“Preparing for your next race? Here are answers to the most asked triathlon online questions. Read more now!”
Q. Do I have to ride my bike in a pair of briefs?
A. You can change from your swimwear into your bike gear in the first transition from swim to bike but there are far less time-consuming options. One idea is to invest in a tri-suit, which can be worn for all three disciplines, but if you don’t fancy an all-in-one number, there are also two-piece suits available which do the job just as well.
Tri suits are worn underneath your wetsuit and are made of quick-drying fabric so that once you’re out of the water onto the bike course you won’t feel soaked to the skin. It means that, in theory at least, you can peel off your wetsuit post-swim, run to your bike in transition, put on your bike helmet and shoes and off you go. Nudity during a transition and topless cycling or running leads to instant disqualification, so wearing a suit is vital.
Q. Should I use tri bars?
A. If you are new to triathlon there is no point buying tri bars as they are not essential kit. However, if you are already a self-confessed tri-addict and are looking to save a few seconds every mile then it’s worth reading on.
The more upright you are the more wind resistance and drag you will create, which will slow you down. A pair of tri bars, if positioned correctly, will allow you to ride in a narrower, flatter and therefore more aerodynamic position, enabling you to ride faster for the same effort. In short, it’s free time.
If in doubt, seek expert advice and get used to tri bars in training before racing with them. There is also a trade-off between speed and comfort: you might be able to ride a few miles in a very flat position, but if it affects your breathing or causes neck and back pain you’ll find a more upright position is preferable. The secret to tri bars is to see what works for you.
Q. What if I get a puncture?
A. Don’t attempt to continue cycling as you could damage your bike. Always race with a saddle tool bag with inner tubes, tyre levers and a multi-tool. Also have a small pump attached to your bike frame. It should not end your race, so you need to know how to fix one.
- Take off the wheel. Then take off the valve cap and unscrew the valve to deflate the tyre.
- Remove one side of the tyre from the wheel and take out the inner tube while keeping the other side of the tyre around the wheel.
- Feel the inside and outside of the tyre to check for the debris which may have caused the puncture.
- You will then need to put the new inner tube inside the tyre and put the tyre back on the wheel using your tyre levers.
- Pump up the tyre and put the wheel back on, ensuring you have tightened the quick-release levers properly.
Q. Will someone swim over me?
A. The opening metres of the swim in a triathlon can sometimes be a little frantic, but this depends on the size of the race and the standard of the field. Remember, though, that triathletes tend to be a friendly bunch who aren’t swimming over you for any malicious reason, it’s just part of the fun of racing.
The big event
In events where competitors start in waves of 150 or more, things can become hectic and it is possible you may find someone swimming over you, under you or even across you. The swim usually becomes calmer after the first 100m or so as the faster swimmers pull ahead and the field becomes more spread out.
It is highly unlikely that you will encounter problems at small-field events, and the majority of UK sprint-distance races tend to be about this size. This means there is usually space for each swimmer, but do prepare yourself for things to be busy at the start. More at Your Triathlon Questions Answered