A Cyclist’s Dictionary

Excuse me, Stewardess–I speak jive. (Airplane!)

  • 105: the least expensive of Shimano’s three gruppos
  • 53-11: the highest gear on a bike with standard gearing—the chain is on the 53-tooth cog in front and the 11-tooth cog in the rear
  • 650B: wheel size smaller than the standard 700 size, sometimes used by small riders or to allow the use of very large tires
  • 700: standard road bike wheel size
  • Accessory: piece of equipment that’s a part of cycling but not a part of the bike
    Acclimation: synonym for acclimatization
  • Acclimatization: adjusting to new weather conditions, usually heat or elevation; synonym for Acclimation
  • Acupressure: Eastern medicinal massage
  • Acupuncture: Eastern medicinal needles in skin
  • Adventure bike: bike built for comfort rather than speed, intended for riding on rough surfaces or dirt roads
  • Aero: short for Aerodynamic
  • Aero bike: bike designed to be aerodynamic
  • Aerodynamic: shaped to slip through the air with little resistance
  • Aggressive geometry: frame shape designed for maximum speed, esp. bent over, hence less comfortable
  • Allen wrench: wrench with a hexagonal tip that fits into a hex bolt. Also called Hex wrench
  • Alloy: see Aluminum
  • Aluminum: light-weight metal, used in bike components, and in bike frames before carbon
  • American sizing: see European sizing
  • Anaerobic: literally “without oxygen,” referring to exercise that uses oxygen faster than your CVS can resupply it
  • Anaerobic threshold: the level of effort beyond which your CVS can no longer maintain the oxygen level in your muscles
  • Ankle flexing: rocking your foot forward so your toes drop and your heel rises as you pedal
  • Ankling: see Ankle flexing
  • Anti-bacterial: refers to clothing that has bacteria-inhibiting properties
  • Anti-fog: refers to glass or glasses treatments that inhibit fogging up
  • Anti-microbial: see Anti-bacterial
  • Apex: the “center” of a turn, the pivot point
  • Argy-bargy: jostling and banging for position during a sprint. AKA “banging handlebars” or “banging elbows”
  • Arm warmer: garment that covers the arm from wrist to armpit
  • Attack: in a race, a sudden acceleration designed to leave competitors behind
  • Autobus: in a race, the trailing group of non-competitive riders, who are only trying to make the time cut. Also called the Gruppetto or the Laughing Group.
  • Balaclava: warm head sock with eye and nose holes
  • Ball bearing: bearing in the shape of a ball
  • Barrel adjuster: barrel-shaped device in-line on a shifter cable that adjusts cable tension
  • Bar tape: the tape wrapped around the handlebar
  • Base: the foundation, got from long hours of steady, moderate riding, on which more intense training is built
  • Base layer: underwear
  • Base training: long, steady rides designed to build a base
  • BB: see Bottom bracket
  • BCAA: short for Branched Chain Amino Acid
  • Bead: see Tire bead
  • Bearing: Device for allowing one part to rub against another while minimizing friction. On a bicycle, found in the bottom bracket, the headset, the jockey wheels, the hubs, and the pedals.
  • Beater: cheap, beaten-up bike used for commuting and knock-about riding
  • Beats per minute: measure of how hard your heart is working
  • Bibs: cycling shorts with shoulder straps (always plural, like “pants”)
  • Bicycle Adventure Club: organization to run member-led bike trips all over the world
    Big: in gearing, hard to pedal, as in, “I can’t believe you got up that hill in that big a gear.” Opposite of Little, synonymous with High
  • Big gear, the: highest gear on a bike, usually 53-11
  • Big Ring: riders’ slang for the large chainring. Also a verb, as in “He was big-ringin’ that hill”
  • Bike box: box, usually hard plastic, used for transporting a bike without damage, typically on airplanes
  • Bike fit: professional session in which one’s position on the bike is critiqued via computer, laser, motion capture, etc.
  • Bike size: how big a bike is; expressed in a word (like “large”) or number of inches or centimeters representing the length of the seat tube
  • Bike stand: device for clamping and holding a bike at a height that’s convenient for servicing
  • Bikeflights.com: company that ships bikes from anywhere to anywhere
  • Bikepacking: Backpacking/camping on a bike
  • Biker: motorcycle rider; member of a motorcycle gang
  • Biofreeze: Brand of healing ointment, for sore muscles or pre-ride embrocation
  • Bivy sack: alternative to a tent, a waterproof sleeve for a sleeping bag
  • Boa: Brand of shoe tightening device; alternative to ratchets or velcro
  • Bodge: clumsy repair or improvised modification; more clumsy than a Hack
  • Bonk (noun or verb): sudden collapse from running out of energy
  • Bottom bracket: the part of the bike the pedal spindle goes through
  • BPM: short for Beats per minute
  • Brake caliper: on a disc brake, the mechanism that presses the brake pad against the rotor
  • Brake pad: the pad that pushes against the caliper or wheel rim to slow you down
  • Brake track: the flat face on the wheel rim the brake pad rubs against
  • Branched Chain Amino Acid: a kind of amino acid reported to aid recovery and often found in recovery supplements
  • Brian loop: multi-day carless bike trip with overnight lodging and minimal gear
  • Breakaway: in a race, one or more riders accelerating away from the peloton and staying ahead of them for some time
  • Bridging, bridging up: in a race, leaving the peloton behind and riding up to the breakaway group
  • Bring back: in a race, catch up to a breakaway and reabsorb them into the peloton
  • Broom wagon: vehicle “sweeping” the racecourse behind the riders to pick up any stragglers
  • Buff: brand of lightweight do rag
  • Bunny hop: jump over an obstacle by lifting both wheels off the ground
  • Burning matches: using up your finite amount of energy
  • Burying yourself: working to the limit of your strength, usually over a period of time
  • Cable: braided wire connecting the shifter to the derailleur or the brake lever to the brake
  • Cable housing: plastic tube the cable runs through
  • Cable routing: the path your cables take from control lever to derailleur or brake
  • Cable stretch: mythical change in cable length that explains why you have to tighten your shifter cables over time
  • Cadence: RPM with which you pedal. 90 RPM is a fast cadence.
