Tri Team Tips: Gear & Transition


If this is your first triathlon, you might be overwhelmed on what to bring to the race. It does pay to be over prepared but your personal space in the transition area is small, so only bring what you will need and use to the race site.  Feel free to bring any other “what-if” items in the car!

As you gain experience, you will definitely start to carry less and less gear with you to races. It doesn’t need to be overwhelming but we wanted to give you some tips and walk you through the transition process so you aren’t surprised. Our team will meet in the transition area and we can help point out where to go when, etc. in person too. 

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General tips:

  • A larger, regular-sized backpack with a lot of pockets is great to bring in the car, but a small lightweight drawstring bag will be great to bring into the transition area. Just remembered that if you have to ride your bike to the transition area from parking, it is much easier to do so with a backpack rather than any other type of cumbersome bag.
  • In the car be sure to bring extra gear for “just in case” scenarios like rain, colder weather, etc. but only take to the race site “must-have” items.
  • Be sure to put on sunscreen and body glide, if you use it, before you get to the race.
  • You should be pretty dry by the end of the race but you might want to have an extra towel in the car to sit on for the way home.
  • There will be water and Gatorade on the run but no hydration stations on the bike so fill your water bottle(s) up the night before – just don’t forget them in the morning (like I always do!)
  • Nutrition – again, make sure you think about what you will need for PRE race and POST race…not just during the race.  You must graze as you prepare for the race.  You’ll be hungry (nervous energy).  Keep that fuel tank topped off.  Team Z breakfast/lunch at our tents eliminates the need for much of this at “Team” races.
  • Bring a change of clothes for after the race (i.e. shorts, t-shirt, underwear and comfy shoes).
  • Make your equipment checklist well before the race – or use ours below!
  • Lay out everything as you check it off the list then pack it away so you don’t forget what you’ve already packed up.

What to wear:

  • The easiest option is one outfit all day – a trisuit is the easiest option however just think “simple is best” (a swimsuit with a pair of shorts and/or tank for the bike/run works great!)
  • If you will be wearing different items during each portion, have that laid out so it is easily accessible when needed (i.e. if you are putting a tank/shorts on for the bike have that ready to grab closest to you…if you are wearing tank/shorts for the run have that on top of your run shoes)
  • Whatever you wear, make sure you have trained in it so you don’t risk chaffing, blisters or just being uncomfortable!
  • Make sure you have on your race chip!

For types of bags, they sell super nice transition bags on the internet but honestly again, any back pack, like a cheap drawstring bag, will work (they usually give you a free one if you pick up your packet the day before the race).  Especially for this short of a race, a small, lightweight bag will be the easiest!


Suggested packing list:

  • ID (especially if you picking up your race packet the day of – check which option you choose/paid for!)
  • Race Directions (packet pickup, race location, start time)
  • Goggles
  • Any clothes you will bike/run in (you can wear your trisuit and/or “racing clothes” to the race and leave anything you aren’t swimming in but will run/bike in at transition for the race)
  • Swim Cap (provided by race)
  • Run shoes
  • Socks (quick dry work best)
  • Run Hat (optional)
  • Bike Shoes (optional)
  • Bike Helmet
  • Bike Gloves (optional)
  • Sunscreen (or apply before race)
  • Race Number Belt (or number attached to what you will cycle/run in)
  • Chip Strap (provided by race)
  • Transition Towel
  • Race Nutrition (for this short race a filled water bottle is typical sufficient)
  • Pre Race Nutrition (anything you want to eat right before the race)
  • Body Glide (optional and can apply before)
  • Sunglasses (optional)
  • Race Watch/HRM (optional)

Other optional items to consider:

