Let’s Transition for a Moment…

I’ve been putting off writing about transition because it tends to be the topic most “beginner” articles cover first. And rightfully so- transition is a weird unknown for those who are used to just swimming, biking, or running. For me, transition is one of the things that drew me to triathlon. I am a person who loves efficiency, and performing a good transition is all about doing things in the right order as quickly as possible. It is the PhD of efficiency.

So what are the steps of a good transition? Let me break it down for you…

The Setup

The key to a great transition is to set yourself up for success. First rack your bike and secure your chosen spot. Next, put down a hand-sized towel in front of the tire touching the ground, then lay your items out in the order of when you need them. Your running items (hat, racebelt, shoes and socks if you’re using cycling shoes) go at the back of the towel. Be sure to put your racebelt on top of your shoes so that you don’t forget it. Closer to you, put your cycling shoes (if you use them), helmet upside down (so that you just have to grab the straps and swing it onto your head), and sunglasses in the helmet (so you don’t forget them). Little things make a huge difference in triathlon, so pay attention to the little details. Is your race belt set to the correct size and unbuckled? Are your socks scrunched down so they’re easier to get on? Are your shoelaces untied, or do you have elastic laces on your shoes? Is your water bottle already in your bike cage? Think through each item to make sure it’s easy to grab, slip into or take off.


Transition 1 (or “T1” in tri-speak) involves ripping your wetsuit, cap, and goggles off your body and getting onto your bike as fast as possible. Here’s how it goes. Stand up in water. Immediately upon standing, begin unzipping wetsuit. The longer you wait, the harder a wetsuit is to get off. Grab you cap and goggles  off your head and hold onto them in one hand as you pull your wetsuit over your arm. Let go when your hand goes through the sleeve, leaving your cap and goggles safe inside the arm of the wetsuit. Pull wetsuit over other arm. Pull your wetsuit down to your waist as you shuffle towards your bike. When you arrive, yank that wetsuit down, stepping on the legs to help pull it off you. Discard wetsuit under bike. Pour some water over feet and quickly dry them off (I hate wet feet in dry socks!) Put on socks and shoes. Put on sunglasses. Put on helmet and buckle. Grab bike and run!

So eager to get out of transition. This is obviously before I was aware of the pain that was about to occur...

Getting ready to leave T1!


T2 is a quicker transition. Cross the dismount line and start running your bike back to your spot. Look for your towel if you’ve forgotten where you were. Shove your bike back in its spot (at this point it doesn’t have to be pretty, but you need to have seat on rack, and you can’t interfere with another competitor’s gear. Unless they’re in your spot. Then you move that jerk’s stuff over!) Remove helmet. Switch shoes if you were wearing cycling shoes. Grab hat and race belt and start running. Put your hat and race belt on while running- no need to stand there at transition wasting time!

Later this week I’ll be sharing some tips that can help you not feel like a beginner in transition. Stay tuned!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s