27.5 Mountain bike
a mountain bike with wheels that are approximately 27.5 inches in diameter, and are based on ISO 584 mm (aka 650B) rims.
a mountain bike with wheels that are approximately 29 inches in diameter, and are based on ISO 622 mm (aka 700C) rims.
Riding or going “à bloc” means giving it all you’ve got, going all out, riding as hard as one possibly can (which can be risky for it leaves one in a state where recovery is needed, and therefore vulnerable to being attacked). Example: “I really gave it all in the last kilometers, although I didn’t think it was possible until I crossed the line. I just went “à bloc”.
adj. abbreviation for aerodynamically efficient.
Extension of the handlebars usually allowing the rider to rest his elbows and benefit from improved aerodynamics. Often found on Time trial bicycles or triathlon bicycles.
- space between the tires and the ground. (Both tires must be off the ground or it isn’t “air”.) Said to be caught or gotten. See sky.
A racing cyclist who excels in both climbing and time trialing, and may also be a decent sprinter. In stage races, an all-rounder is likely to place well in the General classification. Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain were notable all-rounders; Lance Armstrong, Ivan Basso, Samuel Sánchez, Cadel Evans, Bradley Wiggins, and Alberto Contador are more contemporary examples. All-rounders are usually Team Leaders in both stage races and classics cycle races. The term all-rounder is also applied to a bicycle designed to function well for varied terrain and uses, unlike the typical bike today which is specifically designed for a narrow range of use and terrain.
A bicycle race typically organized by bicycle messengers or couriers. Alleycat races seek to replicate some of the duties that a working messenger might encounter during a typical day. The races usually consist of previously undisclosed checkpoints, which are listed on a manifest, that a racer will have to go to; once at the checkpoint the racer will have his/her manifest updated. First racer to return with a completed manifest wins. Alleycats were first formalized in Toronto, Canada in 1989; however, messengers have been racing against each other for much longer. Recently, with the boom in urban cycling, many non-messengers have been participating in and organizing alleycat races.
Endearing term to designate a cyclist’s child. The latter tends to “anchor” the rider at his home. Not a pejorative term.
adj. frequently-misspelled abbreviation for “anodized”.
1) n. the apex is the middle or sharpest point of a curve 2) v. to plan your line around a bend to touch the inside of the lane at the apex, starting and leaving the turn at the outside of the lane, to flatten out the required curve and increase allowable speeds.
arrière du peloton
From French, literally the “rear of the peloton” (main group of riders). Also called the Feu Rouge (red tail light) or Lanterne rouge.
- All-Terrain Bike or Biking. A synonym for MTB.
To quickly accelerate while riding in a pack, or in smaller numbers, with a view to create a gap between yourself and other riders.
- to involuntarily take samples of the local geology, usually with one’s face, during a crash. See face plant.
A group of riders in a stage race (typically non-climbers and suffering domestiques) who ride together as a group on the mountain stages with the sole intention of finishing within the stage’s time limit to allow them to start the next day. Also known by the Italian term gruppetto.
- small boulders about the size of, yep, a baby’s head.
Colloquial noun meaning to give a second person a ride on a bicycle (UK English), see pump.
Marks of road rash on a cyclist’s body.
- a person that habitually bags out. Also known as a loser.
bagging a peak
- making it to the summit of a mountain.
- canceling a ride for something other than a death in the family.
1) or bail out. v. to jump off in order to avoid an imminent crash. 2) v. to give up on a ride because of bad weather coming in. (from climbing)
- on mountain bikes, a technologically backward straight pipe that was otherwise discarded as obsolete in the 19th century. For road bikes, a refined component which promotes aerodynamics, body geometry, muscle teamwork, stability, and comfort.
adj. setting up camp and using it as the start and finish of tours.
Short for British Best All-Rounder, a season-long time trial competition held in the UK.
- the part of your tire that fits onto the rim, either wire (heavy and cheap) or Kevlar (light and expensive
1) v. to slip off one pedal, causing the other pedal to slam one in the shin, when one gets kracked with a pedal. 2) n. the toothlike scars resulting from being beartrapped.
1) v. to ride with reckless disregard to one’s equipment, well-being, and/or the ecology of the trail. 2) adj. a term used to describe something that is not good. e.g. “It’s pretty beat that the yellow trail is closed.”
- a bike of such little value as to be able to beat on, or a bike that reaction after prolonged beating.
- insider information about a ride. Running or auto beta is someone telling you how to do the moves as you go (as in “can you please shut up with that running beta, I want to find out myself”).
- leading a ride through technical singletrack with no dabbing or dogging, but with a piece of previous knowledge hints on how to do those crux moves. Even seeing someone do the ride already classifies as “previous knowledge.”
1) n. any female rider.
See hors catégorie.
bicycle shaped object
Also department store bicycle or abbreviated as BSO, a cheaply produced but poor quality bicycle commonly sold in flat packs at big-box stores, mainstream stores and anywhere else but local bike shops.
A water bottle.
1) n. a crash. Synonyms: wipeout. 1) v. “I biffed and then wiped away the blood.”
A bike throw occurs in the final moments of a bike race, usually within the last few feet. A sprint is involved, and at the end of the sprint, the rider pushes his arms forward, stretches his back out, and attempts to move his bike as far forward as possible, getting to the finish line before his competitors.
adj. a now-discredited Shimano innovation where the chainrings were made intentionally not circular — instead, they were elliptical, in order to (allegedly) smooth the power delivery, by giving the rider an effectively lower gear for part of the spin cycle
- to begin a big climb or ride, after reaching the foot of the long or daunting hill. “We’re gonna blast after a snack at the bottom of the wall”.
Riders of one team who set a relatively slow tempo at the front of a group to control the speed, often to the advantage of one of their teammates who may be in a break.
A rider who has gone into oxygen debt and loses the ability to maintain pace is said to have blown up, variations include popping, exploding and detonating. This is a more temporary condition than cracking or hitting the wall.
or bog out. v. to be riding in a circumstance where much pedaling force is required, such as through mud or up a steep hill, and to fail to generate the required torque, generally a result of over gearing, being a wimp, or picking your line incorrectly.
- a suspension fork or stem; a dual-suspension bike is a boing-boing. “Mark’s not going to feel much pain with his new boing-boing.”
- a bike with full (front and rear) suspension. Might possibly be considered offensive by certain owners of said bikes.
- to ride with wild disregard to personal safety.
n., v. cycling’s classic term for blowing up, hitting the wall, or otherwise expiring in mid ride. Can be caused by — and is frequently blamed on — insufficient water or calorie intake, but in truth is usually a result of insufficient training. “Had I eaten more linguini last night, I’m certain I wouldn’t have bonked.”
- to catch air off of a jump.
Fabric shoe covers worn by cyclists to protect their feet from rain.
The bearing assembly which allows the crank to rotate relative to the frame. May or may not include the spindle which connects the two arms, depending on the standard to which it was designed.
- section of road or trail that is covered with basketball sized or larger boulders.
- the rubber strip placed inside the rim to protect the tube from the nipples.
- a biking computer, usually featuring an odometer, speedometer, clock, and other “important” display modes.
A bicycle helmet.
- a helmet featuring more vents than protective surface.
- the rubber blocks that attach to your brake cantilever arms and make your bike stop or slow down. Read about brake pads.
- just for the record, is how you spell it. These are what are used to stop you on a bicycle unless you’re riding a fixed gear bicycle.
- threaded attachments welded to the bike frame to accept the mounting of brake sets, water bottle cages, rear racks, etc.
or breakaway. n., v. a splitting of the field, where some riders race ahead, trying to avoid being reabsorbed by the larger and more aerodynamically efficient peloton.
Breakaway, or break in short, is when a small group of riders or an individual have successfully opened a gap ahead of the peloton.
A breakaway specialist is a rider who is specialized in attacking the race from the start in order to show off his sponsor and to try his luck in winning the stage without having to fight with the whole peloton at the finish line.
A rider who is a slow climber but an efficient descender.
When a lone rider or smaller group of riders closes the space between them and the rider or group in front of them. This term often refers to when riders catch up with the main pack (or peloton) of riders or those who are leading the race.
bring home a Christmas tree
- to ride (or crash) through dense bushes, so leaves and branches are hanging from your bike and helmet. See prune.
A support vehicle following a group of cyclists in a race, tour or recreational ride that may carry equipment, food, rider luggage, or mechanics. May also pick up riders unable to continue. Also called a SAG wagon.
- to ride up a steep hill without slowing (much) from the flatland cruising speed you approached the hill with.
Synonym of peloton.
The riders arrive near the finish in massive numbers to contest the victory and attempt to draft their sprinters in a good position to claim the victory. Speeds higher than 60 km/h are to be expected.
1) n. same as betty, but used to emphasize the female rider’s body; could be considered insulting to some. 2) n. female novice rider.
- to lift both wheels off the ground by crouching down and then exploding upward, pulling the bike with you. Useful for clearing obstructions, such as curbs, potholes, logs. Differs from its older BMX & trials meaning — see jump.
- a rim braking surface that’s bent inward towards the tube, forming a section that looks rolled like a burrito. n. great post ride food.
- a term used the same as the verb “to do” only with more emphasis. e.g. “He busted a huge air over that jump.”
