29 Sep 2017

TRI:TIPS MASTERING TRIATHLON TRANSITIONS

Many see triathlon as a four-discipline sport comprising the swim, bike, run and transitions. Transitions, where you move from either the swim to bike (T1) or bike to run (T2), are where you can save easy time. Increasing stroke rate, power output or run cadence takes hours and hours of committed training. But practise the processes of transitions and you can save minutes in no time at all. Time for a transition revamp…

Minimal gear

Limit the amount of gear you take into the transition area to the basics. Yes, you need your bike, bike shoes, helmet, run shoes, sunglasses, nutrition and a towel, but you don’t need to turn up with your whole triathlon wardrobe. Key to this is checking the weather forecast beforehand. If sunshine’s guaranteed, you really don’t need that heavy-duty jacket!

Precise layout

With nominal transition space you must efficiently lay out what equipment you bring. That’s where your towel comes in, acting as a marker to designate your area. You can rack your bike from the handlebars, aerobars or saddle. If you have quality aerobars, like Vision’s top-end TriMax carbon we’d recommend racking your bike by the saddle. You can then rest your helmet upside down on your aerobars (with your sunglasses inside), ready for swift attachment post swim. If you don’t have aerobars, you could place your helmet on the saddle or beside your bike, next to your run shoes.

Rubber bands

You have two options for your bike shoes. Place them beside your bike or, if looking to save time, connect them to your pedals and tie two thin elastic bands though the heel loops. Spin the pedals until the driveside shoe is at 3 o’clock and the other is at 9 o’clock, before stretching the driveside shoe band around the front mech and the non-driveside shoe’s band around the rear brake or quick-release lever. So long as the bands are thin, they’ll snap as soon as you start pedalling.

Remember where you are

Picture the scene. You rack your gear in a near-empty transition. You head off to perform your warm-up, await your wave start and then go! It’s swim time. On exiting the water, you’re confronted with hundreds of bikes. You've no idea where yours is and lose precious time! That’s why before you race, it's vital to walk/run through from the water's edge to your racking so you can visualise your path when it’s race time.

Wetsuit removal

As soon as you're out of the water, you can begin the wetsuit removal process. First up, lift your goggles but leave them on as you'll need both hands. Run toward transition while pulling your wetsuit zip down and your arms out. Now remove your cap and goggles. Still running, pull your wetsuit down to your hips. On arrival at your transition spot, pull your wetsuit down as far as it’ll go. Before the race, you should have lubricated your legs with wetsuit lube to help removal. This particularly helps your feet, which may require you to hold the racking to remove one leg. Put the free leg down onto the wetsuit to help you ease the other leg out. You're now wetsuit free and can get bike ready…

Adhere to T1 rules

Remember the golden rules of T1. Firstly, you must put your helmet on before touching your bike. Slip your glasses on while you’re at it. Next you must push your bike, usually running, to what’s known as the mount line before you can leap onto your saddle and ride off. Mount too early and you could incur a time penalty.

Bike dismount

As you approach T2, you must dismount by the dismount line. You'll then run holding your bike by its bars or saddle, either in your bike shoes or barefoot, after leaving your shoes clipped into the pedals. (The quickest method.) At your transition spacing, rack your bike and remove your helmet. You then just have to slip into your run shoes. This is where talcum powder and triathlon laces come in handy. Sprinkling talc into your shoes reduces friction if running without socks, while triathlon laces tighten shoes much quicker than traditional laces. All that’s left is to run, run, run your way to a new PB!