Mind Your P's and Q's with the referee when you race in a triathlon! If you don't you will need to say PLEASE don't give me a penalty and THANQ when or if they don't. It is probably unlikely they won't give you a penalty if you do something against the rules. If you have raced a triathlon you may be aware of some of the RULES that are enforced especially on the bike. If you don't follow the rules you will likely get penalized. I have never gotten a penalty when racing - knock on wood and hopefully it will never happen. There are a few simple things to keep in mind when racing to avoid getting penalized. A penalty can add 2 minutes or more to your overall time depending on how many you get. You could also be disqualified if you get too many or do not serve a penalty in a tent (if that is required). I got a spot to the World Championships last year when the first place girl in my age group failed to serve her two penalties for drafting.
- While most races follow the USAT rules guidelines, each race may have different rules specific to that race. You will need to read all the pre-race literature and/or attend the pre-race meeting to see if there are special rules for your race. A race specific rule may be something like a NO PASS zone on the bike.
- If the race is outside the US the rules can be different so you need to check the race information. For example in my race in South Africa littering was grounds for disqualification. In most races in the US it is a timed penalty.
- Don't ride side by side! The race in Las Vegas this past week the referee gave a large number of positioning penalties. If you pass someone and don't get back to the right of the road then you are out of position and can get a penalty. Many experienced and inexperienced riders were riding in the center of the road and they got a penalty. There was a girl coming into T2 off the bike at last weeks race. Before she dismounted she unclipped her helmet. Not only is this extremely dangerous but it is against the rules. Luckily there was no official to see her.
- Drafting behind someone is another reason you could get a penalty, taking too long to pass someone, and littering outside the drop zones are some other reasons you can get a penalty on the bike.
- You can view all the USAT rules at: http://www.usatriathlon.org/about-multisport/rulebook.aspx
I know we all do this for fun however you don't want to miss a podium spot in your age group because you got a silly penalty that could have easily been avoided. If you do happen to get a penalty then suck it up and don't argue with the referee! Take it as a lesson learned.