Cycle Terms & Slang, How Bicycle Bettie Got Her Name
A comprehensive list of all the terms you’ve heard, but were too embarrassed to ask about
When I first started cycling, I was amazed that all my bike buddies seemed to know a cyclist named Fred… I mean, it’s not a very popular name. When I heard Fred pluralized to “Freds,” I knew I was missing something. Freds all seemed to be fat, slow and sort of cocky. So I googled it… and went down the rabbit hole of cycle-slang.
It’s true: cyclists have a language all their own - from the specific mechanical names for parts and procedures, to the slang terms for accidents and certain types of riders, like “Fred” which refers to a typically older guy with all the top gear, but not so much know-how or physical aptitude.
Some cycle-slag can de deciphered from context, like: “I really bonked after that last hill!” (totally ran out of energy) or “I took a gnarly spill and tacoed my front wheel” (the front wheel folded in on itself). For the rest of it, I found this very comprehensive and comical list compiled by BicycleSource.com, which I have reposted here for your reading pleasure.
Also, this was how I chose the name for “Bicycle Bettie,” in case everyone thought my name was actually Bettie. Betty is a term for an inexperienced female rider - sort of like a cute Fred. IMHO a little demeaning. So, I thought, why not repurpose the term for the empowerment of the female cycling community, with a little tongue-and-cheek humor surrounding the fact that this is a website for beginners looking to learn more. (Betty was switched to Bettie as an homage to the beautiful Bettie Page.)
The largest, most comprehensive cycling glossary on the Internet. 425 words of wisdom.
adj. abbreviation for aerodynamically efficient.
n. handlebar extension which rests the hands close together over the front hub, which is a very aero tuck.
n. space between the tires and the ground. (Both tires must be off the ground or it isn't "air".) Said to be caught or gotten. See sky.
n. your child, or children (anchors) that keep(s) you from riding. "Wait till you anchors grow up, you'll have road rash for breakfast and prunes for dinner!" To be used as an endearing, not demeaning, phrase.
adj. frequently-misspelled abbreviation for "anodized". See purple.
n. a withdrawn and totally wimpy bicycle helmet standard set by the American National Standards Institute. ANSI-1984 is less strict than any current standard. Read about helmet standards.
1) n. the apex is the middle or sharpest point of a curve
2) v. to plan your line around a bend to touch the inside of the lane at the apex, starting and leaving the turn at the outside of the lane, to flatten out the required curve and increase allowable speeds. Read about such turning techniques.
n. one-piece crank -- the crank arm starts on one side of the bike, bends to go through the bottom bracket, and bends again on the other side to go down to the other pedal. Typically heavy, cheap, and robust. See "cottered crank" and "cotterless crank".
n. a bicycle helmet standard set by the American Society for Testing and Materials. The most frequently used helmet standard, is a bit watered down compared to Snell B-95 and many international standards. Read about helmet standards.
n. All-Terrain Bike or Biking. A synonym for MTB.
n., v. a sudden attempt to ride ahead of a group of riders.
v. to involuntarily take samples of the local geology, usually with one's face, during a crash. See face plant.
n. small boulders about the size of, yep, a baby's head.
n. scabs on a rider's knees, elbows, or other body parts.
n. a person that habitually bags out. Also known as a loser.
bagging a peak
v. making it to the summit of a mountain.
v. canceling a ride for something other than a death in the family.
1) or bail out. v. to jump off in order to avoid an imminent crash.
2) v. to give up on a ride because of bad weather coming in. (from climbing)
n. on mountain bikes, a technologically backward straight pipe that was otherwise discarded as obsolete in the 19th century. For road bikes, a refined component which promotes aerodynamics, body geometry, muscle teamwork, stability, and comfort.
adj. setting up camp and using it as the start and finish of tours.
n. the part of your tire that fits onto the rim, either wire (heavy and cheap) or Kevlar (light and expensive), or what you find in Missy Giovie's hair.
1) v. to slip off one pedal, causing the other pedal to slam one in the shin, when one gets kracked with a pedal.
2) n. the toothlike scars resulting from being beartrapped.
1) v. to ride with reckless disregard to one's equipment, well-being, and/or the ecology of the trail.
2) adj. a term used to describe something that is not good. e.g. "It's pretty beat that the yellow trail is closed."
n. a bike of such little value as to be able to beat on, or a bike that reaction after prolonged beating.
n. insider information about a ride. Running or auto beta is someone telling you how to do the moves as you go (as in "can you please shut up with that running beta, I want to find out myself").
n. leading a ride through technical singletrack with no dabbing or dogging, but with a piece of previous knowledge hints on how to do those crux moves. Even seeing someone do the ride already classifies as "previous knowledge."
1) n. any female rider.
2) n. the girlfriend of an addictive rider. (see bob)
1) n. a crash. Synonyms: wipeout.
1) v. "I biffed and then wiped away the blood."
adj. a now-discredited Shimano techno-fad where the chainrings were made intentionally not circular -- instead, they were elliptical, in order to (allegedly) smooth the power delivery, by giving the rider an effectively lower gear for part of the spin cycle. Now used to describe any uneven pedaling motion. Also used as a synonym for pogo-ing.
v. to begin a big climb or ride, after reaching the foot of the long or daunting hill. "We're gonna blast after a snack at the bottom of the wall".
n. getting in the way of slow down in front of rival riders, to help a teammate get ahead on a breakaway.
n. the boyfriend of an addictive rider. (See betty)
or bog out. v. to be riding in a circumstance where much pedalling force is required, such as through mud or up a steep hill, and to fail to generate the required torque, generally a result of overgearing, being a wimp, or picking your line incorrectly.
n. a suspension fork or stem; a dual-suspension bike is a boing-boing. "Mark's not going to feel much pain with his new boing-boing."
n. a bike with full (front and rear) suspension. Might possibly be considered offensive by certain owners of said bikes.
v. same as bonk.
n. a woman with breast implants. Derived from the term for after-market bicycle parts that are literally bolted on.
v. to ride with wild disreagard to personal safety.
