Tips For Not Looking Like an Idiot in Transition

No matter how much research you do, there will still be some things you learn on the day. Here are a few tips on transition that I picked up the hard way.

Pack everything, but keep most of it in your bag

I tend to overpack for triathlons, so I have this large hiking backpack that I use to tote all my gear. However, I’ve learned not to take everything out of the bag. Items like sunscreen, your warm up gear, cell phone, and post race snack should stay packed away after it’s been used. You’re allowed to leave your bag in transition with your bike, but remember to keep it tucked out of your competitors’ way. It should go under your bike or handed off to someone in your cheering squad.

Put your number on your bike

You’ll likely receive three numbers in your race packet. The sticker goes on your helmet. The traditional “bib” goes on your race belt. The third, smaller number, usually made of cardstock (though I’ve also seen stickers), goes on your bike. Use twist ties or tape to secure it under your top bar or seat. Do this when you arrive to the parking lot (not before if you’re transferring your bike outside on your car, lest it blow off!) but before you enter transition. This number is important as the race volunteers guarding the entrance and exit to transition should be checking to make sure you belong to the bike and the bike belongs to you.

Keep it compact

When you “rack” your bike, you’ll hang either the front or back of your bike seat on the bar, causing your front wheel to touch the ground. Your transition stuff should go right in front of this wheel. Lay out one towel (the size of the one you have in your bathroom to dry your hands on), then put all of your items on this towel. You might get away with a water bottle to the side, but do your darndest to keep everything on that towel in front of your bike. It’s not kosher to put your stuff next to your bike in another spot, or around your bike where it might get mixed with someone else’s stuff. The rack will fill up and you’ll be squeezed for space, so do yourself a favor and set it up right the first time.


Visualize visualize visualize

I visualize myself going through T1 when I’m going to bed at night. I visualize myself going through T2 when I’m on the treadmill. I visualize T1 when I’m standing on the shore before my wave goes off in a race. I visualize riding into T2 when I’m on my spin bike. Seriously. I think about transition a lot. The more I run through it in my head, the easier it is for my body to go through the motions on the day. Now I barely think about what I’m doing when I’m actually in transition during a race. My brain is just so sick of thinking about it that my body just takes over! That makes me look like I know what I’m doing. Which is always a good feeling.

Have a question about transition? Send me an email at and ask! If I don’t know the answer, I will find out. I’m happy to look like an idiot so that you don’t have to.

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