Q-Factor. Nope I'm not talking about some goofy grown up musical with Muppets gone wrong, nor am I talking about a show where a right wing conservative talk show host gets a little happy, wink wink nudge nudge say no more say no more. Nope I'm talking about space. Which space you ask? Seeing as this is a blog about bicycling it likely is not hyper space, or inner space, or anything like that. Nope this is the space between one's feet. Some poo poo the idea of Q-Factor being a major player in bike fit. I admit I have not thought much about it until now. As many of you fair readers may know, I have struggled over the last few years with a left knee that is a little contankerous. At the behest of my Orthapedic doc I went and got a $400 dollar bike fit and pedal stroke coaching session which increased my speed dramatically and did help a bit but the pain was still there although not so pronounced as before. More recently you know I have been experimenting with shims under the cleat to angle my foot a bit and you know that this has also helped. But the other day I read something interesting on the internet (yeah I know you can't believe everything you read on the internet) and it seemed to strike home.
The gist was this, folks who ride with their knee splayed out, often do this because their feet are too close together. Hmmm. To believe this cockamamy theory you would need to of course believe the silly idea that everyone's hips and feet were not identical and perhaps need different configurations of pedals and cranks. What kind of crazy half baked idea would that be huh? Well, being the type of guy who occasionally opens his mind I entertained this idea and again revisited the idea of a product called knee savers. Supposedly, by moving the foot out from the crank, the knee and foot get better alignment and the knee actually goes in. Yeah right! I'm going to move my knee in by moving the foot OUT..... yeah, like that makes sense. Still, not wanting to be called a Q-Prude I decided that perhaps, on a dark morning, when no one was looking, all by myself, I might try one of these knee savers. Just to keep an open mind you know, then no one could call me Q-Phobic.
Friday night, after the kids went to bed, and my wife was away with her Mom doing Scrapbooking girly things, and I was finally alone, I snuck out into the garage, pulled the large manilla envelope off of the work bench and pulled the odd little steel adapter out of the packaging. Then I did something a little different. I held it in my hand, and searched for about 15 minutes for a pedal wrench. Of course, since the fitting goes over the end of the pedal spindle it takes a larger wrench which I eventually figured out (hey it was late). Then with a little tapping and a minimum of swearing I had the pedal off the bike and was working the fitting onto the end of it. It was a tight fit but tight is good with pedals, lets just say it is nicer to watch Tchaikovsky's holiday ballet then live it when your pedal suddenly pops off when you stand up to hammer a hill. So I screwed the pedal in and left my bike in the garage overnight to get used to it's new Q-Factor orientation.
Climbing was in order. Lots of climbing. Climbing climbing climbing. End of the pavement sort of climbing. Uh, well, the alarm said end of pavement, but the snooze said Usery Repeats (and maybe the cold morning had something to do with it too) . Usery repeats it was! Just for flavor I decided to climb through Las Sendas first though. I am pleased to say that a trip up through Las Sendas to the very top will get you 400' of climbing and if you are me with increased Q-Factory, no knee pain. Hmmm. Can't believe it. Better go try a few repeats on the backside. So up the front and over the back I go. I push it hard and still no knee pain. On the second repeat my back is starting to twinge a bit but it is not the left side of my back like it usually is, it's centered now. I discover that if I sit on the front of the seat that this pain is greatly reduced. Down and up for another repeat.
At 3444' of strenuous climbing in under 35 miles I was a poofed Paul. I haven't climbed nearly that much since last July when I did the Dirty Mogollon Madness permanent with Mike Sturgill. I am pleased to say, that although by any stretch of the imagination my knee should be twinging after a workout like that, it wasn't. In fact, at times when it felt like my knee was splaying out because it felt natural I would look down and find that it was right where it should be. Huh....who'd a thunk it? Moving your foot out to move the knee in. Crazy. Anyway, maybe it's still too soon to tell, but I think the knee saver on the left pedal might be a keeper. Even it does look a little Q----factorish.