n., v. cycling's classic term for blowing up, hitting the wall, or otherwise expiring in midride. Can be caused by -- and is frequently blamed on -- insufficient water or calorie intake, but in truth is usually a result of insufficient training. "Had I eaten more linguini last night, I'm certain I wouldn't have bonked." Read all about how to prevent the bonk.
v. to catch air off of a jump.
n. the bearing assembly to which your crank arms attach.
n. section of road or trail that is covered with basketball sized or larger boulders.
v. to crater from an extreme height. Usually lethal.
n. the rubber strip placed inside the rim to protect the tube from the nipples.
n. a biking computer, usually featuring an odometer, speedometer, clock, and other "important" display modes.
n. a helmet featuring more vents than protective surface.
n. the rubber blocks that attach to your brake cantilever arms and make your bike stop or slow down. Read about brake pads.
n. just for the record, is how you spell it.
n. threaded attachments welded to the bike frame to accept the mounting of brake sets, water bottle cages, rear racks, etc.
or breakaway. n., v. a splitting of the field, where some riders race ahead, trying to avoid being reabsorbed by the larger and more aerodynamicly efficient peloton.
bring home a Christmas tree
v. to ride (or crash) through dense bushes, so leaves and branches are hanging from your bike and helmet. See prune.
n. an abbreviation for "Bike Store Guy".
n. British Standards Institution, whose standards are comparable to but more thorough than the current US standards. Read about helmet standards.
v. to ride up a steep hill without slowing (much) from the flatland cruising speed you approached the hill with.
1) n. same as betty, but used to emphasize the female rider's body; could be considerd insulting to some.
2) n. female novice rider.
v. to lift both wheels off the ground by crouching down and then exploding upward, pulling the bike with you. Useful for clearing obstructions, such as curbs, potholes, logs. Differs from its older BMX & trials meaning -- see jump.
n. a rim braking surface that's bent inward towards the tube, forming a section that looks rolled like a burrito.
v. a term used the same as the verb "to do" only with more emphasis. e.g. "He busted a huge air over that jump."
1) n. euphoric feeling. Commonly used after a particularly hard passage is successfully completed. "I got such a buzz after that uphill grunt."
2) v. to touch wheels, or ride in very close formation from the rear.
n. the rate at which the crank arms are spun while riding.
adj., n. short for Campagnolo, the famed Italian road bike component manufacturer. They are generally artfully machined and elegantly engineered, and cost enough to feed a starving Sudanese village for a year. The Georgio Armani of bikes parts, but you get what you pay for (sometimes).
Canadian Standards Association
n. a bike helmet standard originating in Canada. Comparable in thoroughness and requirements to the European CEN definitions, which is superior in thoroughness and inferior in requirements to the ASTM and Snell B-95 standards. Read about helmet standards.
adj. most common type of brake found on mountain bikes today. Named for the two cantilever arms that pivot on the forks (front) or seat stays (rear).
v. to "go down with the ship". Usually the result of a novice spud-user failing to clip out in time.
v. (from skiing) to ride with great speed around the corners of a twisting fire road.
n. the assembly of gears mated to the rear hub. See also gear cluster.
adj. to be too tired to ride any farther; bonked.
n. European adult and child bike helmet standard. Comparable in thoroughness and requirements to the Canadian Standards Association's definitions, which is superior in thoroughness and inferior in requirements to the ASTM and Snell B-95 standards. Read about helmet standards.
n. a 100 mile bike ride, or a metric century which is 100 km. Takes about four and a half or three hours, respectively, on a road bike, if you're in reasonable shape. (The ability to do a metric century in 2.5 to 3 hours is why people get road bikes.)
adj. rims with ceramic braking surfaces, to increase stopping power and to reduce the mess that high-powered brake shoe compounds make of aluminum.
n. a gear at the front, attached to the cranks.
n. the dotted-line scar you get from gouging your shin on the chainring. See rookie mark.
n. the gears on the front of the bike, part of the crank arm assembly.
n. the bottom part of the frame that the rear wheel passes through, low parallel to the chain.
n. condition when the bike chain gets jammed between the frame and the chain rings, or when the chainring is so worn that it holds onto the chain and lifts it up to meet the incoming part of the chain.
v. when a chase group tries to catch up with a group of riders who have broken away from a pack.
v. to grind off your skin against gravel, ashfault, bike parts, or the like.
v. to crash.
n. a very steep gully. The word chute is french for fall and refers to the rockfall that is very common in a chute.
v. to negotiate a trail successfully without crashing. "I cleaned that last section."
1) n. one who desires to remain clean
2) n. a wimp who will not have fun, stays on the clean trails.
n. a cleat attaches to the bottom of a cycling shoe. Older style cleats have a slot that fits over the back of the pedal, and in conjunction with toe clips and straps, hold your foot on the pedal. Now clipless pedals have a specially designed cleat that locks into the pedal, sometimes with some ability to move side-to-side so as not to stress knees.
n. tires which use a separate tire and tube, the latter replaced after a puncture. Contrast with tubular road tires.
or click out. v. to disengage one's spuds.
adj. misleading name for a pedal-and-shoe system where the clips or cleats clip onto the soles of special shoes. Called "clipless" because you can't see the clips when you're clipped in. Contrast with toe clips.
n. slamming into the ground, resulting in a ringing head, or a delay in the action. Term used in biking, skiing, and snow boarding.
n. A racecourse that is completely closed to traffic. Closed circuits are most often used in criteriums or road races that use a relatively short lap (2-5 miles).
n. an assembly of gears. Usually described by their configuration: "My rear cluster is a 12-25." Also known as a casette.
n. one who allows his bike to fall in disrepair, and whose bike invariably fails him at some point in every ride. These people don't know why their bike always breaks, and often would rather buy new parts than keep their bike in good condition.
n. a single gear, usually at the rear as part of a freewheel. Also rear cog or front cog.
n. the lowest point between two mountains. Also called a pass.
n. the moving parts of a bike that are attached to the frame.
n. the little plastic or rubber thing that protects your tube's valve stem from rim damage.
v. to become covered in silt, usually after a fall.
n. a bicycle helmet standard set by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. It's a smidge stricter than ASTM, but is less strict than the Snell B-95 and many international standards. Read about helmet standards.
adv. how one's head feels after augering. "When my lid nailed that rock, I had a definite feeling of cranial disharmony."