1) n. euphoric feeling. Commonly used after a particularly hard passage is successfully completed. “I got such a buzz after that uphill grunt.” 2) v. to touch wheels, or ride in very close formation from the rear.
The rate at which a cyclist pedals (in revolutions per minute).
adj., n. short for Campagnolo, the famed Italian road bike component manufacturer. They are generally artfully machined and elegantly engineered, and cost enough to feed a starving Sudanese village for a year. The Georgio Armani of bike parts, but you get what you pay for. Also the company that invented the derailleur, quick release and many other indispensable cycling innovations we take for granted.
adj. most common type of brake found on mountain bikes today. Named for the two cantilever arms that pivot on the forks (front) or seat stays (rear).
- to “go down with the ship”. Usually the result of a novice spud-user failing to clip out in time.
The team cars following behind the peloton in support of their racers. Also designates the publicity cars that precede.
- (from skiing) to ride with great speed around the corners of a twisting fire road.
adj. to be too tired to ride any farther; bonked.
The rear cog cluster on a derailleur bicycle, that fits on a freehub. It consists only of cogs, with no ratcheting mechanism, as the ratcheting mechanism is in the freehub.
- European adult and child bike helmet standard.
- a 100 mile bike ride, or a metric century which is 100 km. Takes about four and a half or three hours, respectively, on a road bike, if you’re in reasonable shape. (The ability to do a metric century in 2.5 to 3 hours is why people get road bikes.)
adj. rims with ceramic braking surfaces, to increase stopping power and to reduce the mess that high-powered brake shoe compounds make of aluminum.
A group of cyclists cycling in a close knit formation akin to a road race, normally for the purposes of training.
Annoying slapping of the bike’s chain against the chainstays while riding over rough terrain.
The tendency of a chain to stick to chain rings and be sucked up into the bike instead of coming off the chainring. Primarily caused by worn chainrings and rust on small chain rings, under high loads, and in dirty conditions.
- a gear at the front, attached to the cranks.
- the dotted-line scar you get from gouging your shin on the chainring. See rookie mark.
The front part of the drivetrain where the chain engages. May be composed of one to three gears.
One of the two frame tubes that run horizontally from the bottom bracket shell back to the rear dropouts.
A group of one or more riders who are ahead of the peloton trying to join the race or stage leader(s). There may be none, one, or many chases at any given point in a race.
- to grind off your skin against gravel, ashfault, bike parts, or the like.
A sequence of tight turns, often s-shaped, usually most important near the finish of a road-race or during a criterium.
- to crash.
- a very steep gully. The word chute is french for fall and refers to the rockfall that is very common in a chute.
circle of death
The stage of the 1910 Tour de France in the Pyrenees that included the cols: Peyresourde, Aspin, Tourmalet and Aubisque, was named the “Circle of Death”. Now the hardest mountain stage in the Tour takes on this name.
A one-day race of great prestige. Some classics date back to the 19th century.
- to negotiate a trail successfully without crashing. “I cleaned that last section.”
1) n. one who desires to remain clean 2) n. a wimp who will not have fun, stays on the clean trails.
- a cleat attaches to the bottom of a cycling shoe. Older style cleats have a slot that fits over the back of the pedal, and in conjunction with toe clips and straps, hold your foot on the pedal. Now clipless pedals have a specially designed cleat that locks into the pedal, sometimes with some ability to rotate side-to-side so as not to stress knees.
A rider who specializes in riding uphill quickly, usually due to having a high power-to-weight ratio.
A type of tire that uses a bead around the edge of the tire to attach to the rim of the wheel when inflated. The inner tube is separate.
- tires which use a separate tire and tube, the latter replaced after a puncture. Contrast with tubular tires.
or click out. v. to disengage one’s spuds.
adj. misleading name for a pedal-and-shoe system where the clips or cleats clip onto the soles of special shoes. Called “clipless” because you can’t see the clips when you’re clipped in. Contrast with toe clips.
- slamming into the ground, resulting in a ringing head, or a delay in the action. Term used in biking, skiing, and snow boarding.
- A racecourse that is completely closed to traffic. Closed circuits are most often used in criteriums or road races that use a relatively short lap (2-5 miles).
closing the door
A strategic move during a sprint where the leader is less than a bike length ahead of a stronger sprinter and said stronger sprinter is between the leader and the course wall. Leader angles towards the wall narrowing the lane thus making it impossible for the stronger sprinter to get past the leader.
- an assembly of gears. Usually described by their configuration: “My rear cluster is a 12-25.” Also known as a cassette.
- one who allows his bike to fall in disrepair, and whose bike invariably fails him at some point in every ride. These people don’t know why their bike always breaks, and often would rather buy new parts than keep their bike in good condition.
- a single gear, usually at the rear as part of a freewheel or cassette. Also rear cog or front cog.
- the lowest point between two mountains. Also called a pass.
A race judge, in road-racing they are usually based in a car following the event.
- the moving parts of a bike that are attached to the frame.
- the little plastic or rubber thing that protects your tube’s valve stem from rim damage.
- to become covered in silt, usually after a fall.
An attack that is made when a break has been caught by chasers or the peloton.
Coup de Chacal
Literally “Jackal Trick”, also known as “Cancellara’s Trick”. Surprise attack in the two last kilometers to detach from the peloton and, finally, win the race.
- a bicycle helmet standard set by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. All bicycle helmets made in the US have to meet this standard.
When a cyclist runs out of strength or energy, they are said to have cracked. Compare with hit the wall.
adv. how one’s head feels after augering. “When my lid nailed that rock, I had a definite feeling of cranial disharmony.”
1) v. to mash on the pedals as hard as you can, and then some. As in, “I cranked so hard on getting out of that little valley, but my tire spun out and I had to walk it.” 2) v. to hammer or sprint.
A crank. One of the two arms of a crankset. Each arm connects a pedal to the bottom bracket.
- the metal arms to which the pedals attach .
term used to describe the small pipe shaped adaptor necessary to inflate the tires on a disk wheel as there is no room for a pump head
The bicycle drivetrain assembly that converts the rider’s reciprocating pedaling action to rotating motion. It consists of two cranks (or arms), one or more chainwheels(or chainrings), plus the stack bolts that connect them. Sometimes the bottom bracket is included.
1) v. to fail to remain on the trail on the side of the 50 foot dropoff. Usually painful, as in “One of those death cookies joggled my wheel and I almost cratered on that section that looks down on the river.” 2) v. to bonk.
- a mostly road-specific verb that refers to the leaving of skin and viscera on the asphalt after a crash. “I’m not sure Lisa’s going to make it tonight. We locked wheels this morning and she crayoned all over the place.”
adv. as in, “stick close to the shoulder on the blind corner coming up. I almost got creamed by a transport there last week.”
A race on a closed short distance course with multiple laps. Often but not always a 4-cornered course; often includes primes (sho
- to put a foot down in order to catch your balance on a difficult section of trail. “I made it without crashing, but I had to dab once.”
- to ride out of the saddle.
(French: danser – to dance) – riding out of the saddle, standing up, usually in a taller gear than normal, and rocking side to side for leverage. The phrase dancing on the pedals is related.
- fist-sized rocks that knock your bike in every direction but the one you want to proceed in.
- an overly tight grip on the handlebars caused by fear of terrain, resulting in an endo or other unfortunate mishap.
- a ride that turns into an investigation of your endurance limit. “The bridge was out, and I had to go all the way back the way I came. So the morning’s nice, easy ride turned into a Bataan death march.”
A device used to change gears, activated by shifters.
A cyclist who excels at fast descents, often using them to break away from a group, or bridge a gap.:66
- abbreviation for, uh, Dead… Last.
adj. when a bike is set up nicely and everything works just right. Get your bike dialed at your LBS.
A rider who has an even energy output, without any bursts of speed, is said to be a diesel or diesel engine.
- a face plant. “Look at that guy on that gnarly single track… he’s going to go over the bars and do a digger.”
- an off-road motorcycle. Regarded as only for those too feeble to do the work themselves. Usually louder than MTBs.
dishing a wheel
- refers to the need to build a rear wheel off center of the hub body, to accommodate the freewheel on one side — the wider the freewheel, the more the wheel needs to be dished.
- a technique much like a bunny hop, but executed differently. The rider pulls a wheelie, then moves far forward to pitches his bike down, transferring the wheelie to the rear as an obstacle passes underneath. This is the only type of hop possible for a rider using platform pedals.
A rider whose job it is to support and work for other riders in their team (literally “servant” in French). Today the term has lost its bad connotation and serves as an acknowledgement of the true nature of racing tactics. See also water carrier.
A term used when a rider collides with the open door of a parked car while cycling.
- tubing with a higher wall thickness at both ends, to reduce the weight of the tubing for a given weight. See single-butted, triple-butted.
- overgrown road that is like two parallel trails.
- the part of the frame that connects the head tube and the bottom bracket.
- when the rider is pushing down on the pedal.
1) v. to ride behind a windshield, such as another rider or a motor vehicle. “When I was drafting you down that huge-ass hill, you were pedaling madly while I barely had to turn the cranks!” 2) n. the area sheltered behind a moving object. “You know, it’s kinda hard to stay in your draft at high speed if you don’t ride in a straight line.”
