Triathlete in transition

My book Triathlete In Transition is an inspirational and common sense guide for those new too triathlon.

There’s a reason why triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports on the planet. It has captured the imagination of so many because it’s a sport that has changed the lives of ordinary people all over the world.

It does not require you to have the perfect athletic body or to be a highly skilled swimmer, biker, or runner.

As a matter of fact, there are many people who catch the triathlon bug but can’t swim a stroke. Perhaps they haven’t run or biked for years, yet still take up the challenge of triathlon.

triathlete in transition book

Triathlete In Transition. The perfect book for the beginner triathlete.

In the process they learn new skills, improve fitness levels, make new friends, and attain an improved level of over-all health and well-being.

Every single year the senior age-group categories in Ironman Triathlons continue to grow.

Many people are beginning to realize that just because they reach 55 or 65 they do not have to stop being active and perhaps even competitive.

The focus of Triathlete In Transition is to guide and inspire new triathletes as they begin their triathlon journey.

Much like my two “Ironstruck” books, Triathlete In Transition is not just another triathlon training book. Yes it will guide you as you work your way toward your first triathlon. It will also inspire and motivate you to become more than you ever thought possible.

Regardless of your fitness level or athletic ability as you start on your amazing journey. TRIATHLETE IN TRANSITION has the potential to help change the course of your life forever.

In order to cover as many important components of your preparation as possible, I have invited along seven guest writers to share their wisdom and knowledge with you.

The guest experts include…

STEVE KING–The voice of Ironman Canada


TERRY LAUGHIN–The creator of the TOTAL IMMERSION swim concept

as the featured contributors to TRIATHLETE IN TRANSITION.

We share in a common goal of doing all we can to make your triathlon journey a rewarding and exciting experience.

For more information on being a more successful triathlete or Ironman be sure to have a look at the books I have written. These books have helped many triathletes around the world realize their Ironman and triathlon dreams and goals.

You can visit my ironstruck book store and find the perfect book for you. Excellent for the new or experienced triathlete doing their very first try a tri triathlon or the Ironman.

Here are some testimonials from people who have read my books.

Ironman bike pace

Ironman bike pace impacts the marathon and final race result.

The 112-mile bike is the pivotal leg of the Ironman Triathlon. How your Ironman bike turns out begins with the way you manage your energy expenditure in the 2.4-mile swim before you even get on your bike. The energy you expend in the swim and bike combined directly impacts the marathon.

If you find yourself out of energy early on in the marathon and become part of the Ironman death march it will also be reflected in your final result when you cross the finish line.

Here are five ways to get the most out of your Ironman bike pace.

  • Remaining emotionally composed and swimming with a sustainable, relaxed swim stroke sets up the bike leg.
  • How you leave transition one is crucial.
  • Don’t compare your training rides to the 112-mile Ironman bike.
  • Stay out of the big chain-ring for most of the bike.
  • Pace is the key.

***The Ironman swim directly impacts the bike leg and in most cases, dictates the direction your entire race will eventually turn out. If you get caught up in the adrenaline-charged emotion of the race start you will raise your heart-rate and begin burning off much-needed energy right at the beginning of the race.

It’s crucial to have the mindset that you will remain as calm as possible during the swim. That means controlling fear, excitement, and anger.

People are often new to open water swimming and as a result tend to fear it and for months they dread what race morning will bring. It’s important to realize that in pretty much every Ironman race about 99% of the starters finish the swim. So why all the worrying?

ironman bike pace

Swim calm and controlled. Burning valuable energy to swim a few minutes faster is a common error.

Probably 40% of those people who finished were dreading the Ironman swim for weeks or months. Let’s face it. You’ll be in the best shape of your life and fully rested. You’ll most likely be wearing a wetsuit for added buoyancy, and there will be plenty of people on the course looking out for you.

Relax, keep your heart-rate steady and lock into a smooth, energy-saving stroke and you will be well on your way to setting up the upcoming bike leg.

***It’s easy to get excited when you see everyone running to get their bike transition gear, change, and get on their bikes. This is a recipe for disaster. Especially if your heart-rate was out of control in the swim because you pushed too hard in order to swim a few minutes faster.

Take your time in that first transition. Gather yourself and get used to being on two feet again. Let your heart-rate settle. Change into your bike gear, find your bike, and walk it to the loading area. You’ll notice others running all around you. They’re eager to get on their bikes and start pedaling like Hell.

Anyone can go out faster than a speeding bullet in the early stages of a race. You have plenty of energy from all that resting and tapering and the adrenaline-charged atmosphere makes it even easier to overextend oneself early in the race.

ironman bike pace

Most Ironman bike accidents happen in the first 100 meters.