  • Caliper: see Brake caliper
  • Cam: device that enlarges its radius as it turns around a spindle, typically on a bike to close a wheel’s skewer
  • Camber: degree of lean or slope—deviation from the vertical or the horizontal. A road that slopes sideways has a lot of camber.
  • Camelbak: brand of hydration pack
  • Carbon: plastic, usually woven, used to make bike frames and components light yet strong
  • Carbon grip compound: gritty paste used to keep carbon seat posts from slipping
  • Carb: short for Carbohydrate
  • Carbo load (verb): intentionally gorge on carbs before an athletic event to maximize your fuel levels. Once an athlete’s ritual, now discredited.
  • Carbohydrate: food source that provides the fuel that muscles burn to do work. AKA starch.
  • Cardio: short for Cardio-vascular exercise
  • Cardio-vascular exercise: exercise that works the cardio-vascular system
  • Cardio-vascular system: the heart/lung/vein/artery system in your body, whose job is to supply muscles with oxygen
    Cartridge: miniature scuba tank used to inflate a flat tire
  • Cassette: the group of gears on the rear wheel the chain tracks on. Also called Cogset or Cluster
  • Cat: short for Category
  • Category: 1) a ranking among racers, 1 being the fastest and 5 being the slowest (beginner), as in “I’ve been doing so well in Cat 4 this year I’m thinking of moving up to Cat 3”; 2) ranking of the difficulty of a climb, from 1-4 with 1 being the hardest, as in “This stage is brutal—it includes 3 cat-1 climbs.” See also Hors categorie.
  • Categorized climb: in a race, climb given a ranking for difficulty. See Category, Hors categorie.
  • Center of gravity: the mythical spot at the center of your mass, from which your balance springs
  • Century: 100-mile or 100-kilometer ride, typically social and non-competitive
  • Ceramic: material used in high-end ball bearings to reduce friction
  • Chain-breaker: see Chain tool
  • Chain breaking: common but inaccurate term for a chain coming apart while riding due to roller pin wear
  • Chain deflection: see Cross-chaining
  • Chain elongation: lengthening of the chain due to roller pin wear, which necessitates chain replacement
  • Chain gauge: device for measuring chain stretch
  • Chain ring: cog, or pair of cogs, between the pedals that the chain tracks on; may refer to one cog (“I had to replace my small chainring”) or both (“I converted to a compact chainring”)
  • Chain snood: bag that covers the chain to protect surroundings from chain grease during storage or transport
  • Chain stay: the part of the frame running from the bottom bracket to the rear wheel hub
  • Chain stretch: common but inaccurate term for Chain elongation
  • Chain tattoo: greasy imprint of the chain ring on your leg after a ride
  • Chain tool: device for breaking into the chain by opening a link
  • Chain whip: device for removing the cassette from the rear wheel hub
  • Chamois: pad inside cycling shorts. Pronounced and often spelled “shammy”
  • Chamois butter: Brand of, and other name for, Chamois cream
  • Chamois cream: ointment you apply before a ride to prevent saddle sores
    Chapeau!””: French for “hat,” short for “Hats off to you”— i.e. “You have my respect”
  • Chipseal: road surface composed of a layer of pavement, then gravel, then tar. Also called Chip and seal
  • Circuit race: cycling race consisting of many laps around a loop course roughly 3 miles in length
  • Claimed weight: What the manufacturer says a product weighs
  • Classic: old, revered European one-day race
  • Classic handlebar: handlebar with traditional shape—with circular, deep drops
  • Classics man: rider particularly good at Classics
  • Cleat: device on the bottom of your shoe allowing you to clip into the pedal
  • Cleat wedge: shim placed under the cleat to accommodate to the camber of your foot sole
  • Clincher tire: tire with a U-shaped cross section
  • Clip in: attach your cleat to the pedal
  • Clip out: release the cleat from the pedal
  • Clipless pedal: modern pedal, requiring a cleat, as opposed to the earlier pedal with toe clips
  • Cluster: see Cassette
  • Clydesdale: rider weighing 200 lbs or more. Term of affection, not derogation.
  • CO2: carbon dioxide, the “air” in an inflator’s cartridge
  • Coasting: riding without pedaling
  • Cockpit: the space between the center of the saddle and the center of the handlebar
  • Cog: toothed gear. Cassette gears and chain rings are cogs.
  • Cogset: see Cassette
  • Combativity award: in a stage race, award given to the most aggressive, risk-taking rider
  • Comfort bike: bike designed to emphasize comfort over performance; may refer to a slightly “de-tuned” performance bike or a townie.
  • Commissaire: race official
  • Compact handlebar: handlebar with a smaller drop and reach than the classic handlebar
  • Compact gearing, compact crankset, compact chain ring: crankset with smaller chain rings, sacrificing a little top-end speed for ease of climbing
  • Compliant: flexy, good at absorbing impact. See Vertically compliant
  • Component: any device that attaches to a bike frame and contributes directly to the riding process, as distinguished from accessories—pedals are components, water bottles are accessories.
