Ooo, it's so very exciting!
At the triathlons, I had noticed other competitors with fancy backpacks called transition bags. Some had a special wetsuit pocket. Others had stools. Everyone had a space for their helmet. Most people had various straps, and toggle cords.
I went to my first tri with a couple of canvas grocery sacks. Seriously. They were old MOM's sacks from my favorite organic store in Arlington. (My Organic Market. AWESOME. Must go.) One sack for my bike stuff. One sack for my running stuff. The wetsuit went into its own mesh bag. I laid an old purple and white striped towel on the ground to change.
That's right, readers. Frugal, and completely dorky. I bet if Ben had seen the grocery sack set up, he'd have laughed his newly-regrown hair right off. He's a good Christian man, but he'd have laughed at me.
No longer. For Christmas, M. gave me my very own transition bag, and because we don't do anything mainstream or standard here, somehow he researched and found out about this company called Gyst out in CA. I've never even heard of them, but he found the coolest transition bag ever.
That's right- it comes with a changing mat, and is designed to zip apart in such a way that you always have a dry surface to stand on and change in, and when it zips back together, the outside is clean so you don't get yourself and others all dirty all over again. Genius, guys! The bag itself is even waterproof. Considering that the Nation's Tri was SOAKING WET this year, this is huge. I was really lucky that my duffle that I was using was able to stay reasonably dry, but I had a lot of wet stuff after the race. I still have stuff that smells like the Potomac. Not to mention that the duffle, while it is great luggage, is rather large and floppy to serve as a transition bag. Here's as good a place as any to apologize to all the other athletes on the bus who I smushed in the head with my duffle as I passed by. It's good I had written "First Big Girl Tri!" on my stuff, so at least everyone knew I was a newbie. Hopefully, after a face full of smushy duffle, they just thought, "New girl. She'll learn." Either that, or they thought "New girl. I will CRUSH YOU on the course!" Which many of them did.
As far as the duffel goes, though, I'm sure Rick Steves and the One Bag guy would approve of my traveling with just the duffel on my other trips, (thanks, Rick Steves and One Bag Guy!). It's really awesome luggage and really so-so for triathlons.
Besides, the REI bag is not totally waterproof, and the Potomac is very silty. (It's not my fault.) I rinsed my wetsuit the day of the race, but it was about two days before I could get everything home and cleaned. Then I brought the jersey to Christmas dinner. Sorry, family. I didn't mean to inflict that on y'all, but I thought you'd want to see Grandpa's name on the jersey. Synthetic fabrics never really de-stink. That's a really stinky river, right? I don't know if the GYST bag will solve the stinky, silty Potomac problem... Maybe I just shouldn't bring my tri gear to Christmas dinner again?
Anyway, right now, I've packed all my bike gear- both pairs of shoes, helmet, and all my gloves, into the Gyst bag, and have reclaimed two entire grocery bags.
Can't wait for next season, when I can go to trainings and events, and look COOL like all the other triathletes! And as a bonus, I can return my duffle to being luggage again. I bet it's glad to retire. I'm sure it was even less fun to be the carry-er of the Potomac-soaked items than it was to be the wearer of those items.