I had a few requests to blog about making faster transitions in races, so I put together a list of my tips that I've put into practice over the past couple years. Your mileage may vary and I'll say it's taken me a couple years of introducing different things to get to this point (aka I did not start out sock less, with my shoes clipped into my bike). It will all take practice so DO take the time every so often, and especially before a race, to practice transitions! Set everything up in your driveway and just practice over and over getting on and off the bike and into your run gear.
- I walk through transition, find the swim-in, bike-out, bike-in, and run-out, visualize going from one thing to the other. Identify any problem areas and figure out before the race how to handle them. Look for landmarks that will make it easier to find my transition spot, if necessary count the racks ("5th rack on the right") so I can find it while oxygen-deprived coming in from the swim.
- If I get to choose my own transition spot, I select based on what will give me an easier time running through transition...if I will be running out wearing bike shoes, I grab the closest spot to bike-out to minimize that time spent running on cleats (I always dismount without my shoes now so no need to worry on the return trip). If I will be running out with my shoes clipped into the bike, I get the closest spot to swim-in.
- Lay out everything in the order I need it and bundle items to minimize the amount of time spent gathering individual items.
- I lube the heck out of my lower legs so that my wetsuit will slide off faster. I also tuck my timing chip up under my wetsuit so that it doesn't get caught when I'm trying to pry it off.
Swim Out through T1:
- As soon as I am upright and out of the water, I grab the cord and unzip my wetsuit. I try to get the upper body out of the wetsuit as I trot into transition.
- As soon as I get to the rack, I remove the rest of wetsuit (I don't bother with laying out a towel anymore for my feet since I don't use socks anymore). Yank it down my legs and then step on one leg at a time to get my foot out.
- Then I pull my cap/goggles off my head (I don't want to have them in my hand running up the ramp as that will get in the way of removing my wetsuit top half).
- My helmet has been left resting on my handlebars, upside down and with the straps hanging out, and my sunglasses open and inside helmet.
- Once the wetsuit is off, it's sunglasses on, helmet on and strapped, grab bike and run. If you practice this, you can get through it really fast.
- If my bike shoes are attached to bike, they have rubber bands through the heel loops and attached to the rear skewer to keep them in position and they are left velcroed open to make it easy to get feet in.
- Exit T1, mount bike, slip one foot inside shoe and start pedaling, work other foot into shoe when I can.
Bike-In through T2:
- When I am close to the end of the ride, I undo my shoes and start to make sure my feet can slide out, work them out to be on top of my shoes.
- Dismount and run into transition barefoot.
- Throw bike on rack, remove helmet and toss aside.
- Pull racing flats onto feet (racing flats will be pre-lubed with Trislide and waiting to go on top of my run "pile")
- Grab the rest of my run pile that is sitting bundled underneath (race belt, gels/salt tabs, water bottle, visor) and start running out of transition. NO dicking around putting these things on or in my pockets in transition, I can do them on the run.
- I will put my race belt on, then visor, then shove gels into pockets or clothes as needed but the goal is to get out of transition fast and take care of that stuff on the run.
- Clean up the mess of all my gear spread everywhere! :-)
- Log all of my post-race comments, including about how transitions went, into TrainingPeaks so that I can review them and make changes as needed before the next race!
What are your favorite tips for fast transitions?