  • Compression: a squeezing of a part of the body, to speed recovery
  • Compression clothing: clothing designed to accomplish compression
  • Computer: device to record basic ride information, like speed and distance—rudimentary compared to a Garmin
  • Consumer-direct marketing: marketing that sells directly from a manufacturer to the buyer via the internet, bypassing retailers
  • Contact patch: the small, roughly square section of your tire that is actually touching the road at a given time
  • Core: your belly, lower back, and surroundings
  • Counter-steering: steering away from a turn—if you’re turning left, you turn the handlebar to the right; or, raising the outside end of the handlebar on a turn
  • Crack (verb): see Bonk
  • Crank: short for Crankarm
  • Crank length: the length (in millimeters) of your crankarm
  • Crankarm: the part of a bike between the bottom bracket and the pedal
  • Crankset: everything coming out of the bottom bracket—the crankarm, spider, and chain ring
  • Credit-card loop: multi-day, carless bike trip supported only by a credit card and change of clothing
  • Crit: short for Criterium
  • Criterium: roughly one-hour race doing loops on a course of roughly 1 mile in length, frequently on downtown city streets
  • Cross-chaining: pedaling with the chain on one side of the chain ring and the other side of the cassette, so the chain is forced to travel sideways
  • Cross-training: doing sports other than the one you’re serious about, as a way of training the parts of your body your primary sport doesn’t work
  • Cruiser: Basic bike for riding around town
  • Curly laces: shoelaces that form a tight elastic spiral, used by cyclists to store clothing behind the saddle
  • Custom: refers to anything made to order to your personal specs—most typically wheels
  • CVS: short for Cardio-vascular system
  • Cycle Oregon: huge annual week-long supported ride around Oregon state; also, weekend version of the same
  • Cycling club: local group of riders who organize local rides, put on centuries, advocate for cyclists, etc.
  • Cyclocross: form of racing in which riders race for about an hour on a loop course through dirt, mud, sand, and water, at times carrying their bikes on their shoulders while running over low barriers.
  • Cyclocross bike: bike designed for cyclocross
  • Dab: touch your foot to the ground while riding
  • Deep: short for Deep-section
  • Deep-section: referring to any wheel rim 50 mm deep (wide in profile) or more
  • Defogger: see Anti-fog
  • Degreaser: cleaner designed to cut grease
  • Demo (noun and verb): short for “demonstration,” refers to borrowing a shop’s or manufacturer’s bike for a trial ride, as in “I demoed the new Giant last week”
  • Demo day: organized event set up to encourage you to demo a bike
  • Derailleur: French for “de-railer,” device for moving chain from one cog to another. Pronounced “dee RAY lurr.”
  • Derailleur cage: the shiny box on the front derailleur the chain runs through before contacting the chain
  • Derailleur hanger: the part of the frame the rear derailleur is attached to
  • Di2: Shimano’s brand of electronic shifting. Pronounced “DEE eye TOO.”
  • Diaphragm: the muscle below your lungs that pulls air into your lungs when it contracts
  • Dinner plate: slang term for rear granny gear bigger than 32 teeth
  • Directeur sportif: pro cycling team boss. Pronounced “dee reck TURR spor TEEF”
  • Disc brake: brake that works by clamping brake pads onto a rotor, a round wheel circling your hub, instead of onto your wheel rims
  • Do rag: sock that goes over your “do” (hairdo, thus top of your head)
  • Domestique: French for “servant,” a team member whose job is to assist and protect the star rider. Pronounced “DOH mess TEEK”
  • Doored: hit by a car door suddenly opened in front of you as you ride past
  • Double: short for Double chain ring
  • Double chain ring: crankset with two cogs
  • Double diamond: the official term for the standard frame shape, even though that shape is actually a double triangle
    Down: in shifting, to a lower, littler gear, as in “I see a steep pitch coming—better gear down.”
  • Down tube: the part of the frame between the head tube and the bottom bracket
  • Drafting: riding close behind the rider in front of you to take advantage of the reduced wind resistance there
  • Dropper seat post: hydraulic seat post that is adjusted for height as you ride via a control lever, usually positioned on your handlebar
  • Drops: curved part of the handlebar
  • Drop-out: the part of the frame the wheel falls out of when you loosen the quick release if you have skewers
  • DS: short for Directeur sportif
  • Dura-Ace: Shimano’s top-end gruppo
  • Echelon: group of riders in a diagonal line across the road, to draft in crosswinds
  • Effective top tube: the imaginary top tube the bike would have if the top tube were horizontal
  • Elastomer: a springy rubber cartridge that provides rudimentary suspension
  • Elbow flick: gesture from rider in a breakaway signaling the rider behind them to take over the pulling
  • Electrolyte: chemical your body loses in sweat and thus needs to replace
  • Electrolyte replacement: replacing the electrolytes you sweat out
  • Elevation: vertical distance from sea level
  • Elevation gain: amount of vertical distance climbed during a ride
  • Embrocation: the application of balms or heating creams to muscles before exercise
  • Endo: short for “end over end,” a flight over the handlebars after an unexpected stop
  • Endurance bike, endurance geometry: see Adventure bike
  • Ergonomic: referring to the science of designing products that interact with your body comfortably and healthily, as in, “This saddle is ergonomically designed to not kill your butt.”
  • Esses: series of S-shaped curves in the road. Always plural.
  • European sizing: the method Europeans use to indicate the size of a garment. Europeans are smaller than Americans, so clothing comes in European sizing and American sizing, American sizing being one size bigger (thus a European large is an American medium). Also, a numbering system for European garments, where 4 equals medium
  • Event wheels: wheels you save for special occasions, especially competitive events
  • Expo: Tent city of vendors selling or advertising cycling-related merch, usually near the start-finish line of large races
  • Fender: shield that covers part of a tire to protect the rider and others from water and debris kicked up from the road during a ride
  • Flat: tire puncture
  • Flats (plural): flat roads, as in, “I rode the flats today.”
  • Fleece: polyester spun into fluff and used to line cold-weather garments
  • Flier: risky chance in a race. As in, “I figured I wouldn’t win but I thought I’d take a flier.”
  • Float: amount of side-to-side heel movement a pedal allows you when you’re clipped in
  • Floor pump: tire pump that stands on the floor
  • Fly: slang term for “having a slammed stem”; see Slam
  • Fog line: painted line, usually white, running along the edge of the road to mark its boundary
  • Folding bead: on a clincher tire, a tire bead that is soft enough that you can fold the tire up and stick it in a jersey pocket; as opposed to Wire bead
  • Footbed: see Insole
  • Force: SRAM’s mid-range performance gruppo
  • Frame: the eight-tube double triangle on which all the components are hung
    Frameset: frame plus fork, and possibly seat post
  • Frame pump: tire pump that attaches to your bike frame, typically along your top tube
    Frazz: syndicated comic strip about a tri-athlete, and the athlete’s name
  • Fred, Fred factor: the archetypal nerdy cyclist. The universal signifier of a Fred is a banana in a jersey pocket. The opposite of being a Fred is “being pro.”
