- How do I join?
- What bike should I buy?
- I don’t own a wetsuit, do I need one to race?
- Do I need socks?
- Should I use gels and how many do I need?
- How do I set up transition?
- I have never raced before, what do I need for a triathlon?
- Should I keep my shoes on the bike?
- Do I need aerobars or an aero helmet?
- How does the bike bottle exchange work? Should I use the bike bottle exchange?
Membership is open to all BU students. Contact a club officer for more information.
The bike is the most expensive part of triathlons and is the most difficult for people to afford. Remember that there is other equipment you will need so don’t spend all of your money on a bike. The number one comment I hear occurs after a few months of buying the first bike. “I wish I had a better bike”. There are a few things you can do to avoid this. First, look at bikes and talk to people so you know what level bike you want. Get a feel for the price before you decide how much you want to spend. Most people think they can get a bike for $500 or less. For a race bike this is not the case and this usually leads to people buying the cheapest bike on the rack. In general you should think about spending at least $1000 on a new bike but be willing to go up to $1500. If you can afford more (and you think you will FALL in LOVE with triathlons and will be a STRONG cyclist) I say do it. My general rule is allow yourself to spend a little extra than you would like for a nicer bike. When selecting a bike the number one thing is bike fit. If the bike does not fit you it does not matter if you spent $5000, it will be a bad bike. Make sure you get a sales person that knows what they are talking about and does not just put you on a bike because you like the color or the cost.
The next question you should ask yourself is if you want a triathlon bike or a road bike. The triathlon bikes cannot be used in road races and if you are thinking of doing road races, don’t get a triathlon bike. The advantage of a triathlon bike is that more aerodynamic and they can be cheaper. The most expensive component (shifters) are cheaper on triathlon bikes and can reduce the cost.
The biggest cost saver on the bike are the components (shifters, cassette, cranks, etc.) but those are also the most important. Good components will be lighter and shift better. Be careful of great deals on bikes because they usually come with bad components. When you price compare bikes compare the components first.
if you are planning on joining the BU tri team, wait until you join the team before you buy a bike. Team members that pay dues get a discount through specialized at a local bike shop. This discount can help you get a better bike that you will be more happy with.
1. Most races in the northeast are cold enough for a wetsuit. In USAT races you can wear a wetsuit up to 84 degrees. Getting up to that temperature will drain your energy and a general rule is above 80 degrees only the athletes that will benefit from improved body position or to reduce fear should wear wetsuits. If the water is too cold every swimmer should wear a wetsuit. You need to avoid hypothermia and if you get too cold it will decrease your performance for the bike and the run.
2. Wetsuits help you go faster. It takes time to remove the wetsuit and you always have to question if the time you save is more than the removal of the wetsuit. The time reduction is mainly for swimmers that do not have good form. Swimming wetsuits are designed to be more buoyant in the legs and will force you to be in the correct position. It also keeps you higher in the water which reduces water resistance. Good swimmers do not gain as much speed and often find it uncomfortable to swim in a wetsuit. If it is cold the good swimmers should look into getting sleeveless wetsuits.
Everybody is different. Not using socks will greatly speed up your transitions but will increase the risk of getting blisters. The longer the race is, the more likely your feet will swell and your skin will get tender. Many people that run sockless follow the rule to run sockless for any race that the run is 10K or shorter. ALWAYS do a workout of that distance or greater without socks prior to trying it in a race. This goes for both the bike and the run portion. It is also an advantage to not wear socks if your feet are wet, such as after the swim or if it is raining.
This depends on the distance of the race, how much you weight and how long you will be racing. For shorter races nutrition is not a factor. I typically take gels on the bike because it is easy to eat without losing time. I tape all of my gels on the top tube of the bike so I can quickly rip it off and the top of the gel is removed when I pull it off. In general I take one gel for sprints (1/2 the time I never use it), two for Olympics and five for 70.3s. Those that are are slower or weight more may need more gels. I try to avoid solid food because it is difficult to eat and breath, some people cannot digest solid food and it takes longer for everybody. Some people like jelly beans or shot blocks. I find both take too long to open and eat.
Rule of thumb, keep it simple. Many triathletes get caught up in the transition and want to bring everything under the sun. You only want the bare essentials because the more items you have in transition will only cause you to stop and think about what you need. You will most likely be exhausted in transition and will not be able to think. If you have extra items that you take because you might use will only confuse you.
For the swim to bike transition try to limit it to helmet, bike shoes (socks if a longer race), sun glasses and race belt (if the race requires it for the bike). For the bike to run transition try to limit it to running shoes and race belt. I take a bag so I can throw my warm up clothes and a water bottle in before I race. I tuck the bag out of the way and I never touch it during the race.
