Cyclopedia

LET’S PLAY LINGO BINGO!!

I don’t know about you, but we sometimes hear words, phrases or terms and haven’t got a clue what they are – a bike part, a race or someone pulling your leg. Women’s cycling definitely isn’t all about knowing the lingo, but it’s helpful to know a bit about bikes. A bit of bike banter is great for the chatter on a sunny ride…

Here’s just a little bit of an intro into frequently used cycling terms (and some of the more quirky ones!!) with helpful descriptions along the way.


AERO BARS:
Extension of the handlebars allowing cyclists to rest elbows and be more aerodynamic. Often found on time trial bikes.
BEAD:
Part of a tyre which grips the wheel rim.
BIG RING:
The bigger ring of the two chainring (front rings). This generates the larger gear and gives the highest speed, but is harder to pedal. One to use for sprints or descents.
BOOTIES:
Fabric shoe covers worn mostly in Winter to protect your feet from rain and wind (and snow!)
BREEZE NETWORK:
the biggest programme ever launched by British Cycling with the aim to get more women into riding bikes for fun. Breeze is a nationwide network of fun, local and informal bike rides, led by women (Breeze champions) for women. Breeze bike rides are free, friendly and open to women of all ages and abilities. Visit www.goskyride.com/breeze for further details. We highly recommend these for all female riders – you can’t have enough cycling buddies!
CADENCE:
The rate at which a cyclist pedals (revolutions per minute). A common mistake is to pedal in a higher (harder) gear at less rpm. More experienced cyclists tend to cycle in the range of c70-90 rpm, placing less strain on the body. This still leaves higher cadence for sprints and periods of acceleration.
CASSETTE:
The set of gear cogs at the rear (which makes changing the back wheel more difficult!!)
CHAINRING:
Front part of a ‘drivetrain’ (see below) which the chain turns on. Can have up to three gears.
CLEAT:
Fitting on the sole of a cycling shoe (can be metal or plastic). This connects to specific pedals to create a tight fit and allows for more efficient pedaling.
CRANK ARM:
each one connects to a pedal; two arms form the crank set which attach to the chainring.
CHICANE:
a series of tight turns, normally S-shaped, often near a race finish
DOMESTIQUE:
riders who ride for the team, providing wind shelter, and carry food and drink (perhaps cake!) from the support car to the group.
DOWNSHIFT:
To go into a lower gear (larger cog, at the back, or smaller chainring, at the front)
DRIVETRAIN (POWER TRAIN):
components which make up the rear wheel fixtures eg. cassette, crankset and chain.
DRAFTING:
to ride too closely behind another rider so as to take advantage of their slipstream, allowing the drafting cyclist to ride with less effort at the same speed. Drafting is not allowed in certain races, such as time trials and amateur triathlons.
DROPS:
normally found on road bike, the lowest part of the handlebar. Used for an aerodynamic position. The curved parts of the handlebar are called the hooks.
ECHELON:
A line of riders across a road looking for maximum drafting from a crosswind, which creates a diagonal line across the road.
FARTLEK:
Swedish word meaning “speed play”. This is a training method used in different sports, based on random changes in pace and intensity.
FIXIE:
A fixed gear bicycle which uses one chainring and one cog (just like a track bike). You cannot freewheel in a standard setting on these bicycles. Tackling steep hills not for the faint hearted!!
FORK:
Holds the front wheel and on Mountain Bikes likely to include suspension.
