On May 21st, I cycled 66 miles, my longest ride to date. A couple of weeks after that, I rode 50. Two weeks later, I rode a mere 22. But on that ride I pushed the pace up a 7% hill and felt some soreness in my left quad. I thought nothing of it.
Until the following weekend when I rode a hilly 40 mile route. At first the same muscle felt stiff and eventually it was full-on pain. I had to go one-legged for a while and I also stopped for a while. It seemed like it hurt less if I only "pushed" rather than "pushed and pulled" but it hurt no matter what. So I took the following weekend off and then rode a short 20 miles the next weekend. But the stiffness and pain were still lurking even on that short ride.
By now it was 7/10 and I decided I had an overuse injury and I needed some time off. So I rested. A sprained ankle and a calf strain increased my rest time until 8/21 when I finally went out again.
That ride was interesting. For 45 minutes I thought I was fine but the last 20 the same muscle started to get sore. I didn't feel stiff this time, just tired. I wondered if I was just out of shape but that didn't really make sense given the history above. So a few days later I headed to the bike shop where I was fitted to see if they had any ideas. Maybe I have a bio-mechanical problem.
My fitter noticed right away that my seat was tilted upwards and felt that could cause an issue. I had put the seat on myself which bolsters the theory. But I did so back in April when 50-mile rides were a regular occurrence which harms it. He said the back bolt was loose so perhaps it had shifted over time. Then his buddy came by. Upon hearing part of the story he asked if my issue was with the "teardrop" muscle. I asked what that was and it turns out he guessed exactly where I am having pain! (If you look down at your knee and flex your quad, it's the muscle just to the inside of your kneecap.)
After my fitting I didn't have time to ride so I didn't get to test the seat-angle theory until today. For the first 30 minutes, I was worried that there was no improvement. I felt the beginnings of stiffness coming on. But as I continued the stiffness mostly went away. There was still a little bit but I felt much, much better than last time out. Very exciting. I may be cured!
I'm somewhat convinced that it was never tiredness I was experiencing but 100% a bio-mechanical problem. Sometimes today I pedaled hard and it didn't hurt or feel stiff. Other times I pedaled lightly and I felt a bit of discomfort. And other times they coincided. My best guess is there is something still wrong mechanically though it has mostly been alleviated.
Maybe when I am sitting upright there is something awkward in my movement. It's all kind of a guessing game at this point. So the next few rides I'll spend more or less time up and down and see what happens. I'll build up conservatively and no more pushing up the hills! Here's hoping it really is better because I've got something coming in March that I'll talk about later.