To ride closely behind another rider to make maximum use of their slipstream, reducing wind resistance and effort required to ride at the same speed.
- any part with lots of holes drilled in it to make it lighter.
To be dropped is to be left behind a breakaway or the peloton for whatever reason (usually because the rider cannot sustain the tempo required to stay with the group). To drop someone is to accelerate strongly with the intent of causing following riders to no longer gain the benefit of drafting.:238
A steep section of a mountain bike trail.
The slot, of various sizes and orientations, in the frame that the axles of the wheels attach to.
- the U-shaped slots that accept the wheel axle.
- the dropped section on dropped handlebars. Used when muscle geometry and an aero tuck are important, such as when ascending, descending, or going fast.
- a dirt road used by four-wheeled vehicles rarely enough that their tires have made ruts that became parallel singletracks. Also called doubletrack. See singletrack.
(French) a line of riders seeking maximum drafting in a crosswind, resulting in a diagonal line across the road.
- a diagonal paceline, which modifies the single-file formation for a crosswind.
An Endo (short for end-over-end), is when the back wheel of the bike is lifted off the ground and the bike goes up onto its front wheel only. It can also be used to designate a crash that is similar to an unintended front flip.
- the maneuver of flying unexpectedly over the handlebars, thus being forcibly ejected from the bike. Short for “end over end”. “I hit that rock and went endo like nobody’s business.” See “superman”. In BMX riding, “endo” used to be a synonym for front wheelie.
- the rider.
- a food break at the edge of a cliff.
(French: hope) Age class for riders 19 to 22. Also called U23.
A stage of a stage race.
- bone jarring downhill that rattles your brain (providing you have one).
adj. the single adjective that defines a worthwhile sport.
- hitting the ground face first. “Joe hit a tree root and did a spectacular face plant.” Synonyms: auger, digger, soil sample, spring planting.
- an expression exclusively used nonchalantly by others to describe a death march, in hopes others will try it, fail, and revere them as bike gods.
A low-gradient climb, usually occurring partway up a steeper climb. So-called because while it may look deceptively flat and easy (especially after the steep climb preceding it), it is still a climb.
A rider who has superior sprinting speed over the last few hundred meters of a race.
In road bicycle racing, a location along the course of a long race where team personnel hand musettes containing food and beverages to passing riders. In mountain bicycle racing, a limited section of the course in which riders may accept food from non-racing assistants. Sometimes this is combined with the technical assistance zone if one exists.
v., adj. when older riders are having a particular strong outing.
A group of riders, also known as a peloton.
- the clump of riders near or at the front in a road race. “We made a break on that big ascent, and at one point the rest of the field was over a minute behind.”
- a sprint for the finish line involving a large group of riders. This is an impressive sight indeed.
- the magical art of brazing high-end metal bikes. It’s commonly mistaken for welding, but in actuality the tubes are not melted, rather bronze or other similar alloy are melted to “glue” the tubes together. The tubes fit together with almost invisible seams, as opposed to the monstrous, caterpillar-like welds on most mountain bikes.
- credit to the first rider in a group who crashes and starts bleeding as a result.
- when the rear end locks and slides about behind you. Occurs during strong braking on loose terrain.
- a set of equipment and instructions to measure a person’s body to suggest a bicycle fit. This is early bicycle fit technology that made the assumption a “formula” could determine how every person should be positioned aboard a bicycle. Newer technology has eclipsed this as we now understand fit is individual and personal, so no “formula” exists for the perfect bike fit.
Slang for a fixed-gear bicycle.
Slang for a fixed-gear bicycle.
- to ride badly and out of control. e.g. “He flailed off the jump and hit a tree.”
A red flag displayed with one kilometer remaining from the finish line of a race. Usually suspended over the road.
- clearing a technical pitch without dabbing, especially if the rider has no previous experience on the route (See also onsight flash, where the rider has never seen the trail before, and beta flash, where the rider has seen or studied the route.)
- when the frame doesn’t stay put when you mash the brakes, mash the pedals, or do other normal things.
- to whip your bike through sweet singletrack.
follow a wheel
The ability to follow a wheel is the ability to match the pace of riders who are setting the tempo. Following is easier than pulling or setting the tempo and the term can be used in a derogatory manner, e.g. “He only ever followed”.
- when a rider can’t disengage his cleats from the pedals before falling over. See horizontal track stand.
forcing the pace
- to increase the speed of the race to the point that other riders have trouble keeping up.
Part of the frameset that holds the front wheel. Can be equipped with a suspension on mountain bikes. or a modern eating utensil, unfamiliar to most mountain bikers.
- a big strong table that Will Not Flex and which has anchors at critical places — dropouts, bottom bracket, seat, head. It also has places to attach accurate measuring instruments like dial gauges, scratch needles, etc. The frame is clamped to the table and out-of-line parts are yielded into alignment.
The bicycle frame plus the front fork.
1) n. a person who spends a lot of money on his bike and clothing, but still can’t ride. “What a fred — too much Lycra and titanium and not enough skill.” Synonym for poser. 2) n. a person who has a mishmash of old gear, doesn’t care at all about technology or fashion, didn’t race or follow racing, etc. Often identified by chainring marks on white calf socks. Used by “serious” roadies to disparage utility cyclists and touring riders, especially after these totally unfashionable “freds” drop the “serious” roadies on hills because the “serious” guys were really posers. This term is from road touring and, according to popular myth, “Fred” was a well-known grumpy old touring rider, who really was named Fred.
- the part of the rear gear cluster that allows the bike to coast without the pedals turning, or what you find in the parking lot after a big race.
- what endo used to mean in BMX: a trick where the rider applies the front brake and lifts the back wheel off the ground; this is the basis for many BMX tricks. Most riders cannot pedal effectively while doing a front wheelie.
Full On Conditions (FOC)
adj. biking with the chance of running into severe foul weather conditions.
Abbr.: general classification. the timing splits used to determine who is winning in a stage race. calculated from the first rider over the line each day time is then measured back by gaps from the winner of the day. Time gaps are then calculated back between riders and added to the overall position of riders relative to each other. Riders can attack in stage races for time rather than winning the days stage. They are said to be “riding for G.C.”. In such circumstances alliances can form where some riders in a breakaway will work to help others win the days stage despite not contesting the finish as the overall gap the breakaway gains helps them “on G.C.”
A distance between two or more riders large enough for drafting to no longer be effective. Also used as verb (US English), for example: “Contador has gapped Armstrong!”. It’s much easier for a stronger rider to pull ahead of others once a gap has been achieved; without a gap, the others can draft along using significantly less power to sustain the same speed as the rider in front. While gaps are usually achieved through attacks, on mountain climbs, where slower speeds means the advantage of drafting is much less significant, riders are often gapped who simply cannot maintain the tempo of the faster riders. A gap can also refer to the space in between a jump and the landing, which is common in mountain biking.
- an assembly of gears. Usually described by their configuration: “My rear cluster is a 12-25.” Also known as a cassette.
- uh… the exchange of currency for cylinders containing a mixture of compressed nitrogen, oygen, and other trace gasses.
- sexy little add-ons or upgrades, usually made of titanium or CNC’d aluminum. “That’s the fourth time this week that Tom’s gone by the shop to gawk at giblets.” (See also velo-porn.)
adj. an 80’s term for a particular steep and rough section of trail.
adj. Southern Californian for Gnarly.
1) adj. treacherous, extreme. “That vertical drop was sheer gonzo.” 2) v. riding with reckless abandon. Not generally appropriate for singletrack.
Two meanings related to each other: The lowest gear ratio on a multi-speed derailleur bicycle; smallest chainring in front and the largest at the back. The smallest chainring on a crank with triple chainrings.
- the act of producing bacon or little flaps of severed skin, against either the ground or a bike component. See also crayon and cheese grater).
- a fall.
- as in, “all that dried mud and sand left me with a loud case of the grindies in my drivetrain.”
adj. paralyzed with fear and utterly confused.
A groupset, or gruppo (from the Italian for “group”, often misspelled grouppo) A set of parts usually from a single manufacturer, usually consisting of, at least, bottom bracket, brakes, derailleurs, hubs and shifters, and may also include headset, pedals, and seatpost. A kit is a group, plus everything else a frameset needs to make a complete bicycle.
- a very difficult climb, requiring use of the granny gear. Often used in understatement, as in “Well, I suppose it’s a fair grunt, but we used to ride it all the time.”
- a bicycling commuter.
In an echelon, where the size of a draft is limited by the width of the road, to be left with no good position to join the group and be sheltered from the crosswind.
- a trail so narrow and/or overgrown that you’d hesitate even to call it singletrack.
half-wheel or half-wheeler
A rider that rides half a wheel in front of another on training rides and group rides. No matter how much the pursuer speeds up to keep up with him/her, s/he stays that distance ahead. Usually these people are frowned upon and less desirable to ride with.
1) v. to ride fast and hard. Also to “put the hammer down.” 2) n. a hammerhead.
- a rider who hammers, or simply can ride faster than the one commenting.
- a crash where your fall is broken only by cheese grating your hands. Best if done wearing bicycle gloves.
A style of road racing in Australasia where riders are given different start times, calculated based on their previous performance, so that slower riders have a chance of winning.
