Cycling Dictionary



aerobic – exercise at an intensity that allows the body to take in oxygen. In other words, you should be able to still talk on a ride!!

aerodynamic – a cycling position that reduces wind resistance and makes you go really fast!

attack – an aggressive maneuver by a rider who pedals away from other riders, leaving them in their dust.


bail – to jump off your bike in order to avoid a threatening crash.

bead – in tires, the edge along each side’s inner circumference that fits into the rim.

biff – a crash

blocking – impeding the progress of opposing riders to allow teammates a better chance of success

blood glucose – a sugar, the only fuel source for the brain. *very important – see bonking*

blow up – a sudden loss of speed due to overexertion

bonk – a state of severe exhaustion caused by a depletion of glycogen in the muscles because a rider has failed to ingest enough carbohydrates while riding. If left untreated it can result in a low blood glucose and hypoglycemia can occur.

bpm – abbreviation for beats per minute, in reference to ones heart rate.

break, breakaway – a rider or group of riders that have escaped from the pack and are leading.

bridge, bridge a gap – to catch the rider or the group that had escaped from the pack.

broom wagon – a vehicle that follows the last person in a race. In other words, it is sweeping the debris from the race.

bunch – the main cluster of riders, is synonymous with the group, pack, field or peleton.


cadence – the number of times during one minute that a pedal stroke is completed (365 degrees), also called rpm – rates per minute.

categories – the division of racers based on ability and/or experience.

century – a 100-mile ride.

chain ring tattoo n. the dotted-line scar you get from gouging your shin on the chain ring (also known as rookie mark)

chain suck – when the chain gets jammed between the small chain ring and the frame… (fyi. this can be fixed without getting off the bike!!!)

chamois pronounced “shamy” – the diaper like lining in bike shorts.

chamios time – time spent wearing cycling shorts.

chasers – those who are trying to catch a group or a lead rider.

circuit – a course that is ridden two or more times around.

circuit training – specific weight training in which you move rapidly from exercise to exercise without rest.

cleat – a metal or plastic fitting on the sole of a cycling shoe that engages the pedal.

clincher – a conventional tire with a separate inner tube.

criterium – a mass-start race covering numerous laps of a course that is normally about one mile or less in length.

crosstraining – combining sports for mental refreshment and physical conditioning, especially during the off-season

cyclocross – a fall or winter event contested mostly or entirely off pavement. Courses include obstacles, steps and steep hills that force riders to dismount and run with their bikes.


downshift – to shift to a lower gear

drafting – riding closely behind another rider to take advantage of the windbreak and use about 30% percent less energy. *a legal and worth a try maneuver*

drops – the lower part of the handle bar found on the road bike.


echelon – a form of pace line in which riders draft one another at angles to get maximum draft in a cross wind.

electrolytes – substances such as sodium, potassium and chloride that are necessary for muscle contraction and maintenance of body fluid levels.

endo – a crash by going over the front handlebars. *do not try this at home*

ergometer – a stationary bicycle with adjustable pedal resistance used in physiological testing and indoor training, another nickname for this machine is the “death machine”.


fartlek – a Swedish word meaning “speed play”, it is a training technique that uses unstructured changes in pace and intensity.

feed zone – a designated area on a race course where riders can be handed food and drinks.

field sprint – the sprint for the finish line by the main group of riders.

fixed gear – a direct-drive setup with only one chain ring and one rear cog, like on a track bike. On this bike there is no “free pedaling”!!


general classification, or GC for short – the overall standing in a stage race.

gluts – short for gluteus muscles of the buttocks. *cycling is about the gluts!*

glycogen – a fuel in the muscles and the liver which is derived as glucose from carbohydrates. It is the primary source of energy for high intensity cycling.

glycogen window – the period within an hour after exercise when depleted muscles are most receptive to restoring their glycogen content. This is the best time for eating and drinking foods rich in carbohydrates to ensure maximum recovery.

granny gear – the lowest gear ratio on your bike. It’s mainly used for very steep climbs or Manitoba winds.

gutter – the edge of the road


hammer – to ride strongly in a big gear.

hammer fest – a group of riders ride strongly in big gears.

hanging in – barely maintaining contact with the back of the pack. Another way of expressing this is by saying “hanging on by a thin thread”.


intervals – a structured method of training that alternates between hard efforts and easy efforts.


jam – a period of hard, fast riding. *not a word often used, hammering is more popular*

jit, junior in trainingĀ  – a beginner cyclist who acts like they know more then they actually do.

jump – a quick, hard acceleration which results in increased speed.



lactate threshold or LT – the exertion level beyond which the body can no longer produce energy aerobically, resulting in the buildup of lactic acid.

lactic acid or lactate- a substance formed during anaerobic metabolism when there is incomplete breakdown of glucose. It rapidly produces muscle fatigue and pain.

lead out – a common race tactic in racing, a rider accelerates to maximum speed for the benefit of a team-mate in tow, who is saving energy. The second rider finally, close to the finish line, leaves the draft and sprints past the first rider.


mass start – events such as road races, cross-country races and criteriums in which all contestants leave the starting at the same time.

