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Congratulation you have accomplished the first leg in triathlon, the swim. Now we are coming to the second part of the race, the transition # 1. Before we discuss the transition and how to do it, let me write a paragraph about the preparation and the etiquette of the transition.

Racking of bikes

  • Bikes should be racked in such a way that the bike hangs on the saddle, best at the front saddle
  • Competitors are not allowed to mark their racks with towels, ties, ribbons, wetsuits or other method that may give them an advantage over the other competitors 
    (officials usually putting the stuff on the ground)
  • Very important:
    Bikes should be racked alternately on both sides of the rack

You want to know why?

Bike handlebars are usually 42 and 44cm wide. This is the total space any bike (competitor) is allowed to have. Race directors use this calculation to determine the number of racks they need for the transition zone. Each rack is capable to handle 8-10 bikes without any risk of damage to the bike or disturbances for the competitors when they switch from swim to bike or bike to run. Most bikes have STI shifting (Dual control = braking and shifting with the same lever), this can damage the lever system when hanging the bike on the handlebars (Unfortunately some racks are simply not high enough to support an easy in and out of the racks)The rack should be so high that the bike is racked with the front of the saddle and the bike fits under the rack when taking the bike out. The space in front of the bike is taken for your equipment. 

Space allowed for each competitor is restricted to the space between the two bikes (width of the handlebars) on their side of the rack. Equipment should be placed behind the rear wheel of the bike racked directly beside your bike that is on the other side of the rack. (see drawing) All bikes, swim gear etc. must be racked and returned to their original place in the transition area. Please, no baskets, stools [except (AWAD)], chairs, rubbermaid tubs, coolers, tarps, yoga mats or similar will be allowed in the transition area. In international transition not even a backpack or a bag is allowed in the transition. It is allowed: your running shoes, socks if needed, towel, bike prepared (drink bottle filled, snacks) and that’s it.


Some athletes take up the room allotted for three bikes reducing the number of bikes on the racks. Some athletes have too much equipment that gets knocked off and around which then interrupts the progress of other athletes. (safety reason) Everything else should be returned to the car (foot pumps, spare tires, etc.). Some organizers are prepared for this and they provide a designated area for your equipment.

Otherwise ask the OAT officials what to do.

I know you are a newcomer and you do not want to spend all your dollars for all that fancy equipment. You just want to try a triathlon. If you have never done a triathlon before, be at the event venue early enough so you can get ready for the race and ask officials if you have any questions at all.  The space provided as explained is more than enough. The first big bag or Samsonite in a rack area literally puts everything at stake.Racking mountain bikes or other bikes can be technical problem nevertheless, if we put them in the same order like the racing bikes a lot of space will be available for everyone. Now you are in the transition #1 looking for your bike. Do you still remember where it was racked?

Next step: you take off the swim cap, put the goggles beside the bike, next very important step do not miss it:

Option one: You have a triathlon-racing suit: Put on your helmet and then close the clips of the helmet, take the bike off the rack, run with the bike to the mounting line, get on the bike when you behind the line and off you go.

Option two: You do not have a racing suit Put on your T-shirt with the racing number attached to it. Then the helmet and close the straps of your helmet, un-rack the bike, run to the mounting line, get on the bike when you behind the line and off you go. An advice as a race observer. Exercise the stunt with the T-shirt because it is not easy. Your body is wet from the swim and putting on a T-shirt or a bike shirt can be a struggle on its own. Now you are on the bike course. The next article is a short review of swimming and the conduct during the cycling leg of a triathlon and the transition # 2, from the bike to the run.