We thought it would be a good time to talk about one of the hardest parts of cycling. While dreaming of new wheel set’s so I don’t get dropped on the next climb. I started to think about the Saturday morning bunch rides, the banter and commentary that goes along with the rides.
Want to sound like a pro? Read on…. We have dug around and come up with the most frequently used cycling words, phrases take your lingo to a new level.
Regardless for those newer to cycling and there we get a lot of newbies visiting bike chaser we thought why not capture the lingo, let me caveat this with please don’t go to far (see clip).
Shit Cyclists SayWe're uniting a million voices to improve the future of biking. Join us by signing the pledge for better biking at http://www.peopleforbikes.org.
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Starring: Ryan Van Duzer - http://ryanvanduzer.com/
Video script, production, and editing by Allen Krughoff of Hardcastle Photography, who is also a nationally ranked cyclocross racer and his work can be found at http://www.hardcastlephotography.com
So here’s your ultimate A to Z cycling Lingo list.
By now you no doubt would have been at the café and noted the MAMIL’s and the tech sounding buzz words that seem to bounce from one punter to another without a drop of the $10 café late being spilled.
This guide will help you sound like you just stepped out of the pro peloton.
Feel free to add any I’ve missed into the comment section and we can continue to build our library.
I’ll lead in with this question –
What’s the hardest thing about riding a bike? – talking about it!
Ride-On – Those on Zwift will know what I’m saying “ride on” a way to encourage others to keep riding strong, and well done.
Half-wheeling – this very, very annoying action is riding about a half-wheel ahead of the person next you
Getting dropped – as the name alludes you are losing the group and are looking at a solo ride from here on in.
Aero – Short for aerodynamic. Often used to describe your riding position, bike set up or equipment that reduces wind resistance. To be area means you’re not wasting energy pushing the wind.
Attack – A sudden attempt to pull ahead from a rider or group of riders. This is a tactic most commonly used in racing, however it makes for iunteresting coffee shop rides as well.
Back on – Describes when a rider who has lost contact with the peloton or group manages to get back on or rejoin the group. Usually you got dropped creating the need to get back on.
Bonking – When you run out of energy in your body. This is common when riders do not eat enough during a ride. Apply it like this “I’m bonking or I bonked“. This is often used as part of your excuse library, for example, “I bonked so I couldn’t get back on”
Bibs – bib knicks – Bibs are cycling knicks that are held up by a bib – or suspenders instead of a regular elastic waistband.
Bikepacking – It’s a form of long-distance cycling where you load everything you need on your bike frame. Think of it like packing your car for a camping trip, only without the car. Its all the rage right now.
Blowing up – Another way of saying bonking, but generally applies after you have done a huge effort. Example “I had them with 2km to go and I was off the front but I blew up, they passed me on the line“.
Big ring – The largest chain ring on your crank set. Often used in the phrase, are you riding up this in the big ring?
Breakaway or the break – A break forms when a solo rider or group of riders attack the peloton. They form a group that rides ahead of the peloton. They have broken away from the peloton.
Bridge or bridging – To catch the rider/s in front who have a gap. Used in the phrase she bridged over or I bridged the gap.
Cadence – Pedaling rate or the number of revolutions per minute (RPM). The jury’s still out on the ideal cadence for maximum efficiency.
Cassette – A cassette is the set of sprockets (the pyramid shaped set of gears) on the rear wheel. The chain moves up and down these gears to make riding easier or harder depending on the cyclist’s needs. As opposed to a music tape or “cassette” last seen in the 80’s.
Century – A metric century ride is 100 km.
Chasing – When a rider or riders chase a group or rider in front. Chasing also occurs if a rider attacks and riders chase them down so that a break does not establish. It’s a proud moment when you chased and brought them back to the pack!
Chammy – or Chamois – Refers to the padding in your cycling shorts/bibs. You’ll often here this topic when either you have a new set of knicks that are comfortable OR you are in a world of hurt after or during a ride – then everyone will give you there personal preference on chammy selection.
Chewing the head stem – A term use to describe the feeling when you are completely in the hurt box, often focused on your Garmin, stem, ground or in the general direction of your handlebars. Used it this way: the climb was so steep that I was chewing the handlebars in pain.
Chopping wheels. When a rider cuts sharply in front of your wheel. This is often the cause of a crash. It can happen when a rider tries to push in to a spot or to fill a gap too quickly. Often heard “he chopped my wheel I was lucky not to go down”.
Crit or criterium – A short cycling race on city streets that typically lasts less than an hour and each lap covers 5 km or less.
Climb or Climber – Used to refer to a hill that’s coming up or can be used to describe a rider, “look at him he’s built to climb” generally a very light person.
Clincher – A standard tire design that has a hooked, U-shaped rim and open tire casing with a tube inside. Clinchers are commonly associated with road bikes because the high tire pressure forces the lip of the tire into the rim for a super-snug fit (quite literally clinching it into place).
Clipless – A type of pedal that locks into the cleat of special cycling shoes for better power transfer when pedaling. This can be confusing because your shoes actually do clip (or lock) into the pedal.
