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Free Speed

Javy Olives

Nothing is more disappointing than seeing beautiful, aerodynamic bikes worth hundreds of thousands of pesos, in transition with energy bars, gels, flat repair kits and God-knows-what hanging on every imaginable part.

You see, these cutting-edge time trial bikes were built for one sole purpose—to go fast. Save for a few modern triathlon bikes designed with built-in hydration and nutrition compartments (Specialized Shiv Tri, Scott Plasma, Canyon SpeedMax), most of our bikes provide nothing more than a few bottle cages. How then can we most efficiently carry our nutrition, hydration and flat repair kits, keeping in mind that our bikes were not built with bento boxes, taped gels and hanging pumps in mind?

I will not be delving into the latest aerodynamic gear and bikefits. What I will be tackling is how to get you from T1 to T2 faster, without breaking the bank.

Don’t get me wrong, I was once a victim, too. During my first 70.3 back in 2009, I rolled out of T1 with four full bottles of hydration and nutrition. Salt caps in little baggies were taped to my bars, and a spare tubular and pump tied to my seatpost. Probably the only things I didn’t have on my bike were sachets of soap and shampoo. Yes, I looked like I came from the sari-sari store.

This is a common scene I see playing out in most multisport events—be it among noobs or veterans. While it may be comforting to carry your kitchen sink (and sometimes even the pantry) on your bike, it is not the most practical thing to do in a race, especially when speed is of primary concern.

Here are some practical tips and tricks I’ve learned and developed through the years:
1. Make the most of the Aid Stations along the course. I am a believer of carrying most, if not all, the nutrition you need onboard. Hydration, of course, is a different story. Typically for a 70.3, I exit T1 with two bidons mixed with calories and electrolytes—the first to cover the first hour, and the second one to serve as the feed bottle for the remainder of the ride.

Anywhere between kilometer 25 to 35, I would have consumed that first bottle of nutrition and water, so I would toss it in favor of a bottle of water or electrolytes at almost every aid station thereafter. The second bidon filled with concentrated nutrition would remain with me throughout the ride, providing much needed calories and electrolytes.

For Olympic distance or less, the bike ride would just be an hour give or take, so I would just have a single bidon of water mixed with nutrition and electrolytes to serve as both hydration and nutrition throughout the ride.

2. Clean is fast. There are way more practical methods than taping bars, burgers, spares and gels on your top tube, or stuffing them into bento boxes. For those who race primarily on liquids (gels, powder mixes), the most efficient and practical way to carry your nutrition would be inside your water bottles or hydration systems. Not only does it make it easier to consume (no more struggling to open gels and bars; no more littering, too), it also “cleans” up your bike from a visual and aerodynamic perspective. If you prefer calories in concentrated form, I suggest getting a Gel Flask which can hold as many as six gels—tucked into a rear pocket or neatly between the aerobars. Another option is a Gel-Shot bottle, which can carry both water and gels.

As for your flat repair kit (tube, levers and Co2/pump or pitstop), which need not be accessible at all times, here are some of the best ways to carry them:

      • – neatly tucked under/behind the saddle (Check out SpeedSleev);
      • – neatly bundled and carried in a jersey pocket;
      • – neatly bundled in a belt bag and worn around the waist; or
      • – inside a bidon/tool bottle on the bike.

SaddleTop (for online)

For those racing on tubulars, carrying a spare is a little more difficult. Perhaps the best way to do so would be to hide a neatly rolled tubular under or behind the saddle, inside a bike bottle, or to wear it around the waist (yes, seriously!).SpeedSleevClosed (for online)

For tubular spares, look for track tubulars, which fold a lot smaller than training or racing tubulars, making it a lot easier to tuck under a saddle or into a jersey pocket.

SpiBeltsOpen (for online)

You don’t necessarily have to put it on the bike—you can put it on you. Remember to discard bike related items in T2 before you head out to run.

3. It’s not just about the bike. So your bike is neatly set up, raring to go fast, but what about you? You and your kit will play a big part in saving time on the bike, perhaps even more than the P15,000 aero helmet or P100,000 aero wheels you just bought. Here are some things to keep in mind:
As much as possible, stay in your aero position. Sit up and stretch at turnarounds and aid stations as you feed, then return to your aero position.
Make sure your tri or cycling top is a snug fit. The tighter, the better.
As much as possible, keep your top zipped up fully, so as not to allow it to “catch” wind. Ladies, sa after party na ’yang low neckline!
If a race number on the bike is a must, make sure your racebelt is nice and tight, and wear it “low” on the buttocks and hips so that it stays out of the wind. If at any point one side breaks open, tuck it into your shorts until you get to T2.

I hope you picked up a tip or two. Ride safe!


Javy picked up running immediately after a paparazzi photo showed him in his gluttonous best in Yes! Magazine. Six years later and 40 pounds lighter, this triathlete has managed to bring together the three things he is most passionate about: technology, gadgets and triathlon.

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