- riding in the slipstream of another rider, but being lazy and refusing to take your turn in at the front.
1) excl. word of praise and amazement, generally spoken as two separate syllables. 2) adj. impressive or requiring devotion, such as an extreme cliffbombing session.
- any bike with front suspension but no rear suspension. Contrast with rigid and F/S.
- the short frame member that attaches the top tube to the down tube, and holds the headset in place. Normally the fork steer-tube is inside the head tube and pivots in the headset.
- going over the handlebars.
- the bearing assembly that attaches the fork to the head tube.
hill climb (race)
A short distance uphill race, usually an individual time trial over approx. 3–5 km. See Hillclimbing (cycling).
Hit the wall
To completely run out of energy on a long ride, also known as “bonking”.
1) v. to vomit due to cycling exertion. 2) v. to grab hard on the bar ends while climbing to increase torque and traction on the rear wheel.
(UK English), see danseuse.
- to lock handlebars or wheels, and go down in a bloody pile of metal and muscle.
- the dropped section on dropped handlebars. Used when muscle geometry and an aero tuck are important, such as when ascending, descending, sprinting or just going fast.
horizontal track stand
- a foot fault that happens at a stop sign.
hors catégorie, or HC
The French term primarily used in cycle races (most notably, the Tour de France) to designate a climb that is “beyond categorization”, an incredibly tough climb. Most climbs are designated from Category 1 (hardest) to Category 4 (easiest), based on both steepness and length. A climb that is harder than Category 1 is designated as hors catégorie.
hors délai (HD)
French for “out of time”, when a rider has finished outside the time limit in a race and is eliminated.
- large-section tubular tires, about the size and weight of clincher touring tires. Much heavier than racing tubulars, which can be two or three times lighter, at as little at 150 grams.
- located at the center of the wheel attached to the rim by the spokes.
- one who is ejected wildly through the air and does not land on his/her feet
Also shortened to “the knock”. See hit the wall.
A bicycle that is a compromise between a road bike and a mountain bike. Often chosen by cyclists for its comfort.
- a flavor of brakes which use brake fluid to actuate the pads, which offer better modulation even than most high-end side-pull calipers.
- freewheel cogs with small “ramps” cut into the sides of the cogs which tend to pull the chain more quickly to the next larger cog when shifting.
- the gimmicky brake assist lever found on some older road bikes, which allow the rider to brake with his hands on top of the bars, rather than on the brake hoods or on the drops. Ignorant consumers buy bikes with them, although they’re no more convenient than braking from the hoods, and for powerful braking the stability, steering, and weight distribution from using the drops is essential.
- International Mountain Biking Association. An organization for trail advocacy.
- all the junk on a bike that impedes performance and looks bad.
individual time trial
Race where riders set off at fixed intervals and complete the course against the clock.:19
To keep a race or a tour active there may be points along the course where the riders will sprint for time bonuses or other prizes.:52 Also known as the “Traguardo Volante” (TV) in Italian
- a crash.
A class of independent rider in the Tour de France. Also called a Touriste-Routier or Individuel.
- to accelerate quickly; to go very fast.
- abbreviation for the Just Riding Along syndrome (and then the bike spontaneously exploded), a class of warranty claims viewed as highly suspect.
To aggressively increase speed without warning, hopefully creating a substantial advantage over your opponents. Also (more usually) denoting an attempt to bridge a gap from the peloton or gruppetto to a breakaway. For example: “he is trying to jump across”.
n., v. where we now say bunny hop, BMXers used to say “jump”.
- an injury to the shin received while doing trials, a kack can be the result of any injury receive during technical riding.
The keirin is a 2000 meter track event where the riders start the race in a group behind a motorised derny. The derny paces the riders for 1400 meters and then pulls off the track, at which time the cyclists begin a sprint to the finish line. Keirin racing has traditionally been practised in Japan, where it has been a professional sport for over 20 years, and in which pari-mutuel betting on the riders is permitted.
Accelerating quickly with a few pedal strokes in an effort to break away from other riders (e.g. “Contador kicks again to try to rid himself of Rasmussen”)
- a bunny hop in which the rider pushes the back tire to one side.
- a steep section of road or trail.
King of the Mountains
The title given to the best climber in a cycling road race. Also known as Gran Premio della Montagna (GPM) in Italian cycling.
A group, plus everything else a frameset needs to make a complete bicycle. in road cycling terminology a complete cycling outfit – bibs, jersey, socks, gloves etc
Is said of a rider who climbs very well but is a poor descender.
Referred to as “the knock”. Short for “hunger knock”. See hit the wall.
adj. a pattern stamped onto the sides of some steel rims to improve the braking surface.
French for “released”, see drop.
French for “red lantern”, as found at the end of a railway train, and the name given to the rider placed last in a race.
- synonym for high. e.g. “You can get some seriously large air off that jump.”
Same as autobus. Riders who collect together in a road race just concerned with making it to the finish “in the time” so as not to be disqualified or “swept up”. Members of the laughing group are not concerned with contesting the finish.
- abbreviation for “Local Bike Shop”.
Sprinting technique often used by the lead out man where the rider will accelerate to maximum speed close to the sprint point with a teammate, the sprinter, draftingbehind, hoping to create space between the sprinter and the pack. When the lead out man is exhausted he will move to the side to allow his teammate to race in the sprint. Often a line of lead out men will be used to form a lead out train to drive the speed higher and higher (and to reduce the chances of other riders attacking) over the closing stages of a race. The purpose of a lead out is for the sprinter to achieve high speed at the sprint approach using as little of his own energy as possible, so he has as much energy as possible for the final sprint.
A rider who drafts behind others to reduce his effort, but does not reciprocate. Also wheelsucking.
First riders to depart in a handicap race.
- the desirable path or strategy to take on a tricky trail section or portion of road. e.g. He took the best line. Hey Fred, hold your line!
- ride that forms a loop with no backtracking.
- metal reinforcing piece into which the tubing for expensive road bikes is brazed, allowing lighter tubing. The seat lug reinforces the connection between the top tube and the seat tube, for example.
The madison is a mass-start track event comprising teams of two riders per team. It is similar to a team points race, as points are awarded to the top finishers at the intermediate sprints and for the finishing sprint. Only one of the two team riders is racing on the track at any one time, riding for a number of laps, and then exchanging with his partner by a hand sling. The name comes from the original Madison Square Garden, which was constructed as a velodrome.
The situation where a mechanic in a support vehicle will appear to be making adjustments to the bike but in reality they are giving fatigued riders a break by holding onto the car and getting a massive push-off when the commissaires get too close.
French for Yellow Jersey.
- when a male rider watches a beautiful female ride over rough terrain and stares intensely at all the jiggling parts, making him too dizzy to see straight when it’s his turn to ride the same terrain.
Abbreviation of middle-aged men in lycra, a popular bicycle buying demographic for high-end bicycles
adv.how one’s jaw feels when it and the handle bars attempt to occupy the same space and time.
- hole covered with autumn leaves, resembling solid earth and effective at eating the front wheel of the unsuspecting rider.
Lifting the front wheel off the ground by the shifting of the rider’s weight.
- (muh RINN’) the county in Northern California where MTBing is said to have been invented. Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
- to apply much force to the pedals on their downward cycle, generally while standing to climb a steep hill.
- a bike mechanic, See also tech and wrench.
The cyclist starting in a time trial either a minute ahead or behind another rider.
- momentum. “If you don’t get in gear at the bottom of that hill, you’ll lose your mo.”
- the ability to finely and consistently select a specific braking force, rather than moving straight from no braking power to locked wheels and an endo. Hydraulic brakes have great modulation; V-brakes not so much.
or Motor Official. n. a race referee or official who uses a motorcycle during the bicycle race event. The motor referee is often primarily responsible for centerline rule enforcement during road races using a rolling enclosure. Motor officials are also used to keep track of riders where cars and the peloton cannot mix (narrow roads, winding roads, etc.).
- race staff on motorcycles responsible for assisting in keeping a racecourse clear and safe for competitors, usually in conjunction with a rolling or protected enclosure.
- off shoot sport of mountain biking where peak bagging is a prime consideration. Another sport featuring the “because it’s there” attitude.
- the activity of MounTain Biking. Or a mountain bike itself. Also v. “MTBing”. See ATB, OHV, ORV, VTT.
- riding through muck for fun.
- what happens when a bike slows abruptly in mud, throwing the rider into wet goo.
1) v. a shower after a ride on a muddy trail. 2) v. the act of becoming clean.
Small lightweight cotton shoulder bag, containing food and drink given to riders in a feed zone during a cycle race. The bag is designed so that it can be easily grabbed by a moving rider. The shoulder strap is placed over the head and one shoulder, the contents are then removed and placed into jersey pockets or bottles (bidons) are placed into bottle cages. The bag is then discarded.
Dutch for wall. A short, steep climb. Originates from the Tour of Flanders locations such as Muur van Geraardsbergen and Koppenberg.
- used to prevent wang chung.
- abbreviation for National Collegiate Cycling Association . The NCCA is a standing committee of USA Cycling. The NCCA administers, develops, promotes and governs collegiate bicycling across the country. Rules for NCCA bicycle road races are the same as for USCF bicycle race events.
A first year professional.
- the nut at the end of a spoke that nobody knows the real name for.