When you set up your transition make sure you keep everything in your area. Follow this rule when you set up transition and when you drop off items. There is nothing worse than the triathlete who throws his/her wetsuit in the spot that your bike should go. Lay out your equipment so nothing overlaps and do it in the order of front to back, where the front item is the first item you put on. When you remove items throw it in a NEAT pile that is in the back. I set it up where my bike shoes are first and my socks are rolled open in the shoes. My sun glasses are in my helmet on my handle bars. When I come out of the swim I take off my goggles and swim cap, and remove the top half of my wetsuit before I get into transition (I do all this while I am running). I put everything in hand in the NEAT pile and remove wetsuit. I put my socks and shoes on while standing (maybe kneeling if I am exhausted). Put the sun glasses then helmet on, strap and GO. I never hesitate to check if I forgot anything, just GO. When I get off the bike, rack bike, take off helmet then put in NEAT pile, I keep my bike shoes on my bike so I don’t have to remove them. I put on running shoes (I have quick laces so I don’t need to tie) grab race belt and GO. The race belt is put on as I am running. If you have everything laid out in order you will not forget anything. Don’t put anything in shoes because you will forget it is in there. keep it simple so you can space out your items cleanly and not have your stuff overlapping or flow into the next transition space. If you use anything else keep it in the order that you will grab it. Any extra items make sure it is something you can grab and put on while you are moving. Rule of thumb, do as much as you can while you are moving and not standing in transition.
The basics are bike, running/bike shoes, helmet, race suit and goggles. The rest are optional and everybody has different needs and desires. The optional items are: (recommended) nutrition, wetsuit, race belt, electric tape to tape gels on bike, clothes to change into after the race, warm up clothes that you can run in before the race, sun glasses, socks, bike pump (one per team), tools and sun block; (not necessary) transition towel, bucket to rinse off feet after swim, anything else that people use that will only clutter the transition area. The rule of thumb is to keep it simple and consistent. You do want to prepare for the weather but again keep it simple. If it is going to rain and will be cold only bring one jacket that can handle both. Usually the races start early and are freezing cold. Stay warm in warm ups, both on the bike and run. The more races you do the better you will get at figuring out what is essential. If I don’t use something for two races I assume I don’t need it (with an exception of preparing for weather). Think about your nutrition, gels and drinks. If you are bringing drink powder only take what you need in a zip lock baggie. The one thing that most people forget is the car ride to the race. Make sure you stay feed and hydrated on the car ride. I lost 45 minutes in a race because I dehydrated myself on a 5 hour car ride to the race the day before. Always put your race essentials together the day before when you have time to think about it. Things I forgot because I packed just before I left (wetsuit, bike shoes, race belt, socks) I have yet to forget my bike but I am sure that will happen sooner or later.
If you have never done a triathlon before, NO!! Keeping your shoes on the bike saves a lot of time and if you are comfortable with it you should do it. It is not based on your level as a triathlete but your skill on the bike. It is easy to leave your shoes on the bike for T2 (bike to run) and more difficult for T1 (swim to bike). If you want to try, find someone that has done it before and ask them how to do it. Make sure you practice several times and be extremely comfortable before you do it in a race. Starting with your shoes on the bike for T1 is a little more difficult and requires more practice. Make sure you know the race course before you do this. If the race starts on a hill or if it has a lot of turns in the beginning this is a much more difficult task. I have seen some great triathelets fall putting on their shoes because the bike started on a hill.
No, but they do help. The equipment that you need for triathlons gets expensive quick. Start with the essentials such as a bike, running shoes, bike shoes and a wetsuit. The aerobars is the first upgrade you should think about. Remember to think about this when you are buying a bike. It is often cheaper to get a bike with aerobars because the shifters are cheaper and that is the most expensive component. From there ask someone what is the ratio of benefit to cost. My suggestion is to work on increasing your strength before you start buying better equipment. It is an exponential increase of speed to air resistance. Thus, get faster before you get aero.
You will consistently hear that if you buy some equipment you will automatically get faster. This is not necessarily true because how you feel on race day will have a much bigger effect than your equipment. If you are having a bad day you will actually go slower no matter how great your equipment is. With aerobars you might get slower because of the change in position. If your legs are stronger in one position over another, switching positions will slow you down. Using aerobars will decrease both wind resistance and muscle efficiency. A few training rides will get you back up to speed but make sure you train in aero position.
The rule of thumb is take care of your own nutrition. Only use the race nutrition on the run or during emergencies, ie. if you run out of liquid because it is too hot. As the races get longer it becomes more difficult to follow this rule. Everybody has nutrition that they can digest easier and some that they cannot digest. You don’t want to be in a race and be forced to take nutrition that you cannot digest. It is easy to carry enough nutrition for races up to 70.3s.