Most of us at the end of the triathlon season pack up our transition bags and all of its content to stash it away in the closet until the next season of racing rolls around. We then go dig it out to find that gel that has expired over the winter, that small beach of sand at the bottom of the bag, that race number still attached to our race belt from the final race of the season… sound familiar?
Here are a few things to check off your “to-do” list to be more prepared rolling up to your first race of the season…
1. Soak your wetsuit – Wetsuits are kind of like sponges; they retain some water even weeks between swims making them flexible but when dry the neoprene become brittle, less-stretchy and more susceptible to tears. Before you put your wetsuit on for the first swim of the season soak it in the bathtub to allow the suit to absorb some water so you won’t be the one on race day with a big wetsuit tear!
2. Take inventory of your tri gear – What got lost over the winter? Is your tube of Body Glide empty? What got misplaced? Make a list of all your race day essentials and within the weeks pre-race either track them down or head to the store and shop for new. Don’t leave it until the week of your race or hope the race expo will have what you are looking for. Be pro-active and track down all of your gear ahead of time.
3. Test out all of your gear – Try everything out & on! Does your race suit still fit? Are the tires on your race wheels that have been hanging up all winter in race shape? And that new aero helmet you got for Christmas be sure to take it for a ride to make sure the fit is just right! Try out ALL of your gear that you will be using on race day. You don’t want a DNF beside your name or to be held up because of something that you could have addressed beforehand.
4. Tune-up your bike – Remember that spring is the time that local bike shops get busy – get your bike in early! Replace the parts that need replacing – is it time for a new chain? Are your gears shifting well? Do you need to adjust your brakes? Have your local shop check things over to make sure you’ll be safe and at your fastest on race day.
5. Rehearse your transition – Do a run through of exactly what you will be doing in the 1 st & 2nd transitions. Practice getting your shoes on, buckling your helmet, getting on and off your bike. The transition area and mount/dismount line can get busy as you know so run through your progression to take away uncertainty and clean up your transitions. You don't want to be fumbling with your helmet and dealing with mis-gearing your bike at the mount line.
6. Have a race plan – A, B & C… plan out your race morning and then make a back-up plan or a few! Take into consideration time to visit and catch-up with old friends. Allow yourself time to get parked and use the washroom.
We are all a little rusty and out of habit at the first race of the season, give yourself plenty of leeway to make adjustments to your plan.