In the next two posts I am going to focus on transitions. While you are probably not going to win a race because of a fast transition, you can definitely lose quite a bit of time and momentum if you don’t think ahead. As with most aspects of triathlon, planning, preparation, and practice is key.
Let’s start with a few essential items that will make your transitions a lot easier, smoother and faster. First, wear a quick-drying outfit under your wetsuit that you will also want to bike and run in. Changing clothes while wet in a crowded transition area takes a lot of time and skills. Second, put some elastic laces on your running shoes that enable you to slip in easily. All you will have to do is pull on a string rather than trying to tie your shoe with wet, cold, and nervous fingers. Third, consider a race belt. Instead of having to pin the race number to your nice jersey and deal with pins under your wetsuit, you can clip it on your race belt and only wear it when you need to – on the run.
How to set up your transition area
I like to get to the race 2+ hours before the gun goes off. That might seem like a lot of time, but I have yet to get bored on race morning. Thanks to TriUtah’s awesome organization, we don’t need to fight over the best spot for our bike. They already assigned one to each of us. Just look for the card with your name and number on it.
Before racking your bike, make sure it is in the right gear. Unless the course starts out downhill, I, personally, prefer an easy gear at the beginning. Then spread out a towel on which you can step to quickly dry off your feet. Place your biking shoes, helmet, and sun glasses next to it. Then lay out your running shoes, race belt, visor, and socks (if you use them). Make sure all your items are laid out in a smart way. For example, open up your sun glasses and open the Velcro of your bike shoes. I also put an extra water bottle and a gel by the towel, just in case.
Please stay in your assigned area and remove all unnecessary and useless gear before heading to the swim start. If possible, put your big bag by the side of the rack or against the fence. If everyone is courteous and considerate, the transition area will be a lot less cluttered and thus easier to maneuver through.
On top of being a gear jungle, transition areas can also turn into a maze if you don’t know where you need to go. Make sure you know where the ‘swim in’, ‘bike out’, ‘bike in’, and ‘run out’ is. This will help you get through transition without “getting lost”. In order to be able to find their bike quickly after the swim, some people bring a unique helium balloon and tie it to their spot. Others bring sidewalk chalk and write on the ground. I like to keep it simple and count rows or trees or signs to find my way. It does not matter how you find your bike, as long as you can find it fast.