Wonder why you take an age in transition and are baffled by the people who are in and out in seconds? Follow these tips and you can be at the forefront of transition speed yourself, no matter your level.
1. Leave your bike helmet on handlebars.
For easy access and so you don’t forget to put your helmet on before you touch your bike, have your helmet upturned on the handlebars/aerobars of your speed machine. Have the straps open so it’s ready to put on. If you are wearing a race belt, place that inside the helmet too with straps open, so you don’t forget about it.
2. Attach everything to your bike!
Get used to transitioning with your shoes clipped into your cleats (don’t practise this for the first time on race day). Attach food (bars and gels can be taped onto the top tube) and have helmet/glasses/race belt on the bike and at eye-level. The fastest T1 occurs when you don’t have to bend over and grab things off the floor, or sit down to put on shoes, or put gels in pockets etc etc. Just grab and go; quick as a flash.
3. Choose the right gear – bike gearing; something so simple that everyone will probably get it wrong at some point.
It’s easy to overlook when there are so many other things to keep a tab on but can prove very awkward if you’re not set up properly. Make sure you rack your bike in an appropriate gear for getting going. Choosing your biggest gear will have you grinding and meandering all over the place after the mount line, which can be dangerous as often these sections are narrow and busy. Too small a gear and you won’t be able to generate enough speed to free-wheel and put your shoes on. Study the exit (to check it’s not massively up or downhill) and select accordingly.
4. Keep your bike shoes fastened to the bike for dismount.
Take your feet out of the shoes one by one, using one hand to assist. You can cycle with your feet resting on top of your shoes, so get your feet out in plenty of time (about 400 metres or so from the dismount line) and keep pedalling as normal. This will set up a fast T2 and means you’re free to run through transition without any risk of slipping on clip-cloppity cleats. Like anything, practise beforehand!
5. Keep your momentum over the line: learn a cyclocross mount / dismount to cruise through the dismount line without losing any momentum.
Upon approach, swing one leg over and around the saddle so both legs are on the one side, with the free leg dangling just in front and inside the one on the pedal. Freewheel and jump off just before the line. The free foot will be your ‘landing foot’: it will hit the floor first. You can then run with your bike and maintain the momentum you carried from the bike section right into the heart of T2.
6. An important consideration is the type of laces you have in your trainers.
Rather than the standard laces which you have to tie up each time, invest in an elastic pair. You can have them done up ready to go, and they will stretch enough to allow you to put your feet in easily.
7. Have your trainer tongues pulled up and out so you can get you feet in quicker.
First, grab the heel of the shoe with your hand, shove your foot in as far as it will go then stomp down in one swift motion. You may wish to use talcum powder on the inside for comfort on the run.
8. Don’t wear socks unless it’s a long-distance race, and only if you have practised running without beforehand.
It’s much less fiddly to go without but you need to be sure the shoes won’t rub. You can build up resistance to rubbing and potential blisters by gradually building up the distance of running without socks in training.
9. You may wish to wear a visor to keep the sun out your face.
Don’t waste time stopping by your bike to put it on though: it is far faster to do things whilst moving through the course rather than stationary at the rack.
10. The same can be said for race numbers.
It’s preferential to use a race belt for numbers than to have to pin them to a piece of clothing, as you’ll have to stop to put that on. With a race belt, you’ll probably only need to use one of the two numbers you are typically given. One number is designed for the back, which can be seen in cycling, and one number is designed for the front, which is where officials look to on the run. Make sure your race belt has the number on the back for the cycle, and then as you start to run away from your bike, simply swivel the number around to your front before you exit T2.
Transition is known as the fourth discipline for a good reason, and you should include dedicated sessions to learning the skills required. Just note: don’t bring anything into a race situation without being confident of executing it safely. Bike mounts and dismounts are tricky to master so if in any doubt, play it safe.