Q. A friend berated me recently for carrying too much stuff on my bike during a triathlon. What are the bare essentials I should have with me?
A. What to carry on the bike is a very personal thing and will be influenced by several factors, including the length of your race, how long you expect to be out there and whether you are trying to win or just intending to finish. With regard to spares, I don’t carry any.
My mentality on race day is that I’m there to win and, for me, changing a tube halfway around a race would take too much time. A lot of people use Pit Stops, which pump your tyre full of sealant and compressed air so you can carry on riding and reach the finish – this might cost you five minutes but in a race of half-Ironman distance or longer it’s possible to get back into contention after using one.
One point to note is that Julie Dibens won the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon after puncturing on the bike section and changing her wheel. She said that she did have a Pit Stop but had dropped it and would have been in trouble had there not been a lead bike with spare wheels, so make sure you secure your equipment.
However, the important factor for many people is finishing, not winning. If this is the case I recommend using clinchers (the type of tyre most people use) and taking a spare inner tube rather than a repair kit, as well as gas canisters or a mini-pump and tyre levers – and make sure you know how to use them. Instead of carrying a multitool, tighten all the bolts on your bike before you race.
With regard to nutrition, I usually take an aero bottle filled with a sports drink and another water bottle in my cage. Check the race literature and ensure you can pick up enough fluid from the aid stations; if not, take more. I’d always encourage attaching your own gels/bars to your frame if you are racing for longer than two hours. Also, make sure that you have used them in training to ensure they’re not going to disagree with you.
Dann Brook is an elite triathlete. He started his sporting career when he was just eight years old and has never looked back. Last year his results included first place in the Lisboa International Triathlon (Half Ironman Distance) and first in the Rother Valley Tri Fest (Olympic Distance). In March, the 25-year-old came eighth in the first Abu Dhabi International Triathlon Long-Distance course.