Transitions are often one of the most daunting areas of triathlons. It is also what makes this multisport truly unique and enjoyable!

Many new triathletes are often unequipped to face the challenge and as a result post disappointing times, while seasoned triathletes may still find they can greatly improve their times.

This article will show you how to shave a few seconds off your transitions times.

The first transition, from the swim leg of the event to the bike portion, requires you to:

- clearly identify your location in the transition area. Practice entering the transition area through the "swim in" gate and find markers to guide you -- possibly trees -- and count the number of rows before your turn to get to your bike. Make sure to note which side of the bike you want to get to (handlebars or saddle?)

- keep gear to a minimum, only bring what you need and keep spared in your bag or in your car. Less clutter means less confusion. Less confusion means faster times.

- attach what you can to your bike -- tape your gels to your frame, have your bottles in the cages, and so on.

- lay out the rest of you gear in the order that you will need each item. Make a mental note of where you will ditch your wetsuit once the swim portion completed. Separate the bike items from the run items. One simple trick consists in resting your helmet down on your aerobars with your sunglasses on top (temples open). It is often a good idea at this stage to attach your running belt (to which your racing bib is attached), though you may decide to wait until the run portions (some events may not give you the choice).

- get rolling quickly and finish getting ready while on the bike. As an example, having your bike shoes on the bike will save you a lot of time. Pedaling your way out while sliding your feet in the shoes will be faster than sitting down to put your shoes on -- but this requires practice!

The second transition, from the bike leg to the run can be greatly improved with the following tactics:

- Get your legs moving. About 3 or 4 miles before the end of the bike portion, increase your cadence, get out of the saddle a bit to stretch out and increase the blood flow in your legs. This will help minimize the jelly leg feeling when you first dismount.

- Get off the bike barefoot: Start sliding your feet out of your shoes about half a mile before the dismount line, and get off the bike barefoot -- this may not be suitable for all courses, thus the need to see the race site before the event.

- Pay close attention to where you need to go, the transition area may look a lot different now (depending on your wave, you may have started when all the bikes had already left and come back when most athletes have already started the run portion!)

- Remove your helmet as you bend down to grab your shoes -- if socks are required, make sure they are partially rolled in to speed up the process and avoid getting your wet feet caught in your socks. Sit down if you must, and quickly tie your shoes with either a quick tie mechanism or elastic laces.

- Take the shortest way out all the while finishing buckling your running belt, adjusting your hat or your hair...

Some of these tips are best illustrated in motion, visit

To sum up, the basic rules to help you improve your transition times are:
- if you can do it while moving, do it!
- practice, practice, practice
- visit the race site to get familiar with the location.

Any comments or additions welcome!