  • Freelance: in a race, ride without team support, trying to hitch rides on the wheels of riders from other teams
  • Freewheel: as noun, the mechanism in the rear cassette that allows the wheels to turn without moving the chain/pedals. As verb, to pedal without applying pressure to the pedals, or, pedal backwards, or, coast
  • FTP: short for Functional Threshold Power
  • Fun ride: social ride without competition, often to enjoy the company of a pro or other guest rider
  • Functional Threshold Power: the amount of power you can sustain for one hour
  • Gain: Short for Vertical gain
  • Garmin: brand name of and now generic term for on-board computer
  • GC: short for General Classification
  • Gear: see Cog; also, measure of pedaling difficulty, as in “He was really pushing a big gear going up that hill”
  • Gear ratio: the mathematical ratio between the teeth on your front and rear cogs. See Gearing
  • Gearing: measure of how hard or easy the pedaling is, stated in terms of the gears being used (as in “I’m in my 53-11,” meaning “my 53-tooth chain ring and my 11-tooth rear gear”). Also sometimes measured in inches, the distance traveled in a pedal stroke
  • Gel: carbo-rich slime, often in individual packets, eaten during rides for fueling
  • General Classification: In a stage race, the ranking by total elapsed time, as in, “He’s 50 seconds ahead on GC,” meaning he’s leading all other riders by 50 seconds. The GC leader at the end of the race is “the winner”
  • Ghost pedal: see Soft-pedal
  • Ghost shifting: the chain moving from one gear to another on its own, without input from you
    Giro d’Italia: “Tour of Italy,” Italy’s 3-week grand tour. Typically called “the Giro”
  • Glove liners: thin gloves designed to go inside heavier gloves
  • Glycogen: the actual “fuel” your body burns during exercise, until the glycogen is gone—then your body burns fat
  • Goo: original brand of gel, now a generic name for any gel
  • Gram: basic unit of weight when discussing components, 1/454th of a pound
  • Gran fondo: timed, race-oriented version of a century
  • Granny gear: lowest gear on your bike; or, lowest gear in the cassette
  • Gravel bike: bike engineered to be ridden on gravel roads and other rough surfaces
  • Gregario: Spanish synonym for Domestique
  • Groupset: English synonym for Gruppo
  • Gruppetto (also spelled grupetto): see Autobus
  • Gruppo: set of the major components—derailleurs, shifters, brakes, chain ring, cassette
  • Gruppo compatto: in a race, Italian for “united group,” term describing when all the attacks have been absorbed and the peloton is whole again
  • Hack: improvised repair or modification less clumsy than a bodge
  • Half-wheeling: riding with your wheel slightly ahead of the wheel beside you
  • Hammering: riding hard
  • Hamstring: the thigh muscle behind your quad
  • Hard gear: see High gear
  • Hard-shell case: rigid plastic box for air-shipping a bike
  • HC: short for Hors categorie
  • Head tube: the short tube on your frame between your fork and your stem through which the steerer tube goes
  • Headset: the set of bearings between the head tube and the steerer tube that allows you to turn the handlebars
  • Heart rate: how fast your heart is beating, in BPM (beats per minute)
  • Heart rate monitor: device you wear around your chest (or less commonly wrist) to tell you what your heart rate is
  • Heat exhaustion: sickness induced by hot weather
  • Hex wrench: see Allen wrench
  • HFCS: short for High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • High fructose corn syrup: super-dense sugar syrup created from corn—extremely unhealthy
  • High: in gearing, hard to pedal, as in, “I can’t believe you got up that hill in that high a gear.” Opposite of Low, synonymous with Big
  • High intensity interval training: mode of training that emphasizes short, extremely hard intervals
  • HIIT: short for High intensity interval training
  • Hit the wall: see Bonk, Pedal squares
  • Hi-Viz: short for “high visibility,” refers to clothing designed to be easily visible to cars during the day, especially a particular shade of yellow
  • Hoods: the rubber skins covering your shifters
  • Hors categorie: in a race, French for “outside the category,” translated in English as “beyond category,” describing a climb that is maximally difficult, thus harder than Category 1. Pronounced “OR cat-uh-gore-EE”
  • Hub: the bearing mechanism at the center of the wheel the wheel turns on
  • HR: short for Heart rate
  • HRM: short for Heart rate monitor
  • Hybrid: bike design intended as a compromise between a road bike and a townie
  • Hydration pack: a combination backpack/water bladder with a hose running to your mouth
  • Hydrogenated oil: vegetable oil rendered spoilage-proof and unhealthy by science; once present in most packaged foods, now largely illegal
  • Ibuprofen: atheletes’ favorite anti-inflammatory, now proven to make soreness problems worse
  • Iliotibial band: a ligament running along the outside of your thigh that often needs stretching and is hard to stretch
  • Inflator: device that attaches to an air cartridge to inflate a bicycle tube
  • Insole: the foot bed your foot rests on inside a shoe
  • Instant patch: a patch for a punctured tube that is pre-glued and sticks on instantly like a band-aid
  • Inside-out: see Turning (Oneself) Inside-Out
  • Intermediate sprint point: in a race, spot along the course where points are awarded to the first few finishers, points which are totaled throughout the stage race to determine the winner of the points jersey
  • Internal cable routing: running cables inside the frame tubing
  • Interval: short period of intense work during training
  • Isolated: in a race, cut off from one’s teammates
  • Isolation: in training, the purposeful singling out of a specific muscle or muscle group
  • IT band: short for Iliotibial band
  • Jockey wheel: part of the derailleur, the little wheel the chain runs around before engaging the rear cassette. There are two.
