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Fit Files: Triathlon Fit For Janda Ricci-Munn

Fit Files: Triathlon Fit For Janda Ricci-Munn

I’ve known today’s fitting client well as he’s been my main training and tech talk partner for nearly 20 years. He also happens to be the guy that took 14 years away from triathlon, then showed up and won the Patriot Half Ironman this past summer. Needless to say that turned some heads, but for the guys like me that trained with him every week, this was a race we couldn’t wait to see and hear about. I had the ‘pleasure’ of training and racing against Janda Ricci-Munn decades ago, and while we both stopped racing triathlon around the same time we’d kept close with mountain bike rides (where he does all the beating down now…) and plenty of training talk as he juggled raising young kids, working full-time, and everything else life throws at you those years. He never let it go completely though keeping active on the mountain bike and surfski which kept his competitive edge sharp within reach if ever needed.

Fast forward to Patriot Half Ironman 2023, Janda would come out of the swim about 5min behind the leaders (this part of the story shocked nobody) and then held his own on the bike only losing a couple minutes to the fastest bikers. He’d built his tri bike himself pulling new and used parts together the preceding year deliberately keeping his approach to this race as “not serious”. However, once feet hit the pavement on the run, the show started and the whole race picture changed.

I still wish I was there to see the looks on everybody’s faces when a guy with his age “48” on the back of his calf ran past them. I had lots of customers and friends in this elite field, and these are among the fastest and most respected New England triathletes, so I at least got to hear the stories from a few of them on Janda’s arrival. Triathlete’s tend to be the most humble of all athletes, and also the most complimentary of their competitors, but don’t mistake the calm and humble demeaner as they all have a tenacious competitive drive inside them.  Janda’s 1:16 run split carried him to the elite overall win and now he had no choice but continuing his new triathlon journey to see where it takes him.

While the last year we went back and forth plenty on position changes and the latest and greatest tri equipment, and a number of photos and videos of his position where I offered guidance from afar, I didn’t have the chance to spend time with him on the size cycle until now. Now, Janda has already made a number of changes to his position based on lashings we gave him when we saw his bike photos after Patriot. Janda doesn’t buy the photos, so I will give credit where credit it due and post his watermarked Patriot photo below:

He actually looks comfortable in this photo. He ran very well off the bike and according to him he even held back a little on the run respecting the distance and time since his last race. However, if you’re showing up in this elite field gun fight it wouldn’t hurt to bring a more aero weapon than this. He had 2.5cm of saddle to pads drop, and while higher positions are ‘in’, they’re not that in. We had some work to do which became a longer term process. He’d follow-up his Patriot win with a trip to Daytona Florida in December and win the long course national championship for his age group  – an event that a separated shoulder during a casual VT50 mountain bike race almost caused him to miss.

Size Cycle Fitting Session

When I got him on the size cycle, he already looked a lot better. He had a new Cervelo PS frameset which accommodated his long torso far better than the Argon18 frame he’d grabbed and built up for last season. He was lower in front, and had angled the extensions up a ton so he could crouch behind his hands. He wasn’t that comfortable in this position though and had doubts he could hold it for 56 miles and/or still run well off the bike.

At this point in time, I didn’t need to adjust much. We tried a number of things to see what changes could make him more comfortable and also make him more aerodynamic. He’d found a saddle position that worked well for him already so when all was said and done he was only 2mm further rearward. The extension angle he came in with wouldn’t allow him to see the road in front of him so change was needed there. Simply reducing the extension angle opened what appeared to be too much space between his arms and head. The key with extension angle as I’ve found is if you have them angled up more than 10degrees you really want them close to your head or risk actually making yourself slower. I often use the analogy of that dreaded “tombstone kicking” a swim coach once had us do where you hold the kickboard vertically in front of you and then kick the length of the pool. Try it, you won’t like it as it takes an eternity to reach the other end, and you’ll think twice about possibly risking too much extension angle.

We found some tweaks that helped where we dropped his front end, reduced his extension angle, and made him even longer. Things fell into place, he could easily see over his hands and his head sat naturally in that position so he felt he could ride for a long time without effort. We tried 3 different aero helmets on him which all appeared to work well – common candidates the Kask Mistral, the Bell Javelin, and the POC Cerebral. The Bell tends to work best when it’s flush with your back, the Kask Mistral can work flush or elevated from your back, and the POC is supposed to allow for all kinds of head movement. Janda will do some Chung aero testing this Spring with many test offs between these 3 helmets to determine which one works best on him. The helmet itself is just a piece of the puzzle. Different body shapes require a different puzzle piece to make that body + helmet shape as sleek as it can be.

You can see a photo below showing his position coming in today after changes he made since Daytona on the left, and where we finished on the right. The key take aways from the final position on the right is a little less cramped in his torso, more relaxed, easier line of sight over his hands, and just a fast looking yet still relatively high position!

While the red and black Fit Werx kit in itself is fast, Janda’s final position on the right looks fast too!

Experimenting With Different Crank Lengths

Janda runs shorter cranks than he used to at 170mm. We tried 165s and he felt he lost some power in his hips/glutes and the 170s just make it feel easier. He’d experimented with this before. He’s over 5’10” so the 170s cranks appeared plenty short for him. Keep in mind we’re often reducing crank arm length for triathletes to make them more comfortable in the aerobars as studies show you can make the same amount of power with a range of crank lengths. Janda is another example of once you go short enough, there’s diminishing if any return to going shorter.

Janda’s new saddle to pads drop is about half the drop I set him up with in 2008 when we were all riding much lower.

Janda won’t read this until it’s posted (I told him I’d post a photo), but you can’t post the photo without the amazing story behind his journey and success which is impressing and inspiring so many of us.

Thanks for reading and good luck in 2024 Janda!


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