Verita Stewart

Writer, blogger, social media | Racer of bikes with Specialized Women's Racing Team|

What the hell are they talking about?

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It has been a while since my last post. Since chipping my elbow at Goldfields Tour (you can read about it here), I have had some time up my sleeve to write things that I have been meaning to for a long time.

This post was inspired by a conversation I was having with a fellow cyclist about how the terms we use when explaining racing/riding are absolute jargon! They often mean nothing to the layperson.

So I’ve got together with my Specialized Securitor team mates and we have put together a list of terms that cyclists use, and what they mean…So here goes….

Being aggressive. When riders and/or teams constantly attack and/or ride hard during a race with the general aim to splinter the peloton or get in a breakaway. This is how you should ride the SKCC crits.

Bonking. When you effectively loose all energy in your body and fell like you are riding backwards. This is common when riders do not eat enough during a race. Used in the phrase, I’m bonking or I bonked.

Breakaway or the break. A break forms when a solo rider or group of riders attack the peloton, they form a group (or solo riser) that rides ahead of the peloton. They have broken away from the peloton.

Chasing. This happens when a break is up the road and a team or individual rider decides that they want to chase to bring the break back. Chasing also occurs if a rider attacks and riders chase them so that a break does not establish.

Chewing the handlebars . A term use to describe the feeling when you are completely in the hurt box, often focused on your Garmin, looking at the ground or in the general direction of your handlebars. I was climbing and chewing the handlebars in pain.

Chopping wheels. When a rider cuts sharply in front of your wheel. It can happen when a rider tries to fill a gap too quickly.

Creepin’: Underperforming despite best efforts, or when hungover. “urgh, I was creepin’ out there today”

Drafting. Is the art of sitting behind someones wheel. Riding directly behind someone is the most aerodynamic and efficient place to be. By drafting you can use up to 40% less energy than if you were riding in the wind.

Echelon. Is generally described as a long string of riders that are in a formation that shelters them from the wind. The front rider will pull off the front, towards the direction of the wind and make their way to the back.

Filling gaps. Self explanatory, if there is a gap in the peloton, fill it. Often gaps form in the peloton from riders moving round or dropping wheels. Not filling gaps is a recipe for getting dropped, because you are exposed in the wind and if the bunch surges, you have more distance to cover to maintain contact. Always fill a gap.

Getting dropped. The moment when you loose touch with the peloton and end up riding on your own.

Grupetto. The last group to make time cut. The groupide together to make time cut. Laughing bunch.

Lumpy course. When the race profile includes rolling hills and is essentially not flat.

Noodle arms. A disorder suffered by climbers when them move their arms around like noodles when climbing. If done effectively, the movement should increase torque and power when climbing, when not done effectively, you look like a noodle.

Head bobbing. Often a symptom of riders who are suffering in a race. They generally bob their heads and bodies to get power into their pedals from every part of their body apart from their legs. It is not very affective.

Using the convoy. If you are ever dropped from the bunch, it is important that you use the convoy to get back on. This generally involves motor pacing behind various team cars, resting then moving to the next one until you eventually make it back to the peloton.

Leading out. This is a tactic used by teams or individuals to set up a sprint. Riders line up and drive the pace, putting out a sustained effort before peeling off until the last rider is left to sprint for the win. This is an effective way of driving the pace in the lead up to a sprint.

Motor pacing back on. The art of using a car, motorbike or rider to draft behind with the aim to get back on to the bunch. I was paced back on by the team car.

Moving up. An important skill of bike racing. You must always move up the bunch/peloton. This will mean that you will always be riding towards the front.

Off the back. Similar term to that of getting dropped. When a rider loses touch with the peloton and is effectively off the back.

Back on. A term used to describe when a rider is off the back of the peloton and then manages to get back on.

Peloton or pelo. The group of riders racing.

Pile up. When riders crash in a pile on the road.

Pointing or calling at obstacles. If you can call or point to an obstacle on the road, do so. There is noting more annoying than hitting a pot hole at speed on your carbon rims. Be alert and courteous to the person on your wheel.

Pulling turns. When you are on the front (driving the pace) and pull off to let someone else continue the work, the cycle continues as each rider pulls off after pulling there turn. This enables a faster speed to be maintained as each rider puts in a hard short effort.

Pointing. Often used to take a wheel that you want without being obnoxious or aggressive. A simple point of the finger to indicate where you would like to go generally results in you ending up where you want to go.

Responding. This happens the moment after someone in the peloton attacks. The rider responds to chase, suck their wheel with the general goal to not let them get away.

Sitting in. The art of using the peloton to conserve your energy. Sitting in the middle of the bunch means that you are protected, out of the wind and using less energy than everyone else. She sat in all day and sprinted for the win.

Stealing a wheel. When someone is following the wheel you want in the peloton, you move to steal it from them.

Surfing the peloton. The fine art of navigating your way around the peloton. Done with grace and ease and always ending in the perfect position.

Splinter or split peloton. When the peloton is split up, usually as a result of an attack, chase, terrain, sprint point, wind etc. The peloton is splintered into smaller groups.

Up the road. A term that refers to riders, generally in a break, that have left the peloton and are up the road.

Up up up. A method of alerting the peloton to an attack. Not only is it incredibly annoying if someone says this when you are attacking, it is detrimental to your team if you foolishly call “up up up” when your team mate is attacking. Just don’t do it.

Washing machine. What happens to your position within the bunch when trying to maintain a position towards the front. You are churned around like a washing machine, one moment at the front, one moment at the side, one moment at the back.

The wheel. A term to describe a rider. I was on a good wheel when the sprint started.

Wheel sucking. When you follow the rider in front of you, drafting, and sucking their wheel as if your life depended on it. On a windy day, you will realise how important this art is. Drop that wheel and you will regret it.

Zig Zaggig. A movement across the road, generally used when you are on the front of a peloton and want to get off and everyone follows you not allowing it, when you are playing cat and mouse in the lead up to a sprint, when the gradient is way too steep to ride up in a straight line.

If I’ve missed any let me know and I’ll add them in!

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Author: Verita Stewart

Cyclist for Specialized, Instagramer, blogger, desk sitter, coffee lover, recycler

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