You’ll notice that most Ironman accidents happen in first 100 meters of the bike. People are unsteady and trying to hurry and lose control.

Many will have left their bikes in the big chain-ring before the race. It makes much more sense to have it in the easiest gear. It makes it easier to lock your cycling shoes in and to maintain control of your bike.

Being in a big gear leaving transition is what causes people to lose control and swerve and run into others. They have trouble building their forward momentum. They’re still dizzy from the swim and standing on the pedals. Your ideal Ironman bike pace begins in that first 100 meters of the race.

***Some people end up being disappointed in their bike split time. They pretty much trained at that same speed months ago. The thinking seems to be that you will be way faster on race day.

However that’s not usually true. People forget to factor in the impact of the energy loss they endure in the 2.4-mile swim. If you want to post a faster bike time it’s crucial to minimize the energy loss in the swim.

Unfortunately most age-group triathletes lose control in the swim. They go all out to save five minutes in the swim and end up walking in the marathon and lose two hours. It doesn’t compute.

***If you can stay in the small chain-ring for most of the Ironman bike you have a better chance at having a successful result. If you look at other bikes in the early stages of the Ironman bike course you will see dozens and dozens of people in the big chain-ring.

They are already taxing their big muscle groups and often their cadence is lower than average because of the degree of resistance. You can easily tell if someone is pushing a gear that’s just too big. They don’t have a smooth spin and they almost have to lean with their upper body with every downward stroke because of the effort it takes. The upper body should be quite and relaxed if you have the spin right.

If on the other hand you’re in the small chain-ring and encountering a lot less resistance, chances are you will eventually end up passing all those people blowing by you. Their Ironman bike pace was unsustainable and they ran out of gas. Oh yeah. They still have a marathon to run.

ironman bike pace

Save the big chain-ring for strong tailwinds and downhills.

Try using the small chain-ring in training at about 160 RPM’s and see how it feels. Find the right gear that you can easily sustain a steady pace for 112-miles. Everyone has a sweet spot when they bike. There’s that spot where your spin rate feels effortless and yet you’re going at a good steady pace.

Yes, you could most likely go faster if you threw it into the big chain-ring, but for how long? You might get away with it in the Olympic Distance, but it’s usually a painful result in the Ironman if you have to force those pedals around. You’ll look great for about 40 miles and then all those people you left in your dust will pass you. If they don’t get you on the bike course, they’ll get you in the marathon because their Ironman bike pace was more realistic.

The time to use your big ring is if you have a very strong tail wind or are going downhill. Otherwise you really shouldn’t be there.

[bctt tweet=”In pretty much every endurance race pace is the key.
via Ironstruck”]
***In pretty much every endurance race of any type PACE IS THE KEY. This is one of the hardest concepts for people new to the Ironman Triathlon to grasp.

Thing of your energy for an endurance race contained in a single glass of water. It you finish the swim and the glass is half empty, you’re already in big trouble.

If you get halfway through the bike and three quarters of the glass is empty the hand-writing is on the wall. You paced yourself all wrong. Like pretty much every triathlete new to the Ironman your Ironman bike pace was way beyond your level of ability to be able to sustain and still have energy for the marathon.

Your fast pace caused you to overextend yourself and burn off your glycogen stores far too early. At this point there is really no way around it. You have messed up your Ironman bike pace and chances are you will be part of the marathon Ironman Death March before the day is done.

It’s really not hard to prevent this from happening. Stay calm through-out the day and keep your heart-rate under control. Keep in mind that a poorly managed swim will impact your bike result. You might want to read my Ironman swim strategy especially if you are new to the Ironman. It will help you have your best possible swim result and will take much of the stress of the swim away.

Most importantly, try to bike at a pace that you have the ability to sustain for 112-miles without depleting energy you’ll need for the run. The Ironman Triathlon Negative-Split Strategy I wrote might help you understand the benefits of always competing within your ability level.

I’m not a pro triathlete and I’m not a coach. All the information I pass on is from my own experiences as an age-grouper during my Ironman career that began in 1984 in Kona. Over the years I pretty much made all the mistakes I discuss and it took many years to figure it out.

Hopefully I can help cut some years off your learning curve.

If you enjoy my post on Ironman bike pace or some of the others you will find on the IronStruck website you might also enjoy the books I wrote that are full of inspiration and insights into the Ironman. Ironstruck…The Ironman Triathlon Journey is a book that people read over and over again right up until Ironman race day. For many people who doubt themselves IronStruck makes the Ironman doable. TESTIMONIALS

Visit my IronStruck Book Store and begin your very own amazing journey.