  • Jour sans: French for “day without,” the day in a stage race when a racer has no energy and gets shelled. Pronounced “joor song” without the “g”
  • JRA: short for Just Riding Along
  • Junk-saver: term for a saddle designed to relieve pressure on your genitals
  • Just Riding Along: the proverbial description of the state just before something breaks; i.e. “It wasn’t my fault, it must be a manufacturing flaw”
  • King of the Mountains: rider who amasses the most points at designated KOM spots along the route of a stage race, typically summits and summit finishes
  • King of the Mountains jersey: jersey awarded to the rider leading in the KOM competition in a stage race
  • KOM: short for King of the Mountains
  • Knee warmer: sleeve that covers your leg from your thigh to just below your knee
  • Kevlar: brand name of and generic name for nearly indestructible plastic, used in bulletproof vests and puncture-resistant tires
  • Kilometer: distance unit for all non-American races, .62 of a mile
  • Kit: outfit—bibs, jersey, socks, gloves, maybe helmet and shoes; often impling that everything matches, as in “He was wearing full Garmin pro team kit”
  • Lactic acid: a chemical that supposedly builds up in your muscles under a workload
  • Lactic acid burn: a burning sensation in your muscles that signals you’re accumulating lactic acid faster than your system can clear it, thus telling you you can’t keep working this hard much longer
  • Lactic threshold: the moment when the workload becomes hard enough to bring on the lactic acid burn
  • Lanterne rouge: in the Tour de France, French for “red lantern,” award for being dead last. Pronounced “lahn TEYRN ROOZH”
  • Laterally stiff: resistant to sideways flex—said of frames and wheels
  • Laughing group: see Autobus
  • Layering: wearing several thin layers of clothing to stay warm, instead of one or two heavy layers
  • LBS: short for “local bike shop”
  • Lead out (noun or verb): in a race, to sprint in front of your sprinter just before the finish line so he can use your slipstream to attain maximum speed
  • Leader’s jersey: jersey worn by the leader on GC in a stage race
  • Lead-out train: in a race, a line of lead-out men from the same team, with each one sprinting, then peeling off the front and letting the next rider take a turn at leading out
  • Leg warmer: a sleeve covering the leg from thigh to ankle
  • Limit screw: a screw on your derailleur that serves as a stopper (limiter) so the derailleur cage can only shift so far sideways and no further. There are two per derailleur, one for each limit (inside and outside).
  • Line: see Pick a line
    Little: in gearing, easy to pedal, as in, “I see a steep pitch coming—better get into a little gear.” Opposite of Big, synonymous with Low
  • Loaded: carrying all the gear you need to do self-supported touring; usually involves panniers or a trailer
    Lobster mitts: Gigantic mittens that cover your hands and the handlebar, for maximum protection from the cold
  • Lock ring: ring that locks the cassette to the hub
  • Low: in gearing, easy, as in, “I see a steep pitch coming—better get into a low gear.” Opposite of High, synonymous with Little
  • LT: short for Lactate threshold
  • Lycra: brand name of and synonym for Spandex
  • Maillot jaune: French for “yellow jersey,” the jersey worn by the leader in the Tour de France. Pronounced “MY oh ZHAWN”—rhymes with “song” without the “g.”
  • Maglia rosa: Italian for “pink jersey,” the jersey worn by the leader in the Giro d’Italia. Pronounced “MAHL yuh ROH suh”
  • Maltodextrin: ingredient in cycling supplements, healthy source of carbs
  • Manual: a technical maneuver where the rider moves far off the rear of the bike to pull the front wheel off the ground
  • Mapmyride: Internet website for mapping routes and sharing routes mapped by others
  • Marino wool: a high-quality wool famous for not being itchy
  • Mashing: pushing hard on the pedals
  • Maximum heart rate: maximum BPM your heart can achieve
  • Mech: slang term for derailleur
  • Metric century: 100-kilometer century (62 miles)
  • MHR: short for Maximum heart rate
  • Michelin maps: the definitive road maps of Europe and elsewhere
  • Mini-pump: tire pump designed to be carried in a pocket or seatpack
  • Momentum: the force that keeps you moving forward when you stop pedaling. Google “Isaac Newton.”
  • Most aggressive rider: see Combativity Award
  • Moto: European slang for “motorcycle”
  • Mountain stage: stage in a stage race that involves a lot of climbing and ending in a mountain-top finish
  • Mountain-top finish: stage in a stage race with the finish line at the end of a long climb
  • Multi-tool: tool containing many different tools in smallest possible form, for carrying on rides
  • Nature break: euphemism for stopping to pee
  • Neoprene: plastic, best known in its foamed state, which is used to provide warm-when-wet insolation in wetsuits and booties
  • Neutral support: in a race, vehicles or stations providing free assistance to all riders, unaffiliated with any team
  • Neutralized: refers to moments during a race when competition is forbidden, either at a ceremonial beginning to a stage or as a precaution during treacherous weather conditions, as in “The road was so icy the commissaires neutralized the descent.”