1) v. to mash on the pedals as hard as you can, and then some. As in, "I cranked so hard on getting out of that little valley, but my tire spun out and I had to walk it."
2) v. to hammer or sprint.
n. the metal arms to which the pedals attach .
1) v. to fail to remain on the trail on the side of the 50 foot dropoff. Usually painful, as in "One of those death cookies joggled my wheel and I almost cratered on that section that looks down on the river."
2) v. to bonk.
v. a mostly road-specific verb that refers to the leaving of skin and viscera on the asphalt after a crash. "I'm not sure Lisa's going to make it tonight. We locked wheels this morning and she crayoned all over the place."
adv. as in, "stick close to the shoulder on the blind corner coming up. I almost got creamed by a transport there last week."
n. a massed start, high-speed bicycle race events in which riders race around a closed circuit racecourse to compete for order of finish. Criteriums are usually held on closed urban or suburban public streets. The racecourse is normally one-half to one mile in length.
n. a specific form of a time trial, in which competitors cover great distances riding almost around the clock.
n. sudden impact between a male rider's private parts and something very hard and pointy, such as a handlebar stem or seat.
1) n. a bike for feeble people, where the seat is lower than the handlebars, the rider sits upright, and the top speed is a joke (especially given their usual owners.)
2) n. derisive term for a mountain bike or hybrid with a large wheelbase, seat below the bars, and/or crappy components and lead-pipe tubing.
n. the hard part.
n. expensive erasure of low-hanging, shiny parts of the bike on a curb or rock.
v. to place the front wheel up on a curb and allow the rear tire to scrape along the curb, usually resulting in a loud tearing sound.
n. a race run much like a criterium, except that the racecourse involves dirt surfaces, trails, and a variety of other surfaces and obstacles, many of which must be overcome by running with the bicycle. All cyclocross races are held on closed circuits on either park or vacant land, although roads are occasionally integrated into the racecourse.
v. to put a foot down in order to catch your balance on a difficult section of trail. "I made it without crashing, but I had to dab once."
v. to ride out of the saddle.
n. fist-sized rocks that knock your bike in every direction but the one you want to proceed in.
n. an overly tight grip on the handlebars caused by fear of terrain, resulting in an endo or other unfortunate mishap.
n. a ride that turns into an investigation of your endurance limit. "The bridge was out, and I had to go all the way back the way I came. So the morning's nice, easy ride turned into a Bataan death march."
n. those things that move the chain and change gears, one in the front and one in the back. Usually horribly mispronounced.
n. abbreviation for, uh, Dead... Last.
adj. when a bike is set up nicely and everything works just right. Learn to get your bike dialed.
n. a face plant. "Look at that guy on that gnarly single track... he's going to go over the bars and do a digger."
n. an off-road motorcycle. Regarded as only for those too feeble to do the work themselves. Usually louder than MTBs.
dishing a wheel
n. refers to the need to build a rear wheel off center, to accomodate the freewheel on one side -- the wider the freewheen, the more the wheel needs to be dished.
n. a technique much like a bunny hop, but executed diferently. The rider pulls a wheelie, then maves far forward to pitches his bike down, transferring the wheelie to the rear as an obstacle passes underneath. This is the only type of hop possible for a rider using platform pedals.
n. tubing with a higher wall thickness at both ends, to reduce the weight of the tubing for a given weight. See single-butted, triple-butted.
n. overgrown road that is like two parallel trails.
n. the part of the frame that connects the head tube and the bottom bracket.
n. when the rider is pushing down on the pedal.
1) v. to ride behind a windshield, such as another rider or a motor vehicle. "When I was drafting you down that huge-ass hill, you were pedalling madly while I barely had to turn the cranks!"
2) n. the area sheltered behing a moving object. "You know, it's kinda hard to stay in your draft at high speed if you don't ride in a straight line."
n. any part with lots of holes drilled in it to make it lighter.
n. the U-shaped slots that accept the wheel axle.
n. the dropped section on dropped handlebars. Used when muscle geometry and an aero tuck are important, such as when ascending, descending, or going fast.
n. a dirt road used by four-wheeled vehicles rarely enough that their tires have made ruts that became parallel singletracks. Also called doubletrack. See singletrack.
Mountain biking's defacto capital, with amazing trails, several manufacturers, and an insanely high number of resident pros, including Tomac, Giove, Herbold, Overend, and Furtado.
n. a diagonal paceline, which modifies the single-file formation for a crosswind.
n. the maneuver of flying unexpectedly over the handlebars, thus being forcibly ejected from the bike. Short for "end over end". "I hit that rock and went endo like nobody's business." See "superman". In BMX riding, "endo" used to be a synonym for front wheelie.
n. the rider.
n. a food break at the edge of a cliff.
Euell Gibbons Trail
adj. means that "some parts (of the trail) are rideable."
n. bone jarring downhill that rattles your brain (providing you have one).
adj. the single adjective that defines a worthwhile sport.
n. hitting the ground face first. "Joe hit a tree root and did a spectacular face plant." Synonyms: auger, digger, soil sample, spring planting.
n. an expression exclusively used non-chalantly by others to describe a death march, in hopes others will try it, fail, and revere them as bike gods.
v., adj. when older riders are having a particular strong outing.
n. the clump of riders near or at the front in a road race. "We made a break on that big ascent, and at one point the rest of the field was over a minute behind."
n. a sprint for the finish line involving a large group of riders. THis is an impressive sight indeed.
n. the magical art of welding high-end metal bikes. The tubes fit together with almost invisible seams, as opposed to the monstrous, caterpillar-like welds on most mountain bikes.
n. credit to the first rider in a group who crashes and starts bleeding as a result.
v. when the rear end locks and slides about behind you. Occurs during strong braking on loose terrain.
n. a great set of equipment and instructions to measure the components of a correct bicycle fit. Generally, pretty accurate, and are especially good for positioning cleats.
v. to ride badly and out of control. e.g. "He flailed off the jump and hit a tree."
v. clearing a technical pitch without dabbing, especially if the rider has no previous experience on the route (See also onsight flash, where the rider has never seen the trail before, and beta flash, where the rider has seen or studied the route.)
n. when the frame doesn't stay put when you mash the brakes, mash the pedals, or do other normal things.
v. to whip your bike through sweet singletrack.
n. when a rider can't disengage his cleats from the pedals before falling over. See horizontal track stand.
forcing the pace
v. to increase the speed of the race to the point that other riders have trouble keeping up.
n. what holds the front wheel, or a modern eating utensil, unfamiliar to most mountain bikers.
n. a big strong table that Will Not Flex and which has anchors at critical places -- dropouts, bottom bracket, seat, head. It also has places to attach accurate measuring instruments like dial gauges, scratch needles, etc. The frame is clamped to the table and out-of-line parts are yielded into alignment.
