VIDEO: Triathlon Transition Setup and Execution

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Don't know how to setup your triathlon transition area? We cover everything from wetsuit tips, bike check, nutrition, shoes, equipment placement to actual race day execution.

By Mike Ricci
USAT Level III Coach
D3 Multisport
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Race Day Checklist

For many beginners, race day is right around the corner.  Transition setup questions abound to the point of restless nights leading up to your race.

Relax.  Don't worry. We have you covered here.  One thing to remember: transition setups are very personal, just like a saddle.  So what you see in this tutorial may not work best for you.  Experiment a little.  Before race day, practice setting up and executing transitions in your living room or backyard.  It will help immensely with your confidence.

Even if you have a few races under your belt, this video offers some good instruction on that 'rubber-band technique' that everyone talks about.

General Triathlon Transition Area Setup

  • The Early Bird DOES get the Worm
    Planning to arrive at the race site when transition opens yields much benefits especially for your first race.  You will need more time to setup and get things 'set' in your mind if you are new. 

    ALSO, Depending on the venue, you can be sitting in long car lines waiting to get in if you wait too long.  This can leave you crunched for time in setting up your transition especially if you are among the first waves of swimmers.
  • Racking
    Rack your bike closest to the transition exit if you can, this will minimize the amount of walking in your bike shoes if you do not use the more advanced 'clipped-in/rubber-band' method.  

    In most of your races, the racks will be numbered to correspond to your number belt.  You will have to find your appropriate rack for your bike and transition setup.
  • Gearing
    Make sure your bike is in the gear appropriate for the bike mounting area out of the transition.
  • Tire Inflation
    If you are getting into transition early and anticipate higher temperatures, pump your tires up 10-15psi short of the recommended rating so that your tires have a little extra room for air expansion as the air temperature warms.
  • Brake and Tire Check
    Make sure that you have engaged your brakes and that they work.  Also spin your tires to make sure they are running true.  If you did not seat the rims in your drop-outs correctly, your tires could wobble.
  • Check Your Bar-Ends!
    Depending on your bike, you may have open bar-ends at the end of your handle bars or other bars as the plugs can fall out.  Make sure they are plugged so that if you fall down, you don't take a core sample out of someone's skin.  Race Directors particularly look for this in transition area.
  • Transition Area Size
    Transition racks can get busy and full.  Be considerate and keep your transition area small and close to your bike.
  • General Swim Setup
    Wetsuit, goggles, timing chip and swim cap together.
  • Wetsuit
    Of course you will only worry about putting your wetsuit on until only after your transition is completely setup and at an appropriate time before the race start.

    BodyGlide all skin areas (ankles, wrists, arms) to allow the suit to come on and off easily and to also prevent any chaffing. 


    Put your goggles on and then your swim cap close to your swim start.

T1 Setup - Swim to Bike

  • Towel
    Lay out a towel to get rid of sand and water from your transition run.
  • Bike shoes
    There are two methods in putting on your bike shoes leading out of transition which will determine your transition bike shoe setup:
    1 - Beginner Method
    Lay your socks and/or bike shoes on the ground in your transition area.  Put on your bike shoes in T1 and run with them on out of transition.  In the mounting area, hop on your bike and clip in.
    2 - Advanced Method (shown in video)
    Attach your shoes to the pedals and use the rubber-band technique shown to get your shoes in 'ready' position.  Upon exiting the transition, hop on your bike in the mounting area with your feet on top of your shoes.  Pedal to get up to speed and then slip your feet into your shoes. 
    *WARNING! A race is no place to try this advanced method for the first time-especially in the narrow bike mounting area where there will be other riders trying to get on their bikes too-you will most likely cause a crash. Practice it thoroughly in a grassy area before executing it in a live race situation.
  • Helmet
    Put your helmet on the front of the bike or ground.  Make sure your sunglasses are inside your near your helmet so you don't forget them.  You will regret it.

    *NEVER take your bike off of the rack in transition while you are racing until you put your helmet on.
  • Nutrition
    Make sure your hydration, gels and/or foods are loaded on your bike.  There are many ways and types of equipment to handle this.
  • Bike Repair Kit
    Make sure you have a set of tire levers, C02 or mini-pump and tubes or tires depending on if you run clinchers or tubulars. 
    *You WILL eventually flat - if not in a race, it will be in training or vice-versa.
  • Bike Numbers
    Depending on your race, you will have a large bike number to attach to your seat-post or top-tube.  You may also have a small number to attach to your helmet.

T2 Setup - Bike to Run

  • Running Shoes, Socks (Optional) and Visor (Optional)
    Rub the insides of your shoes with BodyGlide so that they slip on easily.  Have your socks rolled up (if using socks) and ready to unroll onto your feet.
  • Number Belt
    Make sure that you put your number belt on if not worn during your bike leg.
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date: June 4, 2008