  • Newton-meter (Nm): unit of measure for torque, an alternative to foot-pounds
  • No man’s land: in a race, the area on the road between a breakaway and the peloton
  • O’clock: a method of orienting directions up, down, left, or right by relating them to an analog clock face—e.g. “6 o’clock” is straight down, “noon” straight up
  • OEM: abbreviation for original equipment manufacturer
  • On the rivet: sitting on the nose of the saddle, thus riding as hard as possible
  • Open-jaw: arriving at one airport and departing from another, on a vacation
  • Original equipment manufacturer: term describing the components that come on your bike when you buy it, put there by the manufacturer
  • Orthotics: footbeds custom-made by a podiatrist
  • Osteoporosis: brittle-bone disease, exacerbated by a lack of impact exercise
  • Out of your skin: see Riding out of your skin
  • Overlap (noun): the overlapping of your shoe toe and your front tire when your pedal is at 3 o’clock
  • Oxygen debt: state when your muscles are using oxygen faster than your CVS can resupply it
  • Paceline: single or double line of cyclists, with each rider directly behind the rear wheel of the rider ahead
  • Pacemaking: maintaining a steady, moderately fast tempo
  • Palmares: cyclist’s resume, record of their accomplishments. Pronounced “pahl MAHR ace”
  • Panache: French word for what a classy, stylish cyclist has. Pronounced “pah NAHSH”
  • Panniers: bicycle saddle bags. Pronounced both “PAN yers” and “pan YAYZ”
    Paperboy (verb): to serpentine back and forth up a steep climb to make the ascending easier
  • Parcours: French word for the nature or shape of the race course, as in “He won’t win today—the parcours doesn’t suit him”. Pronounced “pahr COOR”
  • Patch kit: kit to fix flats, containing tube patches, glue, and sandpaper
  • Patron: informal boss of the peloton. Pronounced “pah TROHN”
  • Pavé: cobblestone road surface. Pronounced “pah VAY”
  • PE: short for Perceived effort
  • Pedal wrench: lever used to install and remove pedals
  • Pedaling squares: see Bonking. Implying that you’re so tired your pedaling mechanics have gone to hell
  • Peloton: French for “ball,” the main body of riders in a race
  • Perceived effort: subjective estimate of how hard you’re working
  • Performance geometry: geometry of a bike frame intended to maximize performance
  • Phantom Brake Problem: a mechanical problem faked by a rider during a race to allow them some time holding on to the team car
  • Phytochemical: healthy chemical occurring in food
  • Pick a line: intentionally choose a precise path on the pavement directly ahead of you where you want your tires to track
  • Pilates: specialized form of yoga/exercise using elaborate machines, typically done in classes at sports clubs
  • Pile: see Fleece
  • Pinch bolt: bolt that captures a cable and prevents it from slipping by pinching it against a flat surface
  • Pinch flat: puncture caused by a strong impact (pothole or curb) pinching the tube between the road and the rim
  • Pitch: angle upward, steepness. Usually measured in percent, less often in degrees
  • Platform pedal: flat pedal with no mechanism for attaching to your shoe
  • Plush: comfortable, designed for comfort
  • Plush bike: bike designed to enhance comfort, typically by putting you in a more upright position and damping road vibration
  • Poaching: sneaking into a supported century without paying
  • Points jersey: jersey awarded to the rider in a stage race with the most points amassed at sprint points throughout the race
  • Polka dot jersey: see King of the Mountains jersey
  • Power meter: device attached to your bike for measuring your power output (in watts)
  • Power-to-weight ratio: your power divided by your weight—conventional measure of climbing ability
  • Presta valve: valve on a standard bike tube; as opposed to a Schrader valve
  • Pro: adjective, short for “professional,” meaning “in a style that emulates pro riders.” As in, “That banana in your pocket isn’t very pro.”
  • Proprietary: specific to one manufacturer or model, thus often not stocked by your LBS, as in “We’ll have to order those spokes—they’re proprietary to that model of wheel.”
  • Protected rider: in a race, leader of a cycling team, the one trying to win, in support of whom the domestiques ride
  • Pull (noun): turn setting the pace at the head of the paceline, as in “You’ve been taking some long pulls today!”
  • Pump: device for inflating tubes
  • QOM: short for Queen of the Mountains
  • Quad: short for Quadriceps
  • Quadriceps (singular): muscle on the top of your thigh
  • Queen of the Mountains: KOM in a women’s race
  • Queen stage: hardest stage in a stage race
  • Quick-link: chain link designed to come apart and go back together easily and repeatedly
  • Quick-link pliers: tool required to open a quick-link
  • Quick-release: cam on the end of a skewer designed to remove wheels quickly from drop-outs and reattach them
  • Quiver-killer: all-purpose bike that precludes the need for owning lots of purpose-specific bikes
  • Race: in a bearing, the track the ball bearing runs in
  • Rack: means of mounting a bike on a vehicle
  • Rain bike: back-up bike you ride when it rains, to save your good bike
  • Rain tires: tires designed to provide extra traction, supposedly good for wet roads
  • Ratcheting: pedaling back and forth between 2 and 4 o’clock, instead of in circles, to avoid hitting something with the pedal or getting it wet
  • Recovery: period of rest between hard rides
  • Recovery drink: liquid formulated to speed recovery
  • Red: SRAM’s high-end gruppo
  • Red zone: level of effort at which you “go anaerobic,” accumulating lactic acid; level of effort you’re unable to sustain very long
  • Relaxed geometry: see Slack geometry
  • Relegated: in a race, punished for violating rules by being reassigned a lower finishing position
  • Resting heart rate: heart rate when you’re completely at rest, typically measured at the moment of awakening in the morning
  • Revolutions per minute: number of times in a minute something goes around in a circle—usually your feet
  • RidewithGPS: popular website for mapping rides and sharing routes with others
  • Riding out of your skin: working at maximum effort for an extended amount of time; see Burying yourself
  • Riding tempo: riding at a steady, moderately up-tempo speed for an extended period of time
  • Right hook: car on your left making a sudden right turn across your path
  • Rim: part of the wheel the tire sits on
  • Rim brakes: brakes that stop by pushing brake pads against the brake track on your wheel rim
  • Rim channel: U-shaped depression on the rim that the tire beads sit in
  • Rim depth: thickness of a rim from outside diameter to inside diameter, looking at the rim in profile
  • Rim tape: tape that sits in the rim channel and keeps the tube from puncturing itself on the spoke holes
  • Rim width: thickness of a rim from side to side, looking at it from edge on; may be external (outside to outside) or internal (inside to inside)
  • Rival: SRAM’s cheapest performance gruppo
  • Rivet: nose of the saddle, so-called because leather saddles had a rivet there
  • Road bike: bike designed primarily for performance on pavement
  • Road buzz: the chattering your tires experience from chipseal or other unsmooth road surface
  • Road furniture: any physical obstacle that’s a part of the road landscape—signs, pylons, curbs, dividers, posts
  • Road rash: skin abrasion caused by sliding on pavement
  • Roadie: slang term for road cyclist. Not an insult.