1) n. a person who spends a lot of money on his bike and clothing, but still can't ride. "What a fred -- too much Lycra and titanium and not enough skill." Synonym for poser. Occasionally called a "barney".
2) n. a person who has a mishmash of old gear, does't care at all about technology or fashion, didn't race or follow racing, etc. Often identified by chainring marks on white calf socks. Used by "serious" roadies to disparage utility cyclists and touring riders, especially after these totally unfashionable "freds" drop the "serious" roadies on hills because the "serious" guys were really posers. This term is from road touring and, according to popular myth, "Fred" was a well-known grumpy old touring rider, who really was named Fred.
n. the part of the rear gear cluster that allows the bike to coast without the pedals turning, or what you find in the parking lot after a big race.
n. what endo used to mean in BMX: a trick where the rider applies the front brake and lifts the back wheel off the ground; this is the basis for many BMX tricks. Most riders cannot pedal effectively while doing a front wheelie.
or F/S. adj. an ambiguous term, can mean Front Suspension or Full Suspension. Not used by anyone who wishes to be understood.
Full On Conditions (FOC)
adj. biking with the chance of running into severe foul weather conditions.
n. an assembly of gears. Usually described by their configuration: "My rear cluster is a 12-25." Also known as a casette.
v. uh... the exchange of currency for cylinders containing a mixture of compressed nitrogen, oygen, and other trace gasses.
n. sexy little add-ons or upgrades, usually made of titanium or CNC'd aluminum. "That's the fourth time this week that Tom's gone by the shop to gawk at giblets." (See also velo-porn.)
adj. an 80's term for a particular steep and rough section of trail.
adj. Southern Californian for Gnarly.
1) adj. treacherous, extreme. "That vertical drop was sheer gonzo."
2) v. riding with reckless abandon. Not generally appropriate for singletrack.
n. the lowest gear available on a bike, or a third and smallest front cog, which is only found on bikes for the feeble. Roadies don't have, need, or want them.
v. the act of producing bacon or little flaps of severed skin, against either the ground or a bike component. See also crayon and cheese grater).
n. a fall.
"The Mighty Goof," off-roading's resident personality. First downhill world champ. A favorite with manufacturers; his input helped develop and fine tune the original Rock Shox and SPD pedals. Now semi-retired, but still a major force on the R&D circuit, and still Japan's biggest off-road star.
n. as in, "all that dried mud and sand left me with a loud case of the grindies in my drivetrain."
adj. paralyzed with fear and utterly confused.
n. a very difficult climb, requiring use of the granny gear. Often used in understatement, as in "Well, I suppose it's a fair grunt, but we used to ride it all the time."
n. a bicycling commuter.
n. a trail so narrow and/or overgrown that you'd hesitate even to call it singletrack.
1) v. to ride fast and hard. Also to "put the hammer down."
2) n. a hammerhead.
n. a rider who hammers, or simply can ride faster than the one commenting.
n. a crash where your fall is broken only by cheese grating your hands. Best if done wearing bicycle gloves.
v. riding in the slipstream of another rider, but being lazy and refusing to take your turn in at the front.
1) excl. word of praise and amazement, generally spoken as two separate syllables.
2) adj. impressive or requiring devotion, such as an extreme cliffbombing session.
n. any bike with front suspension but no rear suspension. Contrast with rigid and F/S.
n. the short frame member that attaches the top tube to the down tube, and holds the headset in place
n. going over the handlebars.
n. the bearing assembly that attaches the fork to the head tube.
Henrik "Hank" Djernis
n. pronounced "JER-nis," the three-time defending world cross-country mountain-bike champion and hard-guy of the dirt. Use his surname (charitably) to make your riding chum feel very tough. "Man, you really Djernised me on that last climb."
n. Hateful Old Hikers Association. "HOHA members hate mountain bicyclists with a fervor exceeding that of rabid wolverines."
1) v. to vomit due to cycling exertion.
2) v. to grab hard on the bar ends while climbing to increase torque and traction on the rear wheel.
v. to lock handlebars or wheels, and go down in a bloody pile of metal and muscle.
n. the dropped section on dropped handlebars. Used when muscle geometry and an aero tuck are important, such as when ascending, descending, or going fast.
horizontal track stand
n. a foot fault that happens at a stop sign.
n. large-section tubular tires, about the size and weight of clincher touring tires. Much heavier than racing tubulars, which can be two or three times lighter, at as little at 150 grams.
n. located at the center of the wheel attached to the rim by the spokes.
n. one who is ejected wildly through the air and does not land on his/her feet
n. a flavour of brakes which use brake fluid to actuate the pads, which offer better modulation even than most high-end side-pull calipers, but at an intimidating cost.
n. freewheel cogs with small "ramps" cut into the sides of the cogs which tend to pull the chain more quickly to the next larger cog when shifting.
n. the gimmicky brake assist lever found on some older road bikes, which allow the rider to brake with his hands on top of the bars, rather than on the brake hoods or on the drops. Ignorant consumers buy bikes with them, although they're no more convienant than braking from the hoods, and for powerful braking the stability, steering, and weight distribution from using the drops is essential.
n. International Mountain Biking Association. An organization for trail advocacy.
n. all the junk on a bike that impeeds performance and looks bad.
n. a crash.
v. to accelerate quickly; to go very fast.