- the state of being in absolute control and totally in tune with your bike, the trail, and your physical strength. “I was just doing it all so smoothly and delicately and quickly, it was nirvana!” Synonym for The Zone.
no one else in the picture
To win a race solo, without any competitors in view. The “victory pose” shows only the winner.
- National Off-Road Bicycling Association. As part of USAC, they organize most of the larger mountain bike races.
lifting the rear wheel of the bike using the front brake and shifting the rider’s weight forward. A stoppie in motorcycling.
- the crusties you pick from your nose after a ride in a dusty environ.
This is short for “Off Day”. Even the best riders have them. It is important to recognize the symptoms and to back off when you are having an O.D.
off the back
adj. when a rider is dropped, or cannot keep up with the pace of the windshield (such as a peloton or another rider) and falls behind.
off the front
adj. when a rider takes part in a breakaway, where one or more riders scoot up ahead of the main peloton in a race.
- a turn which would usually be banked in the opposite direction, so the banking is the opposite of what would be expected on a racetrack corner. The road’s angle is added to, rather than subtracted from, the lean angle. Take these turns cautiously for, among other things, your tread may not extend far enough up the side.
A multi-stage track cycling event whose composition has varied in the past. When reintroduced to the UCI World Championships in 2007, six omnium events have been held, while the European Track Championships have a different set omnium events.:149
on bread and water
Is said of a rider who relies exclusively on good diet and exercise to perform in races. This type of rider refuses to use any form of doping. Can also be said of a performance realised while racing clean at the time the result was achieved. (Example: “I won the criterium on bread and water but then the big race came and …”)
on the rivet
A rider who is riding at maximum speed. When riding at maximum power output, a road racer often perches on the front tip of the saddle (seat), where the shell of an old-style leather saddle would be attached to the saddle frame with a rivet.
on your wheel
The condition of being very close to the rear wheel of the rider ahead of you. Used to inform the rider that you have positioned yourself in their slipstream for optimum drafting. For example: “I’m on your wheel”.
- to clean a section with no previous knowledge of its layout or elements (See also beta flash).
out and back
- tour where the return is a retracing of the route in.
over the bars
Unexpected and sudden dismount, either caused by braking too hard with the front wheel or by a road hazard.
Over The Bars (OTB)
- unexpected dismount over the handlebars.
over-the-bar blood donor
- a rider who is injured while doing an endo.
adj. a condition where the rider is using a gear combination which is too high or “hard” given the circumstances. Generally results in bogging out or needless fatigue.
Riding in a position such that the leading edge of one’s front wheel is ahead of the trailing edge of the rear wheel of the bicycle immediately ahead. Overlap is potentially dangerous because of the instability that results if the wheels rub, and the simple fact that it allows the trailing rider to turn only in one direction (away from the wheel of the rider ahead). In road bicycle racing, overlap can be a significant cause of crashes, so beginning riders are instructed to “protect your front wheel” (avoid overlap) whenever riding in a pack.
Group of riders riding at high speed by drafting one another. Riders will take turns at the front to break the wind, then rotate to the back of the line to rest in the draft. Larger group rides will often form double pacelines with two columns of riders. Sometimes referred to as “bit and bit”.
v., n. a crash or fall. e.g. “He packed into that snow bank and broke his leg.” Verb, meaning to quit a ride (typically a race) prematurely.
A list of races a rider has won. (French, meaning list of achievements or list of winners).
A rider displaying style and/or courage, for example by breaking away, taking pulls at the front of the group, remounting after a crash or riding while suffering injuries. Example: “This rider insisted on continuing the race after the crash. After he crossed the line 100 kilometers later, doctors found out that he had 3 cracked vertebrae and 2 broken ribs.”
- to try with all one’s will and strength to prevent an impending stack by attempting to implant one’s heels as deeply as possible in the ground. Usually a dumb idea.
A basket, bag, box, or similar container, carried in pairs attached to the frame, handle bars, or on racks attached above the wheels of a bicycle. Panniers are used by commuters and touring cyclists in the same way hikers and campers use backpacks, as a means to pack and carry gear, clothing and other supplies and items. The term derives from the Old French, from Classical Latin, word for bread basket.
- the lowest passage between two mountains. The french – but not just the french – know this as a col. The mathematicians would call this the saddle point.
- the small parallel grooves you find on your bike and its expensive components after you wipe out and smear all aver the blacktop. Pavement polish is the bike equivalent of road rash.
Pedaling smoothly and efficiently.
(from French, literally meaning little ball or platoon and also related to the English word pellet) is the large main group in a road bicycle race. May also be called thefield, bunch, or pack. Riders in a group save energy by riding close (drafting or slipstreaming) near and, particularly behind, other riders. The reduction in drag is dramatic; in the middle of a well-developed group it can be as much as 40%. also known as the field.
Originating from the popular nickname of a famous Latin American cyclist, “pep” is used as a verb meaning “to carelessly and headlessly ford (as in a small body of water).” For example, “pep” could be used in the sentence “I’m going to pep this creek”.
or fat. adj. used to describe how exceptional something is like a “Phat Air” might be a really styled out trick as well as being “large”, that is, very high.
picking a line
- planning the path of the bike by anticipating approaching terrain, or choosing a bar room introduction. Example: “What’s your sign?” Common reply: “Trail closed”
- flat tire caused by the tube being pinched between the rim and a hard object, usually due to under -inflated tires
(UK) A form of theft that specialises in stealing parts from parked and locked bicycles to the eventual point that very little is left of the bike.
- a short section of technical road or trail.
- to bounce on a full-suspension bike like a pogo stick. Also, for a full-suspension bike to bounce annoyingly and uncontrollably.
- short for slow pokes. This is someone that always lingers in the back of the pack. This is not a crime.
- also known as a brain, the electronic doodad that keeps track of your speed, cadence, heart rate
- to carry your bike.
- derogatory term for people with $$expensive$$ bikes that never actually ride. Usually found near a trail head or coffee shop and never dirty or sweaty. Seinfeld may be an example. Synonym for fred.
- a wheel that has been bent badly, but not taco’d.
From French, literally “pursuing” – refers to a cyclist or group of cyclists who are separated from and behind the leader(s) (tête de la course) but in front of the main group (peloton). This usually occurs when a small number of riders attempt to catch up to the leaders, either to join with them or to “bring them back to the pack” by encouraging the main group to chase them down.
- extremely dusty section of trail.
The rate at which effective energy is being transferred by the cyclist’s legs. Measured through a power meter and normally expressed in watts.
- a two-wheel sideways slide, with the foot opposite the direction of travel kept on the ground.
- to bend or dent a part of the bike or body.
- flavor of valve which is taller, lighter and skinnier than Schrader car tire valves, which incorporate a screw-in lock into the valve. These are better, use Presta valves if you have a choice
1) adj. the condition in which you find your frame after a less than successful attempt to mail it third class to Abu Dhabi. 2) adj. the condition both you and your bike are found in after a hairy collision.
Primes (pronounced preems, after the French word for “gift” (often incorrectly spelled “premes”) are intermediate sprints within a race, usually offering a prize and/or points. Primes are a way to encourage more competitive riding, and also an opportunity for companies to gain publicity by sponsoring a prime. In a criterium, a bell is sounded on the lap preceding the prime sprint at the appropriate line for that prime sprint. The line used for prime sprints need not be the same as the start or finish line. Primes may be either predetermined for certain laps or spontaneously designated under the supervision of the Chief Referee. All primes won shall be awarded to riders even if they withdraw from the race. Lapped riders are not eligible for primes except in the following situation: when a breakaway has lapped the main field, riders in the main field and the breakaway riders are then both eligible for primes. When primes are announced for a given group, only riders in that group or behind it at the beginning of the prime lap are eligible. Prizes can be cash, merchandise, or points, depending on the race.
An individual time trial of usually less than 8 km (5 mi) before a stage race, used to determine which rider wears the leader’s jersey on the first stage.
- a type of traffic control in which the entire road is closed to other traffic as the race passes any given point. The road reopens after the race passes.
- to use one’s bike or helmet to remove leaves and branches from the surrounding flora, usually unintentional.
- to ride at the front of a group of riders, where there is no protection from wind resistance.
pull back time
To pull back time is to make up time on another rider who is ahead on G.C. “he needs to “pull back” two minutes if he wants to get in yellow”.
pull it back
to work to reduce the lead of a breakaway, also used as “he needs to pull him back” or “they need to pull him back”.
- to give up at the front of a group, and return to a position in the formation that is sheltered from wind resistance, such as the back of a paceline.
- to take the front position in a paceline after the previous leader has “pulled off” and left for the rear.
colloquial verb meaning to give a second person a ride on a bicycle, also known as giving a hike. The passenger may balance on the handlebars or the seat, while the biker stands to pedal. v. to bounce a suspension fork in hopes of some useful effect, or to encourage excitement
1) adj. the feeling of overworked muscles, where they swell and strength disappears. 2) adj. a feeling of childish excitement about a new toy or trail.
