Tri Talk Tuesday – Race Etiquette

Hello Tuesday, here I am! And I’m linked up for Tri Talk Tuesday  with Cynthia and Phaedra as per usual.

Today we’re chatting about race etiquette. Those unspoken rules that should be followed even though no one may have told you they exist. Some of them you learn on the fly and other things someone may point out to you. Or you might ultimately learn via dirty look or snarky comment. Because we’ve all been there too I’m sure.


So, what are some race etiquette rules you should know?

1. Keep to your space in transition- Transition is a crowded place and when bikes are crammed into racks super tight, you’re not left with much space to lay out your gear underneath. The best way to not piss off you rack neighbor is to take a regular bath or beach towel, fold it in half the long way, then again the short way. Lay your folded towel down so it’s running parallel to your bike frame and put everything on top of it; this is all the space you get.

Even with all that stuff I needed for a half ironman, I still managed to keep it all to one towel

I’ve been in races where I’m next to someone who lays their stuff perpendicular to their bike frame, meaning they’re stuff is laid out parallel to the rack, taking up more than one space. And this is especially obnoxious in races with predeteremined rack spots. If it’s in a race where you can set up anywhere along the rack it’s easy enough to move, but in the same respect, you shouldn’t have your stuff set out in such a way that someone feels compelled to move away from you.

2. Be courteous at the mount line- I may not be a super athlete, but one thing I can do is a flying mount onto my bike. You know what’s really freaking obnoxious? When I’m running up to the mount line, ready to hop onto my moving bike, and I’m met by a solid wall of bodies at a complete stand still fidgeting with their pedals. If you need to come to a complete stop in order to mount your bike or find the right side of your clip or clipless pedals, please be courteous enough to move to the side and leave way for people who can mount on the move. Regardless of whether it’s a flying mount, someone who just knows how to mount and move along, or someone using flat pedals who requires no fidgeting. I tend to go running at the mount line like a bat out of hell and can’t really stop short on my bike cleats. It’s only a matter of time until I accidentally plow through someone standing dead still in the center of the mount line, which should be clear for those who can mount on the fly.

3. Follow the rules of the road- And when I say this, I mean on the bike. There are very specific rules in place for the bike leg of a race because there is inherent danger involved here. Some races are really good about having course officials enforce the rules, but others not so much. This means no passing on the right, say left if you’re passing someone on the left, and do not ever ride side by side. I was just heading out onto the bike course for Iron Girl last weekend hen I came upon a group of girls riding side by side by side, three wide, just cruising and chatting. I had to cross the yellow line to pass them, which you should also not do, but I was left with no choice. Even after shouting left they did not budge. I thought about saying something but opted not to. Didn’t matter though, the women behind me verbally laid into them when she also had to cross the yellow to pass them.

4. Be kind to your fellow athletes- Triathlon is an incredible community full of support and empowerment. From the elites to those out just to finish their first race, triathlon is a sport that does not discriminate. Be kind and supportive and continue to foster that community. Share your bike pump in transition, offer some kind words, or help someone out if they seem to be missing something they may need.

5. Thank the volunteers- The one thing that comes out of my mouth the most on race day is always “thank you.” Volunteers make racing possible. Without them there would be no race and there have been races before that have been cancelled because there weren’t enough volunteers to man it. I always thank every volunteer I see. Whether it’s in transition, at the bike mount and dismount, at aid stations, cops directing traffic on the bike course, the finish line catchers, everyone. Every single one. They make it possible for you to race. They donate their time, often many days or hours of it, many times having longer volunteer shifts than it takes you to complete the race, to ensure you safety and experience. They are selfless and fantastic. Thank them, high five them, cheer for them, and just make sure they know you’re grateful for what they do.

What is one racing faux pas that drives you batty?

What tips do you have to add?


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23 Replies to “Tri Talk Tuesday – Race Etiquette”

  1. A couple of tips I would add is to rack your bike with the majority of the bike on your side. Some rack with the front wheel toward the rack and some rack with the back wheel on the rack…whichever way you choose, make sure that the majority is on the side you are supposed to be on and that your run gear is on. Also, NEVER touch anyone else’s bike!! I have seen this and it makes me cringe. If there is an issue or someone has racked in your spot, find a volunteer or worker to address it.
    Lee@tri*inspired*life recently posted…Ironman Lake Placid – The SwimMy Profile

    1. Oh heck yes to the not touching someone else bike! I was in a race once where word before the swim start was someone moved someone else’s bike without telling them. I’m really surprised there wasn’t a brawl. I’d be livid if anyone ever touched my bike!

  2. I especially like the tip about keeping your space in transition. Everyone is in a rush and it’s so important to be remember the other racers needs as well. Thanks for the hosting the link up!
    Ursula recently posted…Race Day EtiquetteMy Profile

  3. These are great tips! I’ve only done two tris and two duathlons so far but can say that I always get off to the side to mount and dismount my bike. To me, it’s just common sense. When I approach the dismount line, I also look behind me because if I brake hard as I’m coming in fast, I don’t want anyone flying into me.
    I want to learn how to do a flying mount!
    I HATE when people are riding side by side. I don’t even like it when not in a race. I once encountered a group of cyclists coming the opposite direction of me (I’m in my car) and they clearly were seasoned cyclists and three of them were riding side by side so three across! The one guy was damn near on the yellow line. I was so pissed because not only were they three across but my neighbor was walking on the other side of the road so basically I had no where to go and she felt like she had to walk down into the ditch. It took everything in me to not turn around and ream them out a new asshole and call the police to give them another earful.

