The morning of my first triathlon, I packed a few bags with gear, loaded my Cervelo onto the roof of my car, and took off. Thirty minutes later, I arrived at the race, started setting up my transition area (as previously practiced) and pinned my number on. I was feeling good after the pool swim, and hopped onto my bike only to notice about a mile down the road that I had completely forgotten to put water bottles into the cages. That’s what we in the ranks of triathlon call being stupid–that’s not a technical term actually, but it’s nicer than what I was calling myself for the rest of the ride. Relying on aid stations isn’t exactly an ideal situation.
Avoid my mistakes, and be careful to pack all your gear THE DAY BEFORE. The morning before is a good idea, so that you have a day to pick up anything extra you might need. A couple of key things to remember:
- Put air in your tires the night before, and check the pressure again in the morning. If they’re low, you’ve got a slow leak.
- Check the weather report, and make sure you have any extra cold weather gear like arm warmers, leg warmers, or a jacket packed–in case the forecast calls for it.
- Clean your bike with some baby wipes and make sure it’s all in proper working order. Check the brakes, shift through all the gears, and fix anything glaring. I once went to a race with my rear derailleur clicking–not a fun bike leg. Heck, you might even clean and lube the chain (which is why you want to do this at least 24 hours ahead of time).
The Packing List:
Since it’s easy to forget things with the mountain of gear you have to bring to a triathlon, printing a checklist is the perfect way to make sure you’ve got everything you need. Below, I’ve listed all the main items you must have for a successful race–you might add or subtract based on your own preferences, but this should get you started You can also view a printable version of this by clicking here!
- Cap (you’ll want to bring an extra one if it’s a cold swim, even if the race gives you one)
- Timing Chip (if applicable–just be careful not to wear it to double check your transition area before the race starts, your time will probably get screwed up)
- Bike (you never know)
- Water Bottles (filled with your favorite electrolyte drink like FLUID!)
- Tire/Flat Repair Kit (yes, even though saddlebags are against cycling cool code, hook one to your bike with all the essentials in it 😉 ). Spare tube, repair kit, pump/C02 cartridges and chuck, tire boot, levers.
- GUs or your favorite nutrition–the cool kids tape their GU to the top tube
- Race Belt (don’t forget to affix your race number to it!)
- Hat or Visor
- Socks (yes, I know)
- Body Glide
- Flip Flops
- Transition Towel
- Baby Powder
- Post Race Clothes
- Recovery Drink
With all that covered, you should be good for race day! If you can think of any other items I’ve left off the list, feel free to add a comment–pass on your expertise to other racers. 🙂