It is a type of road bicycle racer that specializes in rolling terrain with short but steep climbs. Ideal races for this type of rider are the one day classics in spring. These races are characterized by hills that are a 10-20% grade and 1–2 km long, examples include the Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the Mur de Huy in the Flèche Wallonne and the Manayunk Wall in the Philadelphia International Championship. The physique of this type of rider allows them to escape from the peloton through quick bursts usually with the assistance of a teammate. Examples of such racers include Philippe Gilbert, Paolo Bettini, Danilo Di Luca and Peter Sagan, who are able to sprint their way up the shorter climbs to win a stage or a single-day race. However, their lower endurance is a disadvantage in stage races where the climbs are usually longer 5–20 km, albeit at lower gradients 5-10%.
adj. anodized aluminum in purple. Some riders need to obtain as much of this as possible. It comes in other colors, but they are of no consequence here.
1) n. a novice’s pedaling motion, consisting of alternately pushing each foot down, instead of spinning.
The stage of a multi-day road race which includes the highest point reach of the whole race. Also usually, but not always, the hardest stage of the race.
- bolts with levers attached, for easy adjustment and removal of wheels and seat height
- Ripoff & Duplication, or Research & Development.
- to wreck in such a way that one’s person is tossed like a flimsy scrap of cloth. “Did you see me rag dolly back there? I think I pierced my ear on a tree branch.”
- making fast and hard turns, like you’re on rails and are immune to traction loss. e.g. “He was railing around that turn before he slid out and biffed.”
- the amount, in degrees, that a front fork curves forward from a line drawn down the stem or steer tube. The rake along with the steer tube angle of a bicycle will determine it’s trail.
- to ride exceptionally well, especially on normally difficult routes.
- a form of cross country bicycle race event. It is run as a very long recreational event, lasting two or three days.
- abbreviation for Rapid Deceleration Syndrome. Military term for the very sudden illness that happens when the free-flight following a high-speed involuntary dismount is interrupted by something solid.
- the triangle formed by the chain stays, seat stays, and seat tube
- a specific form of a time trial, in which competitors cover great distances riding almost around the clock.
- a rider who prefers an old bike with old components and isn’t fond of new, high-tech equipment.
- going down a hill so steep that your butt touches the rear wheel.
excl. a parting phrase used by riders without much else to say.
riding the pegs
- standing on the pedals through rough terrain.
A bicycle without any suspension system.
An experienced rider who organises and marshals the team’s riders in a road race, including instructing team-mates regarding tactical decisions and improvising new tactics when pre-race plans are overtaken by events on the road. They are the key link between the directeur sportif and the rest of the team. Road captains are normally selected on a race-by-race basis depending on the demands of the event and their relationship with the team leader. Notable road captains in recent years include Bernhard Eisel, Luca Paolini, Mick Rogers and David Millar.
A race on pavement. Longer in distance than criteriums.
Severe skin abrasions caused from sliding on the asphalt in a crash.
- a cyclist that rides nearly exclusively on roads, and considers trails for the weak and feeble.
- section of the trail that is completely covered with grapefruit (baby head) size to basketball sized rocks.
- removing rocks, dirt, gravel from one’s person after a yard sale. “Some betty stopped by and performed a rock ectomy on my knee after the wreck, I think she digs my scene.”
- the mandatory pre-ride coffee.
- an unintentionally performed hardness test rendered by a trial side object on your anatomy or possessions. Requires the use of a number to rate the event. “I 50 Rockwelled on that last buster.” “No way, dude, it was at least a 60!” The term comes from the material hardness Rockwell scale, a hardness scale based on indentation hardness of a material.
A type of trainer composed of rolling cylinders under the rear wheel linked to a single rolling cylinder under the front wheel which allow the rider to practice balance while training indoors.
- a type of traffic control where escort vehicles form a caravan leading and following a group of racers. The enclosure sets aside a moving part of the roadway in the direction of the race for exclusive use of bicyclists. Racers inside the enclosure are not required to follow the normal rules of the road. Racers are not allowed to cross the center line unless the entire road is traffic controlled. A rolling enclosure is the typical traffic control used to run a road race.
- acronym for Responsible Organized Mountain Pedalers, a Silicon Valley organization teaching mountain biking skills, organizing rides, and active in trail politics.
- chain grease on a rider’s pant leg. “Give that guy extra points for his rookie mark. It’s even on the wrong leg!” See chainring tattoo.
- to go fast or accelerate quickly. Or, to stop suddenly.
- a spray of water flung off the back wheel as the bicycle rolls through water. Particularly pronounced on bikes without fenders.
Weight (more correctly mass) that is rotating while the bike is moving, particularly the wheels. Mass near the outside edge of a wheel has about twice the storedenergy of a similar non-rotating mass moving at the same speed. A bicycle wheel can be considered to be a good approximation of a hollow cylinder with most of its mass at or near the rim. The rotation of cranks, wheel hubs, and other parts are of less significance because both their radius and speed of rotation (angular velocity) are small. All mass resists changes in velocity (acceleration or deceleration) due to inertia. This resistance is noticeably greater where rotational inertia is also a significant component, so lighter wheel rims, spoke nipples, and tires will permit faster acceleration (or the same acceleration for less expenditure of energy). This effect is much reduced at lower speeds such as during hill climbing.
A rider who is strong on flat and undulating roads. The rider is well suited for races such as Paris–Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara are examples of this.
- a sudden drop on the trail of two feet or more.
A broom wagon. SAG is an acronym for “support and gear” or “support and grub”.
- the act of reaching a trail head and not riding. What is done when one really can’t stand the thought of starting a ride. Talking. Bullshitting.
- flavor of valve found on cars, Tubular road tires, and some clincher mountain and road tubes, use the better, Presta system.
1) n. terrible trail conditions. 2) n. free stuff. See swag.
Last riders to depart in a handicap race. Also referred to as the “scratch bunch” or “scratchies”. Also, a straightforward type of track race with a predetermined number of laps (except in the case of an “unknown scratch,” when officials ring a bell to signify one lap to go) until the finish line.
1) n. a real biker’s dream ride. 2) n. a long, straight, and deceptively steep hill. 3) v. to bomb so fast one can’t pedal fast enough to make a difference.
- a very, very high dropoff. “I was trying so hard to keep my eyes away from the ledge back there. What a screamer!”
- the part of the frame that accepts the seat post, and attaches the top tube to the bottom bracket
- the post that attaches your seat to the frame at the seat tube
- the two frame members through which the rear wheel passes that meet the chain stays at the rear dropouts
- loop trip with a section of out and back attached.
A command center where bicycles are maintained between races in preparation for the next race, a service course car is a car (such as those famously provided by Mavic) that carry spare bicycles or wheels in a race should the competing cyclist require it.
- also known as tubulars, lightweight road tires and rims with the tread sewn directly around the tube, which is glued right onto a rim without bead hooks. Opposite of clincher tires, which often use an inner tube inside.
To pull or throw shapes (origin: Irish slang for acting the “hard man”) is to pedal in an ungainly and un-fluid manner, usually due to exertion; a sign that a rider is about to crack or has cracked. Can be used in expressive ways: “He’s throwing a whole basket of shapes”.
A rider who is having extreme difficulty keeping up with a fast pace race in a way they did not anticipate. A rider who is shelled will use up all their energy so they have nothing left for the finishing sprint, drop back out of contention, or abandon the race altogether.
A component used by the rider to control the gearing mechanisms and select the desired gear ratio. It is usually connected to the derailleur by a mechanical actuation cable. Electronic & hydraulic shifting systems also exist.
adj. most common type of brakes found on quality road bikes. Designed such that one braking surface contacts the rim first, improving brake modulation.
- tubing with a higher wall thickness at only one end, such as a seat tube on a quality frame. See double-butted, triple-butted.
Australian English for tubular tyres.
- trail just wide enough for one person, horse, or bike — the mountain biker’s holy grail. Contrast with dual-track or doubletrack.
- Shimano Indexed Shifters, where you click the shifter and the gears change quickly and exactly. Opposite of friction shifting.
In a race, if a rider eases his or her efforts and stops pulling or maintaining the pace of the group, the rider is said to have sat up.
sit-on and sit-in
To ride behind another rider without taking a turn on the front (thus tiring the lead rider), often in preparation for an attack or sprint finish. “Sitting in the wheels” is to take an easy ride drafted by the peloton or gruppetto. Often a strategic decision to save energy in races.
- to be a lazy sot who doesn’t take their turn at the front of a paceline. Can be used as a tactic to tire one’s opponent.
- the act of riding along precariously and near falling.
- that section of trail that nobody ever expects or remembers that always appears too suddenly when riding too fast. Usually switchbacks. Named after all the skid tracks left there from previous riders.
- to jump extremely high. To get big air.
- mountain bike tires with no tread to be used at very high pressure, for those too ignorant to get a fast and efficient road bike for use on roads. They make some difference, but doesn’t fix the aerodynamics, body geometry, handlebar shape, or anything else that matters.
- a double puncture of an inner tube, caused by the tire bottoming out on the rim while hitting an obstacle too hard or by under-inflation of tires.
- an object hidden by snow on the trail. “Be careful of the snowmines — you know, rocks, logs, hibernating bears…”
A breakaway that is allowed to go from the peloton in a stage race because it poses no strategic threat to any of the main contenders on GC. In French terminology a soft break is a “dishonest break”.
- a fully suspended bike.