Cooked – When you are exhausted after a big day on the bike, “I rode 100kms today into a headwind, I’m cooked”
Drafting – The art of sitting behind someone’s wheel. Riding directly behind someone is the most aerodynamic and efficient place to be. By drafting you can use up to 40 percent less energy than if you were riding in the wind.
Drops – The lower curved portion of road bike handlebars. Cyclists usually move to their drops to be more aerodynamic.
Echelon – Generally described as a long string or line of riders that are in a formation that shelters them from the wind. The front rider will pull off the front, towards the direction of the wind and make their way to the back of the line.
Filling gaps – If there is a gap in the peloton, fill it. Often gaps form in the peloton from riders moving round or dropping wheels. Not filling gaps is a recipe for getting dropped, because you are exposed in the wind and if the bunch surges, you have more distance to cover to maintain contact. Always fill a gap.
Fixie (or fixed gear) – A single-speed bike, often with no brakes, that can’t freewheel (or coast). This means that whenever the bike is moving, your legs are also moving, and you simply pedal backward to stop. (Sounds simple)
Grupetto – The last group to make time cut in a race. The group ride together to make time cut generally most used during TV commentary.
Grand Tour – Does the Tour de France sound familiar? The annual race through France is one of three European Grand Tours. The other two are Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España. They are all three weeks long and involve back-to-back days in the saddle mostly totalling more than 3,000 km.
Granny gears – The lowest gear ratio on your bike, often used when climbing. Or a way to wind up your mate because you are still on the big ring!
Hammer – Generally refers to when someone rides away from a group, starts riding faster than everyone else, or attacks. Phrase like this: they dropped the hammer.
Head bobbing – Often a symptom of riders who are suffering. They generally bob their heads and bodies to get power into their pedals from every part of their body apart from their legs. Tip: It is not very effective.
Kit – A cycling outfit that includes shorts or bibs; a jersey; and even socks, shoes, and a cap. It’s fashion as they say, or I may not be fast but at least I look fast.
LBS – Local bike shop. This is where you’ll buy a brand new bike and bring it in for maintenance from time to time; support your LBS.
Leading out – This is a tactic used by teams or individuals to set up a sprint. Riders line up and drive the pace, putting out a sustained effort before peeling off until the last rider is left to sprint for the win. This is generally used at the end of a race to help the sprinter, or get to the coffee shop first.
Lumpy – When the race or ride profile includes, undulating, rolling hills and is essentially not flat.
Motor-pacing – A method of training that cyclists use. A car or motorbike is used to draft behind to allow for training at increased speed.
Moving up – An important skill in bike racing. You must always move up the bunch/peloton. This will mean that you will always be riding towards the front.
Off the back – Similar term to getting dropped. When a rider loses touch with the peloton and is effectively off the back.
Popped – When you can no longer keep up a pace. Use like this “I absolutely popped today when I was climbing” or “the bunch was driving the pace and I popped”.
Peloton – The main group of riders racing or riding in a bunch.
Pile up – When riders crash generally in a pile on the road.
Pulling turns – When you are on the front driving the pace and then pull off to let someone else continue the work. Each rider pulls off after pulling a turn. This enables a faster speed to be maintained as each rider puts in a hard short effort. Smooth turns make for a good train.
Responding – The rider responds by chasing. This normally happens the moment after someone in the peloton attacks.
Roadie – A nickname for a dedicated road cyclist.
Saddle – The bike seat, where you sit while your legs spin away. Saddles get a bad rap for being uncomfortable, but finding the right one for you is key.
Sitting in – Sitting in the middle of the bunch means that you are protected, out of the wind and using less energy than everyone else. You will hear “he just sat in all day and then sprinted for the win”. Some may say this is also an art of using the peloton or bunch to conserve your energy.
Smashed – When you are physically and mentally exhausted from riding or when you are riding strongly to exhaust others. Used like this “I’m smashed” or “I smashed the boys today on the climb”.
Surfing – The fine art of navigating your way around the peloton. Done with grace and ease and always ending in the perfect position.
Splinter or split – When the peloton is split up, usually as a result of an attack. The peloton is splintered into smaller groups.
Tempo – You will hear this term in all the grand tours. Like this “he’s been on the front all day riding tempo”. Riding at a fast to moderate cadence or effort.
The wheel – A term to describe a rider. Used like this “I was on a good wheel when the sprint started”
Up the road – A term that refers to riders, generally in a break, that have left the peloton and are riding further up the road than the main bunch.
Up up up – A method of alerting the peloton to an attack. Need to alert your teammates to an attack you’re hoping they can cover? Yell this.
Using the convoy – This generally involves motor-pacing behind various team cars, resting and then moving to the next one until you eventually make it back to the peloton.
Wheel sucking – When you follow the rider in front of you, drafting, and sucking their wheel. On a windy day, you will realise how important this ability is.
Watts – Measurement of power produced through your pedals. Measured by a power meter. This is a topic of discussion at the coffee shop after most group rides, “I was putting out a 1000 watts and I still couldn’t catch him” for example.
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