Travelling to Events

As a competitive triathlete, you may sometimes need to travel long distance to reach a race. If you're about to jump on a plane or drive long distance to an event, you'll find our tips and advice both practical and useful to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Created: August 2011
Revised: November 2012
Latest Feedback: November 2012

Be Prepared

Triathlons are the supreme test of physical and mental endurance for athletes in all the three disciplines of swimming, biking, and running. Competitive triathletes have their fair share of travelling between towns and even interstate to participate in key events. With a full calendar it is important that the travel doesn't have a negative impact upon your racing.

Bike Transport

The first time you have to travel a significant distanceto a race, one of the biggest concerns is transporting your bike. You may consider hiring a bike to do the race however, wouldn't you rather race on the bike that you have been training with? It doesn't have to be a drama if you plan in advance. Plenty do and you'll soon see there are plenty of ways to transport your bike safely.

By car

If you've got the time, the logistics of driving to a race can sometimes be a better option than flying. Just make sure you take plenty of stops along the way. Intermittently, find a spot to play a bit of football, or do a bit of yoga to relieve the stiffness from your muscles and joints from the constant sitting.

If you choose to travel by car make sure you have a good bike rack. There are plenty of roof racks available for cars, trucks and SUVs, which are also available at online stores. Alternatively, you can store the bike in the boot, which means you can lock it away. Rear hitches are also popular and practical and some can accommodate up to 4 bikes mounted at the back of your vehicle.

By Flight

Flying within Australia may not take you long but there are many factors that make it an expensive affair. Some airlines charge excess weight and baggage fees that can catch you unawares if you're not aware of how you can take your bike within your standard baggage allowance.

The best way to fly with your bike is to use a soft-sided bike travel case. Cases come in various forms and constructions. There are two types of bike travel cases namely, hard boxes and soft bags. These bags are available to suit different types of bikes and are designed to be as compact as possible. The wheels, pedals and bars can be removed to fit within the box in separate compartments. They are well padded and feature roller wheels at the base to allow for easy transportation. Most have room for helmets, wetsuits, clothes and other gear, which can mean you can pack all your gear for your trip into the one bag. For extra protection, some professionals recommend tying the fork blade, chain stay and seat stay with long foam insulation tubes. You can shift the place of the chain on the big ring so that it protects the teeth from damage. Zip ties will hold the chain in place, so that it doesn’t slip off during transportation. When you look at the range of bike cases, always refer to the weight allowance with the domestic airlines and ensure you select one that is light enough to allow you to stay within the weight restriction once the bike and a few bits and pieces are included.

It is advisable not to pack your heavy bike parts/spares in the bike travel case to avoid the extra weight. Instead, carry your shoes, helmet and other gear in your hand-luggage bag. However, if you can afford the weight of the wetsuit, it can be practical for paddling. If you travel with two bikes, remove the wheels of both bikes and pack them together and also pack both bikes in one travel case.

Early Arrival

One of the most important things to you as a competitor is to familiarise yourself with the course you'll be racing on. If the event is not on your home ground, then you have a disadvantage against the locals who are familiar with the course. Flying between cities or interstate is easy enough, but you do need to give yourself time to settle in before turning up for a race. Ideally, if you can arrive 2 days before the race you'll have a rest day, and a course familiarisation day - which may cooincide with registration, which often occurs the day prior to race day.

Travelling with your wesuit

Thankfully, packing a wetsuit for a triathlon doesn’t take so much work as training does. Your wetsuit is one of the most important and expensive items that need to be handled with care. Ensure your wetsuits are completely dry before you pack them. The best way to pack it is to turn it inside out and place it in a large, thick towel. Cross the arms of the suit, fold the top over onto the feet and then roll the towel loosely. Alternatively, you could use a garment bag. And, as mentioned above, you can use the wetsuit in your bike case as additional padding.

Travel Nutrition

Of course, you'll want to ensure you can maintain your healthy diet while travelling and away from home, and this is most important in the three days prior to your race. Juggling your hydration and ensuring your carbohydrate and protein needs are met when driving long distance or flying and staying in hotels is one of the more complex issues of entering races away from home.

Firstly, you need to remain flexible with your brand preferences. If you can’t get your hand on a particular kind of cereal or snack, then look for similar alternatives where the nutritional content is similar. It would be wise to learn more about restaurants and supermarkets near your race venue. In the process, carry your own food where possible, however be aware of quarantine regulations which restrict the movement of fruit, nuts, honey etc at most borders. However, you can pack your favourite sports/energy bars, and gels but you may also can also fulfil your protein needs through protein bars, and shakes in the likihood of less access to lean meats, eggs and dairy products. As soon as possible restock fresh fruits and opt for self-contained accommodation so you can prepare your own meals as you would at home.

Like always, remain hydrated especially during air travel. Carry your own water and top up with electrolytes. Remember to check in advance regarding the climatic conditions at your race venue. Food and hygiene are most important. If you feel the need to continue drinking bottled water don’t hesitate to do so. Plenty of yogurt or probiotics can help avoid gut upsets. Avoid indulging in any delicacy that you haven’t eaten before - this is not the time for dietary experimentation.

Travel Agents

Most of the big triathlon events hosted throughout Australia are co-ordinated by professional event companies who provide extensive pre-event information to competitors. These events are often supported by specialist triathlon travel agencies who are available to coordinate your travel and accommodation arrangements. There are several agents that could be contacted online, or through event organisers correspondence.

Triathlon Insurance

Insurance is also an important part of a triathlete’s checklist when travelling to races.
Bike Insurance cover is one specific area of confusion for many. In Australia, there are several ways to have your bike covered, but the policy offered by BikeSure is worth looking at, and BikeSure have recently joined with TriathlonOz to provide a services to our audience. BikeSure Insurance policies include Bikesure Pro, a comprehensive home and contents package, which include bike insurance, and Bikesure Sport, a standalone bike insurance policy. Coverage includes damage, theft and third party cover of $20,000,000. For details, see the information on the profile page provided by our Business Member BikeSure.

Travelling with your Family

When your family tags along there are many things you need to consider. At race sites, it is not surprising to find families gathered together to cheer the participants, which means that you will be travelling not only with your gear but with family members who desire to share the experience. However, it is important to reduce the stress of travel, in order to be physically and mentally prepared for the race. The first thing is to understand that no other family member will be as interested in the race as you are. They all have their roles to play but cannot be as focused as you are. Just make sure that your travel plans are more family-friendly if they are to travel with you. Plan some post race events with the family, which is a great way to begin recovery as well. Day-spa anyone?

It would be prudent to travel with your favourite music and make sure that every item on your checklist is packed in advance. When you are travelling to another city make sure to check into the hotel, pick up your registration pack, and head to the race site. This will give you an idea of how long it takes to get to your race venue. The rest of the day can include family time. As much as you desire to race with a competitive spirit, don’t forget to have fun.

When you plan well, travelling to your race venue whether by car or air needn’t be daunting at all. However, make sure you do a final run through your checklist before you leave your home or else you could end up paying much more than you expected, to purchase new equipment or face disappointment due to disqualification. Whatever it takes, enjoy the journey and look forward to your race. Your training and hard work will pay rich dividends.

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Article Tags

Triathlon Events, Tips For Bike Travel, Bike Bags, Bike Transport, Tips For Competitive Triathletes

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