Community Sports

Cycling book chronicles stories of relief and tips on saving knees

Cycling coach Robin Robertson helps Kevin Williamson adjust his cycling speedometer before they start their training session for the Mt. Baker Hill Climb on Tuesday, August 10, 2010, at Lake Padden Park. Robertson has written a book about cycling and saving damaged knees.
Cycling coach Robin Robertson helps Kevin Williamson adjust his cycling speedometer before they start their training session for the Mt. Baker Hill Climb on Tuesday, August 10, 2010, at Lake Padden Park. Robertson has written a book about cycling and saving damaged knees. The Bellingham Herald

At 24 years old, Robin Robertson turned to cycling in an attempt to save her damaged knees and now she hopes to use the skills she learned to help others who suffer from pain.

Robertson’s book, “Healthy Knees Cycling,” launched on Amazon on Thursday, Jan. 14, and within a day was No. 1 in multiple book categories and five countries.

“I’m shocked really,” she said. “But also really pleased because I just want to help people with bad knees.”

Robertson, 54, is the owner and manager of the Bellingham Tennis Club and has taught cycling there for nearly a decade but put a stronger emphasis on healthy knees in the last year.

From the speed and difficulty of pedaling to posture and stance, cycling correctly can have many benefits for a wide range of knee pain, and those details are what she included in her book, she said.

“I want to give other people with knee issues, whether it’s arthritis or they’re recovering from a surgery or they have a congenital condition, hope they can have pain relief and stay healthy and active,” Robertson said. “Or, give them a way to become healthy and active.”

In her book Robertson exemplifies one couple in their seventies who began coming to her healthy knees classes and recently went on a five-day cycling tour along the Danube river with their children and grandchildren.

“Isn’t that cool,” she said. “To think that you can do an active vacation with your grandchildren?”

Robertson stands strongly by her belief that no one is too old to begin cycling.

When she was a senior at Western Washington University, Robertson was about to enter her final track season when her doctor told her she could no longer do high-impact sports.

She was devastated.

At the peak of her running career, she had to reevaluate who she was as an athlete or risk knee replacements and limited mobility.

“I think I would have gone insane had I not stayed active,” she said. “Going from being a high school and collegiate athlete to doing nothing simply wasn’t a conceivable option for me. ‘No’ is not usually an answer I deal with well, so I had to find a way to do the things I wanted to do.”

Her doctor suggested cycling.

At that point, Robertson had already had two knee surgeries. She was born with too much cartilage and had her first surgery at eight years old. Now, she has had eight knee surgeries but she is proud to say that she has not needed a replacement.

Rather than limiting her, cycling has opened Robertson up to activities that reduce her pain and give her new experiences.

One of her favorite memories is when she and her husband quit their jobs and traveled the world on a 10-month cycling tour, she said.

“I think of that all the time,” Robertson said. “I loved the time we spent on our bikes and it was amazing and eye opening and we met so many wonderful people along the way.”

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