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“I went to Ivan for a general fit consultation,” Kuss said last spring. “I’d never had a bike fit before, and looking at my position on the bike, you could probably tell — low saddle, really upright, more of a mountain bike position than an efficient road position. Compared to other clients, my fit sessions were maybe a bit more general, but Ivan really took a look into all the details. We checked different saddles, different insole varieties, all while gradually changing aspects of the bike fit so it wasn’t a complete shock to the system and my tight hamstrings.”
Prior to getting a bike fit, the three-time U.S. collegiate mountain bike champion had clearly found success in North American stage races with Rally, placing top-10 in the Tours of Utah, Gila, Alberta, and Beauce, as well as the Colorado Classic.
Kuss, a native of Durango, Colorado, shopped around with a few fitters before selecting O’Gorman, who operates out of Niwot, Colorado, near Boulder. O’Gorman worked for Retül for many years before opening his own shop, where he caters to everyone from weekend warriors to Olympic athletes. His specialty is combining strength with good posture, to help riders find a position that is comfortable, sustainable, powerful, and efficient.
O’Gorman has a wealth of technology at his disposal. He uses BioRacer software, a Retül Müve SL fit bike, 3D motion-capture, and a metabolic cart to measure physiological markers in real-time on the bike. But the fancy tech pieces are just tools, O’Gorman insists, and understanding the rider’s goals, limitations, and comfort are the primary things.
“I see the full spectrum from moms after kids wanting to get healthy again to Tokyo-bound athletes. That’s wonderful; every fit is different,” O’Gorman said. “There are about eight things we can do, but usually we just do the two or three things that make the most sense.”
O’Gorman has done work like balancing aerodynamic gains on a track bike for loss in power to help riders and brands develop cockpits.
“The biggest benefit of working with Ivan was realizing that a good bike fit is important, but the rider needs to back it up with the right strength and flexibility,” Kuss said. “Before I started working with Ivan, my back and hip flexors were a bit unstable, and he immediately referred me to Erin Carson at [local gym] Rally Sport to help with some strength work so my new position would be sustainable and more comfortable.”
“With Ivan, it’s more than slamming the saddle up a bit and playing with a fancy graph,” he said. “There’s a personal touch where he takes into account what the rider is most comfortable with and acknowledges each rider’s position intricacies.”
Kuss said after the Dauphiné (where he won the final stage) that his position is still not very aerodynamic — “even less than guys who are taller than me” — and that his saddle is still relatively low and his reach is short compared to that of his teammates. “I need to work more on my flexibility and stability to be able to make power in an aerodynamic position,” he said.
While O’Gorman works with a number of high-level athletes, he doesn’t do it as a promotional stunt; the riders, or their teams, pay for the performance investment. Kuss was no different.
“Yes,” Kuss said of his fit session. “I happily paid full price!”