  • Rollers: series of hills not big enough to be considered “climbs”
  • Rolling resistance: the friction caused by your tires on the pavement
  • Roostertail: the spout of water kicked up in the air off the trailing edge of your tire in the rain
  • Rotor: on a disc brake, the spinning disc the brake pads press against when braking
  • RPM: short for Revolutions per minute
  • Saddle sore: any abrasion or rash in your crotch caused by riding
  • SAG: vehicular support during a supported ride, offering minor repair, water, and a lift to the next food stop. No one is sure what it stands for—“support and gear” is a good guess.
  • SAG wagon: vehicle supplying the SAG
  • Sandbagging: pretending to be a weaker rider than you are, as a psychological ploy
  • Scale: “size” of a map, expressed in a ratio—the smaller the ratio, the larger the scale and the greater the detail
  • Schrader valve: the type of inner tube valve seen on car tires and some cruiser bikes
  • Scissor kick: in pedaling, pushing down with one knee while driving the other knee upward toward the handlebar
  • Sea Otter Classic: famed annual bike festival in Monterey, CA
  • Sealant: goo squirted inside a tubeless tire to seal punctures
  • Seat pack: small satchel attached to the underside of your saddle
  • Seat post: the post the saddle is attached to via seat rails
  • Seat rail: one of two fore-and-aft metal bars under the saddle the seat post clamps directly to
  • Seat stay: the frame tube that runs from near the saddle to the rear wheel hub
  • Service course: French phrase, pronounced “sehr VEESE koorse,” for a team’s mechanical support and supply system, typically in a large truck or box van
  • Set: term used to describe a group of parts that work together, as in Wheelset, Crankset, and the redundant Groupset
  • Sew-up: synonym for Tubular tire
  • Shammy: phonetic spelling of Chamois
  • Shifter: mechanical device attached to the handlebar that moves the derailleur, either by cable or electronic signal
  • Sidewall: the part of a tire between the bead and the tread
  • Single: short for Single chain ring
  • Single chain ring: chain ring with only one cog
  • Single-speed bike: bike with only one gear in front and back
  • Siping: cutting tiny slits in the tread of a tire in hopes of improving wet-weather traction
  • Sit in: ride in the midst of other riders, with the implication that you’re avoiding your share of the work
  • Sit on: ride directly behind another rider without his permission, with the implication that you’re avoiding your share of the work
  • Size: see Bike size
  • Skewer: thin removable axle running through the wheel hub, if you don’t have thru-axles
  • Slack geometry: geometry designed for comfort; more reclined
  • Slam: radically lower your handlebar via the stem
  • Slime: brand name for tire sealant
  • Snake bite: slang term for pinch flat, because a pinch flat is typically two small holes side by side
  • Soft-pedal: pedal with gentle pressure on the pedals
  • Solvent: general term for strong cleaner/degreaser, most commonly used to clean chains
  • Soy: as a powder, the most common form of protein while on the bike; compare with Whey.
  • Spacer: small ring around the steerer tube used to raise stem height
  • Spandex: stretchy polyester fabric used to make cycling shorts
  • Spider: the set of arms the chain rings attach to
  • Spin: ride with a high cadence
  • Spin out: reach a pedaling RPM so fast you can’t apply pressure to the pedals
  • Spinning class: organized group session on stationary bikes at a sports club
  • Spoke holes: holes in the rim channel the spokes pass through
  • Spoke tension: degree to which the spokes are tightened
  • Spoke wrench: tool for adjusting spoke tension
  • Sprint: ride at absolute maximum speed for very short period of time
  • Sprint stage: a stage in a stage race that will probably end in a sprint
  • Sprinter’s jersey: see Points jersey
  • Stage hunting: in a stage race, looking to win particular stages instead of contesting the GC
  • Stage: in a stage race, the race on any given day
  • Stage race: multi-day race consisting of one stage per day
  • Staging area: at a race, the area behind the start line where teams set up
  • Stiffness: resistance to flex
  • Steel frame: frame made out of steel
  • Steerer tube: tube inside the head tube connecting the fork to the stem
  • Stem: the short tube or bar connecting the handlebar to the steerer tube; on a tire, see Valve stem
  • Stem rise: a stem’s degree of elevation—measured in degrees
  • Stevia: plant leaf extract calorie-free sugar substitute
  • Sticky bottle: last bottle handed to a domestique from the team car during a race, intended to give him a boost by letting him hold onto the car
  • Strava: Internet ride mapping and recording site designed to let riders compete against each other for best times on specified stretches of road
  • Streetview: feature of Googlemaps that lets you view camera’s-eye views of roads
    Stuck to the ground: feeling weak and slow, as in “I’ve been stuck to the ground all week.”
