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Race like a savvy triathlete by avoiding the seven biggest mistakes in transition.
Prepping your transition bag before a race can feel like gearing up for a month-long backpacking trip, and your mental checklist can quickly overwhelm clear, methodical preparation. Take note of these seven transition blunders to ease your nerves and, most importantly, to avoid becoming the target of your training buddy’s jokes.
1. Racking your bike in a big gear. We’ve all seen (or perhaps experienced) the embarrassing struggle of trying to muscle a bike forward from a near standstill in the big ring. This is such an easy mistake to make, especially if you don’t get a chance to ride your bike before racking it. Add this step to your mental checklist and don’t forget to shift into an easy gear before the start of the race.
2. Putting your timing chip over your wetsuit. File this one in the brain fart category. Put your timing chip on under your wetsuit to ease wetsuit removal in T1.
3. Overinflating your tires. Tire blowouts are often the result of overzealous triathletes overinflating their tires the morning of the race. As the temperature rises, the tire expands and explodes. A 10-degree increase in temperature can add approximately 2–3 psi, so keep that in mind while inflating your tires.
4. Applying sunscreen at the wrong time. The savvy triathlete will apply sunscreen before arriving at a race. The not-so-savvy triathlete will forget to put sunscreen on until after he has been body marked, smearing black ink all over his arms and legs. Even worse than putting sunscreen on late is not putting it on at all.
5. “Moving in” to transition. You know the guy who sets up on a beach towel the size of a comforter, lugs a lawn chair, a bucket of water to wash his feet along with a gigantic duffle bag full of who knows what? Don’t be that guy (or girl). Respect your neighbors and only bring what you need into transition. Even if there’s room next to you when you set up, try to minimize your footprint.
6. Acting too agro. Your internal dialogue may involve psyching yourself up with hardcore mantras, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to walk around like a stone-faced jerk. Have the internal focus and concentration of a samurai warrior heading to battle, but try to put a smile on and enjoy yourself. This sport is all about having fun, not trying to intimidate your fellow triathletes with Terminator stares.
7. Using a too-thick rubber band. So you’ve finally mastered the flying mount (congrats!) and are ready to show off your acrobatic maneuver coming out of T1. It’s much easier to pull this aerial feat off if your shoes are level, necessitating the use of rubber bands to hold your shoes in place. Here’s a tip: Pick your bands wisely. If they’re too thick, they may not break as you stomp on your pedals, which will immediately negate the glorious mount you just stuck. In a worst-case scenario, an unfortunately placed rubber band can bend or rip off a derailleur.