Hincapie Fondo, Climbing and Knee Issues

Hey all, had a wonderful time at the Hincapie Gran Fondo this weekend. From the Midwest and never done any climbs like that!!

Thought the Gran Fondo plan was great, tho I should have done the strength training!

Question - on the first climb, the front, top, outsides of my knees started hurting and got worse throughout the day, making it a real struggle to finish. Never had much in the way of knee problems before. Was doing a TON of hard work at low cadence (easiest gear almost the whole time!). Likely a result of my first time climbing like this or could it be a fit issue? Any feedback is welcome!

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In my experience, there are two things. One is doing too much too soon with respect to low cadence high torque. The body needs time to adapt so you need to start gradually with short lower effort climbs and over months gradually work toward longer harder climbs. Next thing is bike fit. There are guides and rules of thumb on-line, and you may have already had a fit done, but depending on how long ago and how you and your riding might have changed since then, a followup might be a good idea.

Edit: I should add that once it starts hurting like you describe, there’s an injury that will require time to heal, and it needs to heal before you start stressing it again. If you ride and it starts hurting again, the injury is getting prolonged and may worsen.


More specifically for the knee (as my old army knees know all too well) cleat fit and positioning. What is your foot/shoe alignment like in relation to your pedals? At the midline of your downstroke, where is your knee in relation to your foot?

Lots of good research and articles out there on cleat/shoe alignment - and as @Saddlesaur mentioned - would be included in a general bike fitting. But knee positioning over your foot is one of the key alignment issues relating to knee pain. And poor relative positioning, combined with low cadence/high torque efforts…like hill climbs…I’ve found is one of the main drivers of knee pain on the bike.

if you drop a washer on a string off the front of your knee, your knee should not be ahead of the pedal spindle at any point in your pedal stroke. Short term efforts like sprints and getting up out of the saddle are one thing, but having your knee consistently out ahead of the midline significantly overstresses the knee.


Good Captain, I was going to recommend a complete fit using visual technology (Retüel is only one type). That way the fitter can look at how your knee tracks and make appropriate adjustments throughout the entire cleat/shoe/saddle configuration. I had made some major changes to my cleat placement that ended up almost tearing a tendon off of the bone due to stress. I will never completely heal from that mistake.

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Oh good lord yes, if you have access (and $$$), I would be all in!

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Hey Burnsey, Also from the Midwest I did Hincapie last week. About a month prior I was at Six Gap and suffered the same pain you describe. I did hip flexor flexible stretch yoga routines (including running specific) every day and road Hincapie pain free.

All of the input here has been very good and worth pursuing. FWIW this was my fifth Hincapie (Greenville) and I have done Six Gap 11 times and last month was my first knee pain.

Where are you at, I am near Indianapolis.