Hassle-free Triathlete Travel

Efficient packing is key to winning the airport race

Bike Packing
A padded triathlon bag. Photo: Simon Desrochers

As a professional triathlete, I spend eight months of the year travelling to races around the world, so I am often toting my bike, wetsuit, shoes, goggles and other triathlon paraphernalia through airports, rental car shuttles and taxis. I have to be organized to make travel as hassle-free as possible. Here are five tips to help athletes take the stress out of travelling.

    1. Use a padded bike case with wheels that protects your bike, is easy to pack and easy to move through the airport. Look for a bag that keeps the aerobars, handlebars and seat post and saddle in place. You want a bag that hugs its contents and is light and nimble enough to manoeuvre around the airport. A light bag and packing light will save you money because airline baggage fees, particularly internationally, are punitive if the bag goes over 50 pounds.
    2. Ideally, your luggage includes your bike bag, one carry-on roller bag and a backpack. If you pack liquids and soft clothing around your bike, this allows you to take essentials in the roller bag. I pack my bike shoes and pedals, helmet and running shoes with a race kit in my carry-on. If your bike is delayed or lost, you can borrow or rent a bike. The same cannot be said for shoes with cleats that are custom to your body. I also pack a cycling and running outfit to train in, sunglasses, sport nutrition, wetsuit, goggles, swimsuit and cap into the carry on. I pack my passport, laptop, wallet, water bottle, snacks and noise-cancelling headphones in my backpack. This allows me to complete pre-race training as planned even if my bike is delayed.
    3. Bring parts that are essential for your bike, including small bolts and a derailleur hangar. I bring a spare tubular or tire and tubes to the race.
    4. Take a water bottle and light snacks in your carry on. You can fill your empty water bottle after clearing security. Good travel snacks include apples, pretzels, protein bars and dried fruit.
    5. Do some light training the day before and/or the day of travel, but no hard sessions. I have exposed myself to illness by overdoing it in the 24 hours before a travel day and ended up unable to perform by the time I got to the race. Travelling is taxing and does not count as a rest day, so make sure your body is strong enough to handle the germs it is going to encounter.
  1. Melanie McQuaid
    [/media-credit] Melanie McQuaid is professional triathlete based in Victoria, B.C.
    Photo: Simon Desrochers