FRAMESET:
The bike frame plus fork.
FULL TUCK:
A maximum crouched position on a bike used for maximum speed on descents and in strong headwinds.
HARDTAIL:
A bicycle that does not have rear suspension.
HYBRID:
A cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. Often chosen for comfort, eg. may not have drop handlebars of a road bike but can have slimmer tyres than a mountain bike.
LE TOUR ENTIER:
a campaign established by 4 key global sportswomen to help support the growth of women’s cycling and build a sport with greater consumer, media and commercial appeal. We strongly encourage you to read their manifesto and sign their petition (c100k signatures to-date). Together we can make things happen. Visit their site at: http://213.206.113.108/ or follow them on twitter: @LeTourEntier
MUSETTE:
A bag used by racers to hand food out. In more general terms, a bag used to carry daily essentials when biking or commuting.
ON YOUR WHEEL:
Being very close to the rear wheel of the rider in front, ideal for drafting. You should inform the rider in front that you are in that position in case of sudden changes of direction / braking required.
PACELINE:
A group riding a a fast speed drafting one another and taking it in turns to be at the front acting as the wind break.
PELOTON:
The main group, heavily packed with riders, each sheltering in other’s draft. In a large race, most of the competitors end up in one or two large pelotons for most of the race. The word is French, loosely means ‘rolled up in a ball’.
POWER:
General measurement of energy (Watts) being transferred from a cyclist’s legs.
RELIABILITY RIDE:
An organised cycle ride over a set course, often used as substitute for Sunday club rides; non-club members often welcome and may also be used to raise money for charity. Often held in Winter and used as training rides and tests of fitness over longer distances by clubs. These are unlikely to be marshaled and riders need to be self-sufficient for food, water and mechanical problems. Routes can vary in distance and may offer a variety of speeds for groups of riders to join.
ROLLERS:
Training equipment made of rolling cylinders under the back wheel and a single cylinder under the front wheel. The rider can practice balance and allows for indoor training (can take a fair bit of practice!)
SPORTIVE:
an organised, mass-participation cycling event. Can be short or long distance, or a variety (eg. 20, 50 and 100 mile options in one event). Cyclists often use these to challenge themselves over distance or to cycle under a certain time. These are great events to try cycling with others or longer distances. Routes should be well sign posted making navigation much easier and are often marshaled. Feeding stations are positioned (and welcomed!) at intervals along the routes. These are becoming more and more popular – check out ones in your local area and beyond!
STEM:
Attaches the handlebar to the steering tube. Is an integral component for the fit of a bike (eg. the rider’s reach to the handlebar).
TURBO TRAINER:
Training equipment mostly for indoor use. Particularly beneficial during Winter months and used as early season training. Trainers can replicate hill riding and are more realistic in their feel than stationary bikes.
UCI:
Union Cycliste Internationale (International Cycling Union). This is the worldwide governing body of road and track racing. The UCI colours are distinctive and the wearer of a rainbow jersey in a UCI discipline signifies the world champion. The current UCI Women’s Road World Cup champion is Dutch rider, Marianne Vos. (winner in 5 of the last 7 years).


