–By Kathy Braginton
As another triathlon season came to a close, I began to clean out my triathlon bag and pack it away until next year. I looked through all the items I have collected over the years and which ones have become standard items in my bag. So, what is in your triathlon bag?
The first, and most important item, is my race day checklist. I have used this same checklist for the last 9 years. No matter how many times I have packed my bag, I use this list to ensure I have everything I’ll need on race day. If you look closely at the handwritten items, you’ll see the true age of this checklist. Does anyone still own/use an MP3 player? I do find it amusing that I have that item listed on a USAT labeled checklist. Use of any personal audio device at a USAT sanctioned event is a rule violation and subject to a time penalty. I will admit that I did use an MP3 player during a race when I was first starting out and I did receive a 2:00 minute penalty as a result. Needless to say, I no longer include that item in my bag!
The rest of the items in my bag are handy and will keep you prepared for whatever might come your way:
- No matter what the race distance: the water, wind, and sun can really take its toll on your lips. I use a squirt of Aquaphore on the stem of my bike. While I am riding, I can quickly apply it to keep my lips protected without slowing me down.
- You never know what the race day bathroom situation may bring and there rarely is a place to wash your hands. So, for the times when you just feel the need to clean your hands, a travel size bottle of hand sanitizer is a must!
- Electrical tape can be used to secure gel packs on the stem of your bike for easy access during the bike leg. If you tape the gel pack over the tab at the top, it can serve as a quick release for opening the gel pack. You also never know when you may need tape to do a last minute handlebar repair.
- Sidewalk chalk can be used to mark your transition area. I have only needed to use this a few times when I could not find a good visual landmark for locating my transition, however, this is not allowed at USAT sanctioned events.
- At race day packet pick-up, you never know what kind of race numbers you will be given and how they are to be mounted. Most triathlon bikes have odd shaped stems and seat posts and do not allow for easy attachment of race numbers. I use a mini-stapler to quickly wrap the race number on my stem. I have had people ask to borrow my stapler many times as they struggle to attach their race number and watch me attach mine within seconds.
- In addition to the stapler, I have a pair of travel scissors to assist with the race number application. Race numbers can be trimmed for a better fit.
- For faster transitions, I have my bike shoes already clipped in my pedals and I use rubber bands to fasten the back of my bike shoes to the frame of the bike. The bike shoes will then stay horizontal until I mount the bike. Once I start to pedal, the rubber bands will snap.
- The most recent item I have added is a Sharpie. Waiting in line to be body marked, can be one of the most time consuming tasks on race day. Having your own Sharpie for body marking, can eliminate the stress and anxiety that can come from having to wait.
A few of the other items I carry are safety pins, spare tubes, baby powder, deodorant, body glide and sunscreen. Be prepared for whatever race day may bring. Keep your bag stocked and utilize your checklist each and every race.