And so it was I volunteered for todays Austin Triathlon. When volunteering I was asked what I wanted to do, is there an option? Transition of course. I also put my name down for the finish line, even though it was only an Olympic distance race, it might still be fun.
I started out at 4.30, walking up and down in the triathlon area, generally trying to be helpful etc. It always surprises me how many people show up to race without having both bar ends plugged. Today there were three people who were risking everything by having a bar end unplugged. Back when I was a teenager riding motorcross bikes I learned to my own experience what this can mean. If you even get to see my left calf, there is a 1-inch hole, where I took a jump and came down on top of the bike before me, whose handlebars had snapped when he crashed, the open ended bar went straight through my leather boots and pants and into my leg ouch! Imagine, you are rounding a corner on a race, theres lose gravel, the front wheel twitches, before you know it that unplugged bar end has pierced the skin and punctured your lung. It could easily happen. Plug those bar ends folks!
Getting people out of transition when it is officially closed is always difficult. Race organisers rarely remember to state in the race pack what time the transition closed. Today was no different, there were loads of people who showed up just 30-mins before the start of the race. NO matter how small the race is get there at least an hour before the start, get your transition organised, then go look at the start, focus on entry and exit, take your swim goggles, swim hat and go visualise the swim course. Be early, be organised, relax, best your best.
For the race there are loads of things that can go wrong, when you work in transition what you see though are the things we, the competitors, mess up. I learned something new though for USAT races today though, so did the referee. Number 8, a young guy came flying into transition in 3rd place, he had his bike in one hand, his helmet in the other. I took his number and the numbers of maybe 10-12 others who did similar. When the ref appeared I gave her the numbers, she went away and came back with the rule book. We read it through twice and yes, as far as we could see this was legal. Provided you are not riding your bike, you can remove your helmet. Not anywhere else in the world and don't even think about this at an Ironman race, USAT needs to tidy this up, along with the guys and no shirts rule.
What is it with people that can't run with their bike by holding the saddle? Its just confidence and practise. Go ahead, tell me all the reasons why it doesn't work for you.
Ultimately they are all invalid. If your bike doesn't got straight when you are running with it by holding the saddle, then there is something wrong with your bike. Either the bars are unbalanced, too much weight on one side or the other; or the steering head needs replacing or is done up too tight, or is too lose. All these things can also cause you to lose control of the bike while riding, get it fixed. Of course in transition what you see is people weaving back and forward trying to steer their bike by the bars and run, often stretched out at the same time. Practice folks, practice!
Race numbers - What is it with people and their race number on the run? Yes, I can excuse all those novices who just plain forgot. All went back without complaint and got theirs. Those that had them on the back moved them to the front. But, there were at least two women who said "I left it in transition and am not going back to get it". The problem with this is as they shout this they are running past, which means you can't take their race number, its cheating "ladies", everyone has to have one.
iPods. Now, this is a tough one. Why is it some people, mostly women it has to be said, think its ok to race with ipods? Yeah I know it seems harmless, especially on the run. But its against the rules. Almost everyone that got a time penalty today can thank me. Especially since for much of the race I was working on the finish line. What galled me though were the two people who effectively said, go ahead give me a penalty. What they obviously didn't know is that you can get three penalties for the same offense from different officials. Three penalties = DQ! No ipods please.
That's it folks, there are loads of small things. The big guy who walked towards me, looked me in the eye and said "is there anywhere I can take a dump?" - most of these are pure comedy. Then there is the "nudity in transition" rule. I mostly wouldn't complain about this, after all if you are happy to strip in front of me, I'm happy to watch, but really...
Enjoy your first couple of races folks, after that, volunteer to help in transition, not only will you learn more than a dozen races, but you'll have great fun as well!