Racing and Transition

A post on the Tri-Talk newsgroup recently asked about using clipless pedals in triathlon, I wrote this in response and thought I'd post it here for others. Please feel free to post comments or questions.
jayray wrote:"Just getting used to using clipless pedals - any tips on the best way to mount and dismount from the bike will be appreciated.

And is it possable to run with cleats?"
Click to enlarge

Do you mean during a race?

If yes:
  1. Put bike in easy gear
  2. Mount the shoes in the pedals
  3. Make sure the pedals/shoes are parallel to the ground, left food forward
  4. loop a small elastic band through the rear heel tab on your shoes. If you don't have a rear heel tab you can either buy much longer bands and hook them under Look cleats or find some other place to connect the band to the shoe
  5. Fasten the other end of the band for the left shoe around the downtube, probably on the front gear mech.
  6. Fasten the right shoe to the rear gear mech. or around the lug on the rear stays etc.)
  7. When you arrive in transition, helmet on, number belt on, grab the bike and run on the left side of the bike holding the saddle with your right hand - to make this easier I always rack my bike by the bars and NOT the saddle
  8. When you are past the mount line get your stride ready and in one swift move place your left hand on the bars and your left foot on the front pedal
  9. A fraction of a second later swing your right leg around the back wheel and saddle and onto the right pedal, releasing your right hand from the saddle and grasp the bars(see the picture above, my right hand is still on the saddle for control when the right leg is already on its way around to the pedal)
  10. Once your foot is on the right pedal start pedalling.... the bands will snap - you need to do this fast enough so you don't wobble and fall off!
  11. Pedal down the road until you get to at least 16MPH, at a safe point reach down put your left foot in the shoe
  12. Pedal again to regain momentum
  13. When safe reach down and put your right foot in and you are done.

Coming back in is basically the opposite....

  1. Well before the dismount line, remove your right foot from the shoe, keep pedalling
  2. Remove your left foot from the shoe
  3. Pedal to the dismount line and just before getting there swing your right foot over the crossbar
  4. Standing on your left foot and gliding in with your right foot tucked behind your left...
  5. When you get to the dismount line, drop your right foot, then your left
  6. Let go of the bars with your right hand, grab the saddle
  7. Let go with your left hand and run holding the saddle...

Practise this on a field somewhere until you can do it perfectly and then try it in the car park of an office or out-of-town shopping center car park at night after its closed.... no one will see you if you fall off or trip! I've saved more time by practising this than I have after 3-years of swim training. I'm often in the top-10 of T1/T2 times at an event!

Last week I was 1-min 15-seconds including the run in and out, and I wasted 10-15 seconds becuase my helmet lock had tightened and I couldn't get it done up... d'oh. I'd have had the 5th fatest T1 time otherwise...</span>
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Just wanted to say hello to another triman,
The Alabama Tri-man
This topic came up on and I contributed the following:

While there is some merit to discussing the construction and stifness
of MTB vs Road shoes, it really is getting off the point.

Its not difficult to learn to do a running mount with your shoes
already on your pedals. Doing it this way can save anything from
30-seconds to 120-seconds depending on length of the transition area
etc. and the speed with which you can stand still in transition and get
your shoes on.

If I told you that you could save 90-seconds in your swim for an hours
practise you'd be out doing it this afternoon. You just need to apply
the same to transition practise. I regularly come top-10 overall in
transition times in races, often beating pro's, given my running is
hampered by a severaly disfigured right leg this is both surprising and
I need to save time where I can. See my blog from last Sundays race
where I was 7th overall in T1 including a number of elite, . I was
10th in T1 in the 2002 World Age group champs.

The secret is to find a field or astro turf area where you can
practise. You just need your bike, helmet, shoes and 20-24 1-inch
elastic bands and a bucket. he bucket is needed as a transition stand.
a chair could also be used. You attach the bands to the shoes either by
the small heal loop, or if your shoes don't have one, the small heal
raise on most shoes. Then attach the band to somewhere that will hold
the shoes parallel while you run with the bike.

You then rest the bike against the bucket, walk back 50yds, sprint to
the bike, helmet on, grab the bike run foward at least 50yds and then
leap on, cycle for a short distance; get off; walk back; reset your
equipment; go back and do it again and again and again until you can
make a faultless smooth transition from running to cycling, not stops.
Its important to have a decent run either side of the bike to simulate
race conditions.

Once you can do this, you can then go out on the street somewhere quiet
and practise getting your feet in your shoes and doing them up. This
has to be done at a reasonable speed 14-18mph, no 8-10mph wobbles

I've described the steps for the whole process here in a blog post:

Once you've managed going out, you can master coming back in. I
overtook 12 people in the last 50m of Sundays race. The amount of
messing about, and the slowness of people always amuses me, then I
remember I was once like that, a novice, then I put the practise in!
I found the whole thread on socks, running in shoes etc. had been mirrored onto another triathlon chatroom, Triweek. Here is a link for that discussion:

and another relevant contribution from me.

Bob Haase wrote:
> The one thing I did a while ago to speed up my transitions was to ditch
> the socks.[/color]

Ahh well another tip. I do socks for the longer races. Well I can't
make up my mind about socks for Half iron, and for Iron sitting in the
changing tent and putting socks on isn't a big deal.

So, if for a race you are not sure about socks, either becuase of
distance, new shoes, etc. put your socks together with your running
shoes in transition. Off the bike, into your shoes and out of
transition with your socks in your hands.

Even if you want to do this in an Olympic distance race you'll be
better off sat on a kirb 100yds from transition than you will be trying
to get them on in transition, especially busy, packed ones.

For half distance I tend to treat transitions just like sprints, fast
out, fast in, fast out, no socks. The first sign of any foot pain, sit
on a kirb and put my socks on. Looks odd, but assuming you have elastic
laces/lace locks, it really doesn't cost you much time. And anyone I've
taught this trick too and timed in and out of transition is always able
to put the socks on quicker sat on the sat of the road than stumbling
around in transition!
transition area concerns...
Make sure the transition area isn't filled with dagger rocks to wreck your feet! In the dark they looked like pebbles....turned out to be more like glass!