    Sugar spike: sudden, short-lived energy surge produced by eating sugar
  • Sunblock: lotion or spray that prevents UV rays from harming your skin
  • Supplementation: any fueling that isn’t regular food
  • Swag: free stuff at cycling events—pronounced “shwag”
  • Swedging: crimping a soft metal collar around two lengths of wire or cable to join them
  • Target heart rate: the heart rate you’re striving to exercise at
  • Team car: in a race, a car following the riders offering support to a specific team’s riders—food, water, mechanical support, medical aid
  • Team classification: in a race, a competition between teams, where the winner is determined by the total finish times of each team’s 3 highest-placed riders
  • Technical: involving technique; demanding bike handling skills
  • Tempo: see Riding tempo
  • Thermal clothing: clothing for cold weather
  • THR: short for Target heart rate
  • Threads per inch: number of threads side by side in an inch of tire sidewall; measure of a tire’s suppleness
  • Threshold: in training, a theoretical boundary between two levels of effort. See also Lactate threshold, Anaerobic threshold
  • Thru-axle: a kind of axle that replaces the skewer—bigger and stiffer, intended to improve handling
  • TIC: short for Tourist Information Center
  • Tifoso: Italian for “cycling fan”; plural is “tifosi”
  • Time bonus: seconds subtracted from a racer’s time, as a reward for winning or finishing high up on a stage or intermediate sprint point
  • Time cut, time limit: on a stage of a stage race, the elapsed time after which finishing racers are eliminated from the race, calculated from the winner’s finishing time
  • Time trial: a race in which each rider rides alone, separated from the rider before or after him by 1-3 minutes
  • Time trial bike: bike designed for use in a time trial
  • Timing chip: electronic sensor fixed to a bike or rider to record their starting and finishing time
  • Tire bead: on a clincher tire, the endpoint of the cross-section’s U shape (there are two)
  • Tire boot: large patch for repairing a large puncture or torn sidewall
  • Tire clearance: amount of room on a bike frame for a tire to rotate without rubbing
  • Tire iron: lever used to remove a tire from the rim
  • Tire lever: see Tire iron
  • Tire sealant: see Sealant
  • Titanium: the most advanced of the frame metals—compliant like steel but rustproof, lighter than aluminum
  • Toe clip: archaic means of attaching your foot to the pedal, wherein a leather strap goes over the ball of your foot
  • Toe-in: (as noun) degree to which the trailing edge of rim brake pads points in toward the brake track; (as verb) align your brake pads so they toe in
  • Top tube: the tube on the frame between the seat post and the head tube
  • Tops: the flat, straight part of the handlebar—always plural
  • Torque: twisting force, usually in reference to tightening a bolt
  • Torque wrench: tool for measuring amount of torque while tightening a bolt
  • Torqueing: applying torque to a bolt, as in “Don’t torque that bolt too much”
  • Torx: style of bolt head with a star-shaped hole, common on disc brakes
  • Tour de France: 3-week stage race in France, most prestigious bike race in the world
  • Touring: cycling on multi-day road trips completely self-supported
  • Touring bike: bike designed for touring, typically bulletproof and heavy
  • Tourist Information Center: free service in most European towns hooking up travelers with overnight lodging
  • Townie: see Cruiser
  • TPI: short for Threads per inch
  • Track stand: technical feat where you balance upright and motionless on your bike
  • Trainer: stand holding your bike upright and allowing you to train indoors
  • Training: cycling or exercise intended to improve performance
  • Training ride: a ride whose goal is training
  • Training zones: levels of effort with specific training goals
  • Tread: Road surface, as in “How rough is the tread on that ride?”
  • Trials: a kind of mountain-bike competition in which riders strive to negotiate technical terrain without dabbing, or riding in that style; as in, “He doesn’t race—he’s mostly a trials rider.” Always plural.
  • Triceps (singular): the muscle on your upper arm opposite your biceps
  • Trim (noun): adjustment on your front derailleur allowing you to half-shift to avoid chain rub
  • Triple chain ring: chain ring consisting of 3 cogs
  • True: of a wheel, being perfectly adjusted so the rim rotates in a plane, without wobbles or bulges, as in “Would you check this wheel to make sure it’s true?”
  • Truing a wheel: adjusting spoke tension to keep a rim in a plane
  • Tube: aka inner tube, the inflatable tube inside a tire
  • Tubeless tire: tire that doesn’t need a tube because it’s airtight by itself
  • Tubular tire: tire whose cross-section is a circle, not a U; also called sew-up
  • Turn (Oneself) Inside-Out: work to the limit of one’s energy, as in “That domestique turned himself inside-out for his team leader today.”
  • Turn-out (noun): degree to which your toes are further apart than your heels when standing or pedaling
  • Ulnar nerve: nerve at the base of your palm that is sensitive to pressure
  • Ultegra: Shimano’s mid-range performance gruppo
  • Ultra-violet rays: the invisible rays in sunlight that cause sunburn and skin cancer
    Up: in shifting, to a higher, bigger gear, as in , “You’re spinning—better go up a gear or two.”
  • Upright geometry: frame geometry designed to have you in a more upright position while riding
  • UV: short for “ultra-violet”; see Ultra-violet rays
  • Valve: “gateway” inside the valve stem that allows air in or out of a tube, or, synonym for stem
  • Valve core: thin metal “guts” running through the center of a valve
  • Valve extender: tube screwed onto a valve to make it longer—used on deep rims
  • Valve stem: metal stanchion on an inner tube through which the valve core runs; often called simply “stem” or “valve”
    Valve stem collar: the knurled ring that screws onto the valve stem
  • Vert: short for Vertical gain
  • Vertical gain: see Elevation gain
  • Vertically compliant: designed to absorb up-and-down impacts, thus providing protection from road buzz
  • Vitamin I: slang term for Ibuprophen
    Vuelta a Espana: “Tour of Spain,” Spain’s 3-week grand tour. Typically called “The Vuelta”
  • Wahoo: popular brand of on-board computer
  • Water bottle cage: wire or carbon cage attached to your frame to hold a water bottle
  • Watt: unit of work, standard measure of cycling power, as in, “The guy has a huge motor—he can put out 1600 watts in a sprint.”
  • Weight training: exercising using weights (dumbbells, barbells) or weight machines to built muscle strength
  • Weight weenie: cyclist who obsesses about lightness
  • Wheel: Round thing the tire goes around
  • Wheel bag: zippered sack for transporting wheels
  • Wheel sucking: drafting behind the rider in front of you without permission—considered rude and lazy
  • Wheelset: pair of wheels
  • Whey: as a powder, preferred form of protein after a ride—compare with Soy
  • Wind resistance: degree to whichan object obstructs air flow past and around it; resistance that must be overcome in order for an object to move through the air
  • Wire bead: tire bead made out of stiff wire, as opposed to Folding bead
  • Women-specific: designed specifically for women
  • Wrench: affectionate term for bike mechanic
  • Yaw: SRAM’s term for a self-adjusting front derailleur that eliminates a need for trim
  • Yoga: Eastern system of stretching
  • Zones: see Training zones
  • Zwift: internet racing system in which riders on trainers compete against each other virtually on computer-generated courses. Also a verb, as in “I’m doing less road riding these days and more Zwifting.”