CLASSIC:
A top class one day race. Some classics date back to the 19th century – These are the oldest spring and fall traditional races. The Five Monuments of Cycling are generally considered to be the oldest and most-prestigious one-day events on the calendar, after the World Championship Road Race, these are:

  • Milan-San Remo (Italy, late March)
  • Tour of Flanders (Belgium, early April)
  • Paris-Roubaix (France, one week after Tour of Flanders) – famous for rough terrain and cobbles, it contributes points towards CUI World Ranking.
  • Liege-Bastogne-Liege (Belgium, late April)
  • Giro di Lombardia (Italy, end of September)
  • San Remo (Italy,
  • Only three riders have won all five ‘Monument’ one-day races during their careers: De Vlaeminck, Van Looy and Eddy Merckx, all Belgians.

CRITERIUM:
A criterium race consists of many laps around a short course eg. blocks around a city. Criteriums are good for spectators, but less popular with racers, there are a lot of turns in a criterium!. Bicycles used in these races are designed with a maneuverability in mind, because the peloton is likely to be large and dense.
CYCLOCROSS:
similar to a criterium , a form of bicycle racing that consists of many laps of a short course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike past obstacles and remount. Prepare to get muddy!!
ETAPE:
Stage of the race, usually one day. Amateurs can ride these
GRAND BOUCLE:
The big loop, a French term referring to the Tour (loop) around France.
HANDICAP:
road race where riders are given different start times, based on previous performance, so everyone has an equal chance of winning.
HILL CLIMB:
a short (c3-5km), uphill race, usually an individual time trial.
HORS CATEGORIE (HC):
The highest category of a climb. Climbs are categorized on a scale from 4 (the easiest of the big climbs) to 1 (the more difficult of the big climbs). Hors Categorie climbs are beyond category; they are the hardest climbs in cycling.
INIVIDUAL TIME TRIAL:
where riders set off st fixed intervals and complete the course against the clock.
INTERMEDIATE SPRINT:
within a race or tour, points can be won along the course where riders will sprint for time bonuses or prizes.
KEIRIN (TRACK):
2km event where riders start the race in a group behind a derny (motorised bike pacesetter). The derny paces the rider for the first 1400m and then pulls away at which point the cyclist begins a sprint to the finish. Victoria Pendleton and Chris Hoy both won Olympic Gold in 2012 for GB in this event.
Maillot Jaune / Yellow Jersey:
the race leader’s jersey. The color was chosen for the color of the page of the sponsoring newspaper, Le Auto. 
 It was first handed out during the 1919 Tour de France to Eugene Christophe. Often copied by lesser races, but the Tour yellow is the true Golden Fleece of cycling.
Maillot Pois / Polka Dot Jersey:
King of the Mountains best climber’s jersey. It was first awarded in 1975. Poulain Chocolates sponsored the jersey. The Polka Dots came from the sponsor’s distinctive candy bar wrapper
Maillot Vert / Green Points Jersey:
the jersey is awarded to the sprinter who gains the most points for high finishes in the daily stages. The sponsor was the Belle Jardinier, a department store specializing in gardening products, so they chose green as the symbolic color of their jersey.
MADISON (TRACK):
mass-start event where teams of two riders compete. Points are awarded to top finishers in intermediate and the finish sprint. Only one rider per team is riding on the track at any one time, then exchanges with his/her partner by a ‘hand sling’. Was dropped from 2012 Olympic Games.
OMNIUM (TRACK):
a multi-race event which has changed in format over recent years and championships. It now consists of 6 events: 250m flying start time trial, 5km scratch race, elimination race, individual pursuit, 1km points race and a 500m time trial. Laura Trott won Gold for GB in 2012 Olympics and Silver in last two UCI Track World Championships.
PROLOGUE:
an individual time trial, normally less than 5 miles / 8km, before a stage race to determine the wearer of the leader’s jersey on the first stage.
QUEEN STAGE:
the stage in a multi-day race where the highest point of the whole race is reached.
RANDONNEE:
a long distance event where rides must navigate a course through checkpoints within time limits
SCRATCH (TRACK):
a predetermined number of laps. The bell will ring with one lap to go.
STAGE RACE:
they consist of various daily tests with the winner the rider with the lowest elapsed time for all stages.
TIME TRIAL:
(individual and team) a race in which competitors start with set time delays between each other, usually 30 second or 1 minute one-minute intervals. The winner is the cyclist who completes the course in the shortest time. Drafting is not allowed in the individual race. 
There are also team time trials, which allows drafting where team members take turns leading. Bradley Wiggins won gold for GB in the 2012 Olympic road time trial.
TOUR OF BRITAIN (WOMEN’S RACE):
Set to attract top riders, Marianne Vos, Lizzie Armitstead and Hannah Barnes to name a few, this inaugural race in May 2014 has been given the same status as the men’s race (raced in September). It ranks among the highest-rated women’s races in the world. The race will be staged over 5 days. This we hope id the start for even bigger thing for UK women’s cycling and beyond.
TOUR OF FRANCE (WOMEN’S RACE):
A new women’s road race in 2014 which will finish on the Champs-Élysées on the final day of the Men’s TdF (27th July, 2014). It is part of the UCI elite women’s calendar and represents the first time since 1989 that women will race alongside men at the most iconic race finish in the world, following a lengthy campaign by Le Tour Entier.
VELODROME TRACK:
oval track, banked at 50 degrees. Olympic tracks are generally 250m long.


