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Cycling Glossary



    Accordion - The accordion happens when a large field enters a tight turn. By the time the lead riders have passed through, the end of the field has just slowed down. The riders at the back then have to rapidly accelerate to catch back up, hence the accordion effect.

    Au bloc - French term for riding at the limit of one's abilities. See on the rivet.


    Blow up - When you can’t keep up your effort and have to slow down significantly. For example, when trying to bridge to a breakaway, you would blow up if you started off too hard. Also shortened to just "blow":  "He totally blew on that climb." See popped.

    Bonk - To exhaust the body's supply of carbohydrate, resulting in a sudden and dramatic reduction in performance.


    Hook - To hit the front wheel of a rider behind with your rear wheel.


    JRA - Just Riding Around.

    Jump - To make a sudden acceleration, whether to initiate an attack or a burst for the finish line.


    Kick - A sudden burst of speed at the end of a race.

    Kit - The collection of clothing that a cyclist wears to ride.


    LSD - Long Steady Distance.


    Mash - Turning a gear slowly and awkwardly. As opposed to spinning.


    Neo-pro - A first-year pro rider.

    No one else in the photo - The best way to win a race -- alone off the front with no else behind you. Refers to the fact that a finish photo would show no other riders in the background since you are so far off the front.

    Noodle - To ride easy without working to hard. Noodling typically happens on a recovery ride.


    On the rivet - Riding at the limit of one’s ability. Refers to riding on the tip of the saddle, where there was traditionally a rivet securing the leather cover.

    OTB - Off The Back.


    Pack fodder - Riders in a race that are just filling out the field with no real hope of winning. Also called "pack fill."

    Palmarès - French term for the list of a racer's best results, a sort of racing resume.

    Pedaling squares - Pedaling with a sloppy and inefficient looking style, as opposed to a more fluid and circular style. When a rider is tired and looking ragged on the bike, she is said to be "pedaling squares."

    Poach - General term for riding where you are not supposed to be. Could be jumping into an organized ride without registering or riding on trails closed to bikes. 


    Retro grouch - A cyclist who prefers older and, usually, simpler components such as friction shifters.


    Saddle - A bicycle seat.

    Sitting in or sitting on - Riding in another rider's draft without pulling through.

    Sling - To help another rider and transfer momentum by literally grabbing hands and swinging. Used in the Madison when riders exchange places.

    Slingshot - See accordion.

    Slinky - See slingshot.

    Slipstream - See draft.

    Snakebite - See pinch flat.

    Soft pedal - To pedal without much effort or coast.

    Spider - The five or four armed star-shaped extensions at the end of a crankset that make it possible to mount chainrings.

    Spin - Pedaling quickly and smoothly, as opposed to mashing.

    Squirrel - A rider who moves erratically without holding a line in the peloton.

    Stagiaire - A young rider given the chance to try out with a professional team for a few months at the end of a season.

    Surf - A rider surfs the peloton by moving throughout the field without hitting the wind and thus doing minimal work. Surfing implies the rider is navigating through the pack with the ease and grace of a surfer on wave.


    Tail gunning - Riding as the last rider in the peloton. Usually intentional, a rider with good bike handling skills and fitness can get away with tail gunning early in race knowing that she can move up later. But could also refer to the misery of barely hanging on at the back all race.

    Take a flyer - See flyer.

    Take a pull - See pull.

    Travel - The amount of movement within a suspension system, in inches or millimeters.

    Twitchy - When a bicycle responds very rapidly to the rider because of a number of possible design features.


    Wheel sucker - A rider that stays in the draft without pulling through.

    Wheels-in-wheels-out - When riders are limited to the wheels they put into the support car. If you flat you only get a new wheel if you put one in the car.

    Work - To take a turn riding in the wind at the front of a peloton, paceline or breakaway. If a rider does no work then he is a wheel sucker.


    Yard sale - A crash where you end up strewing all your belongs all over the road. Literally in that bottles, tubes, food, glasses, etc., end up everywhere. Metaphorically in that your crash was so emphatic that you might as well have strewn it all about.

Check out this Cycling glossary to find the sport-specific definitions for which you have been looking. From A to Z, we've got all the words covered.
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