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Triathlon Transitions: How To Rack Your Bike!

How To Rack Your Bike

Put some thought into your triathlon transitions.
Lake Placid Transition Area

Ironman Lake Placid is one of my favorite transition areas.

Why Bother With Such Detail?

Your little plot of real estate within the greater transition area is sacred ground.    This includes your section on the bike rack and a little bit of ground next to the bike tire.   If all athletes respect each other’s borders, peace and harmony will abound.    Disrespect these boundaries and you might witness an exchange of heated words or worse.  Chicago Triathlon 2009:  she moved her stuff into his area and they almost came to blows.  (And that fight would have been hard to call!)

But the main reason to fuss over the bike rack is speed.  A clean and well organized transition area will help you get in and out as fast as possible.  Don’t be messy.

What To Do With Your Gear

Obviously, the bike goes on the bike rack.  Some races specify an exact location on the rack.  Others just designate a rack for a range of race numbers and it’s up to the athletes to place their bikes in a civilized manner.  Be courteous here, because this is where everyone establishes their boundaries.

Specific Locations

If your race requires you to rack your bike in a specific location on

Some races tell you exactly where you have to rack your bike.

the rack, there’s no strategy here.  There’s nothing you can do to gain a position advantage.  If you get stuck against the fence… so be it.  That just means you have to make up precious seconds elsewhere.  It’s not the end of the world.

Anywhere On The Rack

Other races expect you to place your bike in any position on a rack

Some races just assign racks a range of bib numbers.

or set of racks.  Each rack has a range of bib numbers and as long as your bib number is within that range, you can park anywhere on the rack.

Now we’ve got a little strategy to work with!

The most desirable spot on the rack is closest to the aisle and pointing toward the bike exit.  The least desirable spot is the opposite: against a fence pointing away from bike exit.

General Rule

Rack the bike by the tail of the saddle if you have that option.  If you’re not sure what I mean, have a look at the picture above of the red saddle at position 216.   See how easy it is to just lift the bike and GO!

If you do have that option, never –

and I mean NEVER

– rack the bike by the nose of the saddle.   Most people who rack the bike by the

Racking your bike by the nose of the saddle means you have to pull the bike under the rack to get it out.

nose of the saddle take much longer to get out of transition.  If you do, you’d better have a good reason because it’s a big time waster.

Some athletes are more comfortable racking their bikes by the handlebars.

So what are you supposed to do if your saddle is not designed to be racked by the tail?  Rack it by the handlebars… if you can.

Some bikes don’t have saddles or handlebars that fit into my neat little strategy.  In that case, you will have to rack by the nose of the saddle.   Sorry 🙁

Put A Little Thought Into Your Transition

With a little foresight and practice, your transitions will be lightning fast.  The main point here is to train yourself to not slow down.  Do whatever you have to do to get through T1 and T2 as fast as you can while being considerate of the other athletes around you.

See you at the races.

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