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At some events, such as Ironman, participants must drop off bikes a day before or in the days prior to the event. This may cause some worry, but in reality it is a very organized approach. With the bike already in place, there is no worrying about loading your bike in the back of your Honda Civic at 4 a.m. Race directors usually provide security, too. But if you're paranoid, feel free to lock it up. Some people also drape a towel across the top of the bike. Doing so not only keeps your baby warm and comfy, but also can keep dew from soaking your saddle through the dark of night. With the bike out of the way, let's talk a little about the rest of your gear.

To the left or right of the bike, lay out a small towel. Believe it or not, a hand towel works great. Now, you'll see people putting out that old 21-square foot beach towel emblazoned with Garfield The Cat. That's fine. After all, who doesn't like Garfield?

But keep in mind that transition areas can be crowded. As more and more people get into the sport, the less space we will all have for our stuff. Just try not to be a transition area hog. If you need a bigger towel for drying off, put a separate one at the front of the transition area.

On the towel, place your running shoes, hat, socks and whatever else you need for the run portion near the back, if your run or walk leg comes last. If you're using your running shoes for the bike, put them closer to the front for easier access. Next, lay out your race belt, sunglasses, bike gloves, helmet and anything else you might need for the bike portion. A good way to do this is to place your glasses, gloves, etc. in your helmet for easy access. There are, of course, variations to this layout.

Some people like to bring an extra water bottle or small tub to wash off their feet. Others like to bring their stuff in a five gallon bucket or plastic milk crate and then use either for a seat during transitions. Some people put there helmet and cycling gear on the handlebars for quick access. Some people bring a lawn chair, generator and television set to relax before the grueling bike leg. What you do, is your choice.

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