Cyclists use a lot of jargon in their everyday conversations, and sometimes it doesn't make much sense.
Ever wondered what some of these words actually mean? We've got you covered. Every few days, we'll be incrementally adding a handful of words to this Cycling Glossary, so be sure to keep checking back here.
À bloc: Giving it everything you’ve got. Also interchangeable with “full gas.” Looks a little something like this.
Aero: Aero is everything. Short for aerodynamic. This can be achieved through aero helmets, aero positioning, and aero skinsuits that reduce wind drag. Want to see one way we make our riders more aero with Specialized?
Autobus: A group usually consisting of sprinters and domestiques who’ve finished their duties for the day, that bands together in an attempt to survive a tough mountain stage. There’s said to be a strong sense of camaraderie within the autobus.
Bacon: Nasty scrapes, scars and abrasions that are sustained as a result of crashing. Also referred to as “road rash.”
Bibs: Otherwise known as “bib shorts,” which are essentially cycling shorts with suspenders. These Sportful Bodyfit Pro Ltd Bibshorts will make you ride like Pascal Ackermann, we promise.
Bootie: Shoe covers worn by cyclists in the rain to protect their shoes, like these from Sportful.
Brew: Slang for coffee. A prerequisite to our rides. Here, Lukas Pöstlberger sums up our love for our coffee sponsor, Merchant & Friends.
Broom wagon: The vehicle in the race convoy that “sweeps up” riders who have hit the wall or are otherwise unable to continue the race. No rider wants to climb into the broom wagon.
Bunny hop: Leaping over small obstacles on the road while on the bike. Both wheels lose contact with the road as the rider manoeuvres the bike into the air. To observe true mastery of the bunny hop, consult this famous footage of Peter Sagan bunny hopping 29 stairs during our training camp on Mallorca.
Chasse patate: French phrase that refers to when a rider attempts to bridge to the breakaway, but cannot quite make it, yet also does not surrender to the peloton behind. A fruitless endeavour that leaves one essentially dangling in no man’s land.
Domestique: The unsung heroes of any cycling team. They support their teammates by taking long pulls at the front, chasing down moves, and fetching supplies. One of the best moments of our 2019 season? Seeing one of our best domestiques atop the podium at the Giro d’Italia. You’ll want to watch how domestique extraordinaire Cesare Benedetti took his first pro win on Stage 15 of the Corsa Rosa. Who’s cutting onions in here!
Directeur Sportif: The Sports Director, who is responsible for running the team on the ground at races and planning tactics. At most races, we have two Sports Directors, who each drive a car as part of the race convoy. It is from here that they direct the riders via radio. In the back of the car there usually sits a mechanic, who will often refer to the Sports Director as his “chauffeur.”
Drafting: Riding behind a teammate or competitor to sit in his slipstream, thereby saving energy. It’s estimated that one expends around 25 per cent less energy when drafting.
Echelon: Truly a sight to behold, for those watching on TV at least. A diagonal formation of riders who line up in an attempt to benefit from drafting when caught in the crosswinds. When echelons form, you know the race is on, and in a stage race, if a GC rider gets caught in the wrong place, his ambitions could bite the dust.
Feed zone: The designated area along the race route where riders take on food and drink, and is one of the many native habitats of our soigneurs. Here’s a soigneur demonstrating his bidon dispensing prowess in the feed zone at the Tour Down Under this year.
Green Jersey: Known as the “maillot vert” in French, it is awarded to the winner of the points classification in the Tour de France. Points are collected at intermediate sprints, and the stage finishes during the race. The record for the most green jerseys won at the Tour is seven, held by the Green Hulk himself, Peter Sagan.
Gruppo compatto: Meaning “compact group,” it refers to when the main field has collected all riders from a breakaway.
Hors Catégorie: French term meaning “beyond category,” which is a rating given to the toughest climbs in races such as the Tour de France.
Lanterne rouge: Meaning “red lantern” in French, the term refers to the red brake lights on the rear of a freight train, or the lantern that was traditionally hung on the last carriage of a passenger train. In cycling, it refers to the rider who sits in last place in the general classification.
