For inexperienced triathletes, the transition might seem like a mere checkpoint in a race.
If you take notice of a lot of the pro athletes, you will see that the bike shoes are magically placed on the pedals in a horizontal position, making it easier to place the foot inside the shoes and start pedalling. This is done by using a small rubber band around the back of the shoe (most shoes will have a small loop at the back). Loop the rubber band around the front and back derailleur, that way the shoes will sit perfectly and not hit the ground as you wheel the bike out of transition.
Feet in Shoes
This can be one of the main attractions for spectators hanging around transition, much to the pain of some athletes who deck it! The main problem I see with athletes who fall over when mounting their bikes is they are travelling too slowly for their momentum to let them place the foot inside the shoe whilst not pedalling. I have taken up to 10 kilometres to put my shoes on in some races! There is no great rush to do this, as the faster your actual speed is, the easier it is and the more time you will have to hook in to the pedals and place your feet in. You can still transfer a lot of power on to the pedals without having your feet in the shoes, so don’t stress and don’t rush, otherwise you will end up on YouTube or on a highlight reel for things that go wrong in transition.
One thing you have in transition is dead time, especially if you are not using your hands! You can save yourself five to 10 seconds in transition by practising your wetsuit stripping. By becoming proficient at this you can strip your wetsuit to your waist and once below your knees (if you have enough baby oil product on), you should be able to kick it off and step out of it while placing your helmet on your head, sunglasses on and nutrition in your pockets. This is crucial time and you will see the ITU athletes do this incredibly well. If you are having trouble stepping out of your suit, try cutting the ankle/legs off so it’s higher up your leg, which will make things a lot easier when flicking it off.
With triathlons being a multi-faceted sport, it’s crucial that you are always thinking about the next thing you must achieve, as well as being in the current state of play. For example, it’s a good habit to start visualising the process that needs to happen when you get out of the water. This could start in the last few hundred metres of the swim leg. Go through a checklist in your head of what needs to happen that first step out of the water, from taking your goggles off to unzipping, then what needs to happen once in transition. This will enable your mind process to settle down and not be as flustered, especially when your heart rate is already through the roof and in the red zone.
Have a clean transition. There is no need for a full choice of clothing according to your mood of the day, just use what you think you will need and go through things visually in your mind. Also know where your bike is and run through the entry and exit points so they are down pat, as things can seem different when you’re flustered and racing hard.