As with just about everything else at the XTERRA, it's going to take longer in the transition than in a regular triathlon. There's more to do, after all. With everyone's times extended because of the conditions, time spent in the transition is not critical. That doesn't mean you can just lollygag around, but don't get too worked up over the extra time. In a regular triathlon, your bicycle will have your water bottle in a cage. For the XTERRA, you will be putting your water supply on your back.
XTERRA rules are basically the same as in a regular triathlon. The most important equipment-related rule involves the helmet, which must be buckled before you touch your mountain bike on your way to the mount/dismount area. You also have gloves, socks, and safety glasses to worry about. The glasses are not required but are highly recommended.
After you ride, you will be shedding your hydration pack and gloves, perhaps putting on a hat or visor for sunshade and to keep perspiration out of your eyes. Don't forget, by the way, that your run will be on the same kind of rugged trail as the ride, with branches and leaves in your way. Keep the glasses on.
In Chapter 16, you were advised to put down a towel to help organize your gear in the transition area. For the XTERRA, a towel is a must but for a different reason.
It would not be a big surprise if you returned to the transition area after the ride covered with mud. This is not the ideal circumstance for the start of your run. Even if you aren't covered, there will be dirt and grit on you. Take a moment to get rid of some of that before you get going again.
You won't find aid stations where the bikers ride, but there should be stops on the run course with water and a sports drink. You should be able to get by without carrying any fluid.
Common sense and experience will guide you on the big day, starting with your arrival time. You will, of course, get there early and set up in the transition area with enough time to allow for a warm-up ride, perhaps a light jog and a quick swim to get loose.
Your prerace nutrition should include more calories because the XTERRA demands so much more of you than a regular triathlon. Plan to take some kind of nutritional supplement on the ride, a couple of gels maybe, or if it looks like grappling with a gel pack on the course might be dangerous, take some kind of liquid energy source. If neither plan seems viable, plan to carry a couple of gels on the run. Check with the organizers to see if one or more of the aid stations will be handing out some kind of energy source.
Gloves usually come off after the ride in the XTERRA, but they might be needed if you have to climb over some rocky terrain during the run. That's another reason for checking the course in advance.
Your prerace preparation should include a ride on your mountain bike of about fifteen minutes. Ride the course if you are allowed to. If not, ride wherever you can to warm up and make sure the gears are shifting properly.
Take a little extra time in the water, with two or three 25-yard sprints to get your heart rate up. The water might be pretty cold — remember, no wetsuits unless it's 72°F or lower — so acclimating to the temperature will be beneficial. You can jog lightly if you want, but it won't hurt if you skip it.
If you are a first-time XTERRA competitor, forget about the big picture and any goal other than getting to the finish line. Stay within yourself and concentrate on making it from point to point in a literal sense, that is, from this log to that creek, from that creek up the next hill, and so forth.
Chances are this sport is like nothing you have ever done. Your times won't have much meaning because the courses are so different, and you don't know how you will manage in the twists and turns and in your battle with the obstacles and the elements.
You trained for the XTERRA, learning tricks and techniques. You are fit and competitive, and you will try your best, pushing when you can, but without a frame of reference, times are meaningless. Save all that for next time. Just do your best and enjoy the adventure. Near the end, if you're tempted to try to pick up a few seconds with an all-out burst, consider whether it's worth it if you crash into a tree and end up out of commission for days or weeks.