There’s loads of information available and some great footage on YouTube showing how to do it, and better still, how not to do it. Sometimes the practical gems we learn over a coffee or work out for ourselves just don’t get written down so here are a few.

  • If you travelled to the race by car/other (ie you haven’t ridden your bike) test ride it for 5-10 minutes as things nearly always get moved during transportation and you don’t want to set off and find your brake block is rubbing on a rim.
  • Leave the bike in the gear you want to start off in.
  • Attach your bike shoes to your bike.
  • Put numbers on you, the bike, your helmet etc. When entering transition it is likely they will check.
  • Get to the transition area early with everything you need in a box or bag.
  • Make sure you have read the race instructions as many are prescriptive about what you can and can’t take into transition. Less is more!
  • Check the pressure in your bike tyres before going to transition.
  • Put on sunscreen.
  • Body Lube your neck if you are wearing a wet suit to prevent chafing. Likewise do your arms if you are wearing a sleeveless model.
  • Body Lube other sensitive parts, like nipples and groin, for the bike and run.
  • Don’t use Vaseline if you are wearing a wet suit – it’s bad for the neoprene. If you don’t have Runner’s Lube or Body Glide, or something similar. (Waitrose Baby Bottom Butter is good)
  • If you have to do a number of laps, it’s worth using a method to count the laps. I put elastic bands on my aero bars and slide them down to the bottom after completing each lap.
  • The bike is the only place you can easily take on food and drink so attach what you need. If you’re doing a short distance don’t weigh yourself down with a full bottle of drink unless you know you’ll drink it.
  • Attach gels/gel blocks/bars to the bike so they can easily be removed without littering. I always stuff gel wrappers up the legs of my trisuit shorts. I never seem to notice them when I’m racing.
  • You will need to be wearing your bike helmet, fastened up, when you enter transition to set up. Helmets are often inspected to check straps are done up enough and correctly.
  • Transition may be open only to the participants – make sure you can carry everything in yourself.
  • The bike racks can be l-o-n-g. Sometimes they are numbered. If not think about where to setup. Note any landmarks. Closer to the swim in means the less you have to run from the swim and out on the run, but longer you have to go in and out with your bike. Closer to the bike exit means longer swim in and run out run, but less you have to go with your bike.
  • Setting up near the bike exit will mean a shorter transition time, all things being equal.
  • Going from the back of the bike to the front, lay out your bike gear closest to you and the run gear closest to the rack.
  • Open up your bike shoes and running shoes by loosening the straps/laces. Putting talc inside helps get them on.
  • If wearing socks roll them down to the ankle – it makes them easier to get on.
  • Unbuckle the bike helmet strap, put the straps over the side, and put the helmet on your handlebars (if it will safely stay there). Undo your bike gloves and put in the helmet. Place your sunglasses, open, on top of the gloves.
  • As soon as you have everything set up, walk to the Swim in. Walk back to your bike. Count the racks, aisles, etc. Look for “landmarks” to point you to your rack. Go down your rack to find your bike. Repeat.
  • Now walk from your bike to the Bike exit/entrance. Thinking about doing this with your bike. See how to get out and where you can mount your bike after exiting, and where you have to dismount coming back in. Now walk back to your bike. Look for “landmarks” in this direction to point you to your rack and to your run gear. Find your bike. Repeat.
  • Now walk from your bike to the Run out. Think about the best way to get there. Repeat.
  • Remember, it will all look different when it’s full of competitors and your blood has pooled in the middle of your body during your swim (that’s what makes people feel drunk or dizzy when they exit the water).
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