T1: Transition from Swim to Bike

Swim to bike transition requires preparation and practice. It is something that should be incorporated into the regular training routine. By practicing transition, a triathlete learns how best to organize and manage the transition area. Professional and veteran triathletes move through transition quickly. It almost looks simple. However, it is the result of training and good organization. Here are some helpful guidelines in preparation for the T1 of your first triathlon.

Organize the Equipment in Transition

During pre-race preparation, you will need to rack the bike in the assigned area. The bike should be preset on the appropriate gear for starting the course. Next to the bicycle, there will be ample space for cycling and running shoes. A towel is a useful item for stowing shoes as well as wiping your feet before wearing footwear. The cycling shirt is unfolded on the saddle. Although, triathlon suits and cycling clothes could be worn during the swim and eliminate the need for this clothing in transition. The aero bars are a perfect place for the helmet and glasses. The helmet should be placed upside down with the straps open along the sides with glasses inside. Shoes are open and placed on the towel in front of running shoes. If you choose to wear socks, they should be lying partially inside the shoes. A little talcum powder sprinkled inside the socks and shoes will help them glide on more easily.

Race numbers are required for the bike and run stage of the race. The number could be pinned to the shirt or attached to a race belt. I prefer a race belt and place this unbuckled over the shoes. Be certain a full water bottle is in the bottle rack. Look through the transition area and take note of where your equipment is located before heading to the water.

Exiting the Water

Wetsuits are legal when water temperature is below 78 degrees and will shave time off the swim. However, they are difficult to remove especially after swimming. If you choose to use a wetsuit, coat the lower legs with body lubricant such as Body-Glide or even cooking spray first to help the suit slip off more easily. Races often have volunteers to help pull the suit off. As you exit the water, unzip the suit and pull it free from the upper body. If a volunteer is around, drop to your back and let the volunteer pull the suit off. If no volunteer is there, head to transition and remove the suit in the transition area. This is perhaps the most difficult step in the swim to run transition. Cap and goggles can be removed during the run to transition.

Entering the Transition Area

Once you enter transition, you will need to locate your bicycle and equipment. The following steps provide guidelines for managing the first transition.

– Drop the wetsuit, goggles and cap on the towel behind other equipment.
– Don the shirt
– Don the glasses and helmet
– Attach the race belt around the waist.
– Wipe your feet to remove sand and dirt.
– Don the socks and shoes.

You are now ready to head out of transition onto the cycling course. Be careful around other cyclists. Depending on the speed of your swim the area could be congested.

After the Transition

Use the first mile cycling to complete transition from swimming to bicycling. The body needs to adjust to the event change. Stand up in the saddle for a short period to help stretch the back and legs particularly if a wetsuit was used. Begin to replace valuable fluids that were lost during the swim. You will soon find a smooth rhythm on the bike.

Race transition should be performed smoothly and quickly. This is achieved by incorporating transition practice in training. Each triathlete has preferences for managing transition. It is something veterans have learned in their training and in competition. Some triathletes prefer to clip the shoes on the bike before the race. Others could tape fuel, gels and bars, to the frame particularly for a longer race. Practice will help you determine your preferences and you will find yourself better prepared on race day.

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