MCA – Manitoba Cycling Association

motor pace – to ride behind a motorcycle or any other vehicles that break the wind.

mudguards – another word for fenders.



off the back, OTB – describes one or more riders who have failed to keep pace with the main group.

overgear – using too big of a gear ratio

ovetraining – extreme fatigue, both physically and mentally. This is caused by training at an intensity or volume too great for adaptation.


paceline – a group formation in which each rider takes a turn breaking the wind at the front before dropping back to the back of the group.

panniers – large bike bags used by touring cyclists or commuters.

peak – a period in which maximum performance is achieved. *similar to the peak of a mountain, you climb, train, and then you reach the top*

peleton – the main group of riders in a race or large event.

periodization – the process of dividing training into specific phases by weeks or months.

pinch flat – a tube that is squeezed against the rim causing a puncture marked by two small holes.


presta – the narrow valve found on some inner tubes, a small metal cap on the end must be unscrewed before air can enter or exit.

prime – pronounced “preem” – an award given to the leader on selected laps during a criterium, or at certain landmarks of a road race or cross country race. It helps to spice up to spice up a race.

psi, or pounds per square inch – the unit of measure for tire inflation and air pre43ssure in some suspensions.

pull, pull through – take a turn at the front. *in other words, pull your weight*

pull off – to move to the side after riding in the lead so that another rider can take the front.



repitition – each hard effort in an interval workout or one complete movement in a weight training exercise.

road race – a mass start race on pavement that goes from point to point, covers one large loop or is held on a circuit longer than those used in criteriums.

road rash – any skin abrasion resulting from a fall.

rollers – an indoor training device consisting of three long cylinders connected by belts. The bike wheels roll on these cylinders so that balancing simulates riding.


saddle sores – skin problems in the crotch that develop from chafing caused by the pedaling action. *see frequently asked questions for solutions*

saddle time – time spent cycling.

sag wagon – a motor vehicle that follows a group of riders, carrying equipment and lending assistance in the event of difficulty.

Schrader – a thick valve found on some inner tubes, similar to those found on car tires.

set – in intervals or weight training, a specific number of repetitions.

Singletrack – a trail so narrow that only one cyclist can pass.

sit on a wheel – to ride in someone’s draft.

slingshot – to ride up behind another rider with help from their draft, then use the momentum to spring past. *this is what occurs in a lead-out*

snakebite – another word for pinch flat

snap – the ability to accelerate quickly.

soft pedal – to rotate the pedals without actually applying much pressure.

speed – the ability to accelerate quickly and maintain a very fast cadence for brief periods.

speedwork – a term for high-velocity intervals, such as sprints, time-trials and motorpacing.

spin – to pedal at high cadence

stage race – a multi-day event consisting of various types of races. The winner is the rider with the lowest accumulated time for all the races (stages).


take a flyer – to suddenly sprint away from a group

team time trial (TTT) – a race against the clock with two or more riders working together in an echelon.

tempo – riding at a consistent pace

throw the bike – a racing technique in which a rider thrusts the bike ahead of his body at the finish line, gaining several inches in hopes of winning a close sprint.

time trial (TT) – a race against the clock in which individual riders start at set intervals an cannot give or receive a draft.

tops – the area of the handlebars between the stem and the brake levers

training effect – the result of exercise done with an intensity and duration sufficient to bring about positive physiological changes.

travel – in suspension, the maximum distance a fort or rear shock can compress.

tubular – a lightweight tire that has its tube sewn inside.

turnaround – the point where riders reverse direction in a time trial.


uci – union cycliste international, the world governing body of bicycle racing, headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland

upshift – to shift to a higher gear, ie. a smaller gear to a larger gear


velodrome – an oval banked track for bicycle racing

vo2max – the maximum amount of oxygen that can be consumed during an all-out exertion. This is a key indicator of a person’s potential in cycling and other aerobic sports. It’s largely genetically determined but can be improved somewhat by training.


watt – a measurement of power produced. It indicates how much force is applied to the pedals. A power output of 100 watts will illuminate a 100-watt light bulb. Professional sprinters can produce more then 2000 watts in one sprint.

wheelie – to elevate the front wheel and ride on the rear wheel only.

wheelsucker – someone who drafts behind others but doesn’t go in front to push the wind.

windchill – again, if you are a Winnipegger you know all about wind chills…

wind up – a steady acceleration to an all-out effort.