    1. It’s definitely all the more frustrating when it’s seasoned riders committing the foul! There’s so much talk about cars needing to be cautious of cyclists, but often times the cyclists are just as at fault, and side by side riding isn’t helping our cause!

  4. I totally agree with the mount line. That makes me so mad when people are stopped right there! Love all these etiquette tips in this post. Hoping to link-up this week, if not I’m all about next week’s topic. Btw how are you doing? How’s your leg?

    1. My leg is still hurting. I have another appointment tomorrow with my regular sports med doctor because I got completely frustrated with the urgent ortho and how horrible they were. So I’m not sure if I’m starting the whole process over, but I’m hoping for an answer tomorrow.

  5. So true about keeping to your one small spot in transition! I saw the absolute picture of how NOT to set up your transition area at Iron Girl Webster. Two people were literally taking up 3/4 of a rack meant for at least 10 bikes. People were PISSED. It also turned out these were 2 people who were not tri-newbies… so people got even more pissed.
    Christina @ The Table Still Has Shoes recently posted…The Bicycle, the House Elf, and MeMy Profile

    1. Definitely one thing if it’s a newbie who didn’t know better. I’ve been stuck beside someone who took up about three spaces worth of room in transition and even when she realized she was in my way she refused to move. So annoying.

  6. Great article and I love the tips.. most are no-brainers but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t know them. I did a sprint tri on Saturday and we had set spots to rack our bikes, odd facing one way, even facing the other. I had to move my bike over the the odd side and had to ask the guy next to me to move his stuff out of the way..he was taking up an extra two spaces with his wetsuit, towel, shoes and bag. He was a real jerk about it and made a big deal about having to move his stuff…that was until another racer pointed out that he was an EVEN number and should move his stuff to the other side of the rack so he wouldn’t be disqualified….he sang a different tune after that.

    Another pet peeve is on the bike course when people by you and don’t tell you they are passing. I had one woman who was part of a local triathlon club here who not only didn’t yell “left” as she passed, but didn’t move over to pass me. Her bike handles just barely missed touching mine…scared the crap out of me as I didn’t even know she was there and had I moved even a little bit we would have collided. I also got to watch her do the same thing to the woman ahead of me…and to qualify, both the woman ahead and myself were off to the right, thereyby allowing space for people to pass…but this woman just came whizzing by, said nothing and never moved over to the left to pass…I thought someone who was a member of a tri club should know better than that!

    But overall it was a great race, well organized and the staff were fantastic!

    1. So dangerous to pass so closely! I try to swing as wide as possible when I pass others on the course. Glad you were okay!

      1. Yes. We were all good. There was only one mishap on the course…someone was dismounting of his bike and couldn’t get his shoe unclipped in time and went head over handle bars. My husband said he saw the bike fly up and over and a huge gasp from the crowd….but we think the rider was OK as no ambulance was called.

        When passing I always swing out wide and yell “On your left”. And when people do it to me I always nod that I heard them as they go by. I also try to move more if I can.

  7. The side by side bikers are my biggest pet peeve. I’m usually in one of the later waves to start (over 40) and I’m a slower swimmer. So by the time I get out there on my bike, I’m trying to make up some time. I often come up on the side by side riders. I get that not everyone is trying to meet a time goal, but have some awareness that there are people still racing who started later than you.
    Mary Sue recently posted…100th Post – A Race ReportMy Profile

    1. Yeah, I don’t think some people understand that many people are racing to actually race, even if they aren’t competitive persay. I don’t podium, but I’m still out there racing in a serious manner. And to have people who treat it like a leisurely ride with friends is really irritating.

  8. I think those are my top 5 as well. If it wasn’t for volunteers out on the course, I would easily miss the turns and get lost! It is great having them stop traffic for you! I wish I had volunteers to do that on my training rides. Haha.

    1. I wish I could get volunteers for training rides too! All those stops really kill my time!

    1. I have such a hard time Getting going from a stand still, it was worth learning to run and jump onto my bike!

  9. Please teach me how to do a running mount. I’m one of those standing on the side slowly working my way into my pedals. 🙂 And I DO get to the side. My biggest pet peeve is when riders do not stay to the left, especially going downhill. I am a slow swimmer and tend to make up time on the bike which means passing a lot of people. I get so frustrated when riders are all over the place and think they are the only ones on the road. Stay to the RIGHT and allow others to pass without fear of collision. That’s all. 🙂
    Kristen @ Glitter and Dust recently posted…As My Second 70.3 Ironman Approaches…My Profile

    1. My biggest fear for Syracuse 70.3 was one particular descent where people top out over 50 mph. I was so scared about having other people passing me or me needing to pass someone while whizzing downhill so fast. I can definitely empathize with you on the downhill thing and people not staying right!

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