I thought it would be timely, with the season approaching, to talk about packing for races (my season opener is Saturday, you can read more on my schedule on the Gear West Blog). I keep a packing list for race travel and race day gear on my phone so I can stress a little less leading into races. Some of the items on here may seem very obvious but it takes away some worry and makes packing mostly mindless.
These are my notes for packing for a “travel” race, a race where you are driving or flying and are staying in a hotel or doing a home stay. All subsequent lists are relevant to this as well so I didn’t add items here that are already on another list.
- Trainer – nice to have if you can, for a quick warm-up or workout, pending trip length.
- Pedal wrench – If you have multiple bikes and need to move pedals around.
- Bike lock – Nice to make it more difficult if someone were to break into your car . I also highly recommend insuring your bikes.
- Travel coffee mug – If you like to carry coffee with you race day.
- Jump rope – I always carry this for an easy workout or warmup.
- Recovery boots – if you have them it’s nice to recover right after a race.
- Compex – Same as boots above.
- Chargers – phone, computers, Di2, iPod, GPS, etc.
- Massage balls – for rolling back and glutes.
- Ear plugs – Races are early, likely you will go to bed much earlier than the rest of the hotel or maybe your roommate snores. ALWAYS travel with earplugs.
- Training clothes i.e. bike shorts, sports bras, tri/cycling tops, swim suit.
- Normal comfy clothes for lounging.
- Pending time traveling, at least one decent outfit for going into public/restaurants/meeting people etc.
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, hair brush, razor etc.
Pre-race check list
I like to have a list of things that I should do the day before the race or days before the race if possible.
- Know where the race site is, review bike/run courses and race info.
- Put race wheels on bike.
- Fill tires to your preferred pressure level (best not to do this morning of or even late the night before in case you blow your tire – a couple days before is probably best especially if you have race wheels you won’t be riding).
- Test brakes – make sure your brakes are adjusted properly, especially if you changed wheels.
- Make sure seat, aero bars etc. are secure (I had an aerobar slip during LT Minneapolis 2013, no fun racing with one arm falling off an aero bar).
- Make sure your speedometer magnet is in place and providing data if you switched wheels.
- Transition practice – best to do this in the days leading up to the race but run through your T1 and T2 process till you don’t have to think about it.
- Lube chain if it’s needed, I may have overdone this in the past so I sought out the expert advice of Sean “EZ” Pease, a Gear West Bike Mechanic, see his advice here.
- Fix a flat – taped to bike. This works for tubulars and clinchers, an easy solution if you don’t want to change your clincher or glue on a new tubular mid race.
- Gu/Nutrition taped onto bike – one less thing to do race morning.
- Set watch alarm to go off 30 minutes before race time to take inhaler before the race, otherwise I’ll forget.
- Set out clothes for the morning and have bike/bags/gear ready to go.
- Fill water bottles.
- Have breakfast ready to go with any utensils, i.e. spoon.
A quick list of the things I do before leaving to the race in the morning.
- Inhaler – I take this right away in the morning and again right before the race.
- Allergy medications, I also take these right away, it’s not fun when you can’t breathe during a triathlon.
- Brush teeth – The people around you will appreciate it.
- Put on GPS watch.
- Put numbers on if you received them already.
- Put on chip if you picked it up already.
- Grab any items out of fridge – water bottles, breakfast etc.
- Grab bags, bike and go.
Race Packing List
Here’s a list of the items I’ll bring to every race. I pack everything for transition into one backpack so it’s easy to carry to the race site. I have a bag of “extras” that I leave in the car with backup stuff that’s hopefully not needed but good to have, occasionally you can help out a fellow triathlete as well.
All of this goes in one backpack to bring to transition:
- Tri suit
- Hair binders, in case one breaks.
- Binders for bike shoes
- Bike shoes
- Run shoes – with Bungees for racing
- Clothes for post race (if something other than what you wear to the race)
- Race belt
- Water bottles
- Goggles x 2, I keep one extra pair in case they snap during warmup etc.
- Towel for post race
- Foot towel/ transition mat if you like to use one
- Body lubricant for wetsuit chaffing/removal
- ID – for packet pickup/check in, may be needed.
- USAT Card – sometimes this is required for packet pickup
- Sunscreen, especially for after the race if you hang out for a long afternoon.
- Permanent marker, in case the lines for body marking are long.
- Small bike tools for any last minute adjustment
- Toe covers – For cold, wet, windy days when you’d like to be able to feel your feet on the run
- Trash bag – Nice if you need to keep some gear or a backpack dry and doesn’t take up much space
- Plastic baggies – If you want to keep phone or shoes dry.
- Extra race nutrition in case yours goes missing
- Electric tape – To tape any nutrition to bike, or tape down water bottles, etc. never know when you may need it.
- Nail clipper – handy if you need to cut something
- Zip ties – in case you need to attach something to the bike.
- Extra batteries for power meters, speedometers, computers, etc.
The items I pack away in the car just in case:
- Extra warm clothes for wet/rainy day
- Extra towel
- Extra socks
- Extra helmet
- Repair kit for bike
- Extra snacks (in case race time is pushed back due to weather)
- Rain coat – In case weather gets bad!
- Pump to fill bike tires
- Extra tri suit/tri shorts/tri top
- PVC pipe or foam roller for post-race, I think I recover faster if I roll out sooner.
Finally, another list of things to double check before leaving transition for the last time.
- Walk the transitions to know where your bike is
- Body marked
- Numbers on race belt or shirt
- Bike/helmet numbers applied
- Shoes on bike and secured as you like
- Double check water bottles are full and secured to bike
- Double check nutrition secured to bike
- Helmet on bike or next to bike
- Lube ankles and neck for wetsuit chaffing/removal
- Lube bike shoes/run shoes as needed.
- Double check orthotics were placed in run shoes
- Make sure GPS watch is set ready to go for race.
- Timing chip on ankle
In the end hopefully your car doesn’t look like the photo’s below ☺. That’s Stopwatch Greg’s car all loaded up for the drive to Florida. My dad built some racks to secure the bikes in the car so it would be easier to pack three bikes, that’s my Trek TT bike for training, a Felt AR2 road bike for my draft legal racing, Lisa’s TT bike for her race and six Zipp wheels, all triple locked. Then whatever racing gear and clothes would fit in for my dad, myself, Lisa and my two little nieces. I’ll be flying out this Wednesday, the rest of the Lendway girls will arrive the following Wednesday. When I’m not working I’m looking forward to some fun racing, a little warmth and sleepovers with the girls.
Bike Chain Lube Advice from Sean Pease, Gear West Bike & Tri Mechanic:
Everyone rides differently and uses different lubrication but to be safe you should typically lube your chain every 100-150 miles. Make sure to clean off any excess lube before applying new lube to the chain. A wet lube will last longer but is “messier,” while a dry lube is cleaner it doesn’t last as long. If you begin to hear a squeaking noise from the rear derailleur it’s time for lube. If the noise persists likely it’s time for a new chain. Thanks Sean for the info!