If you're a spectator, watching a transition area in a triathlon is a great time, but it can be a den of chaos for an athlete. Before we talk about tips and tricks for getting through this gauntlet, we should get familiar with how these areas are set up.
In most triathlons, the transition area is located somewhere between the end of the swim and the start of the bike ride and consists of any of various arrangements of bicycle racks and entrance/exit points. This can mean a short walk from the water's edge or a run of a few hundred yards. Most organizers try to control the mayhem with specific entrances and exits for each sport -- and by ensuring the athletes all move in the same direction within the same space.
After the race has started and you're heading into the swim-cycle transition (T1), start thinking about where your bike is. When you get out of the water, the first thing you're going to do is make your way to your bicycle and remove your wetsuit, if you're wearing one.
Once you've removed your wetsuit, you need to put on your helmet and shoes, make sure you have water and that your race number in its proper place (the event rules should tell you where this is). These are required either because the regulations or your body demand it. There are many optional things you can do, which we'll discuss later in the article. Sunglasses, lotion and even dirt can all play a big role in your transition. We're talking seconds here -- no detail is too small.
Once you've removed your swimming gear and finished prepping for the bicycle ride, walk or run your bicycle out of the transition area. If you get on the bike too soon, you could be disqualified. Know the rules for each race.
Next, we'll take a look at the second transition.