A non-riding member of a team whose role is to provide support for the riders, possibly including transportation and organization of supplies, preparation of the team’s food, post-ride massages and personal encouragement.
- a face plant.
- if you are approaching a jump too fast, you may need to slow down by making quick speed check. In other words, braking.
- the five-(or four) pronged section or attachment on the drive-side crank into which the chainrings are screwed.
- to obtain a chainring tattoo on the back of the calf, usually the result of a newbie trying to dab or panic skid at high speeds.
- smooth pedal motion. Opposite of push-push.
- loss of traction in the rear tire, resulting in the wheel spinning with no forward movement of the bike, usually while climbing on loose gravel
- to strike a trail decoration following an involuntary dismount.
- a face plant.
Rider with the ability to generate very high power over short periods (a few seconds to a minute) allowing for great finishing speeds, but usually unable to sustain sufficiently high power over long periods to be a good time triallist, and is usually too big to have a high enough power-to-weight ratio to be a good climber.
British term for tubular tyres.
- “SPD” (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) clipless pedals.
Similar to shapes. pedaling squares is pedaling without fluid rhythm. Pedaling in a labored fashion.
A cyclist who has a tendency to swerve unexpectedly and maintain inconsistent speed. Considered dangerous to follow at close range for the purpose of drafting.
the act of riding like a squirrel
n., v. crash.
One part of a multi-day race, such as the Tour de France.
- these combine several different types of bicycle races into one multiple part bicycle race event. Stage races commonly include road races, time trials, and criteriums. These races are usually scheduled over a period of two or more days. Order of finish is determined by lowest combined elapsed time or combined points depending on the scoring format.
An amateur rider, who is taken in by a professional team during the season. This lets the rider get some experience at riding a few pro races, and the team gets a chance to assess the abilities of the rider.
A freeride term for a landing in terms of when cycling off a set of stairs.
A cyclist that excels at maintaining high speed on a relatively flat course alone. The stayer, climber and sprinter make up the three types of mass start road racing specialists. The stayer is some times referred to as a time trial-ist, since the qualities of one and the other are similar. Since a mass start road race is not a time trial, the term stayer is used. (Ref: CONI Book)
- your bike, the reason for your existence.
The part of the fork that is inserted into the head tube of the frame, and is used to attach the fork to the frame using a headset.
The component that attaches the handlebars to the steer tube of the bicycle. They come in two major types, quill and threadless. The angle and length plays a major part in how the bicycle fits the rider.
adj. “Shimano Total Integration” – integrated brake and shift levers. Road bicycles commonly use this technology. It was created to make the bicycle more user friendly vs downtube shift levers on the downtube and brakes on the handlebars.
A technique often used by the rider who takes food and water from the team car during a race. The rider holds on for a variable amount of time to the bottle handed to him by the car occupant, who maintains his grasp on the object, effectively dragging the athlete. This concerted act gives the cyclist a moment to relax. Usually tolerated by the race commissaire if the bottle is held for 1-2 second, but may result in a sanction if an exaggeration is perceived.
- when friction makes a suspension fork travel sticky instead of smooth.
adj. an alternate term for the word psyched. In other words, to be excited.
adj. describes a rider after a crash which imbeds stones into the rider’s skin.
- a rider who flies over the handlebars and doesn’t hit the ground for a long time. This may result in injury, but when it doesn’t, it’s really funny for everyone else.
or schwag. n. the stuff that manufacturers and vendors donate to be given away at bike related events. When you race, go to bike shows, help put on events, write bike articles, you are often rewarded with swag.
A cyclist fending the air in front of a group of riders, then leaving the front after producing his effort by steering his bike to the side is said to “swing off”. Example:”Ivan Basso swings off to let Peter Sagan go!”
n., v. abruptly disengaging from a formation to move from the wind-battered lead position to sheltered rear when your stint at the front is over.
- a jump in which the rider throws the bike sideways in mid-air. Less commonly, a jump made over a hill that reaches a plateau and goes back down.
- to bend a wheel over on itself, in the shape of a taco. “I taco’d my wheel, and it cost me a hundred bucks.” Worse than a potato chip.
- when a whole group of riders stops and chats, and nobody seems to want to ride on.
A team of professional cyclists. Usually one rider will be the team leader and the others will support him, though the team itself will be composed of a mix of riders from the various specialisations.
team time trial
Riders start in groups or teams, usually of a fixed size. The time of the nth rider of a team counts for the classification for each team member. In the 2009 edition of Tour de France, riders who are dropped from their team’s group would be scored with their own time, instead of the team time.
- a bike mechanic, especially at a professional bike race. See also mechanic and wrench.
A trail or patch of road that requires good balance and concentration since it is very uneven. Can also be said of a bend or a series of bends.
technical assistance zone
A designated section along the course of a mountain bike or cyclocross race along which riders are allowed to accept technical assistance (tools, spare parts, or mechanical work) from another person. In cyclocross racing the technical assistance zone is called the “pit”. Not all mountain bike races contain a technical assistance zone, instead requiring riders to carry whatever tools and spare parts they may need. A rider accepting technical assistance outside of the designated zone risks disqualification.
- a rider who knows everything about the newest bike parts and techno-fads except how to use either them or his bike. Someone who buys lots of gadgets to add supposed iotas of performance to the bike. Greeting a friend whom we haven’t seen in a year, I might say “Hi, Marta!” A techno-weenie might say “Oooh, you got Campy Record hubs on that bike now?”
Steady pace at the front of a group of riders. A relatively fast tempo can be used by a group or team to control the peloton, often to make up time to a break. The group will ride at the head of the bunch and set a fast enough pace to stretch the peloton out (also known as stringing out) and discourage other riders from attacking. Setting a slower tempo can be done for the purpose of blocking. A tempo is also a type of track race where two points are awarded to the first person to cross the line each lap, and one point is awarded to the second person to cross the line each lap. The winner is the person with the most points at the end of the race.
A level of exertion just below the rider’s anaerobic threshold. Used as a reference point in training, this is the highest level of exertion that a given rider can sustain.
A time-trialist who tends to over-specialize in the discipline. Slightly derogatory.
tête de la course
From French, literally “head of the race” – the leading cyclist or group of cyclists, when separated from (in front of) the peloton.
1) v. to cause severe damage to a trail, usually during the wet season. 2) adj. a damaged trail “That trail’s really thrashed after last winter.”
- a MTB ride that looks like a piece of cake at the outset but turns out to be a death march. Derived from the theme song to “Gilligan’s Island.”
- pronounced “tie,” it’s the periodic-table abbreviation for titanium, and just about the only chemistry-class vestige that a rider should sprinkle into the conversation. “Sheila’s running ti bar ends, ti pedal spindles, a ti seat post, and a ti wedding band.”
A rider that sits at the back of a breakaway but doesn’t take a pull. Thus the rider gets a free ride similar to a ticket collector on a train who rides for free.
The word commonly refers to fans along the roadside at professional road cycling races in Italy such as Tirreno–Adriatico, Milan – San Remo, the Giro d’Italia, and the Giro di Lombardia.
- bicycle race events in which individuals or small teams of riders ride the same route and distance separately for elapsed time. Time trials are generally started at preset intervals and held on an out-and-back or circuit course, and are generally 15 or 40 km, but dozens of lengths are sanctioned. A race against the clock where riders are started separately (ranging from 30 seconds to 5 minutes apart). The winner of the race is determined by the fastest person across the course. No drafting may be employed in a time trial as it is a solo race event.
A rider that can generate relatively high power over long periods of time (5 minutes to an hour or more) in a race against the clock.
to stick the knife in
To finish off a group of riders who are about to crack. The perpetrator knows (or guesses) he has better overall energy than his competitors, presumably after making them suffer with numerous accelerations. The ensuing violent acceleration is referred to as “sticking the knife in” while a number of riders, if not all, are dropped.
- a clip-and-strap system that connects a rider’s feet and toes to her pedals. Toe clips usually don’t require special shoes.
- one of those damn little rocks protruding out of the trail which you don’t notice because you are having a heart-attack climbing the hill.
- the part of the frame that attaches the head tube to the seat tube
- short for United States Geological Survey topographic map.
- to balance on your front wheel while turning your back wheel 90-180 degrees in either direction.
An oval cycling track for races, banked at up to 50 degrees. Cycling tracks are usually, but not always indoors. Bicycling or cycle tracks are also called velodromes. An Olympic track is generally 250m long.
imp. a signal to gape at the passing rider on your left, generally accompanied with a sharp movement to veer right into his path.
imp. a signal to the slowpoke ahead to look around for a hidden turnoff to the left, so he’ll get the hell out of your way because there isn’t any room to pass on singletrack anyway.
- (from fixed-gear track racing) a maneuver where the rider stops the bike and remains standing on the bicycle without putting a foot on the ground for balance. Balancing in place on 2 wheels, usually standing on the pedals.
- when the rider stops the bike and attempts to remain standing, but can’t do it very well. Characterized by rolling forward, violent movements of the front wheel, and a distressed expression on the rider’s face. See track stand, above.
