The traditional triathlon approach (and the approach favoured by both of my upcoming triathlons) is Swim-then-Bike-then-Run. I have been practicing the ‘Transition Two’ from cycling to running with limited success. In fact scratch that – I’ve been practicing the transition from cycling to running with repeated failures too pathetic to even document on this blog. It’s really hard to control your legs sufficiently to run after doing a bike ride, especially when I’m trying to maintain my pain-preventing good form.
So T2 is a failure thus far. Which made me think that I should probably test out the other transition (from swim to bike) as well, just in case I am also rubbish at that.
So yesterday I cycled down to the gym in my swimming costume and new cycling shorts, so that I could do a swim in the pool, practice a ‘transition’ and cycle home. A Bike-Swim-Bike. As I pedaled along the busy road towards the gym, some tradies in a truck traveling in the opposite direction wolf-whistled at me. I assume they were being sarcastic. I’d have given them the finger if only I could bike one-handed. Frankly they should be glad I wasn’t wearing my triathlon suit.
Arriving at the gym, I parked my bike strategically near the exit and set up ‘my station’ as I think I might do it on race day.
I hung my helmet on the handlebars because you can get disqualified from the race if you forget to put the helmet on, so I’m hoping that having it on the handlebars will make it unforgettable. I don’t mind if it means extra seconds wasted unclipping the helmet strap to remove it from the bike. Because I have visions of myself thinking that the pressure on my head from my swimming cap is actually from my helmet, thereby setting out on my bike ride wearing my swimming cap like an idiot. It would really be ideal if I could avoid looking like an idiot, and definitely a bonus if I avoid getting disqualified.
On the ground next to my bike I placed a brightly coloured towel, which will help me to recognise my bike among the thousands of others lined up next to me, I hope. Of course, a towel is also imperative for wiping my feet and getting any sand and gravel off before I put my socks on; I believe it’s what a professional triathlete might refer to as ‘multi-purpose’.
On top of the towel I placed my cycling shoes and socks – already separated and laid out for each foot. And a bottle of water for a quick drink and maybe a rinse of the feet. On the actual race day I will also have my race number on a belt to clip around my waist. I’ve already got the belt so I could have taken that with me for practice, but I’m glad I left it at home because I got enough funny looks from the receptionist as it was. I’d like to think I retained a shred of dignity this way.
With my station set up, I snapped a picture and toddled off to do my swim. It wasn’t a great session so when I jumped out 45 minutes later I was looking forward to redeeming myself with a fantastic first T1 (Transition One) practice. I must admit that I didn’t have my tri suit on so I cheated a little by putting my cycling shorts back on before I left the pool area. But the transition effect was the same.
I started the stopwatch.
Off I raced, peeling off my goggles and swimming cap as I sprinted barefoot to my trusty Merida steed, where luckily no bogan kids had stolen my transition gear. I hurriedly picked up my shoes and socks, and stamped my feet on my towel. I rolled down a sock and as soon as my feet felt semi dry, slipped one and then the other on. I must have looked like I was stealing everything with my desperate clumsiness, but nobody questioned me. I probably should get a bike lock.
Thankfully, the bike shoes I got secondhand on EBay have a fantastic tightening system that just requires turning a cog – no knots or bows. My shoes were on and secure in about 20 seconds flat. I had a quick sip of water just to make use of everything and ran to the other side of my bike (note to self, hang helmet on same side as towel next time) where I slammed my sunnies onto my face and my helmet onto my head.
Doing up the helmet was a bit fiddly – I’ll practice that. But I was dressed and ready! Unfortunately I had to stuff the towel and crap into my backpack, which I obviously wont need to do on race day, but that only took an extra 15 seconds I think.
I yanked my bike out of the rack and circled round to the exit. I had to unlatch the gate which was a bit tricky to do in a rush, but I was off and out of the centre in only 1 minute and 34 seconds!
Phew! If we add a couple of hundred metres to the sprint in and out of transition (about an extra minute I guess) and 20 seconds to have a proper drink of water, I should be in transition for under 3 minutes. Not super fast, but pretty good for my first practice. T1 is a success!