You’ve completed the swim! Wash that Hudson off your face and start focusing on T1. What do you need to do in transition? Hopefully you pictured this ahead of time. Take off the wet suit; put on the helmet; dry off your feet; put on your shoes; put on the rest of your bike gear (shirt, gloves, glasses, lucky penny, whatever). Is your helmet buckled? It better be or you won’t be able to leave transition. Buckle you helmet as soon as you put it on. The volunteers will tell you when you can mount your bike so walk it quickly to the exit and pay attention to the volunteers instructions. Now ride!!!
1. That first hill. So the NYC Tri loves hills in both the bike and run and they start you out early. As you leave Riverside park and head up onto the West Side Highway there is a sharp turn into a steep hill. It’s not long and it’s not terrible but you need to be ready. Make sure as you leave transition that you are in your lowest gear. You may want to just rack it the night before in the lowest gear so you don’t even have to think when the bike starts.
There will most likely be volunteers near the turn to warn you, but as soon as you turn (sharp right) you’ll start to climb. Just when the hill seems over there is a slight right turn and another incline that you just have to push over and then you’re done. Be prepared that there might be people around you who are not expecting this hill and are having a hard time. I (Sirrah) just try to get out of there as fast as possible so I don’t get stuck near anyone struggling to stay upright. It really is a short hill so it won’t blow you legs out to push up it fast.
2. Shift! Use your gears! This is a hilly ride and it’s an out and back, so any glorious downhill you coast on the way out, you’ll be pushing up on the way back.
3. Don’t crowd. There are rules about drafting, or riding too close- you MUST keep at least three bike lengths between you and the bike in front of you. However, there aren’t a ton of race officials out there enforcing everyone’s behavior. So ride smart. If someone is riding your tail or is actively trying to pass you, let them pass. If you’re on top of someone, either pass or fall back. You don’t want to get DQed for drafting, and just as importantly, you want to be safe. If you’re too close to someone and they suddenly do something unexpected, you may not have the space to react safely.
4. Watch the road. The roads aren’t perfectly paved so keep an eye on the road for holes or debris. If you see something, be a good person and point at it so the cyclists behind you know to avoid it too.
If, and I pray it isn’t, IF it is raining, watch the painted areas of the road: they are slippery.
5. Eat and drink. Guys, you better already have a nutrition and hydration plan in place that you’ve tried out on your bike! You have to take in calories on the ride, and you HAVE to hydrate.
There is no course support with food or water so you need to carry your nutrition and hydration. I put my gels in my Tri shorts before I start. Yes that means there is some Hudson River on them, but by that point, I promise, you’ve already ingested the Hudson and whatever is on the outside of your nutrition packet won’t kill you.
Please don’t underestimate the need to drink on the bike. I’ve heard horror stories about people who didn’t drink enough on the bike and then fainted during the run (its hot out there!). Can you imagine being only a mile from the finish line of your triathlon and not finishing, all because you didn’t reach down and take more of the water that was sitting so close for 40K?! You’ll feel dumb, so drink up and finish strong.
5. Enjoy the scenery. I love the bike even though it’s tough in places because there are some really beautiful views. You get to bike on a road you’d normal just be cruising through on in a car. You get to bike through a toll plaza! How cool is that?! Enjoy it!
Hopefully you’ve all practiced changing a flat tire. If not, there is still time. There are also some great instructional videos you can watch while you follow along. If you get into trouble on your bike and can’t fix it yourself, there are volunteers that go up and down the course, but they may take forever to get to you and they aren’t available past the bridge into the Bronx, so don’t count on their help.
As you head back into transition you have to go pretty slow anyway so you can let your legs spin a little to flush out the lactic acid and prepare for the run. You’ll dismount just outside of transition a walk/jog your bike to your spot. Rack your bike and THEN take off your helmet.
You’re done with 2/3 of the triathlon at this point! The run isn’t easy, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll be thinking, “There is no F-ing way I’m not finishing this thing!”