The Realities of Travelling for Triathlon

If you’ve ever travelled abroad to take part in a triathlon, what you’re about to read will feel very familiar to you. But why is it that no-one talks about it? All you get is posed leg pictures in the sun or ‘bike next to palm tree’ type images adorned on Instagram.

What these people aren’t telling you is all the faff that’s involved. Well, here it is:

Bike dragging is the fourth discipline

Ever dragged your bike bag/box around an airport, in and out of cars, up and downstairs, or squeezed it upright into a lift? Yep, that’s a skill that will serve you well if you plan to race abroad. And believe me, it’s not that fun unless you have an on-tap bag carrier to do the heavy lifting for you.

When weight really is an issue

Tour de France riders talk about shedding weight for performance – they have it easy compared to us. Trying to comply with certain airlines baggage weight restrictions is like mission impossible. What can you take out? Nothing! Because triathlon involves SO. MUCH. KIT.

Language barriers

“Can I please order a bowl of plain rice with a plain baked potato on the side, no salad, no sauce, no vegetables?” Yeah. Try ordering that in Polish or Indonesian. When it comes to pre-race day carb-loading and you want to stick to the simple starchy stuff, bespoke orders are a lot more challenging when there’s a massive language (or cuisine!) barrier.

Pack, unpack, pack, unpack

Having to disassemble, reassemble, pack, unpack, faff with kit, faff some more; definitely takes the sweetness out of overseas racing. Granted, you do become quite a pro when it comes to bike packing and unpacking in record times, but it’s not fun, and never will be.

Ungodly flight times

Especially pertinent when it comes to a ‘quick weekend race somewhere hot’. Arriving in said country at 11pm and having to then faff (see above), is undesirable to say the least. Getting that 6am flight the day after the race with sore legs and a sorer head is even less so. Especially when you have to take points 1, 2, 3 and 4 into consideration as well!

Having to take a mortgage out

Probably goes without saying, but racing abroad is expensive. Aside from the race fee, you have to think about flights, taxis/hire car, accommodation, food and drink, insurance, bank roaming fees, mobile roaming fees, and branded goodies from the expo (obviously!). All this stuff adds up. Take the family on the premise that they get a “holiday”, and you’ll be applying to re-mortgage your house.

When it rains

As you cockily head off on your bid to “race in the sun”, gloating on Twitter that you’re leaving the “rubbish UK wet weather behind”, you fully expect sunbeds, mojitos and massive tan lines. Then you get there, and it’s raining. That’s a bitter pill to swallow, and what’s more, it brings down the tone of your Instagram page.

So, while racing in the sun is great, it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be. Think carefully, and for the more adventurous of you, bon voyage!

Written by Amy Kilpin