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New to road biking, 250 miles in and experiencing knee pain

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

New to road biking, 250 miles in and experiencing knee pain

Old 07-29-12, 02:34 PM
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Tgiese1
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New to road biking, 250 miles in and experiencing knee pain

The bike that I am riding on is a new 2012 TREK 1.1 with the cheapest Shimano clip pedals and the cheapest Bontrager cleats. I did not get my bike professionally fit yet because I'm so new to road biking and just wanting to get a feel for everything. Now that I am into it, I am starting to experience pain just above my left knee, but not the right (this may be from a previous high school football injury). I have tried adjusting the seat height on my own and can't seem to diagnosis the problem. I will be taking my bike to get fitted at the Madison WI west TREK store. But the question I want to ask is, should I just try to sneak by with a cleat and saddle adjustment ($60) or should I go with the Pro-Fit fitting ($160)? I read that someone bought the Pro-fit (same store, same location) and all they did was adjust the cleats and saddle and his bike feels amazing and had remorse for not just going with the cleat and saddle adjustment.
So, could my knee pain that I'm experiencing be solved from just a simple cleat and saddle adjustment, or could it be something more than that which would need further fitting?

Thanks.
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Old 07-29-12, 02:55 PM
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Make sure the bike fits. One problem beginners often have is trying to push too big a gear at slower rpm,s. If this sounds like you than ease up on the pressure/effort and increase the rpm's.
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Old 07-29-12, 06:30 PM
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Firstly, there's almost certainly nothing wrong with the cleats and pedals you picked out. I learned to go clipless on SPDs and have stuck with them all these years -- even have them mounted on my Giant TCR3, which the shop from which I bought it couldn't believe I didn't want something "sleeker." With pedals and cleats, go with what works for you.

As for your broader question, given your situation, I would go with the pro fitting now that you've determined a fit is what you need and want. Look at it this way, the only downside is you may have spent more than you need to ensure your comfort, knee health, etc. Those are odds that, personally, I would take.

One piece of advice I would give is that many riders, especially those new to the sport, will always put their seat too low because they go for a height that will come close to allowing much of their foot to easily touch the ground. I was amazed when I was having the same issue with my first road bike, went back to my shop, and initially rode on the new adjustment. It just felt much too high. But once you get used to it and comfortable with the fact that, indeed, you can handle your bike in any circumstance, you appreciate the improved feel.
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Old 07-29-12, 06:46 PM
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Get the pro fit without help it can be a long painful learning process to get it right. I have Knee problems myself and as little as 1/2 inch forward or back makes the difference of being able to ride 10 mile or a 100 miles in my case anyway. If nothing else you will get an idea of what will get you close. Small adjustments can be made after as you develop. Good luck and don't give up it is a fit problem.
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Old 07-29-12, 07:13 PM
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I recommend the Pro-Fit. If you do the $60 fitting and it doesnt work or your shoulders/arms start experiencing problems your going to have to pay $160 in addition. There is tons of info on the web and here about fitting but I found getting a proper fit the a better idea. I must have spent hours and many rides trying to dial things in, threw in the towel, got fitted and things were much better. With the pro-fit will they makes tweeks later on if you still experience problems?
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Old 07-29-12, 07:25 PM
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Another vote for the pro fit. The pain you are describing sounds to me like your saddle is too low, or your cadence is too low, or both.
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Old 07-29-12, 08:18 PM
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I recommend the pro fit too if you are already having knee issues. A picture of you on the bike might get you some free feedback on what is wrong. There are also sites that help you do a self fit. A seat that is too low is going to be most painful for the knees. Google is your friend. This site, http://www.jimlangley.net/crank/bikefit.html, covers several different fitting parameters. And Peter White, http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm can't be bad. I would do some reading and measuring and make some changes to get closer.

I have old and bad knees and worry about them giving out. I've been trying to spin faster, but surprisingly, I find that increases pain on the backside of the pedal stroke. Go figure :-(
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Old 07-29-12, 08:20 PM
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Raise the saddle! And pro fit. I had knee pain like you're describing, and its from the saddle being too low or too far back. I've raised mine about 2", and the relief was immediate. Pro fit.
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Old 07-29-12, 08:31 PM
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Thank you all for your advice. I think I will try to play around with the saddle a little bit more and see if that will help, but I will definitely be getting it professionally fitted soon. Still can't really make up my mind because a lot of the problem seems to just be the saddle or the cleats.
What else would be adjusted and fitted if I went with the Pro-fit besides the saddle and cleats? I'm not really trying to bust out 40 mile rides everyday, kind of just looking to train for speed and sprint duathlons and triathlons. I just don't have the time or money to be doing that right now because I am a full time worker and a part time student.
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Old 07-29-12, 08:38 PM
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One thing that is often overlooked is the need for rehab/healing. You should give yourself a bit of rest, or if you can stay strong/resist the urge to hammer ride very easily in lit gears at high rpm until your knee has recovered. Even if you fine tune your fit, if you're still injured you're not going to feel much difference yet.
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Old 07-29-12, 10:21 PM
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Since it sounds like $$ is an issue, what you need to do is just ride with some people who have a little experience. Most likely, you're doing something (or multiple things) really wrong and it will be obvious. Your equipment is fine.

If you spring for the pro fit, they're basically going to use geometry to adjust you to your bike. That's a good point of departure, but chances are you'd need to come in multiple times to really get things dialed in so I wouldn't get the fit unless it includes the ability to come back.
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Old 07-29-12, 10:28 PM
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That is a great point that you suggest if the Pro-Fit comes with future adjustments (if needed). I will be asking that before I throw any money down. Thanks for pointing that out! I did email the guy that I am setting up the appointment with, just waiting for him to respond.
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Old 07-29-12, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Beaker View Post
One thing that is often overlooked is the need for rehab/healing. You should give yourself a bit of rest, or if you can stay strong/resist the urge to hammer ride very easily in lit gears at high rpm until your knee has recovered. Even if you fine tune your fit, if you're still injured you're not going to feel much difference yet.
Listen to this one, and I'd say urgently unless you're willing to fight through the pain for months. Knee pain only gets worse when you push it.
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Old 07-29-12, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Listen to this one, and I'd say urgently unless you're willing to fight through the pain for months. Knee pain only gets worse when you push it.
Should I do some cross training in the meantime? Like short runs or something?
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Old 07-29-12, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Tgiese1 View Post
Should I do some cross training in the meantime? Like short runs or something?
Don't get me lyin' about that! Pain I know about ... but if it's just started, in just a few days and it will be ok IME.
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