I’ve trained and raced in over 100 triathlons over the past 18 years. Along the way I have picked up some tips and tricks from others as well as ones I’ve worked out for myself. I’ll share my experience and hope that it helps you.
1. I’ve flown over 300,000 miles with my bike and when I came to replace my old [VK] bike box, my 2 years of research came up with the Thule Bike Box (pictured below) as my choice – unfortunately it isn’t on sale in Europe (I bought mine in the US). I believe it to be the best I’ve seen (and it’s not the most expensive!)
2. Find a hardware store that sells long screwthreads (hacksaw to the right length), get some washers as spacers and some wingnut bolts (see picture below). Insert these between front forks & rear stays of your bike while transporting.
3. How to put vaseline (or my choice SportSlick which you can get from my friends at http://www.trisports.com) on to stop wetsuit hickeys. My brother Iain (Mr Organised) used plastic gloves, but I managed to achieve the same effect using plastic bag with vaseline in it (put your hand inside the bag, take a scoop then turn the bag inside out & put in your transition to carry to the race start). When you have your wetsuit on, turn the bag inside out, put your hand in the bag and apply. No mess!
4. It’s much much easier putting your wetsuit legs on while you still have your socks on.
5. Expensive bike shoes. I have some new lightweight ones (Carnacs TRS-9) but the problem is when you continually put your foot down (as happens when you bike in the US and there are lots of stop lights) the toe (and heel) of the shoes gets very scuffed. My answer is to use an old remedy called Shoe Goo and apply in layers.
6. Carbo loading – ok I’ll let you into one of my BIG secrets – NOTHING beats this product (developed in conjunction with Professor Tim Noakes, one of the top exercise scientists in the world). I’ve been using it for nearly 20 years now – Leppin Carbo Lode – buy the natural flavour and mix with skimmed milk. If you’re abroad with no refrigerator just buy UHT (long life) skimmed milk at the grocery store. Use the 500g tub of carbo lode, take 100g in 500ml 3 days before the race, then 200g in 1000ml 2 days before and again another 200g in 1000ml the day before.
7. If you’re swimming in cold water or the sea and you’re not using a wetsuit hood, use wax earplugs. Through trial and error (mild hypothermia) I know that I daren’t risk swimming without a wetsuit hood on if the water temperature is less than 20 deg C (if it’s cooler I even wear a rashguard underneath too). Everyone is different. My mistake has been to look at what other people were wearing and copy them – and I got sick the whole day.
8. Carry your [expensive] bike helmet as another piece of cabin luggage using one of the small drawstring bags.
9. Take pictures using your phone camera of your bike case when travelling so you can show it to luggage people, if it fails to turn up at a destination airport.
10. I do 99% of my bike training on my CompuTrainer – almost by accident I have found the best 650C CompuTrainer tyre – Continental Ultra Gatorskin (looks like I have an old model though). My current one has outlasted all other tyres by a factor of 3 or 4.
11. Behind the seat bottle holders – replace every couple of years (otherwise they will become brittle and break) – make sure you have at least 2 or 3 good elastic bands to keep the bottle in place.
12. When flying with part-used bottles of sunblock (or shower gel, shampoo etc), open the lid and then squeeze as much of the air out as you can, then close the lid – now they won’t spew it out all over yer gear due to the pressure changes!
13. Blistered feet – ever since my marathon running days, I have taped my feet up before a marathon using Micropore (or any other paper-type tape). Rather than slowly picking tape off the roll in transition, prepare strips and stick them round an empty plastic bottle e.g. Coke bottle which you put in your run kit bag, that way you can speed up the application process. I do this in Ironman before I start the run.
14. In my never ending quest for foods I could consume in Ironman I’ve found that I can eat Shot Blox, but nothing much else. I’ve sucessfully chugged a Slim Fast meal replacement in both T1 and T2 which at least got me some calories. Heck ,I even lost weight that day too lol!
15. When you become an Ironman – write your race story (believe me, you will have a story to tell and we all want to read it), frame the race poster and put it on yer wall. Yer only ever gonna do that once and it IS a big deal. Continue writing race reports & framing yer posters, if you feel like it – I DID! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at my Ironman Lanzarote poster in my dining area and think wow – did I really?