all-rounder:
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; 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.
Rouleur:
A rider that has a very smooth pedaling action, who is capable of riding at a steady tempo over long distances.
lead out:
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, drafting behind, 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.
minute man:
The cyclist starting in a time trial either a minute ahead or behind another rider.
sprinter:
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


ALL SHOW AND NO GO:
A not so good rider with a state of the art bike and gear.
BILLY GOAT:
Superb climber
BONK:
When a rider does not eat or drink enough, the equivalent to ‘hitting the wall.’ More polite terms: The knock / hunger knock / pinging.
BRICK:
A rider who is a slow climber but quick on the descent.
CHAIN SLAP:
Annoying sound when the chain slaps the chainstay when riding over uneven ground.
DANCING ON THE PEDALS:
Standing up on a climb and riding away from the field
DIESEL:
A steady rider without any bursts of speed; a diesel engine.
FALSE FLAT:
A small gradient which occurs part way up a bigger climb, so looks deceptively easier but is still a hill!! False hope for a breather!
FEBRUARY LEGS:
The heavy, rock feeling in your thighs
FLAT LINER:
A rider good on the flats, but dies on the hills.
GRANNY GEAR:
The smallest chainring ie. the lowest gear.
GROVEL:
A hill where you finish in your lowest gear, a “real grovel”.
HALF WHEELER:
Rider who will always ride half a wheel ahead on a group ride, no matter how fast the group rides! Not a desirable title!!
HAMMERHEAD:
Someone who refuses to ever ride at an easy pace.
HONKING:
Riding out of the saddle whilst climbing a hill, easier at first but then much harder to the point of “honking”
INVISIBLE HILL:
A headwind
KITE:
A rider who climbs very well but is a poor coming down hills.
LAUGHING GROUP:
Riders who collect together in a road race just wanting to make the finish within the allotted time.
LSD:
Long, steady distance. Training that requires a firm aerobic pace for at least two hours.
MAGIC SPANNER:
Where a mechanic in a support vehicle will appear to be fixing a bike but really they are giving tired riders a break by holding onto the car.
MAMIL:
Middle-aged men in lycra. Any suggestions for the female equivalent?!!
MUD BOGGING:
Riding through mud and puddles for fun
PEDALLING CIRCLES:
Smooth and efficient riding motion, a fresh rider.
PEDALLING SQUARES:
Riding tired an unable to maintain an efficient pedaling action.
QUADDESS:
A woman with Chris Hoy strength quads of legendary status.
RING STING / TATTOO:
Oil mark left on a calf from leaning on the chain ring
SHAPES:
To throw shapes is to pedal in a random manner, usually due to tiredness, a sign that a rider is about to crack.
SHELLED:
A rider who used up all their energy during the race with nothing left for the finishing sprint, drops out of contention or even pulls out of the race.
SITTING IN THE WHEELS:
Taking an easy ride in the peloton
SITTING ON THE SOFA:
Sitting in the pack at an easy pace in a large group ride.
SKIRT RIDE:
When female riders beat the men up a hill.
SLINGSHOT:
To ride up behind another rider with help from their draft and use the momentum to sprint past. A cheeky little move!!
SPIN AND GRIN:
Having a fun time in a low gear. What we love doing : )
SPUDS:
SPD pedals/cleats.
SQUIRREL:
A rider who swerves unexpectedly or rides at an inconsistent speed. Too dangerous to ride close to and draft!
TEA PARTY:
A group of riders who stop to chat – tea and cake anyone?!!
VEGETABLE TUNNEL:
A single track that is overgrown, so a rider must duck and bend to get through it.
WEIGHT WEENIE:
A cyclist concerned about the weight of her bicycle & accessories. Less likely in females where we like to have more padded saddles!!
WHEEL SUCKER:
Rider who drafts without taking her turn at the front. Also referred to as a ‘Fridge Magnet’.
WILD PIGS:
Ill fitting brake pads that squeal when riding.
WINKY:
Reflectors on a bike eg. a winky set.
“WOmen’s Mountain Biking And Tea Society” :
Organisation founded by former MTB racer Jacquie Phelan.
YAMMERING:
Chatting on a ride.