One of the greatest ever and certainly mountain biking's biggest star. He's won every major race at least once and is still the highest-paid racer.
n. abbreviation for the Just Riding Along syndrome (and then the bike spontaneously exploded), a class of warrently claims viewed as highly suspect.
The toughest, most fit rider on earth. Had a remarkable two-year winning streak through 1995. Former Olympic-level ski racer who blew out her knees and reinvented herself as an off-road pro. Rides for Team GT. "Cursed" in the world championships--despite her skills, she's never won.
n., v. where we now say bunny hop, BMXers used to say "jump".
n. an injury to the shin received while doing trials, a kack can be the result of any injury receive during technical riding.
n. a bunny hop in which the rider pushes the back tire to one side.
n. a steep section of road or trail.
adj. a pattern stamped onto the sides of some steel rims to improve the braking surface.
n. synonym for high. e.g. "You can get some seriously large air off that jump."
n. abbreviation for "Local Bike Shop".
n., v. a rider intentionally sacrificing his chances of winning a sprint, so that a teammate can ride in his draft until ready to begin the final sprint.
n., v. helping another rider to do well in a final sprint, by providing a windbreak and opening up a hole in the pack.
n. the desirable path or strategy to take on a tricky trail section.
n. ride that forms a loop with no backtracking.
n. metal reinforcing piece into which the tubing for expensive road bikes is brazed, allowing lighter tubing. The seat lug reinforces the connection between the top tube and the seat tube, for example.
n. the first hydraulic brake for the mountain bike. It's screaming yellow, powerful, and made in Germany.
n. when a male rider watches a beautiful female ride over rough terrain and stares intensely at all the jiggling parts, making him too dizzy to see straight when it's his turn to ride the same terrain.
adv. how one's jaw feels when it and the handle bars attempt to occupy the same space and time.
• [banshee screech, in stereo]
• "Pray, whats wrong?"
• "I've got mandibular disharmony."
n. hole covered with autumn leaves, resembling solid earth and effective at eating the front wheel of the unsuspecting rider.
n. (muh RINN') the county in Northern California where MTBing is said to have been invented. Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
v. to apply much force to the pedals on their downward cycle, generally while standing to climb a steep hill.
n. a bike mechanic, especially at a professional bike race in Europe. See also tech and wrench.
The wildest, fastest chick on Planet Dirt. If she doesn't crash and injure herself, she's guaranteed to win. Tattoos and hair and piercings. She races for Cannondale. There are probably only ten men on earth faster than her, and she's knocking them off, one-by-one. Bonus points: came out in 1995.
n. momentum. "If you don't get in gear at the bottom of that hill, you'll lose your mo."
n. the ability to finely and consistantly select a specific braking force, rather than moving straight from no braking power to locked wheels and an endo. Hydraulic brakes have great modulation; V-brakes are gimmicky crap.
n. charm or icon worn by a biker or attached to the bike.
or Motor Official. n. a race referee or official who uses a motorcycle during the bicycle race event. The motor referee is often primarily responsible for centerline rule enforcement during road races using a rolling enclosure. Motor officials are also used to keep track of riders where cars and the peloton cannot mix (narrow roads, winding roads, etc.).
n. race staff on motorcycles responsible for assisting in keeping a racecourse clear and safe for competitors, usually in conjunction with a rolling or protected enclosure.
n. off shoot sport of mountain biking where peak bagging is a prime consideration. Another sport featuring the "because it's there" attitude.
n. the activity of MounTain Biking. Or a mountain bike itself. Also v. "MTBing". See ATB, OHV, ORV, VTT.
v. riding through muck for fun.
n. what happens when a bike slows abruptly in mud, throwing the rider into wet goo.
1) v. a shower after a ride on a muddy trail.
2) v. the act of becoming clean.
n. used to prevent wang chung.
n. abbreviation for National Collegiate Cycling Association .
The NCCA is a standing committee of USA Cycling. The NCCA administers, develops, promotes and governs collegiate bicycling across the country. Rules for NCCA bicycle road races are the same as for USCF bicycle race events.
n. the nut at the end of a spoke that nobody knows the real name for.
n. the state of being in absolute control and totally in tune with your bike, the trail, and your physical strength. "I was just doing it all so smoothly and delicately and quickly, it was nirvana!" Synonym for The Zone.
n. National Off-Road Bicycling Association. As part of USAC, they organize most of the larger mountain bike races.
n. the crusties you pick from your nose after a ride in a dusty environ.
This is short for "Off Day". Even the best riders have them. It is important to recognize the symptoms and to back off when you are having an O.D.
off the back
adj. when a rider is dropped, or cannot keep up with the pace of the windshield (such as a peloton or another rider) and falls behind.
off the front
adj. when a rider takes part in a breakaway, where one or more riders scoot up ahead of the main peloton in a race.
n. a turn which would usually be banked in the opposite direction, so the banking is the opposite of what would be expected on a racetrack corner. The road's angle is added to, rather than subtracted from, the lean angle. Take these turns cautiously for, among other things, your tread may not extend far enough up the side.
n. abbreviations for Off-Highway Vehicle and Off-Road Vehicle. These have motors and are not bicycles.
v. to clean a section with no previous knowledge of its layout or elements (See also beta flash).
out and back
n. tour where the return is a retracing of the route in.
Over The Bars (OTB)
n. unexpected dismount over the handlebars.
over-the-bar blood donor
n. a rider who is injured while doing an endo.
adj. a condition where the rider is using a gear combination which is too high or "hard" given the circumstances. Generally results in bogging out or needless fatigue.
n. A single file of riders, each of which takes his turn battling the wind at the front.
v., n. a crash or fall. e.g. "He packed into that snow bank and broke his leg."
v. to try with all one's will and strength to prevent an impending stack by attempting to implant one's heels as deeply as possible in the ground. Usually a dumb idea.
n. the lowest passage between two mountains. The french - but not just the french - know this as a col. The mathematicians would call this the saddle point.
n. the small paralell grooves you find an your bike and its expensive components after you wipe out and smear all aver the blacktop. Pavement polish is the bike equivalent of road rash.
n. the large, aerodynamicly efficient, and extremely fast pack of riders near the front in a road race, also known as the field.