RELATED: Ironman Death March
RELATED: Ironman bike transition

For information on upcoming WTC races visit

Ironman bike etiquette

New to the Ironman? Here’s some Ironman bike etiquette to be aware of.

Being aware of some basic Ironman bike etiquette will make the race a lot more enjoyable and safer for everyone.

If you do enough Ironman races you’ll see people do some things that inconsiderate and at times downright dangerous during the 112-mile Ironman bike.

Here are just a few of the more common things to watch out for.

  • It all begins in transition
  • Crossing the center line
  • Passing on the right
  • Flying water bottles
  • Aid station dangers
  • Racing into transition two

***It might seem like a small thing, but it can be a bit disconcerting when it happens to you.

Not everyone leaves their bike shoes or some other equipment in their swim/bike transition bags. Some people will often leave their bike shoes or other gear beside their bike.

Sometimes you’ll find one of your bike shoes a long ways from your bike because someone has managed to run over it or kick it in their hurry to get out on the bike course.

When you go get your bike, try and be careful of other people’s gear. It’s just common courtesy and considerate Ironman bike etiquette that really doesn’t take any extra time.

***Crossing the center line in order to pass someone can be very dangerous. Every Ironman bike course is configured differently. It may be a bike course with several loops that means other bikes are coming toward you from the other direction.

Vehicles could be coming from the other direction as often just one side of a highway is closed to traffic.

On some courses the marathon is on one side and the bike is on the other. So at times you will be in a race where runners are coming toward you.

***Passing on the right is one of the most dangerous maneuvers of all yet it happens in pretty much every race.

In the early stages of the bike course there will often be a lot cyclists jockeying for position. Often people will get frustrated. They’re not supposed to draft yet find themselves behind a wall of cyclists. There’s no room to pass on the left so they see an opening and pass someone on the right.

ironman bike etiquette

Slow down and spread out as you near the bike/run transition. Image by author. Main Street Penticton B.C.

In most cases there’s not a lot of room on the right and if the bike in front happens to swerve to the right it could result in a serious accident. They won’t be expecting anyone to pass them on that side and might not even see them until its too late.

In general the rule is to stay near the right shoulder unless you plan on passing. That way the left side is open for faster cyclists to go by. Sometimes it’s the person who is leaving too large a gap on their right who is at fault.

The way to prevent anyone from passing you on the right is to not leave room. Ride as close to the right shoulder as can. This also leaves more room on the left for faster cyclists and is proper Ironman bike etiquette.

If you are stuck behind slower traffic the best practice is to slow down and stay in the no-draft zone(usually three bike lengths)until things open up and you have room to pass on the left without crossing the center line.

***Be extra careful when returning your water bottle to the bottle cage. Things can get hectic and in their haste people don’t always get the bottle firmly into the cage.

All it takes is a bit of a bump and the water bottle can shake loose. The water bottle can end up under your rear tire, but most likely it will fall right into the path of the cyclists behind you.

It a water bottle is run over at a high rate of speed it can easily cause a cyclist to lose control and crash.

***Aid stations on the bike course can be a dangerous place for cyclists and volunteers.

If you can see the station coming up, begin to slow down and pull over toward the right side of the road. Not everyone is planning to take on fuel and they will be going full speed past the station.

If there are several bikes approaching at the same time be sure to leave plenty of room between yourself and the bike in front of you.

ironman bike etiquette

Slow down, leave some space, and keep to the right if you are getting aid.

If you plan to come to a complete stop go past the station and then pull over and stop once you clear the main traffic area.

***The last few hundred meters of the bike course is not really the time to try and blow by someone.

Being a bike catcher can be risky because some people come into transition way too fast. It’s much easier and safer for the bike catchers if you are just barely moving when you reach them.

There’s an entire marathon to run and the few seconds you gain by speeding into transition is really not worth the risk.

Finishing the Ironman bike course for the first time can be a great experience and a huge accomplishment after a 2.4 mile swim. It’s way more enjoyable if you demonstrate some Ironman bike etiquette along the way.

RELATED: Ironman bike nutrition
RELATED: Ironman bike pace

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Triathlon Winter Bike Training

Living in a city where winters are cold and snowy doesn’t mean you can’t get in some excellent triathlon winter bike training.

