How to Transition in a Triathlon

Triathlon Transition Tips

The first element of any successful transition is preparation. Use a triathlon bag to stay organized and arrive early enough to set up properly.

Some races preassign a specific location to each athlete, but if allowed, choose a spot at the end of one of the racks. This will let you quickly locate your bike, give you more room to transition and help avoid destruction if the rack collapses from too much weight. If your bike does end up in the middle of a rack, carefully note the location so you won't waste time searching for it later.

Hanging your bike by the front of the seat provides good stability and access. Place your helmet on your bike's handlebars if it's stable, with your sunglasses inside. Lastly, make sure your bike is in the right gear for starting the ride and that the tires are properly inflated and wheels are aligned [source: Ricci].

Lay out a towel next to your bike with all the gear you'll need for the entire race on it. Have separate sections of the towel for each leg of the race, with your biking gear in front. Place an extra water bottle here to rinse the dirt and grit off your feet after the swim so you don't get blisters on the bike or run.

As you finish the swim, stretch your ankles so they don't cramp, get out of the water slowly to give your legs a short reintroduction to land, then hurry to the transition area, pulling your wetsuit down to your waist as you do so [source: Scott]. Remove the rest of the wetsuit as quickly as possible at your transition area. Lubricating the lowest part of the inside of your wetsuit might help you remove it faster.

Competitive triathletes sometimes mount their shoes onto their bikes during setup, using rubber bands stretched from one of the pedals to the rear axle or quick-release bar. Slipping on their well-positioned shoes, they break the rubber band as they begin to pedal. It's easier if you start with your feet on top of your shoes at first [source: Scott]. It takes practice, but this can save precious seconds. You might also consider using elastic shoestrings and lubricating your biking shoes so your foot slips in more quickly. Attach any nutrition packs to the bike with tape for easy access after you start the ride.