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Tri Taren’s Travel Tales

Sometimes travel is just the ticket, but as our columnist, Taren Gesell, learns, it's not always that easy to tri and fly.

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After a handful of years kicking around my local tri scene, I decided to broaden my multisport dreams and do my first destination race. It sounded like fun: I’d get to travel to a new place I’d never been to, buy some travel gear, and “enjoy” the race with a friend who would come with me. What could go wrong?

If you’ve ever traveled for a triathlon, you know the answer to that is: anything. While most of my races in the course of my tri career have gone according to plan, I can’t always say the same about the travel to those races.

Here are six of my most heinous triathlon travel calamities:

#1: Fear The Sun

If you’re of the pasty-skinned variety like me, the sun is more foe than friend. If you’re doing an early-season hot weather race, take it from these lips that got so sunburnt they swelled up like a bad Hollywood actor: Use the high-octane, heavy-SPF stuff as if it was aero-gel. Your skin and race times will be better for it.

#2: Become A Traveling Handyman

One of the worst things that can happen two days before a race is you open your bike bag and don’t have the tools to put your bike back together. Yes, race packing can be a little hectic, so as you’re taking apart your bike put every tool in a sack that gets immediately put in the travel bag, too. The more you know!

#3: The Case Matters

Wanna hear my version of hell? Literally dragging a 40-pound bike bag behind me into taxis and across airports. Think your life will be better by saving $200 on a cheaper bike case? You’ll spend all that money on massages and pulled muscles later. Shell out the extra pennies for the high-end travel bag with 360-degree swivel wheels.

#4: Do Your Research

If you ever run into me in real life, make sure you ask me about the time I (again) tried to save money and chose a cheap Airbnb without any ratings—which turned out to be a shed in a homeless camp. Ratings and reviews are there for a reason—use them.

#5: Think Small

While destination races to large cities might seem glamorous, often those cities are more annoyed with triathlon than excited about it. Instead, small towns like Roth, San Juan, Coeur D’Alene, and St. George want to show off their town to athletes. There’s nothing like racing through crowds of people who are actually excited that you’re there and yelling at you about how amazing you are. (You are amazing.)

#6: Travel Well

It may seem tempting to save a few bucks and take the red eye (sense a theme here?), and it might seem extravagant to fly business class, but when you account for the fact that the cost of your bike bag and all your food is often covered on the fancier ticket, it can be cheaper than you think. Not to mention more enjoyable. Your hips and head will thank you come race day.