Seasoned triathletes know that a triathlon is more than just three sports. There is also a fourth discipline, often overlooked by people new to the sport: transitions.
Triathlon Tips For Shops
Triathlon continues to grow, drawing more novices each year, but shops catering to triathletes are not as plentiful. This is an opportunity for bike shops. Catering to the tri crowd can mean more sales and a more diverse customer base. The face-to-face relationship that customers experience at brick-and-mortar stores can be huge for first-time triathletes. They can ask questions, hold products in their hands, and get advice from employees and other customers. But while many bike shops explore skis, snowboards, camping equipment, or other categories, triathlon remains off the radar for many.
As you might expect from a company dedicated to an active life, QBP is home to quite a few triathletes. Neil Hailstone, for example, started doing triathlons in the late 1990s, and while he remembers all eight of his Ironman competitions, he’s competed in so many other triathlons that he’s lost count. That real-life experience intersects well with his day job selling tri products. He notes that most shops that cater to the triathlon market are not dedicated tri stores. In fact, many are bike shops that have branched out.
“If someone comes into your shop and says ‘I’m doing my first triathlon,’ that’s a potential customer,” Neil says. “That person might even be one of your regulars.” To help shops avoid losing this potential business, he helps shops understand and explore the market potential. “With a bit of effort, many shops can become regional resources for ‘tri-curious’ consumers.”
Research. Neil says that, in his experience, the number-one reason shops avoid this potential business is a lack of knowledge. So first, he advises, d some research. Find out a little more about triathlon with some basic online exploration and by talking with triathletes in your area. Learn how races are set up, their rules, and some of the products racers are looking for.
Enter a Triathlon. It’s a great idea for someone at your shop to enter at least one race. The experience provides valuable perspective, especially from a beginner’s point of view, and can introduce employees to both a community of experts and potential customers.
Stock And Merchandise Tri Products. There are plenty of tri-related products that don’t take up a lot of space and don’t require a ton of knowledge or investment—basic support items like glasses, goggles, laces, clothing, and body lubes (for cycling and swimming). Also consider more advanced items like swim training aids, hydration systems, and power meters. Carry at least some support items from each sport, and create a dedicated area in your store to merchandise them. This will not only highlight your commitment, but also make it easy for customers to find and compare products.
Set Up a Demo Transition Area. This doesn’t take more than a few square feet and can be quite valuable, allowing would-be racers to see a well-staged transition area and encouraging conversations about practices and products.
Use QBP as a Resource. QBP is the only bike industry supplier to comprehensively support triathlon. We carry a wide selection of race-day equipment and supporting products. More importantly, we employ a dedicated staff with extensive personal experience whose job it is to help shops of every level succeed with triathlon. Neil, for example, regularly travels to shops, advising, answering questions, and performing clinics for staff and customers. We can help you attract and serve customers, regardless of their—or your—level of tri experience.
Transition Tips For Athletes
Train for Transitions. Treat transitions as another discipline. Train for them as diligently as you would the swim, cycle, and run. Search online and talk to experts and other triathletes to learn about best practices and preferred products. Build your own routine, then practice, practice, practice. Set time goals for yourself and beat them.
Product Test. There are a lot of products available to help make transitions easier, like speed laces for your shoes, and body lube to make it easier to get out of wetsuits. Research and try different products to see what works best for you.
Keep It Simple. Bring what you know you’ll use, and use what you’ve trained with. Don’t second-guess yourself on race day or bring equipment you aren’t familiar with. Some redundancy can be good, though. Bring extra equipment, such as a fuel belt, shoes, glasses, sunscreen, or other key items that may get lost or broken.
Prepare Your Equipment. Before you arrive at the race, there are things you can do to prepare. Pump up your tires in the morning. Make sure your bike is in a suitable take-off gear. Have your laces loose and shoes open. Clean your glasses. Organize your gear bag.
Arrive Early. Familiarize yourself with the flow of the transition area and where your specific spot is. Set up your area. Transition zones can look much different filled with people and equipment, especially under the rush and stress of competition, so walk the route several times to make sure you know where you’re going.
Mark Your Spot. Many racers mark their transition area for better visibility. Some fly a balloon, hang a towel on their bike (which also makes drying off more efficient), or employ some other unique, easy-to-see indicator that identifies their area and equipment.
Set Up Your Transition Area. Lay out your mat and your equipment. There are many practices veteran racers employ, such as placing their socks in their cycling shoes so they can find them easily. Efficiency is key, so keep items vital for each transition staged in order of the process you’ve established, and keep support items out of the way but accessible. Keep your space clean and organized.
Visualize Your Transition. As you’re nearing the end of the swimming or cycling stage, begin to think about your transition. Mentally go through your route and transition plan: where you’re going to go, what you’ll be doing as you approach your transition area, what’ll you’ll do when you get there, and how you’ll exit.
Multitask. Use your time wisely on the run-up to the transition area and as you leave it. Begin to remove your swim cap, goggles, and wetsuit to the waist as you leave the water before T1. Dry off, apply sunscreen, grab your gear, and put on your helmet and glasses as you run to your bike. Take off your helmet and shoes as you approach T2.