and in talking to a couple of veteran cyclists, was told to do more "spinning" on my rides so as not to stress my knees so much.
I did that on my ride tonight, deliberately sticking to the lowest gears for the most part and letting my legs spin and my knees warm into the ride. No pain during the ride but I'm noticing now (5 hours later) that the front of the knee pain (on the kneecap not above or below) is back again. Normally I would have iced them immediately after but I had to go out right away and didn't have a chance.
My questions: any thoughts on this and/or what I might be doing wrong? I'm starting to do more off-the-bike leg exercises to strengthen the muscles in my hips and knees but should I do more? Do any of you suggest specific exercises or stretches? And do you suggest I rest for longer than a couple of days (I'm averaging about 70-90 miles a week depending on the weather)?
I want to work up to longer and longer rides and bigger hills but I don't want to screw up and put myself on the shelf -- especially this time of year. I'm probably being overly cautious as there's no pain during my rides but I'm so addicted to cycling now, that I'm afraid I'm going to do something to screw it up.
Thanks in advance. I'm such a noob.