Fact: You can shave plenty of precious seconds (even minutes) off your overall time just by tweaking your transitions. And while you may not be ready for a flying mount and dismount just yet, taking time to think through your transitions can result in faster finishes. Here are five simple steps you can take for speedier transitions.
The last thing you want during a race is to get stalled searching for something while your competition is passing you by. That's why it's best to keep your transition area neat and clutter-free.
"I really try to simplify what I put in my transition area," says elite age-grouper Emily Richard of Washington D.C. "I noticed that the pros keep the minimum out: Their helmet, shoes, race number, sunglasses, and a visor. So I followed suit and put out what I really need."
Put your helmet in your handlebars, and keep unnecessary items out of the way. As for other essentials, like gels, sunglasses, and other small items, you can tape or attach them to your bike for easy access once you're on the road.
Mark Your Spot
You've spent enough time on your bike to memorize every inch of it. But in the early-morning light of a triathlon (addled by bleary eyes post-swim), it may be hard to pick out your ride from the sea of other bicycles. And it can be just as difficult to find your spot when you're bringing your bike back into T2. To make sure you head straight for your transition area each time, take careful note of your exact location among the racks.
"I do a walk-through of the whole transition area pre-race, visualizing my process and counting the racks," says Calah Schlabach, an elite age-grouper in Arlington, Virginia. "That way, I know exactly where the entrances are and the best lines to my area, as well as where the mount/dismount line is."