Spotting fast and setting up a clutter-free area completes a perfect T1

By Anton Macasieb

In the previous article, we looked at how to improve transition time at T1 from right out of the water and onto the bike. For this follow-up, we’ll go into things you can enhance in setting up the bike area and how to exit it.

Managing the bike area
1. Visual cues

A common mistake new athletes forget is where they leave their bike during transition. In the heat of a race, you might forget your bib number and match it with the signs at T1. Instead, make a mental note of how many rows deep your bike is as well as its general position in a row with respect to landmarks like trees and sponsors signs. Always confused in transition? Some athletes tie a balloon, put up a flag, or a funky towel at T1 so they can spot their bike from far away.

2. Cut the clutter

A tidy transition area can help you make haste without waste. Anything you know you’ll take with you on the bike should already be mounted (fuel, hydration, bike computer) while anything that goes on your body (helmet, bib, shoes) should be positioned properly so that putting them on feels natural. For example, your helmet should be at arm level on your bike, upside-down and front facing you to make it easy to put on your head.  Things like spare parts, emergency equipment you might need, and that good luck charm should be at the back of the transition box.

Always confused in transition? Some athletes tie a balloon, put up a flag, or a funky towel at T1 so they can spot their bike from far away

Bike like a bat out of hell
1. Prep that bike

Anticipate what the terrain is right past the mount line and set your gear correctly so you can accelerate out of T1 properly. If you have practiced a flying mount, leave your shoes on the bike, mounted on the pedals ready to go. Triathlon-specific shoes will have a loop at the back you can use to tie with a rubber band to keep the pedal in a nice position to place your foot in. If you haven’t practiced a flying mount, give it a try but preferably not on race day.

2. Run, Forrest, run!

Practice running with only one hand on your bike, preferably on the saddle. Running one-handed will allow you to run upright and efficiently. Keeping your hand on the saddle will allow you to be more conscious of the whole bike, preventing instances where your derailleur snags with obstacles along the way. Small nudges from the saddle can help you steer if you need to make a turn. Avoid mounting right past the mount line where bikes tend to build up. Run just a few meters past the line and you’ll find yourself clear of stopped bikes, ready to accelerate out of T1 and into the bike course.

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