or fat. adj. used to describe how exceptional something is like a "Phat Air" might be a really styled out trick as well as being "large", that is, very high.
picking a line
v. planning the path of the bike by anticipating approaching terrain, or choosing a barroom introduction. Example: "What's your sign?" Common reply: "Trail closed"
n. a Bike Store Guy who is always trying to sell stuff on the trail. "Blow off, pimp. If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you."
n. flat tire caused by the tube being pinched between the rim and a hard object, usually due to under -inflated tires
n. a short section of technical road or trail.
v. to bounce on a full-suspension bike like a pogo stick. Also, for a full-suspension bike to bounce annoyingly and uncontrollably.
n. short for slow pokes. This is someone that always lingers in the back of the pack. This is not a crime.
n. also known as a brain, the electronic doodad that keeps track of your speed, cadence, heart rate, and the current US Government debt.
v. to carry your bike.
or poseur. n. derogatory term for people with $7,000 bikes that never see an actual trail. Usually found near a trail head and never dirty. Seinfeld may be an example. Synonym for fred.
n. a wheel that has been bent badly, but not taco'd.
n. extremely dusty section of trail.
n. a two-wheel sideways slide, with the foot opposite the direction of travel kept on the ground.
n. a two-wheel sideways slide, with the foot opposite the direction of travel kept on the ground.
v. to bend or dent a part of the bike or body.
n. flavour of valve which is taller, lighter and skinnier than Shraeder car tire valves, which incorporate a screw-in lock into the valve.
1) adj. the condition in which you find your frame after a less than successful attempt to mail it third class to Abu Dhabi.
2) adj. the condition both you and your bike are found in after a hairy collision.
n. a type of traffic control in which the entire road is closed to other traffic as the race passes any given point. The road reopens after the race passes.
v. to use one's bike or helmet to remove leaves and branches from the surrounding flora. Usually unintentional.
v. to ride at the front of a group of riders, where there is no protection from wind resistance.
v. to give up at the front of a group, and return to a position in the formation that is sheltered from wind resistance, such as the back of a paceline.
v. to take the front position in a paceline after the previous leader has "pulled off" and left for the rear.
v. to bounce a suspension fork in hopes of some useful effect, or to encourage excitement
1) adj. the feeling of overworked muscles, where they swell and strength disappears.
2) adj. a feeling of childish excitement about a new toy or trail.
adj. anodized aluminum in purple. Some riders need to obtain as much of this as possible. It comes in other colors, but they are of no consequence here.
1) n. a novice's pedaling motion, consisting of alternately pushing each foot down, instead of spinning.
2) n. a Shimano techno-fad shifting system.
n. bolts with levers attached, for easy adjustment and removal of wheels and seat height
n. Ripoff & Duplication, or Research & Development.
v. to wreck in such a way that one's person is tossed like a flimsy scrap of cloth. "Did you see me rag dolly back there? I think I pierced my ear on a tree branch."
v. making fast and hard turns, like you're on rails and are immune to traction loss. e.g. "He was railing around that turn before he slid out and biffed."
n. the amount, in degrees, that a front fork curves forward from a line drawn down the stem or steerer. More rake absorbs shock and adds inherant stability to the front wheel, at the cost of a sprintiness and maneuvrability.
v. to ride exceptionally well, especially on normally difficult routes.
n. a form of cross country bicycle race event. It is run as a very long recreational event, lasting two or three days.
n. abbreviation for Rapid Deceleration Syndrome. Military term for the very sudden illness that happens when the free-flight following a high-speed involuntary dismount is interrupted by something solid.
n. the triangle formed by the chain stays, seat stays, and seat tube
v. to ride about with reckless or vandalous disregard for the local ecology. Stems from the practice of using jeeps to scream around reforestation areas leaving a wake of destruction in their path. "Heh, we just came back from reforing (ree'four'ing) around the elementry school's front lawn. Hey, you know how to do a brake torque?"
The reigning sex symbol of the downhill circuit. Won the DH world cup twice. Suffers from same curse as Furtado; she's never won a world championship. Lives with husband and kids next to the Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain, and a damn fun one to say.
n. a specific form of a time trial, in which competitors cover great distances riding almost around the clock.
n. a rider who prefers an old bike with old components and isn't fond of new, high-tech equipment.
v. going down a hill so steep that your butt touches the rear wheel.
excl. a parting phrase used by riders with out much else to say.
riding the pegs
v. standing on the pedals through rough terrain.
n. a bike with no suspension.
n. large abrasions on a rider's legs and body caused by a crash, particularly on asphalt.
n. a rider who considers trails to be for the weak and feeble.
n. section of the trail that is completely covered with grapefruit (baby head) size to basketball sized rocks.
v. removing rocks, dirt, gravel from one's person after a yard sale. "Some betty stopped by and performed a rock ectomy on my knee after the wreck, I think she digs my scene."
n. the mandatory pre-ride coffee.
v. an unintentionally performed hardness test rendered by a trial side object on your anatomy or possesions. Requires the use of a number to rate the event. "I 50 Rockwelled on that last buster." "No way, dude, it was at least a 60!"
n. a type of traffic control where escort vehicles form a caravan
leading and following a group of racers. The enclosure sets aside a moving part of the roadway in the direction of the race for exclusive use of bicyclists. Racers inside the enclosure are not required to follow the normal rules of the road. Racers are not allowed to cross the center line unless the entire road is traffic controlled. A rolling enclosure is the typical traffic control used to run a road race.
n. acronym for Responsible Organized Mountain Pedalers, a Silicon Valley organization teaching mountain biking skills, organizing rides, and active in trail politics.
n. chain grease on a rider's pant leg. "Give that guy extra points for his rookie mark. It's even on the wrong leg!" See chainring tattoo.
v. to go fast or accelerate quickly. Or, to stop suddenly.
n. a spray of water flung off the back wheel as the bicycle rolls through water. Particularly pronounced on bikes without fenders.
n. a sudden drop on the trail of two feet or more.
n. the bike seat, or the color of your new Naugahyde recliner
v. the act of reaching a trail head and not riding. What is done when one really can't stand the thought of starting a ride. Talking. Bullshitting.
n. flavour of valve found on cars, and most mountain bikes. Tubular road tires, and some clincher mountain and road tubes, use the better, Presta system.
