Triathlon Transition

Triathlon Transition

Triathlon Transition

T1 and T2 or simply “transition”, is where you physically transition from one sport to another. T1 is the first triathlon transition when you go from swim to bike and T2 is the second triathlon transition when you go from bike to run.  It is characterized by bike racks and is also the place where you keep your items (e.g. – helmet, shoes, …)  that will take you from one sport to another.

Transition is often referred to as the 4th discipline in a triathlon. 

Your transition spot is where you rack your bike and is usually assigned by your race number. The races I’ve done give a range of numbers for one race and the “best” spot is supposed to be at the ends. You need to get in when transition opens for these coveted spots (races also specify when transition opens in their race instructions). I’ve been early and I’ve been late, and I really don’t have any preference, but most people definitely like to get to transition at opening time. Remember, the time the transition area officially closes is EARLIER than race start. 

I’m not a super fast transition girl, but I’m don’t make it a breakfast event either (in a sprint distance). So sharing some of my transition tips to help make this as smooth as possible.

Practice

Just like the other three areas, practicing the transition makes you fast! The more you practice, the more you can identify the areas you can cut seconds from. I’m sure fastest transition time winner at 16 seconds practices a ton!

Perfect your layout

Layout whatever you need and play around with the positioning that makes most sense to YOU. I keep my bike stuff (shoes and socks, helmet on top of bike shoes, sunglasses inside bike helmet) on the bottom half of the transition mat. And the running stuff (running shoes, race number belt, water and skirt) on the top part of the transition mat.

Triathlon Transition
How NOT to layout transition – rack bikes opposite and keep your mats opposite too.

 

Remember your spot

Remember where you racked your bike so you don’t spend time running around looking for it! Look for a landmark, a tree maybe, that you can spot as soon as you get out of the water. If nothing is available, count the number of racks from one end – go to the swim exit and do this so you can do a practice run from swim exit to your transition spot (Coach gave me this tip after I ran around looking for my spot!).
Don’t use movable objects like trashcans as spotters in case they get moved. 

Triathlon Transition
Transition in one of the local sprint triathlons in Atlanta. Source: PTS Sports

Breathe and Relax

While transition is not the time to sit down for breakfast and  you need to be speeding along, don’t get flustered. If you happen to fumble and lose a few seconds, that’s ok. Breathe through it. 

Get a good transition bag and a Checklist

You can write your own checklist or make one from http://triathlon.racechecklist.com/

A good transition bag that can hold all your stuff is a good investment. I got this bag for Mr. FauxTriathlete when he did his big race and I’m reusing that. A lot of my friends rave about the Ogio 9.0 transition bag. Ziploc baggies are my best friends while packing. I put the little things like sunscreen, bodyglide, lip balm, etc. in a baggie.

Triathlon Transition
Most importantly, be courteous and don’t knock off other people’s stuff in that mad rush. To win it or to finish it, we all want to enjoy and come back for more.


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  • When I race my road bike in tris (not often) I can spot it easily with the yellow bar tape. I keep thinking I should get some wild bar tape for my tri bike to help spot it.

  • Courtney@TriGirl Chronicles

    Yes to a good transition bag! I have the Ogio Endurance 9.0 and love it.

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