Knees In Need Of Next-Level Nurturing
I was recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. After waking up in the middle of the night six weeks ago in severe pain with a knee the size of a grapefruit, I’ve seen doctors, physiotherapists, had tests, got needles, done exercises, and tried to reduce the swelling – all in the hope it was just a little glitch in my lanky old body. Turns out it’s the real deal. Sadly!
Thankfully, though, the doctor advised me that my mechanics (muscles) are still fine, and that activity that clears my head and makes me happy should be continued for mental and bodily health. Off for a two-hour surf at a nearby point break – where my ability felt better than ever, with friends hooting waves, warm water, laughs, happiness – I came out euphoric. But I also had a harsh realisation about the severity of my condition, long-term medication, inflamed joints, muscle pain, life decisions, and the need to look after a body that, up until now, had been fairly bulletproof.
I needed another fix. Arriving home, my friend Sam was waiting. Well, actually he had already helped himself to my jerry can because he had run out of juice while taking a cute babe for a ride around the hills that afternoon on his Royal Enfield. It was golden hour, so we pulled my recently acquired (via Gumtree) 1977 DT175 and 1982 XR80 out for a few hot laps – knees stiff, but still doing the job; the DT screaming FASTER, FASTER around every corner. ‘This is something I cannot let go of,’ I thought to myself. After all, I’m 34, not 84.
Considering that back-story, it was a timely invitation from the guys at POD Active to come ride of Victoria’s best terrain and take part in the launch of their all-new K8 kneebrace. Now a man on a mission to cure and protect my body, the POD launch would be my first stab at an action sports activity; one that drives my passion in both career and leisure.
POD Active is an Australian company that specialises in lower limb joint protection for elite athletes and active people. The small POD team is obviously passionate about what they do, and the launch was coupled with their celebration of a decade of protective product innovation – all backed by scientific research, active testing and healthy recreation.
We spend the first day at the POD Active HQ in Geelong, where we learn the finer details about their new K8 Forged Carbon kneebraces, and bear witness to their new ligament suspending a KTM 1090 Adventure bike.
The next day, we saddled up early and headed to Paddy’s Swamp, out the back of Lorne, where Con from Otway Off-Road was there ready for action. Con grew up in the area and has been guiding tours for years, a gentleman and wizard of the bush, knowing all the best singletrails, challenges and fun trails to take.
Our rider group was made up of a healthy mix of dirt bike media representatives with not enough hours under their belt, POD Active’s Brett Nicholas and brand ambassadors, Daniel Chucky Sanders and Callum Norton, with Monza Imports’ legendary Scotty Runciman thrown in for moral support and comic encouragement.
We set out crossing the dirt-bike friendly Paddy’s Swamp, ripping into everything from sandy whoops to typical Aussie bush singletrail, with recent rain providing idyllic dust-free and fun mud conditions. We met with challenging hillclimbs – Pros blasted it, while us Joes tested the true strength of the K8 braces.
For example, I hit a snotty, torn up, slippery hill, lined with pine trees. On the first three attempts, I bounced off the bike, into trees and down the hill. And to their credit, the K8s kept my knees and leg intact, just as the brochure promised.
Let’s be honest here: I’m a relatively inexperienced off-road rider, and have had limited ride-time with kneebraces. The few kneebraces I have tried in the past (generally borrowed for a ride or two) all felt pretty bulky under my riding duds, made gripping the bike between my knees awkward, and left unsightly chaff marks on my lily-white legs. POD’s new K8s, on the other hand, offered a noticeably lower-profile fit. They’re light, felt comfortable from the get-go, didn’t migrate up or down my leg, and the patella guard did a particularly good job of minimising impacts to my knees (when falling on the things or simply kneeling down on the side of the trail). Plus they could be quickly and easily adjusted during the ride, once the straps bedded in. Incredibly, and despite multiple step-offs, my arthritic knees still felt pretty damn good the following day.
I look forward to comparing notes on these new K8 braces with the rest of the Transmoto team. The boys are all long-time kneebrace addicts, and I know they’re stinging to get their hands on this new unbreakable specimen from POD. Stay tuned for a more thorough review in the coming month or two.