You might think that a triathlon is three events. Yeah, it’s swim, bike and run. That’s three. BUT, in reality there are four key disciplines that one must master in order to be really superior at this sport. What’s the fourth discipline, you might ask? Transitions.
And just like everything else, in order to be good at transitions, it is beneficial to practice your transitions. Herein lies the problem for some of us. How do we best approximate a triathlon transition area so that we can practice in a “real life” environment? Certainly you can just lean your bike against a wall or tree, but to create a more authentic race experience, why not build your own transition rack?
Building a personal bike rack is really simple and requires very limited supplies and very little time. In fact, you can invest less than $10 and spend about 30 minutes to create your very own transition rack.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- One 2″ x 4″ piece of lumber, 10′ long. This will generally cost you about $5.00 at Lowes or Home Depot.
- A few nails. I used 12 nails, but you can get by with 8. I had a box of nails in my garage, but you can pick up nails for next to nothing at a hardware store.
- A hammer, tape measure, and pencil for marking your wood for cuts
- A saw of some sort – I used my circular saw, but a bow saw or carpentry saw will work just as well.
The design for this rack is really super simple, and is actually similar to the design used by Rev3 for their transition racks (just not as long, and not painted). Of course, you could paint this rack and then affix a name plate to it so it looks like a transition rack at a Rev3 race…
First and foremost, you should have a method for stabilizing your wood so that you can cut it cleanly. I used a handy-dandy workbench that has a vise to hold the wood:
First, you will need to cut two “longer” boards – these will serve as the main supports for the rack. I initially measured them at 30″ each. This is certainly long enough; you could probably make them a little shorter. After I built my rack, I went back and cut off 5″ from the ends of each support, making them 25″. Longer is probably better than shorter, but you’ll probably not want to make it too long so you can easily store this in your garage or apartment or wherever.
Once you’ve measured, go ahead and cut. Remember the old adage – measure twice and cut once. If you use a power saw, be sure to wear eyewear and not stick your finger into the moving blade (that might cause a slight flesh wound).
After you cut the “supports”, you’ll need to cut two boards that you’ll use to actually hold your bike up. I cut mine at 24″ – this seems sufficient. You might be able to go a little shorter, but this was a nice round number, so I went with it.
Once you have all of your cuts made (you’ll have two 30″ boards and two 24″ boards) you can put your saw away. On each of your support boards, draw two lines that are approximately 1″ to 1.5″ (depending upon your tire width) apart. These lines are important because you’ll line up your two shorter boards so that there’s a gap between them for your bike tire to fit into.
Note the two lines below. The way I did this is that I put the first line six inches from the end of the board.
To make the assembly a little easier, I pre-nailed two nails into the support boards. Notice that just below my support board, I have clamped in one of the shorter boards – that way I could tell exactly where to put my two nails so that they’d be in the middle of the boards I was nailing into.
I actually did this on both sides of the lines, and on both of the support boards. At the end of that process, my two longer boards each looked like this:
Once you pre-nail the support boards, it’s time to begin the actual assembly. I set all the boards down on the driveway, lined up the shorter boards so that the inside edge of the board was on the lines that I drew for my 1.5″ tire gap, and then drove the nails home.
You’ll do this on both of the support boards. You can note below that I set up my support boards so that I had two longer ends facing opposite directions. You could also make this so that the slot for your tire is in the middle of your support boards. What you’re trying to do is create a structure that is strong enough to not wobble and drop your bike. If your support boards are 30″ long, you won’t run into any problem no matter how you align your support boards.
And, voila! Your very own personal bike rack. Now you can lay out your transition stuff just like you would in a race and practice your transitions. The cooler thing? This is a very light rack, so it’s portable. You can take it to the track, to your pool or lake, or wherever.
Now that you have your own bike rack, you’ll be the envy of your triathlete friends – and because you’ll be able to easily practice your transitions, you’ll be faster than them, too (which is always a good thing).