As a matter fact, experiencing some of your most efficient and productive triathlon bike training is possible without ever taking your bike outside. Besides, when you bike train inside you don’t have to worry about things like dogs, potholes, traffic, or whether or not you brought enough to eat or drink. Your triathlon winter bike training would focus around making use of a wind-trainer in your own home.

Wind-trainers(indoor bicycle stands)are invaluable no matter what climate you live in, but really come to the triathletes rescue in the cold winter months. As a matter of fact there are triathletes in the world who do pretty much all of their bike training indoors simply because the area they live in is not bike friendly. There is nothing stopping you from doing a four-hour endurance ride on your wind-trainer in your own home. Sure it might sound boring, but you have to look at the big picture.

The big picture is that one day you want to cross the Ironman finish line. Being able to bike 112 miles is part of the deal and if putting up with hours on a wind-trainer seems boring just keep reminding yourself that it’s a means to an end that could lead to one of the most outstanding moments of your life one day. It’s no different for people who have to learn how to swim even though the thought of navigating 2.4 miles in the open water with a couple thousand other people terrifies them. It’s part of the deal so they do it and are payed back a thousand times over when they put on their Ironman finisher t-shirt.

Ironman triathlon winter training

Transition training in the winter will help you prepare for the run on race day.

Besides, there are several things you can do on a wind-trainer beside distance training. You can also simulate hill training by adjusting the settings on the wind-trainer of using the gears on the bike. Wind-trainers are also excellent for interval training. As a matter of fact you can do more accurate intervals indoors than you can outdoors because you don’t have cross-winds, head-winds, and hills to factor in. For example, a good interval workout might involve warming up by easy spinning for ten minutes and then spin at about 75% effort for 90 seconds with a three minute interval between every 90 second effort. If you start with five of these and then follow up with a ten minute cool-down, your total workout is under 45 minutes.

Depending on your biking ability you can increase the degree of difficulty in four ways. Increase the length of time for the repeat(maybe two minutes instead of 90 seconds), increase the effort upward from 75% to perhaps 80%, increase the amount of repeats you do, or decrease the interval time between the repeats. Ideally you would increase the degree of difficulty as you become fitter over time. You might decide to work yourself up to ten repeats at 80% effort with just a two minute interval between repeats. The beauty of Triathlon winter bike training indoors is that you can figure out a program that is perfect for your level of ability.

Perhaps a benefit of indoor bike training is the ability to work on your bike to run transition. This is just an excellent training option for anyone who is short of time and are perhaps constantly struggling to squeeze in their triathlon training. All it takes is a 30-40 minute bike followed by a about a 30 minute run to gain some benefit when it comes to preparing yourself for what the bike to run transition will be like on race day. The trick is to get off your bike and into your running shoes and out the door for your run with as little delay(as short a transition time)as possible.

With this particular workout you can bike, run, shower, have breakfast and get ready for work in under two hours. The beauty of this workout is that you can lengthen it out to longer distances any time you like…especially as your conditioning improves. For instance you could do a 45 minute bike and a 45 minute run, or increase the bike and don’t increase the run(or vice versa). Ultimately, when you are in the endurance phase of your Ironman training there is nothing stopping you from biking for 90 minutes and running for an hour right after. This is an excellent method of endurance and transition training all wrapped into one. So whatever you do, don’t feel that you have to lose out on bike training in the cold months because there are always options when it comes to triathlon winter bike training.

Be sure to check out the website for these excellent tips on winter training.




3 Ironman Triathlon Bike Transition Tips

If you’re preparing to take on the Ironman these 3 Ironman Triathlon bike transition tips might help.

These suggestions for the first time Ironman or perhaps those who have had a few attempts at it, but ran into a few problems in transition one.

These are just a few things I learned over the years as an age-group athlete through trial and error and hopefully they provide you with some insight that might be helpful.


It’s surprising how many people get out of the water, pick up their swim/bike transition bag, go into the change tent and then become disorientated and have trouble finding their bike. This is probably the simplest of the 3 Ironman Triathlon bike transition tips to rectify. It just take a bit of pre-race planning.

In some races there can be two thousand(or more) bikes in the transition area and if you don’t take the time to pick out some landmarks or at least count the rows so you know which way to head once you leave the change tent, you could find yourself looking all over for your bike.

Every row of triathlon bikes looks about the same.

It’s not so much a time wasting issue as it is getting yourself all worked up over something that should never have happened in the first place. All these small issues will increase your heart-rate and in the process burn off energy you will need.

3 ironman triathlon swim/bike transition tips

Rows of triathlon bikes pretty much all look the same.

Long before the swim begins when you are wandering around killing time, look for a landmark that will lead you to your bike row. It can be a tree, a post, or anything at all that stands out.