- the distance between the point created by the projection of the bicycle steer tube axis to the ground and the contact patch of a tire. This determines how a bike will steer. A bicycle with a lot of trail will be “stable” and one with minimal trail will be “nimble”, in the negative connotation “stable” will become “sluggish” and “nimble” becomes “nervious”.
a generous individual or group of individuals that provide acts of kindness to participants of outdoor events, on hiking trails or various biking routes. Trail angels are closely associated with trail magic. “Trail Angels” are commonly referred to in online hiking journals as friends of hikers, relatives or others persons who will often provide food, transportation, etc. to hikers on the trail.
- equipment or accessories dropped by other bikers and found on the trail.
a method in stage races to get a sprinter to the front of a bunch sprint and launched. The sprinter’s team riders will form a line, usually within 5k of the finish and take turns to build up speed – the last rider in the train will be protected (drafting) until a short distance from the finish. Perfected by HTC and Mark Cavendish.
A piece of equipment that a bicycle stands on so that the rear wheel can spin while the bicycle is stationary, allowing stationary riding. These are usually used when the conditions outside are bad.
- the art of hopping onto large objects on your bike, for those who can’t go fast and have no endurance. Not to be confused with Time Trials, which is just the opposite.
adj. when a bike has the latest and hottest components.
- tubing with two butts of differing thicknesses, such as 0.9/0.6/0.8 mm. See single-butted, double-butted.
Also known as old school sprinter. A rider who excels primarily in sprint finishes on flat to mildly uphill terrain. Often too heavy to compete in longer or steeper uphill courses.
Tubular tyres are cycle tyres that have the inner tube permanently stitched inside the casing. They are held in place using glue or glue-tape, and are affixed to rims which lack the sidewalls characteristic of a hook-bead rim. Tubulars take very high pressure (up to 10 bar or 145 psi, or higher for racing and track-specific tires) which reduces their rolling resistance. They typically result in wheelsets that are lower in overall weight than comparable clincher wheels, because of the shape of the rim, the tire construction, and the lack of rim strips. Tubulars can be ridden at lower pressures than clinchers without the risk of pinch flats, because of the shape of the rim. This makes them well-suited to cyclo-cross, especially in muddy conditions where low tire pressures are used. However, they are difficult to replace and repair and are generally more expensive than clinchers. Also called sew-ups, tubies, or tub.
- also known as sew-ups, lightweight road tires and rims with the tread directly on the tube, which is glued right onto a rim without bead hooks. Tubular tires do have tubes inside, but because the tube is totally “sewn up” it is not visible without disassembly of the tire. Lately, tubulars are most popular for racing as the construction can be used to make a very light tire. They require glue to change and for this reason have become primarily obsolete to the “clincher tire” for convenience. Opposite of clincher tires, which require a rim with a bead hook and typically use a separate inner tube inside.
- a riding position, generally a contorted one with the head and torso low, back flat, and arms close in for aerodynamics.
A trainer that spins a fan assembly at the same time (for pedal resistance and air flow). See Bicycle trainer.
A turn is a rider sharing the workload on a pace line “he took a turn” or “he is doing a lot of turns on the front”. Missing turns can be expressed thus “he has missed a few turns now and has stopped working”. In a breakaway the riders expect to share the work equally in “turns”. A rider who doesn’t take his turn is “sitting on the break”.
1) n. a jump during which the rider twists the handlebars back and forth in mid-air, the more times the better. 2) v. to slightly injure a part of the body or the bike in a crash. “I tweaked my wrist when I fell.” 3) v. to make a minor adjustment. “My brake pads were rubbing but I tweaked the cable and it went away.” 4) adj. when something isn’t quite right, “You’d have to be seriously tweaked to replace those hydraulics with V-brakes.”
- acronym for Union Cycliste Internationale, an international sanctioning organization for bicycle racing.
adj. describing a bike or accessory made from expensive, high-tech material. A play on “unobtainable” and “titanium.”
- when a rider pulls up on the pedal.
Alternatively known as a city bike, a bicycle that is designed to be ridden on the road utilizing components of a mountain bike, similar to a hybrid bicycle.
- acronym for USA Cycling, Inc. The national organization responsible for the governance of professional and amateur bicycle racing in the United States. The USCF, NCCA, NORBA, and USPRO organizations are part of USA Cycling.
- abbreviation for the United States Cycling Federation. As a member association of USAC, the USCF oversees the conduct of road, track, and cyclocross bicycle racing in the United States.
- acronym for the United States Professional Racing Organization. The USPRO serves as the governing body for professional racing and is an affiliate organization of USAC.
- where the pump is attached to fill the tube with air. Bicycle valve stems commonly come in two types, Schrader – (standard American style, like the valve found on you car tire), or Presta the French type. (tall and skinny with a screw in valve lock)
- a singletrack that is heavily overgrown with foliage, so a rider must duck and bend to get through it.
- full-page, four-color advertisements of giblets in cycling magazines. It can arouse giblet lust, giblet envy, and in serious cases, feelings of bike inadequacy. “Peter skipped right over the race results and went straight for the velo-porn.”
A cycling track for races. See track.
1) n. to empty the contents of one’s bladder. “Where were you, man? We waited for at least two minutes.” “Sorry, dude, I had to void, my back teeth were floating.” 2) n. a deep chasm that you have to clear or you will die.
- Velo Tout-Terrain, the French term for mountain biking. Velo = bike, Tout = all, and don’t even ask me about terrain. 🙂
Race spectators who gather at a technical point of the course where a crash is more likely to occur.
- spectators who line up at dangerous obstacles in hopes of seeing blood.
- something that is not good. e.g. “It’s pretty wack that my bike broke in two.”
A steep incline along a race’s course. See also hit the wall.
- a road that looks like it goes straight up, because it practically does. Generally used for grades steeper than 10%, depending on region.
- what you might get when your stem has no nard guard. See crotch-testing.
or simply wash. v. to have the front tire lose traction, especially while going around a corner or when inadvertently locked. Generally results in the wheel ending up somewhere other than under the rider.
- small, regular undulations of the soil surface that make for a very rough ride.
Referred to in French as a ‘Domestique’- these are the members of a team who chase down competitors and try to neutralize their efforts and they will often protect their team leader from the wind by surrounding him. When a leader has to get a repair or stop to answer nature his domestiques will stay with him and pace him back up to the peloton. They are called “water carriers” because they are the ones designated to go back to the team car and pick up water bottles and bring them back up to the leader and other members of the team. In Italian the term is “gregario”.
A cyclist that is concerned about the weight of his or her bicycle or its components.
- a bike owner (not even necessarily a rider) who is more concerned with how many milligrams a certain component saves off the bike’s total weight than with how to be a better rider.
Lifting the front wheel of the bicycle in the air – through force transmitted through the pedals – whilst riding and continuing to ride on only the back wheel. The rider maintains the wheelie by applying pedalstrokes and rear brake in order to balance the bicycle on only the rear wheel.
- lifting the front wheel off the ground, or the act of riding on the rear wheel only, usually with some combination of pulling on the handlebars, pedaling harder, and balance.
A rider who sits on the rear wheel of others in a group or on another rider, enjoying the draft but not working. Also leech, leeching.
- to rapidly descend on a trail that’s sheer gonzo when you were expecting a cake walk. “Man, I just whiteknuckled that descent at like 50 kph! Why didn’t you tell me about the dropoff and rock garden?”
- poorly adjusted brake pads that squeal in use.
- a reflector. “Nice winky set, fred!”
A racing bicycle adapted for use in winter seasons. Typically these are less expensive and incorporate mudguards, which are rarely present on their modern summer counterparts.
A crash. Can be used as a verb: “This rider wiped out pretty bad on the wet corner.”
- to crash.
- a crash.
In contexts such as “riding with” and “finished with” used to mean “next to each other or one behind another, close enough to be drafting”. Example: “Samuel Dumoulin (Française Des Jeux) and Simon Gerrans (Ag2r-Prevoyance) joined up with the leading four and set about working well together”.
Abbreviation of wide outside lane. An outside lane on a roadway that is wide enough to be safely shared side-by-side by a bicycle and motor vehicle. The road may be marked with partial lane markings to designate the portion of the lane to be used by bicycles.
- “WOmen’s Mountain Biking And Tea Society”, a Marin-based organization founded by writer and former MTB racer Jacquie Phelan.
adj. not functioning properly. “I bailed, and now my wheel is all wonky and all I hear are wild pigs.”
To work is to do “turns on the front”, to aid a group of riders by sharing the workload of working against air resistance by “pulling on the front” of the group. Similar to pull. Often used expressively in combination with other expressions: e.g. “He hasn’t done any work all day, he has just sat on the breakaway.” Working is used in many contexts in the peloton and road racing.
- a bike mechanic. See also tech and mechanic.
A crash causing every piece of gear to be scattered all over the place, like bottles, multi-tools, energy bars, hand pump, etc. The resulting scene is reminiscent of a yard sale.
- (from skiing) a horrendous crash that leaves all your various “wares” — water bottles, pump, tool bag, etc. — scattered as if on display for sale.
Worn by the rider who is leading in the General classification in the Tour de France.
- a state of mind where you think you’ve reached The Zone, but you really just stopped paying attention to what you’re doing. Usually used as an excuse for a particularly embarrassing biff.
- a state of mind experienced while riding. You don’t think, you just do. A truly Zen experience that can’t be fully explained, but when you get there you’ll know it and strive to reach it again.
- same as bonk.