9 Tips To Master Your Swim To Bike Transition In A Triathlon

If you are a triathlon newbie or are interested in improving your triathlon transition skills, we have a few tricks of the trade to share with you when it comes to transitions. These will help you transition from swim to bike quickly and smoothly.



1. Increase your kick before exiting the water


female swimming freestyle in a wetsuit in the ocean


Doing this will help get your body ready to change from the horizontal swimming position to a vertical running and then riding position. This will make this process less of a shock to your body. It will help to get your legs moving more efficiently and help to avoid dizziness that can be experienced as you stand up exiting the water.



2. Wetsuit spraying

baby oil trislide and cooking oil

Spray your arms and legs with baby oil, Tri Slide or cooking oil spray. Also spray the outside of your wetsuit on the arms and legs. This will help you pull your wetsuit down quickly. The spray on the outside of your wetsuit helps your wetsuit slide over itself more easily as you pull it off.



3. Put your goggles on your head and take your wetsuit half down as you are running from the water to your bike


a male and female triathlete taking wetsuits down as they run


It is a good idea to take your goggles off your eyes as soon as you stand up when exiting the swim. This helps eliminate the feeling of being disoriented when exiting the water.

Depending on how long the transition run is up to your bike (some of them can seem very long!) it is a good idea to take your wetsuit arms off and pull your wetsuit down to your waist. This allows you to run a little more freely and means once you get to your bike in transition, all there is left to do is take your lower wetsuit off.



4. Landmark your bike


triathlon bike transition set up


Some transition areas can have hundreds, even thousands of bikes in them (for popular races) so it is important that you have found a landmark or left something in your transition area to remind you where your bike is to make it easy to find. Often during a race, you may become flustered, having a marker to help you get to your bike in transition takes away this stress.



5. Tape your gels to the frame of your bike


energy gel taped to triathlon race bike


If you use energy gels during a race, you can simply tape them to your frame so that you can pull them off during the race easily. Make sure you tape them good enough that they stay on, but ensure that they are also easy enough to pull off and consume during the race. It is a good idea to play around with this one in training.

Make sure to keep hold of your rubbish and never drop it anywhere except in a bin. The majority of triathlon races will have a rule that you are not allowed to discard rubbish (such as used gel packets) on the race course. To avoid penalties many athletes store the packets down their tri suits for the remainder of the race. Make sure to play around with this in training before race day.



6. Have your helmet hanging on your handlebars


bike helmet hanging off bike handle bars in ironman transition


Depending on the transition rack style it is easiest to grab your helmet from your handlebars so that you don’t waste time and energy picking it up off the ground. You can simply sit it over your handlebar with one of the straps, making sure that your helmet is not clipped up.



7. Have your race belt in your helmet



Many age group races require you to wear a race belt to display your race number. Some athletes put their belt on under their wetsuits so that they don’t have to worry about putting it on in the transition area. However, if you are doing a non-wetsuit swim this will not work as well. If this is the case, you can simply put the belt in your helmet and slip it on before your helmet goes on.



8. Rubber bands for your bike shoes


rubber bands on bike shoes


Most triathletes have clip in shoes for cycling. You can set up your bike shoes with rubber bands so that they are ready for you to jump straight onto your bike and into. You simply attach one end of the rubber bands to the back of your shoe and hook the other end over a screw or your back wheel skewer to make sure that your shoes will stay still and are flat ready for your feet to go into them when you mount your bike.

It is important to do a few practices of this before you do it in a race.



9. Powder in your bike shoes


baby powder for your shoes


You may want to try putting powder in your bike shoes (and also in your run shoes). This helps you slip your wet feet into them more easily. Some people find this useful, and others prefer to not do this. It is something that you can test out and see if it will be beneficial for you to have a smoother transition.


Natasha is an elite triathlete and has been racing competitively for 12 years. Natasha is passionate about open water swimming and sharing her ideas and knowledge for athletes interested in getting involved and improving their skills.