If there are no landmarks, go to the change tent and look for the exit that you will be coming out of once you change after the swim. It doesn’t matter if your bike is to the left or to the right, count the first row you see as one, and then count all the way down to the row your bike is in. That’s the only number you have to remember.

Normally each row is numbered…..but the problem is that in the highly charged atmosphere you can expect to find yourself in, the numbers just don’t register, because the number of your row might be 400 to 550 and the next row might be 550 to 700.

It’s far easier to count the rows beforehand and know if you are in row 11, or 15, or 29.

If you plan on just grabbing your transition bag and going straight to your bike, be sure to find out(ask a volunteer)where exactly you pick up your bag and where do you exit the bag pick-up? In that case the first row you see when you exit the bag pick-up area will be row one.

Count from that first row down to your bike row.

It may seem like a small thing, but the more smoothly you can make your transitions the less stress you will have to deal with. This in turn prevents your heart-rate from ramping up needlessly.


There are many trains of thought about this.

First of all, I don’t think it’s a great idea to set your bike shoes down beside your bike in the transition area.

I also don’t think it’s a great idea to lock your bike shoes into the pedals and mount your bike and try and get your feet into the shoes on the move.

There is a ton of activity in the bike zone as hundreds and hundreds of triathletes make the transition to their bikes.

Gear you have neatly placed by your bike before the swim can end up anywhere. I once found one of my cycling shoes in the next row. It had somehow gotten kicked between the bikes into the next row.

The best place to keep your cycling shoes is in your swim/bike transition bag. At least that way you know where they are.

You can either put your cycling shoes on in the change tent or at your bike.

Personally, after trying both methods I found it made more sense to carry my shoes to my bike and then put them on. It’s far easier to run in bare feet or in socks than it is in clunky bike shoes. This is especially true if you have a lot of ground to cover between the time you put on your shoes and get to your bike.

If you put them on at your bike at least you should be fairly close to the bike exit and won’t have to cover ground in them for very far. Just be sure to quickly run your hand along the bottom of your feet before you put your shoes on.

This will remove any dirt or especially small pebbles you may have picked up on your socks or bare feet if you cycle without socks.

I avoided attaching my shoes to the pedals beforehand because it’s just to difficult to get your feet into them when the pressure is on and everyone is weaving all over the place trying to get their bikes moving.

This might be the method of choice for the pros but they really don’t have the same congestion at the bike start as you will find in an Ironman Triathlon.

Also, seconds matter to them, but to age-group triathletes who are just trying to make it to the finish line…..not so much.


Before the swim start on race morning ensure that you put your bike in the easiest gear.

It’s amazing how many triathletes get this wrong. It’s something very simple to do, but often gets overlooked.

It’s unfortunate because it sure can get your Ironman Triathlon bike leg off to a much smoother start and hopefully these 3 Ironman Triathlon bike transition tips will help you achieve that.

It gets very hectic in those first few dozen meters out of the transition area where everyone is trying to get on their bikes.

The best way to set up your gears before the race begins is the small chain-ring in the front and the biggest gear in the rear cluster.

For one thing, there’s a good chance you will still be a bit disorientated from the swim. Plus everyone is in a hurry and the adrenaline is flowing.

3 ironman triathlon bike transition tips

The majority of triathlon bike crashes take place in the first 50 meters of the bike course.

Most Ironman bike accidents happen in the first 50 meters of the race.

Triathletes are struggling to snap into their pedals with no forward momentum because they have their bike in a really big gear and just can’t get it moving. what usually happens is they try and stand up on the pedals to get themselves moving forward. They lose control and often just fall over or run into other bikes and they both fall over.

Besides road rash and a dose of embarrassment this can cause other problems. Your water bottles could go flying, your brake pads could be knocked out of place, or your chain could even come off.

Your heart rate will also ramp up from the stress and right away you will be losing energy you can’t afford to lose.

Any number of things can happen when your bike hits the ground or runs into another bike.

However, if you’re in a really easy gear all you have to do is get one foot locked in swing the other leg over and rest it on top of the pedal and begin pedaling your way out of the traffic. Once you get yourself clear you can lock in the other foot.

Once the second foot is locked in and you have some speed you can begin shifting into bigger gears.

It’s so much easier to maneuver once you get some some forward momentum and being in your easiest gear. Hopefully these 3 Ironman Triathlon bike transition tips will help get your bike leg off in a safe and relaxing manner.

Hopefully these 3 Ironman Triathlon Bike Transition Tips will help you out in your next race.