1) n. terrible trail conditions.
2) n. free stuff. See swag.
1) n. a real biker's dream ride.
2) n. a long, straight, and deceptively steep hill.
3) v. to bomb so fast one can't pedal fast enough to make a difference.
n. a very, very high dropoff. "I was trying so hard to keep my eyes away from the ledge back there. What a screamer!"
n. the part of the frame that accepts the seat post, and attaches the top tube to the bottom bracket
n. the post that attaches your seat to the frame at the seat tube
n. the two frame members through which the rear wheel passes that meet the chain stays at the rear dropouts
n. loop trip with a section of out and back attached.
n. also known as tubulars, lightweight road tires and rims with the tread directly on the tube, which is glued right onto a flat rim. Opposite of clincher tires, which have a separate tube inside.
n. the lever that activates the derailleurs
adj. most common type of brakes found on quality road bikes. Designed such that one braking surface contacts the rim first, improving brake modulation.
n. tubing with a higher wall thickness at only one end, such as a seat tube on a quality frame. See double-butted, triple-butted.
n. trail just wide enough for one person, horse, or bike -- the mountain biker's holy grail. Contrast with dual-track or doubletrack.
n. Shimano Indexed Shifters, where you click the shifter and the gears change quickly and exactly (hopefully). Opposite of friction shifting.
v. to be a lazy sot who doesn't take their turn at the front of a paceline. Can be used as a tactic to tire one's opponent.
v. the act of riding along precariously and near falling.
n. that section of trail that nobody ever expects or remembers that always appears too suddenly when riding too fast. Usually switchbacks. Named after all the skid tracks left there from previous riders.
v. to jump extremely high. To get big air.
n. mountain bike tires with no tread to be used at very high pressure, for those too ignorant to get a fast and efficient road bike for use on roads. They make some difference, but doesn't fix the aerodynamics, body geometry, handlebar shape, or anything else that matters.
n. a double puncture of an inner tube, caused by hitting an obstacle too hard or by under-inflation of tires.
n. a bicycle helmet standard; the Snell B-90S is kinda wimpy, but the Snelll B-95 is stricter than ASTM. Read about helmet standards.
n. an object hidden by snow on the trail. "Be careful of the snowmines -- you know, rocks, logs, hibernating bears..."
n. a fully suspended bike.
n. a face plant.
n. acronym for the Society Of People Who Actually Make Their Own Shit, a loose US organisation of small framebuilders and component manufacturers.
n. if you are approaching a jump too fast, you may need to slow down by making quick speed check. In other words, braking.
n. the five-pronged section or attachment on the right-hand crank into which the chainrings are screwed.
v. to obtain a chainring tattoo on the back of the calf, usually the result of a newbie trying to dab or panic skid at high speeds.
v. smooth pedal motion. Opposite of push-push.
v. loss of traction in the rear tire, resulting in the wheel spinning with no forward movement of the bike, usually while climbing on loose gravel
v. to strike a trail decoration following an involuntary dismount.
n. a face plant.
n. "SPD" (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) clipless pedals.
n., v. crash.
n. these combine several different types of bicycle races into one multiple part bicycle race event. Stage races commonly include road races, time trials, and criteriums. These races are usually scheduled over a period of two or more days. Order of finish is determined by lowest combined elapsed time or combined points depending on the scoring format.
n. your bike, the reason for your existence.
n. the piece of metal that attaches the handlebars to the headset
adj. "Shimano Total Integration" -- a marketing ploy that forces you to buy new brakes when you replace your shifters.
n. when friction maken a suspension fork travel sticky instead of smooth.
adj. an alternate term for the word psyched. In other words, to be excited.
adj. describes a rider after a crash which imbeds stones into the rider's skin.
n. a rider who flies over the handlebars and doesn't hit the ground for a long time. This may result in injury, but when it doesn't, it's really funny for everyone else.
or schwag. n. the stuff that manufacturers and vendors donate to be given away at bike related events. When you race, go to bike shows, help put on events, write bike articles, you are often rewarded with swag.
n., v. abruptly disengaging from a formation to move from the wind-battered lead position to sheltered rear when your stint at the front is over.
n. a jump in which the rider throws the bike sideways in mid-air. Less commonly, a jump made over a hill that reaches a plateau and goes back down.
v. to bend a wheel over on itself, in the shape of a taco. "I taco'd my wheel, and it cost me a hundred bucks." Worse than a potato chip.
n. when a whole group of riders stops and chats, and nobody seems to want to ride on.
n. a bike mechanic, especially at a professional bike race in Western Canada. See also mechanic and wrench.
n. a section of trail that is difficult to ride because of rocks, tree roots, steep drops.
n. a screwy or unique technology that a dominant company (usually Shimano) tries to foist upon the innocent cycling public. Past techno-fads include Biopace chainrings, and overly complex "thumb-thumb" or "push-push" shifters.
n. a rider who knows everything about the newest bike parts and techno-fads except how to use either them or his bike. Someone who buys lots of gadgets to add supposed iotas of performance to the bike. Greeting a friend whom we haven't seen in a year, I might say "Hi, Marta!" A techno-weenie might say "Oooh, you got Campy Record hubs on that bike now?"
1) v. to cause severe ecological damage to a trail, usually during the wet season.