  • Typically a tri-suit (or whatever you will wear to swim…aka swimsuit) is worn to the race with clothes over it – you can either leave ‘non race clothes’ in a bag at transition or in your car
  • Additional race gear if the weather is different than what you had planned
  • Bike pump – usually they have bike techs there for before-the-race needs but if you are nervous and well-versed in using one, it wouldn’t hurt
  • Some people bring “throw away” flip flops for the swim start ($2 flip flops you can toss however that isn’t necessary and most just walk to the swim in bare feet)
  • Back up goggles in your bag in case yours snap
  • Plastic bag for transition gear (if it is raining)
  • Extra towel (if it is raining)
  • Money/credit card if you can store safely (like in a bike bag under your saddle)
  • Medication (Advil, etc.)
  • Deodorant
  • Phone

TRAINER TIP: As an FYI, I wear my tri-suit with a shirt over it and old, cheap flip-flops to the race. At the transition area I drop off my bike, helmet, run shoes, bike shoes, socks, sunglasses, towel and the t-shirt/flip-flops I was wearing (or sometimes I wear my flip-flops to the swim start and ditch them there) I carry my swim cap and goggles to the swim start. Again, keep it simple! Oh and I put my ID (for packet pick-up) and phone in my little zipper bag under my bike saddle. I take out my phone and run with it (with 4 kids at grandpa’s I know I will be called about something at some point after the race:) and we can’t get back into transition right away so I find that works best for me).

Once you get into the transition area:

  • Find your rack based on your race number – your spot is pre-numbered
  • Your bike will fit on the rack by the seat or handlebars

Lay out your gear in the order you will need to use it, last to first (run shoes at the back of the towel, bike necessities closest to you, swim stuff anywhere since you will take it to the start of the race).

  • Put your towel down next to or under your bike (which is racked).
  • Undo your shoes so they are ready to be put on – including your socks!
  • Race belt with number attached on top of shoes.
  • Put your helmet on top of your bike handlebars upside down
  • If you are using sunglasses, put them in your helmet
  • Water bottle already in the holder on your bike

Have a transition strategy:

  • After you set up your transition area,  get to know the traffic pattern of the transition area before the race starts so you don’t have to think about its you are racing:
    • Walk from the swim exit to your bike.
    • Also make sure to walk from your bike to the bike exit, and from the bike finish back to your bike.
    • Lastly you will want to walk to the run exit.
  • Find visible landmarks to help you find your bike. When you come out of the swim it will all look the same. Some people have balloons to mark their spots, if there is one near you, remember that. Otherwise remember where you are at: edge of the area, street sign, curb, fence, etc.
  • Make sure you realize how far you will run from the swim to the transition area to your bike!
  • Find the PSF Tri Team in transition – we will help you!

Exiting the swim and mounting your bike:

  • Before you leave the water, as you exit the swim and run up the beach towards your bike, take your goggles and cap off
  • Run steadily think about what you are going to be doing in the transition before you start the bike. It isn’t a far run but enough to surprise you if you aren’t prepared to jog right out of the swim.
  • Once you get to your bike, step on your towel to quickly ‘dry’ them and put on your socks/shoes and anything else you want to wear for the ride.
  • If you have sunglasses, grab them from your helmet and put them on.
  • Grab your helmet, snap it before you grab your bike off the rack!
  • You will need to run your bike to the bike start – be careful not to fall! You can only mount your bike AFTER the bike start line. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO RIDE YOUR BIKE IN TRANSITION

After the bike:

  • Ge ready to dismount! Start to lighten up and spin in a higher gear as you approach the end. You have to try and prepare yourself for the run as well as not fall as you get off the bike.
  • If you are nervous about getting off the bike, stay off to the side and take your time. You must completely dismount the bike before you cross the dismount line.
  • Run your bike back to transition and mount it back in your spot. Remove your helmet and change your shoes (and put on anything else you’ll need for your run…don’t forget your race belt or shirt with race number attached!)
  • Head to the run out and begin your run!

After you finish the race:

  • Make sure the race staff gets your race chip at the finish.
  • Find the PSF Tri Team (veer off to the right) and celebrate!
  • You will not be able to remove gear and your bike from the transition area until a certain time (usually when the majority of the racers are on the run) so take some time to celebrate your achievement!

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