Lead-out: A technique for contesting bunch sprints, whereby a teammate will accelerate with his sprinter drafting behind. A line of several lead-out riders is used to form a lead-out train to push the pace higher and reduce the chance of other teams launching attacks. The goal is to have the team’s designated sprinter expend as little of his own energy as possible, and for him to be riding at a high speed by the time his last lead-out man swings off the front, in the hopes that he can then use the rest of his energy reserves to win the sprint. Who’s the lead-out man behind Pascal Ackermann’s countless sprint victories? Rudi Selig, one of the best in the business, who is often seen celebrating like this when his sprinter wins. Rudi explains in this piece his role as a lead-out rider.
Magic Spanner: Cheeky move by a mechanic, who will pretend to tinker with a rider’s bike from the team car, only to allow said rider some respite from racing as he holds onto the car.
Minuteman: The rider who was released from the start house one minute in front of the next competitor. If they get close enough, strong time triallists will use their minuteman as a carrot, and aim to overtake him.
Mountain goat: A rider who is a gifted climber. Emanuel Buchmann is the leader of BORA – hansgrohe’s herd of mountain goats.
Musette bag: A small bag with a shoulder strap, which soigneurs hand out to riders at the feed zone, and will contain food and drink for the rest of the stage.
Pack fodder: A negative term used to describe riders who don’t take turns at the front, and simply bide their time in the peloton.
Panache: Flamboyant confidence or courage on the bike. To ride with style and flair. We’d like to think we’ve got this in spades. Daniel Oss and Lukas Pöstlberger make our case.
Pavé: French for cobblestone. Like this one, which was held aloft by Peter Sagan at the 2018 edition of Paris-Roubaix.
#Pöstipower: Lukas never really gave us a strict definition. But it could look something like this.
Publicity caravan: A procession of impressively decked-out vehicles that drives along the route before the riders, often at Grand Tours. The caravan at the Tour de France has been known to include moving exhibits such as oversized barnyard animals and giant bottles of detergent, from which enthusiastic individuals will hurl free swag at delighted spectators.
Rainbow jersey: One of the most coveted jerseys in professional cycling, which is awarded to the winner of UCI World Championship titles. The record for the most consecutive men’s elite road world titles is held by… Peter Sagan, with three wins in a row.
Road captain: A rider with significant experience and race smarts who instructs teammates about tactics and makes quick-thinking decisions based on what’s happening in the race. The best road captain you can hope for at a race like the Tour de France is someone like Marcus Burghardt.
Road furniture: Obstacles during a road race that need to be avoided, such as barriers or medians.
Road rash: Abrasions to the skin as a result of a crash. Also see “bacon” above.
Queen Stage: The toughest day of a stage race which takes place in the mountains. Known as “Königsetappe” (King Stage) in German. Climbers rejoice, sprinters beware.
Silberling: German word that we use to refer to rice cakes prepared by our soigneurs, which they wrap in silver foil. Comes in both sweet and salty variety.
Service Course: The bike servicing and logistical hub of the team. At different times throughout the year, our Service Course will be home to 230 bicycles, 35000 bidons, 1400 tires and our fleet of 35 team vehicles. Our mechanics are known to disappear into the Service Course, only to emerge weeks later. No wonder, each of our 17 mechanics spends over 600 hours per year preparing bikes.
Slingshot: Riding in the slipstream of another rider, and then launching an attack to move past him at a higher speed.
Steed: Slang term for a bicycle. Our beautiful fleet from Specialized is listed here.
Squirrel: riders who have a reputation for being unable to maintain their line. Beware!
Tifosi: Cycling fans from Italy. Daniel Oss’ “Tifossi” would claim that these are the best type of fans. Rest assured, we love all fans equally.
Wheelie: A manoeuvre whereby the rider raises the front wheel off the ground, balances on the bike, and then resumes pedalling. Peter Sagan demonstrated this on a 17% gradient climb during the 2019 Tour de France time trial. The highest and purest form of the wheelie is the rare no-handed wheelie.
Wild pigs: Brake pads that are not adjusted properly, and therefore squeal when used.