Master cycling terms with this guide for beginners

Cycling jargon is more extensive than it seems and can sometimes confuse us, especially if we are just becoming familiar with it. There are so many cycling terms that you could practically build a dictionary with them. However, it is important to understand them in order to better manage in this sport, to be aware at all times of what we are doing -and if we are doing it in the right way- and to learn more about our passion (regardless of whether you train on mountain passes or on an indoor bike). We explain them below!

Cycling dictionary, the most commonly used terms

When we talk about cycling concepts, we refer mainly to those that take place when using a bicycle, including parts, expressions between cyclists and of course those related to competitions such as the Tour. In this section you can find some of the most used cycling terms:

  • Fan: This term is part of the cycling glossary and is used to refer to the formation that the cycling peloton adopts to protect itself from the wind coming from the side.
  • Sharpener: This is an action in which the front wheel rubs against the rear wheel of the rider in front, causing the first rider to fall.
  • Water carrier: This is the rider who is in charge of supplying water to the rest of the team. First to the team leader and then to the rest of the teammates.
  • Carpet: An expression that refers to asphalt, generally when a terrain is freshly paved and the feeling of pedaling across it is much better.
  • Riding in escape: Consists of escaping from the group in front.
  • Pad: It is the pad inside the bib shorts and serves as a means of protection against shocks and chafing from the bicycle saddle.
  • Baggy: It is a pant-like garment, but looser than the culotte. It is generally used by mountain bikers in aggressive disciplines such as Downhill and Enduro.
  • Open downhill: It consists of facing a downhill without fear and taking risks in each curve. The danger is not taken into account.
  • Goat: This is an informal way of referring to bikes specifically designed for triathlons or time trials.
  • Cadence: When talking about cycling, concepts and meanings, it is very common to find an infinite number of references to cadence. This refers to the number of pedal strokes per minute.
  • Capo: This is the name given to the leader of the team or peloton.
  • Cazaetapas: A stage-hunter is a cyclist who specializes in winning stages or races in a single day.
  • Cebarse: Corresponds to riding over the limits.
  • Cepo: Cepo is used to refer to very heavy bicycles and components.
  • Chichonera: It was a typical cycling head protector years ago, usually made of leather. It was used before helmets were common.
  • Chupar rueda: It is to ride behind another cyclist in order to protect oneself from the wind and without moving from that position.
  • Criterium: A type of unofficial cycling race in which professional and amateur athletes compete. They are usually held in short urban circuits closed to traffic.
  • Demarraje: It is a strong and fast acceleration to leave the other cyclists behind.
  • Development: This cycling term refers to the combination of the bicycle’s chainrings and sprockets. The larger the chainring and the smaller the sprocket, the greater the development and, therefore, the more meters are covered per pedal stroke (however, the effort is higher).
  • Red lantern: The name given to the last rider to qualify in a competition.
  • Skinny: Informal name for road bicycles.
  • Background: The amount of effort that can be endured on a bicycle. There tends to be a greater depth when training consistently (it is proportional).
  • V-brake: A braking system that works by frictioning a disc mounted on the wheel hub instead of those mounted by rubbing against the rim with brake pads.
  • Rooster: A renowned and prominent rider, usually the leader of a team.
  • Gumming up: A move that takes place by many riders before they completely disengage from the peloton. It involves giving up a few meters and having the ability to recover them on different occasions.
  • Full throttle: When you ride a large chainring with a small sprocket and, in addition, you ride at full speed.
  • Launcher: A road or track cyclist who is characterized by helping his team’s main sprinter to achieve his victories. To do so, he acts as a gregario in the last kilometers before giving him the relay.
  • Jersey: It is the cyclists’ upper garment used to improve aerodynamics and comfort, but also to differentiate them in competitions, such as the Tour. You can read about the meaning of the colors of the jersey in the Tour in this article.
  • Grinder: Consists of pedaling in an agile manner.
  • Montonera: It is a fall that affects several cyclists at the same time.
  • Monuments of cycling: The five most prestigious cycling competitions: Milan-San Remo (Italy), Tour of Flanders (Belgium), Paris-Roubaix (France), Liège-Bastogne-Liège (Belgium) and Giro di Lombardia (Italy).
  • Peloton: This is the name given to the main and largest group in a road cycling competition.
  • Reach: This is a measurement of the frame geometry used to define the reach of the frame. It is measured horizontally from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the head tube.
  • Relay: In the cycling glossary, a relay is the collaboration between two or more cyclists to maintain a high pace and share the expenditure of power.
  • Riding without a chain: When you ride too fast or too hard, with the feeling that there are no chains.
  • Rompepiernas: Terrain with abundant climbs and descents of great magnitude.
  • Frying pan: This is how the largest chainrings are defined, with more than 42 teeth.
  • Stack: This is a measurement of frame geometry used to define height and is measured vertically from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the head tube.
  • Tornante: These are horseshoe-shaped curves that concentrate important percentages of gradient in mountain passes.
  • Trialera: A very narrow and technical road that usually concentrates a large number of accidents.
  • Tubeless: A tire without a separate inner tube. These are mounted directly on the rim.
  • Roman dress: Wearing full cycling gear.
  • Brake shoe: The part used for braking in a V-brake system. These are made of rubber and generate friction on the rim.

Indoor cycling vocabulary, for those who train at home

In the world of indoor cycling, the cycling dictionary is also taken into account, since many of the practitioners are professional cyclists who make use of bikes like the ZBike 2.0 or any type of bike trainer in order to improve their performance. And the fact is that these workouts can be more effective than going out to ride for hours, since they are more specific and save time on commuting. Moreover, they can be used at any time, regardless of the weather. In fact, bikes and rollers are the best option for those who are always on a tight schedule. For all these reasons, it is important to talk about the glossary, cycling and the specific terms of indoor cycling, we can highlight the following:

  • Indoor cycling bike: This is a type of exercise bike designed for professional cyclists and fitness enthusiasts. This type of bike has the latest technological features to offer the most realistic cycling sensations.
  • Cleats: Or pedals with cleats. They allow us to attach the cycling shoes to the bike for more efficient pedaling and a rounded pedal stroke.
  • Performance monitor: This screen shows the most important data while cycling, such as speed, distance covered, cadence or heart rate. We can also find indoor cycling apps that are installed on smartphones and fulfill the same function.
  • Heart rate monitor: This device is used to monitor the cyclist’s heart rate and provide information on training intensity.
  • Magnetic resistance: This is a resistance system that uses magnets to adjust the difficulty of pedaling. It can be found in the latest generation of cycling rollers.
  • Indoor cycling roller: Cycling rollers are used to practice indoor cycling and carry out training sessions with the bicycle without leaving home. They can be different from each other, such as direct drive rollers, smart rollers and roller rollers. The latter can also be used for warm-ups prior to any cycling competition.
  • Cycling simulator: A cycling simulator is a software used to synchronize with the indoor bike or rollers and follow a workout on different terrains (and difficulty levels), but without the need to leave home.
  • Quick adjustment system: Corresponds to the mechanism that allows the rider to quickly adjust both the saddle and handlebar height to an optimal position.
  • Drive system: This is responsible for transmitting the movement of the pedals. There can be several drive systems, such as belt drive or chain drive.
  • Sprint: This corresponds to a short period of pedaling, but of high intensity, performed at the maximum possible speed.
  • Climb: In indoor cycling it corresponds to the climbing phase on the bicycle, generally represents the ascent of a mountain pass and is performed standing on the bicycle.
  • Flat terrain: This is the rest area, it is worked at a gentle or moderate intensity to recover after a climb. It has a longer duration compared to the other phases within the same stage of training.

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