XTERRA consists of four primary sports - swimming, mountain biking, trail running and TRANSITON. Transition, often overlooked, may be the key to your success.
First, it doesn't take a lot of sweat and time to improve your transition. Second, it's a lot easier to catch competitors in transition than on the course. Third, a quicker transition won't crank your heart rate or drain your energy.
Here are a few basic tips:
Pre-Race Prearation: T1 Swim to Bike –
- Arrive well before the start of the race to organize your transition area.
- Rack your bike by hanging it by the seat, facing the mounting line.
- Put your sunglasses in your helmet.
- Hang your helmet, front facing toward you as you approach your bike with the straps ready to put on.
- Do the same with your shoes, but place them on a colorful towel so you can spot your bike among the others.
- Tie a balloon to the rack near your bike to spot it quickly.
- Some people put a pan of water or extra water bottle nearby to clean their feet. (You may lose a few seconds, but you'll be more comfortable.)
- Pin your race numbers on to your jersey or hang them on an elastic belt.
Where, oh where could my mountain bike be?
- Before going to the race start, pick out your bike as you would enter the transition area from the swim.
- Make specific notes of the rack location. Is it the fourth rack over, second row back? Is it near a particular race banner, etc.?
- During the swim leg, visualize what will happen as you exit the water.
- Think about where your bike is and the order you will do things.
Swim to Bike: T1 –
- Take off your swim goggles and swim cap while running.
- Put your jersey on first. Many competitors lose time, because they put their helmet on before their jersey.
- Next, put on your shoes,
- Then put your helmet, glasses, etc.
- Then lift your bike off the rack, push it down the mount line and out of T1.
- Get on your bike and you are off!
Bike to Run: T2 –
- This transition is much easier.
- Simply dismount your bike and run it to the rack.
- Hang your bike and unbuckle your helmet.
- Put on your running shoes and see ya!
- (Tip: Consider using elastic shoelaces so you don't have to tie your shoes, and wearing a lightweight mesh cap to keep the sun out of your eyes.)
Improving transition time is a simple way to decrease your overall time. A good gauge is the 2000 XTERRA World Championship men's winner Michael Tobin. He posted a T1 time of :56 and a T2 time of :30. His female counterpart Kerstin Weule finished :46 and :30, respectively. The average World Championship competitor times were 2:05 and 1:45. Practice the basic tips above as part of your regular training regimen to keep your transitions smooth. You’ll have two extra chances to gain on your competitors ... T1 and T2.
Wes Hobson is an XTERRA Pro athlete and regular contributor to XTERRA BEAT.