28 MAKE SURE THE BIKE FITS
An ill-fitting, high-end bike won’t serve you as well as a correctly fitting, entry-level one. A good local bike shop should be able to at least help you get the correct size of bike and many shops are now offering fit services. If you have the budget, getting a full professional fit (see tip 9 in Conquer Your First Triathlon Pt 1/5: Training and Racing) before you venture out to purchase will serve you well.
29 GET THE RIGHT SHOES
If you decided to go clipless, take time to buy a comfortable pair of shoes. Most shops will stock two or three different brands, so you may have to visit a few shops to find one that fits you best. Tri shoes will be faster to put on than cycling shoes, even if you don’t have them ready on the bike pro-style.
30 SORT PEDALS OUT AT THE SAME TIME
If you’re buying tri shoes or cycling shoes for the first time, chances are you’ll be in the market for pedals, too. Buy both from the same dealer and chances are they’ll afford you some time to fit and set up the cleats.
31 KEEP IT CLEAN
You should be looking to clean your bike often. Try to make it part of your weekly routine, especially through the winter months. At the very least, you should be cleaning it before you compete. Believe us, clean and shiny bikes go faster!
32 CHECK IT OUT
Cleaning and checking your bike go hand in hand. As you clean, you’ll be checking for problems at the same time. Keep your eyes open and you should notice if something isn’t as it should be. For instance, a loose spoke will show itself when you run that soapy sponge along it. Once you’ve cleaned your bike, dry it off and re-lube the chain, cables and any moving parts. Keep the lube light, wiping away any excess so as to not attract dust and dirt. Then run through the gears, brakes… A buff-up and you’re ready to race.
33 BE TIME-CONSCIOUS
Don’t leave your pre-race check too close to race day. Give yourself time to get your bike to the shop if you find a problem. Good workshops are at their busiest during the season, so don’t leave it too late. If you use a second pair of wheels to race on, pop them in and check them too.
34 EXAMINE YOUR TREAD CAREFULLY
Pay attention to your tyres. Look out for cuts and small objects buried in the tread. Choose good-quality race tyres for race day. Folding tyres are lighter (and lighter means faster), but are more expensive. Going too light will increase the chances of puncturing. Choose a good pair of folders with some puncture protection (like Continental’s GP4000) and keep them for race day. When they become too worn to race on, use them for training. Fit good-quality, un-repaired tubes and keep the patched ones for the training tyres.
35 KEEP THE PRESSURE ON
Decide on your tyre pressure. If it’s a hot day and your bike is going to sit in the sun for any length of time, the tyre pressure will increase and could result in a blow out. Your tyre should display the optimum PSI.
36 CHECK FOR LAST-MINUTE DAMAGE
Once at the race, re-check the bike to make sure it hasn’t been knocked in transport. Most common is the brakes getting knocked off centre and rubbing on the rim. Run through the gears and check the quick releases.
37 LOAD UP THE BIKE
Before racking, choose which gear you’ll want the bike in for the start. Load up your water bottle and any gels and bars you’ll want to take along. The best place to put these is in a tri-bag positioned on the top tube behind the bar stem. If you have to rack the bikes the night before, you may want to
think about placing a plastic bag over the saddle to guard it from possible rain (remembering to remove it in the morning before the race starts). And, having racked your bike, don’t forget where it is!
“Spending time to acclimatise to clipless pedals is well worth the effort. You may hit the deck a few times to begin with but you’ll be more efficient and also feel more like a triathlete.”
Getting a puncture during a race is every triathlete’s nightmare. Follow these tips to fix that failure in double-quick time…
1 REMOVING YOUR WHEEL
Once you’ve come to a halt, you need to open the brakes. A deflated tyre should pass between the blocks smoothly but opening them now makes installing the repaired wheel that bit easier. Next, undo the quick-release lever on the axle to allow you to drop the wheel out of your frame.
Tip Shift your chain on to the biggest chainring and smallest sprocket to make rear wheel removal easier.
2 UNSEATING THE TYRE
Ensure the inner tube is totally deflated before removing it. Slide a tyre lever’s scooped end under the bead, and then pull it down to pop the bead over the side of the rim. Attach the hook to a spoke to hold it, then work round the rim with others to unseat the rest of the tyre.
Tip Pinching the sidewalls of the tyre together helps deflate the inner tube and separate the tyre’s bead from the rim.
3 LOCATING THE LEAK
Remove the tube, leaving the valve in the rim. Pump a little air back in and listen for a hissing sound to find where the air is escaping. When you find the hole, line it up with the tyre to check for any debris that may have caused the puncture and remove any debris before you replace the tube.
Tip Run your fingertips around the inside of the tyre to double check for any sharp items that may be lodged in the rubber.
4 PATCHING THE TUBE
Clean and roughen the surface of the tube around the hole with the emery cloth in your repair kit. Next, apply some of the vulcanising solution so it covers about a 1in diameter area around the hole and leave it to get tacky. When the solution starts to look dry, position the patch and hold it in place for a short while,
Tip In a race, it’s quicker to just put in a new tube and repair the punctured one later.
5 INSERTING THE TUBE
Inflate the repaired tube a little and then start pressing it back in under the tyre, starting at the valve. Then push the tyre bead back over to the rim and into place. Be careful when you’re replacing the tyre as pinching the tube under the bead can lead to another puncture.
Tip Line up the tyre’s label with the valve hole on the rim so you can find the valve quickly in the future.
6 INFLATING THE TYRE
Inflate the tyre fully, or at least to a pressure you can ride comfortably on. You can use either a pump or a CO2 canister. If you’re using a pump, hold the pump head with one hand and pump with the other. Be careful not to put too much stress on the valve or you might break it. If you’re using a CO2 canister, make sure you’ve got a secure connection between the head and the valve before you start inflating.