The Beginners Guide to Cycling is proud to present a Cycling Jargon Dictionary. Hopefully the following words will help any ‘newbie’, or Ned’s, out in those tricky conversations which involve ‘proper roadies’ dropping in ridiculous words like “Clincher”, when what they really mean is “Tyre”…
A long distance cycling event – usually in multiples of 100km undertaken by mainly male, often bearded, frequently rather elderly cyclists at a ‘steady’ pace. Low cost, high carb friendly events, mudguards expected – see Audax UK Website.
The highest gear on the front chain ring, often used by seasoned roadies when boasting about their hill climbing “Call that a hill, nah, I did that one in the big ring!”
A relatively short ride at a relatively leisurely pace. e.g. You have a ‘proper’ ride on a Saturday (100mile Sportive / 200k Audax) then go out for a ‘bimble’ with your significant other (often a POB) on Sunday (say 13mph for 15 miles – a real bimble that!)
This is the speed in rpm that a cyclist turns their pedals.
A chain gang is a term used to describe a group of cyclists riding in close formation, usually in a single line, using the principles of drafting in order to move more efficiently.
A literal translation of a type of French hat, the term used by cyclists to express approval, meaning to ‘remove ones hat in approval’.
In cycling a cleat refers to a metal or plastic addition to the bottom of a shoe, which allows the user to attach their foot into a mechanism on a ‘clipless’ pedal – See SPD and Clipless Pedal.
A clincher is a flanged bicycle tyre which fits onto the wheel rim with an inner tube sandwiched in between.
A type of pedal system where the user wears a shoe with a cleat fixed to the bottom, which slots or clips or locks into a female mechanism on the clipless pedal. The ‘Clipless’ refers to the pedal no longer having a toe clip on the pedal.
Often shortened to Crit by those in the know, a Criterium is a road race typically held on a short circuit usually less than one mile in length. A criterium is often held on town/city centre courses and instead of having a fixed number of laps the events are usually held over one hour. These events are a popular spectator event due to the short time involved, high speeds and bear pit atmospheres often generated by the excited crowds, typified in the East Yorkshire Classic, held annually in July on a town centre course in Beverley, East Yorkshire.
Often shortened to Sportive, a Cyclosportive is a mass participation cycling event held over a variety of distances to suit riders of all abilities, a good example of which is The Big G – Grimpeurs des Wolds Cyclosportive, where the distances range from 30km to 150km over the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Wolds.
A team player; A cyclist who will ride for the good of the team sacrificing their own chances to improve those of their team leader or sprinter. Taken from the French meaning ‘Servant’.
Erythropoietin (EPO) is a hormone which is used by naughty cyclists to stimulate red blood cell production increasing the delivery of oxygen to muscles thus improving endurance capacity, commonly referred to as Blood Doping.
Proper cycling technique is often referred to as Form, which includes the most efficient way of positioning your head, arms, forearms, upper body, legs and pedalling style. Bad form is often an indication of a beginner, a poorly fitted bike and/or inefficient riding.
The lowest gear on a bike, used when going up hill and often the last hope of a struggling cyclist before inevitably falling off.
A group set is a collection of components making up the drive train of a bicycle, including:
Gear Levers or Shifters
Brake Levers (Often integrated with above)
Taken from the Italian Groppo.
A competitive rider who has to show they have huge cahunas by always riding at the front, often upping a friendly pace just to be the Alpha-Rider, hence always half a wheel in front. N.B. This is not a term of endearment.
A person who pulls the wool over ones eyes, usually over a number of years, without the slightest hint of contrition.
This is the turning of a pedal at a low cadence, often in a high gear, although beginners also use this method when trying to climb in a low gear, essentially as an act of desperation! Mashing is seen as an inefficient method of cycling in comparison with Spinning.
An affectionate term for a person new to the sport of cycling who has taken up their new interest with gusto.
Relates to Ned Boulting, all round sports presenter and sometimes ITV4 Grand Tour roving reporter, and his adventures documented in his book ‘How I Won the Yellow Jumper‘
Often referred to as Snaking, a way of climbing a steep ascent by lessening the gradient by moving from one side of the road to another.
Short for ‘person on a bike’ – as opposed to a ‘real’ cyclist. POBs usually use bikes in utilitarian ways (shopping / short commutes) and rarely wear Lycra. They tend to ride more slowly than cyclists & have no real concept of ‘form’.
A cyclist who excels in rolling terrain typified by short sharp climbs, often associated with the French classics.
Slang term for a bicycle, derived from push bike.
Young, fast, efficient cyclists, not to be trusted, unsociable and bloody annoying.
1. An all rounder, good at everything, jack of all trades.
Sometimes referred to as Paperboyed, a way of climbing a steep ascent by lessening the gradient by moving from one side of the road to another. An approach favoured by beginners and rarely used by professionals, although used to great effect by Cannondale Pro Peter Sagan when climbing the 27% 375m Sant’Elpidio a Mare ramp (11/03/2013).
A clipless pedal system designed by Shimano, abbreviation of Shimano Pedalling System. Typically SPD cleats are recessed into the shoe making it possible to walk on the sole, unlike other types of cleats.
1. Stationary indoor cycling using a special bike with a fixed flywheel with varying resistance.
2. Pedalling at a high cadence (80 to 100 rpm) in a low gear, Spinning, is seen by many, especially professionals, as the most efficient form of cycling, as opposed to Mashing.
Refers to a plastic, sometimes metal, clip fixed to the front of a pedal, with the users foot secured with a strap around the foot. This method allows the cyclist foot to be secured to the pedal improving pedalling efficiency. This system was largely superseded by the clipless pedal.
A bicycle tyre sewn around an inner tube and typically glued to a special rim. Slang Tubs.
Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is the world governing body for both professional and amateur cycling. They are essentially the FIFA of cycling and arguably more unpopular than their footballing equivalents, quite a feat.
A cyclist who takes advantage of draughting or slipstreaming but has little or no intention of taking their own turn at the front of the chain gang.
Disclaimer: I have quite blatantly made up some of these words just to fill the page up, but I intend to keep adding to this blog as and when new words come up which cause me to frown in puzzlement.
What would be great is if every visitor could suggest a word or phrase for the dictionary, then together we would have a most magnificent armoury of words to help us decipher ‘roadie’ speak. Therefore, if anybody would like any words or phrases adding to the dictionary just leave a comment, or tweet me, and I’ll keep the blog updated… I bet Samuel Johnson didn’t have to explain himself like that!
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