Triathlon transition is something most beginners do not think about, it is easy right, not much to think about so why bother? Well, yes it is easy, but if you have never been in a race before it might not be as easy as you think, you do need to know what to expect and the protocol to follow.
I have a short video below on correct triathlon transition technique during a race, I have also written out more detailed steps as well. As with everything, do not leave it to the day of your first race and then realize that you have forgotten something important, practice your transitioning when you are training or in your back yard or even in your house so you have a good idea of how you like to do it and also what equipment you expect to be waiting for you for the next stage of the race.
Smooth transitions help keep you calm and are easy to get right, practicing them will boost your confidence, even if you have a couple of races under your belt already.
It seems logical that your first time out will mean that you need more time to setup and give your confidence a boost knowing there is one less thing to worry about. To help with this get to the race early when transition opens, remember that there may be a lot of cars trying to get in so beat them to the punch and cut down on the stress.
You want to rack your bike as close to the transition exit as you can to cut down on the amount of walking you have to do in your bike shoes, the racks will be correspond with your number belt so make sure that you find the right one. Before you actually rack your bike make sure it is in the right gear for the area where the mount line is. Also, have some respect for your fellow competitors and keep your transition area small and as tight to your bike as possible.
You want to set the tire pressure at around 10 to 15 psi under if it is going to be hot and you are getting there early, the tires will then have room to expand as they get hotter. You should also do a thorough bike check when you arrive, focus on the brakes and also make sure the tires are correctly seated and the rims are in the drop-outs properly.
Now you want to focus on the swim setup but DO NOT put on your wetsuit until you have set your transition up, and make sure that it is not too close or too far away from the race start time when you do suit-up.
You will need your wetsuit, cap, goggles and your timing chip ready to go. Once the time comes to get ready for the start of the race make sure you use Bodyglide on your areas where skin is showing, this makes sure you can get your wetsuit off easier.
When the time is right and you have suited up, put your timing chip on and also your cap and goggles when the race start is close.
From the swim to the bike you should have a towel on the floor to wipe off the water and sand stuck to you from the transition run. Your helmet should be on the ground or the front end of the bike with your sunglasses inside. Have a bike repair kit and your bike number and possibly a small number for your helmet if you get one.
Putting your shoes on is not as easy as putting your shoes on, if you know what I mean. A lot of advanced triathletes use the rubber band method, but we are going to ignore that here, it is something that needs to be practiced a lot to get right and be safe.
The best way for a beginner to put their shoes on is to have their socks and shoes on the ground ready to go. Put them on and run to the mount line, jump on your bike and clip your shoes in.
For the run you should have your socks ready to go and pre-rolled so you can just roll them on, you also want to Bodyglide your inner shoes so they slide on easily and put on your number belt if you did not have one for the bike.
Check that your bar ends are still seated properly, race directors will check this.
Here is a quick checklist and video to check out:
1. When you get out of the water you want to transition as quickly and smoothly as possible, so jog or run to the transition area.
2. Put down your swimming cap and goggles and put on your sunglasses and helmet and make sure that it is buckled up
3. Put on your cycling shoes and grab your bike off of the rack, grasp it by the stem and run it to the mount line and mount up and go
4. Once you finish make sure you dismount at the dismount line and run your bike back to the rack to the same place you got it from, rack your bike and take your helmet off
5. Take off your cycling shoes and put on your running shoes, grab your gels, top, number and whatever else you usually take on your run and take off
Simple but essential, make sure you know what you are doing in your next race and get your transitions worked out ahead of time.