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Make Your Triathlon
Transition Fast!

Triathlon transitions are often overlooked when preparing for races.

Everyone can get through putting their shoes and helmets on, and well, you swing your leg over the saddle and away you go….don’t you?

Well consider how much time you will train to knock your swim time down by 20 – 30 seconds. That can take months, but you can save this in only a few sessions of triathlon transition practice.

We will take you through the keys to a quick transition, including a video to illustrate it.

triathlon transition

Key Points For A Quick Triathlon Transition

  1. Have a routine
  2. Know your equipment
  3. Rehearse what you will be doing
  4. Stay calm.

1. Have a routine

This means get used to doing everything in the right order:-

  • This saves time
  • Means you are less likely to forget something or make a mistake
  • Gives you confidence.

2. Know your equipment

Make sure you know how your equipment works – if you are unfamiliar with it you will likely fumble around, and not have confidence in doing these actions.

Your helmet for instance has a strap you need to click into place. If you normally use one helmet for training but swap to another for racing they may buckle differently.

Your shoes may have a tongue in a training set and not in triathlon race set, and a different fastening system.

3. Rehearse

Although most triathlon transitions look different, the basic layout is the same.

  1. You rack your bike
  2. You have a place to put your shoes and helmet
  3. Number belts need to be put on
  4. You have a bucket or area for discarded stuff to go.

You will run up to your bike from the water. You may have a wetsuit to take off (you may not). If you are wearing a wetsuit you will need to take this off, before putting your helmet on.

Getting wetsuits off in a triathlon transition can be tricky, but have a look at our guide and video to how to put on and take of your wetsuit with ease and you will soon be able to do this quickly, even if you are a beginner triathlete.

Get used to doing this in the right order. Then get used to multi-tasking, put your helmet on while moving into a position to un-rack your bike.

In the video you will see I have a way of laying my helmet and glasses out so that they are easy to pick up and put on (I have to put the glasses on otherwise I can’t see the rest of transition!).

Leave your run equipment in the same place, but think about which direction you will be coming from and where the bike will be when you have re-racked it.

Then take some steps back and look at the route you will be taking through transition. Often big races can be very daunting as the transition area is huge. The organisers sometimes have set routes for different waves to follow to get to your bike.

Find out if there is a set route and have a walk through it. Consciously rehearse where your bike is, so you can run into T1 and straight to your bike. The best triathlon transition routine is useless if you cannot find your bike!

4. Stay calm

Be calm when you are in transition. Hurried, panicked actions lead to mistakes and slowing down. Often someone looking un-rushed can look slow, but actually because they make no errors they are actually quite fast.

  • Build up your speed in practice, don’t try and break records in your first attempt
  • Go through your routine at a slow pace, then do it again and again, then begin to build the speed.

Triathlon Transition In Action

Below is a video where we go through some of the key points of a quick triathlon transition. This is not the only way to do it, and you will probably want to tweak things to suit your set up. The main thing is that what you do is fast and safe – or reliable. I demonstrate how to jump on your bike quickly and safely. However if you are not confident about this then don’t try it in a race, wait until you are confident in training first. If you prefer to put your shoes on in transition and run out that’s OK.

Bike Set Up

  • Helmet on the bars with the straps open and easy to pick up and put on.
  • Glasses can go into the helmet so you put them on while riding or like I have, so that I can put them on quickly before I leave.
  • Shoes are in the pedals and held in place with elastic bands.
  • I have opened the shoes up as much as possible, so when I jump on I can get my right foot in straight away.
  • The bike is set up in a gear that is suitable for me to pull away, not too low and not too big.

The Run Out

After un-racking I run out holding the saddle.

This means my knees and hips don’t bang on the handle bars while running. To do this I have practiced steering the bike like this. If you lean it to one side slightly it will go in that direction. So to go in a straight line I have to hold it straight up and steady.

I have checked where the mount line is so I can spot it and prepare to jump on at the earliest, safest and fastest opportunity. If there was too many people at this point I would simply run around them before preparing to get on.

At all times in a triathlon transition stay alert to what other triathletes are doing around you – you don’t want your perfect transition to be ruined by someone stopping suddenly in front of you.

As I get to within 2 – 3 metres of the mount, then I move my hands to the handlebars.

You can go to the ‘tops’ on a normal drop bar bike, but would need to practice on the ‘cow horns’ if on a Timetrial bike, or your aero bars are in the way.

This does give some people more control as you are closer to the brakes.

The Mount

I make sure I have passed the mount line before taking my last step and then jumping on. This is the risky bit that you need to be confident of. At this stage even walking through this action is still quite fast as you do carry momentum.

The key when jumping on, is to aim to land smoothly on the inside of your thigh before quickly slipping fully into the saddle. This makes this a lot more comfortable.

Try to learn how high your saddle is without looking down. You don’t want to jump really high because this means you come down hard on the saddle. You want to slide onto the saddle – nice and comfortably.

Get Up To Speed

Once on your bike, build up speed quickly with one foot on the top of the shoe (the other should be slipped in as you jump on).

Find a fast, safe place (usually down a slight gradient so you don’t slow down too much) to reach down, support the other shoe and slip your foot in. Then pick the pace up again and finally adjust the buckles to keep them tight.

The Dismount

Getting off quickly can also save you seconds. This is easily possible in a safe and controlled manner.

At a safe time, remove your feet from the shoes and ride the last few hundred meters with your feet on your shoes.

Make sure you reach down and hold the shoe so you can easily put your foot back on top if it.

On the final straight, give yourself plenty of time. Then:

  • Swing your leg round behind the saddle
  • Put your weight onto the foot still on the pedals and lean the bike away from you a little
  • Then bring the swinging leg between your support leg and the frame
  • Control your speed into the dismount line
  • Then just hop off at the last moment carrying a reasonable running speed
  • Grab the saddle and run into T2, slip your running shoes on and set off on your run for home!

Summary of Triathlon Transition

The keys to a quick triathlon transition are:

  1. Routine
  2. Know your equipment
  3. Rehearse what you will be doing
  4. Stay calm.

We suggest you practice these skills as much as you can so that on race day everything is automatic and more likely to go smoothly.

Remember you can save lots of time in a triathlon transition which might take you many hours of training to achieve in one of the ‘other’ disciplines.



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