Friday, July 19, 2013

Genu Valgum

Genu Valgum isn't Latin for Fred's favorite three letter acronym, GSV. No, Fred's TLA translated into Latin would be Juniperus Communis Hoohah Inebriat (JCVI).


Anyway, Genu Valgum is the medical terminology for having what's commonly known as "knock-knee". Apparently, I have a mild case of this.

To say I have a mild case of this may or may not be correct. You see, I haven't officially been diagnosed with this condition. Yet. Not unless Chris Spence has a medical degree that I'm unaware of.

I must admit that this whole thread is a kludge, right from the beginning. So let's back up and take it straight from the top.

My Physical Therapist, Mike Bartels, was present at a recent Wednesday night group ride. That was good, because for the past few months I've been meaning to ask him why my groin/abductors have been as tight as a bear trap. The internet suggested poor core strength as a possible reason. When I brought this up to PT Mike, he said that six pack abs does nothing for a spine that is as crooked as question mark. Now, I could have told you that Mike was going to say that. He specializes in posture and alignment issues. What I needed to next, he continued, was to schedule an appointment at his office...

Some 90 minutes later, after we had all beaten the living snot out of each other in hills, heat and humidity, Jordan remarked that Shim and Jonathan Wait's heads bob up and down when they climb hills. Shim and Jonathan wanted nothing of his feedback. I rolled up next to Jordan and asked for comments on my riding form. Jordan said that I was smooth as butter in the saddle while climbing. When I heard that, I flashed my most annoying grin toward Shim, gloating and such.

Chris Spence then rode up next to me. "You want to know what's wrong with your form?"

"Tell me."

Your knees."

"My knees?"

"Yes, I've noticed this for a long time. When you ride, your knees are really close to your top tube instead of being directly over your pedals. You should ride with your knees over your pedals for optimal biomechanical function."

It's funny that after all these years of cycling, I am only now hearing about my knock knees. Thanks for the feedback, Chris. Seriously, I appreciate it.

For the past couple weeks I've been mulling this over. Not so much the knock knees. What I've been mostly baffled about is that my own teammates, who ride with me every day, have let me pedal around all knock-kneed and stuff all this time. I'm looking at you, Shim. And you too, Savery. And Fred? You were there from day one. You could have prevented all of this silliness before it even started.

Having good form has always been important for me. Mostly, because I didn't want to look stupid. If I could somehow manage to look reasonably cool, then even better.

Back when I was kid, I tried to emulate the running style of my bff Steve Missey. Steve ran pigeon-toed. In and of itself, that wasn't so fantastic. But after scoring goals in soccer, he ran back to midfield with his toes pointed inward. That was it for me. If running pigeon-toed resulted in scoring, then that was the only way to run.

More recently, I knew better than to ride my bicycle in the style of Eric Brunt. Don't get me wrong. I have a lot of respect for Eric. He's as strong as a bull on a bicycle. But I noticed a few years ago at the Twilight Crit that when he hammered the pedals, his head bobbed up and down. It didn't look right and I swore on the spot that I'd never be a head-bobber. That's why I'm smooth as butter, Jordan. True Story.

But Spence's comment a couple weeks ago was a shocker. I didn't know that about my knees. I turned to the internet to research knock kneed cycling. To my surprise, the netizen had nothing but praise for riding with knees close to the top tube. One forum user even claimed that the entire peloton rides knock-kneed nowadays.

So in conclusion, I'm confused. Maybe Spence was incorrect in his assessment of my riding form. Perhaps Shim, Savery and Fred have known all along that riding knock kneed is where it's at.

Awe, the heck with it. If it's good for Tour de France, it must be good for me, right?

Hey Spence, the thing I've just started noticing about your form is that your knees are too far away from the top tube. You should consider the Genu Valgum Riding style. It's the rage.

Knock-kneed and pigeon toed, but no head bobbing!
Team Sky Chris Froome riding knock-kneed

Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins and Christian Knees, um,knock-kneed at this year's Giro
The entire team Sky all aero-kneed and such at the  TdF TTT


  1. Yes - you should try and adopt Chris Froome form. You'll need to get a kid's bike for that and make sure your seat is about 15 cm too low. I honestly had never noticed anything bad about your form. As far as from day one goes, all I noticed was you naturally spun at a high cadence, which is generally considered a good thing. As far as "head bob," watch Tom Boonen. I think his head is somehow propelling him.

  2. Your knees point in because you ride pigeon-toed. True story. I'm behind you, like, all the time. Gotta trust me here.