2) adj. a damaged trail "That trail's really thrashed after last winter."
n. a ride that looks like a piece of cake at the outset but turns out to be a death march. Derived from the theme song to "Gilligan's Island."
n. pronounced "tie," it's the periodic-table abbreviation for titanium, and just about the only chemistry-class vestige that a rider should sprinkle into the conversation. "Sheila's running ti bar ends, ti pedal spindles, a ti seat post, and a ti wedding band."
n. bicycle race events in which individuals or small teams of riders ride the same route and distance separately for elapsed time. Time trials are generally started at preset intervals and held on an out-and-back or circuit course, and are generally 15 or 40 km, but dozens of lengths are sanctioned.
n. a clip-and-strap system that connects a rider's feet and toes to her pedals. Toe clips usually don't require special shoes.
n. one of those damn little rocks protruding out of the trail which you don't notice because you are having a heart-attack climbing the hill.
n. the part of the frame that attaches the head tube to the seat tube
n. short for United States Geological Survey topographic map.
v. to balance on your front wheel while turning your back wheel 90-180 degrees in either direction.
imp. a signal to gape at the passing rider on your left, generally accompanied with a sharp movement to veer right into his path.
imp. a signal to the slowpoke ahead to look around for a hidden turnoff to the left, so he'll get the hell out of your way because there isn't any room to pass on singletrack anyway.
n. (from fixed-gear track racing) a maneuver where the rider stops the bike and attempts to remain standing.
n. when the rider stops the bike and attempts to remain standing, but can't do it very well. Characterised by rolling forward, violent movements of the front wheel, and a distressed expression on the rider's face. See track stand, above.
n. the distance between a line drawn straight up from the center of the bottom bracket to the nose of your saddle, generally 30 to 50 mm. The seat tube angle determines this, being less for sprinting frames, more for touring frames.
n. equipment or accessories dropped by other bikers and found on the trail.
n. the art of hopping onto large objects on your bike, for those who can't go fast and have no endurance. Not to be confused with Time Trials, which is just the opposite.
adj. when a bike has the latest and hottest components.
n. tubing with two butts of differing thicknesses, such as 0.9/0.6/0.8 mm. See single-butted, double-butted.
v., adj. The ability of a wheel to spin with no lateral wobble, or the act of effecting this condition with a swift kick or a spoke wrench.
n. Treadmill Stress Test. A medical procudure recommended for those with heart conditdons or over 35 before setting out on a rigourous exercise progrem. See this article about TST.
n. also known as sew-ups, lightweight road tires and rims with the tread directly on the tube, which is glued right onto a flat rim. Opposite of clincher tires, which have a separate tube inside.
n. a riding position, generally a contorted one with the head and torso low, back flat, and arms close in for aerodynamics.
1) n. a jump during which the rider twists the handlebars back and forth in mid-air, the more times the better.
2) v. to slightly injure a part of the body or the bike in a crash. "I tweaked my wrist when I fell."
3) v. to make a minor adjustment. "My brake pads were rubbing but I tweaked the cable and it went away."
4) adj. when something isn't quite right, "You'd have to be seriously tweaked to replace those hydraulics with V-brakes."
n. acronym for Union Cycliste Internationale, an international sanctioning organization for bicycle racing.
Ugly Geek Jerseys
n. shirts worn by posers that are covered with advertising logos for which they are receiving no compensation.
adj. describing a bike or accessory made from expensive, high-tech material. A play on "unobtainable" and "titanium."
n. when a rider pulls up on the pedal.
n. acronym for USA Cycling, Inc. The national organization responsible for the governance of professional and amateur bicycle
racing in the United States. The
USPRO organisations are part of USA Cycling.
n. abbreviation for the United States Cycling Federation. As a member association of USAC, the USCF oversees the conduct of road, track, and
cyclocross bicycle racing in the United States.
n. acronym for the United States Professional Racing Organization. The USPRO serves as the governing body for professional racing and is an affiliate
organization of USAC.
n. a gimmicky techno-fad brake system, with two settings: off and locked. For people who can't understand the concept that if excessive power really was more important that modulation, people would stop by ramming a stick in their spokes.
n. where the pump is attached to fill the tube with air. Valve stems come in two types, Shraeder - (standard American style, like the valve found on you car tire), or Presta (like usual, the Italian version is better thathe American crap; tall and skinny with a screw in seal)
n. a singletrack that is heavily overgrown with foliage, so a rider must duck and bend to get through it.
n. full-page, four-color advertisements of giblets in cycling magazines. It can arouse giblet lust, giblet envy, and in serious cases, feelings of bike inadequacy. "Peter skipped right over the race results and went straight for the velo-porn."
1) n. to empty the contents of one's bladder. "Where were you, man? We waited for at least two minutes." "Sorry, dude, I had to void, my back teeth were floating."
2) n. a deep chasm that you have to clear or you will die.
n. Velo Tout-Terrain, the French term for mountain biking. Velo = bike, Tout = all, and don't even ask me about terrain. :-)
n. spectators who line up at dangerous obstacles in hopes of seeing blood.
n. something that is not good. e.g. "It's pretty wack that my bike broke in two."
n. a road that looks like it goes straight up, because it practically does. Generally used for grades steeper than 10%, depending on region.
n. what you might get when your stem has no nard guard. See crotch-testing.
or simply wash. v. to have the front tire lose traction, especially while going around a corner or when inadvertantly locked. Generally results in the wheel ending up somewhere other than under the rider.
n. small, regular undulations of the soil surface that make for a very rough ride.
n. a bike owner (not even necessarily a rider) who is more concerned with how many milligrams a certain component saves off the bike's total weight than with how to be a better rider.
n. lifting the front wheel off the ground, or the act of riding on the rear wheel only, usually with some combination of pulling on the handlebars, pedaling harder, and balance.
v. to rapidly descend on a trail that's sheer gonzo when you were expecting a cake walk. "Man, I just whiteknuckled that descent at like 50 kph! Why didn't you tell me about the dropoff and rock garden?"
n. poorly adjusted brake pads that squeal in use.
n. a reflector. "Nice winky set, fred!"
v. to crash.
n. a crash.
n. "WOmen's Mountain Biking And Tea Society", a Marin-based organization founded by writer and former MTB racer Jacquie Phelan.
adj. not functioning properly. "I bailed, and now my wheel is all wonky and all I hear are wild pigs."
n. a bike mechanic, especially at a professional bike race in the US. See also tech and mechanic.
n. abbreviation for the Washington State Bicycling Association.
n. (from skiing) a horrendous crash that leaves all your various "wares" -- water bottles, pump, tool bag, etc. -- scattered as if on display for sale.
v. a state of mind where you think you've reached The Zone, but you really just stopped paying attention to what you're doing. Usually used as an excuse for a particularly embarrassing biff.
n. a state of mind experienced while riding. You don't think, you just do. A truly Zen experience that can't be fully explained, but when you get there you'll know it and strive to reach it again.
v. same as bonk.