If you said nearest to the bike exit you are get today’s gold star award.
So now for the tougher question, why do you want to be near the bike exit and not near the run exit, or by yourself in a remote corner of transition, or near the swim entrance, or at home sleeping in and eating a glazed chocolate covered donut for breakfast?
Never mind that last part of that question as I don’t have a good answer to “Donut Conundrum” as I like to call it. Why am I up at this predawn God forsaken hour racking my bike anyway always comes to mind...all too often as I’m stumbling in the dark getting ready for yet another bout of triathlon torture.
Anyway, conventional transition wisdom, at least as taught to me by the local Boulder professional tri Zen masters, states that the closer you are to the bike exit in transition the less distance you have to cover (both going out and coming in to transition) while:
a) Pushing your bike though a maze of racks
b) Running in bike shoes (never fun or fast)
c) Running in bare feet if you happen to have your bike shoes attached to your bike
So now that we have the optimal location of your bike sorted, here are some other transition do’s and don’ts:
Do get to transition early to stake out the idea spot for your gear.
Don’t stumble into transition one minute before it is scheduled to close and expect to have a good race as you try to rack your bike, put on sun screen, sort out your shoes, sun glasses and race number and go to the bathroom (both #1 and #2) all at the same time.
Do be polite and friendly to your fellow racers and happily share your sunscreen, and/or any other necessary triathlon commodity that they may have forgot and you have in spades.
Because you can bet that what comes around goes around. That person who just borrowed your sunscreen will certainly be the one who will have that extra tube that you realized you forgot when you flat on the bike course.
Don’t be the one in transition who is so into their race plan that the slightest smile or comment from a fellow racer sends them into a dizzy of anger and/or an emotional hissy fit. Unless your last name happens to be Woods, Jordan, Schumacher, or Armstrong you probably haven’t had the results and earned the right to be or act like a prima donna.
Do place your bike and gear in any kind of order that works best for you. I like to put down a towel next to my bike. On the towel I place the following items from front to back with back being closets to the rack.
Front row: Triathlon bike shoes with or without socks lying on top of them. Olympic distance or less I go sockless. I also love my tri bike shoes as the Velcro strap is designed to stay open with little notches just for this purpose.
Back row: Running shoes with race number attached to race belt stuffed in one shoe with running hat on top of shoes.
I like to have my bike helmet upside down on my areo bars and my sunglasses in the helmet. This way when running from the swim I first put on the sun glasses, followed by the helmet, followed by the bike shoes. The helmet first rule ensures that I don’t forget this critical part of the swim to bike transition as not having a helmet on the bike qualifies for an immediate DQ during most races.
Don’t touch other racers bike or stuff. This seems self evident but all too often I see this #1 rule being broken all the time. I (like you) have my stuff just the way I want it, and need it, so please don’t mess with it.
Do try to hang your bike by the rear seat so that it faces out (front wheel forward). This is a great technique that makes it super fast and easy to just grab your bike and go. All you have to do is hang your bike by the front of the seat from the rack. In other words, just place the pole of the rack under the front of your bike seat (see photo above).
Don't hang your bike by the brake levers from the pole. I have seen racers get their bikes stuck on their brakes and almost take down the entire rack trying to wrestle it free.
Do zero out your bike odometer/computer before the start of the race.
Don’t clear your computer as you are leaving transition, while clipping into your pedals, while climbing up a hill, trying to avoid the rest of us, and most likely crashing in a pile of sweat and shame.
Do get a transition bag. I have a huge and terrific backpack transition bag from Zipp that holds everything including my pet elephant. This makes life so much easier before and after the race that I can’t believe I ever raced without it.
Don’t try to bring all of your stuff into transition in your everyday gym bag while riding or pushing your bike. Chances are it won’t fit and you’ll crash juggling your bike and gear to transition in a heap of sleepy-eyed slumber and shame.
Do transition quickly and efficiently so that you spend your time racing.
Don’t spend a lot of time in transition during the race because transitions really do count and you can make up huge amounts of time just by getting in and out fast. I’m hope you believe me when I say that is a lot easier to make up three minutes in transition as opposed to on the run. If you don’t believe me just try to drop a minute a mile on your next sprint tri three mile run and see how easy that is to accomplish.
Don't blow dry your hair in transition!
This weekend I raced a small local triathlon that claims and probably is the Colorado’s oldest race. In the past the racers ran from the pool swim, through the recreation center locker rooms, to the transition area in the parking lot. A friend of mine mentioned to me that when she first did this triathlon (her first) she stopped in the ladies locker room and blow dried her hair before heading out to the bike.
This certainly qualifies as one of the top don’ts for any race situation.
And for finally, for goodness sake: don’t forget your towel!