Cycle sport has a rich vocabulary of terms and phrases. These often come from the traditional heartlands of cycle sport. French, Italian and Flemish words abound. There is often more than one word for the same thing, cobbled roads are referred to as cobbles, pave or kinderkopje. Knowing some of these is sometimes useful, often fun, never essential. We’ve put together this list of popular phrases which we hope will add to your enjoyment of bike racing, If there are any words or phrases you would like to know, or perhaps a favourite phrase we have left out please let us know and we’ll add it to the list. The following list is far from comprehensive, we’ll keep adding more. They are mainly road terms. Off road, cyclocross, track have their own sweet dialects of this universal tongue

A bloc To ride at full gas
Aerobars Extension of the handlebars usually allowing the rider to rest his elbows and benefit from improved aerodynamics. Often found on Time Trial bikes
Aankomst arrival, the finish line (Flemish)
Abandon when a rider quits during a race
Arrivée arrival, the finish line (French)
Achtervolgers (Flemish for) Chasers riders trying to reach another group ahead of them
Arm Warmer Sleeves for keeping your arms warm. They’re easy to put on and remove and they easily fit in a jersey pocket.
Attack To quickly accelerate while riding in a pack, or in smaller numbers, with a view to create a gap between yourself and other riders
Baroudeur courageous rider compensating moderate ability by combative riding
Bell Lap In races with laps, like criteriums which typically race around city blocks, or cyclocross, which follows a fixed route, the bell lap is when the official at the starting line rings a bell. This is done either to signal a one-lap race within the race to contest a mid-race prime (the winner of that lap gets a prize), or as a signal that you’re on the final lap and it’s time to do your best to win.
Bidon Plastic Water Bottle that fits into a cage mounted to the bike frame
Blow up When a rider has gone into oxygen debt and loses the ability to maintain pace
Bob The boyfriend of an addictive rider
Bonk To completely run out of energy. Sometimes a rider will forget to eat or think he has enough food to make it to the finish without stopping to get food. The result can be catastrophic as the rider’s body runs out of glycogen, the stored chemical the muscles burn for energy
Bottle See Bidon
Break Short for Breakaway
Breakaway One or more riders escaping from the front of peloton, usually as the result of a sudden acceleration called an “attack”. Riders will work together sharing the effort of breaking the wind hoping to improve their chances of winning by arriving at the finish in a smaller group.
Broom See Broom wagon
Broom Wagon
Vehicle that follows a group of riders or a race. In a recreational ride may carry spares and food. May pick up (sweep up) riders who cannot finish. A bessom broom is often tied to the bak of the vehicle to show following cars what it is. Uusally last vehicle in the convoy that follows a race
Bunny Hop A useful maneuver for clearing obstacles such as curbs and logs. You either jump and lift both wheels simultaneously or you lift the front and then the rear wheel.
Campagnolo/Campag A revered Italian manufacturer of road components and wheelsets. Founded by Tullio Campagnolo in 1933.
Thin cotton racing cap with small peak. Before helmets (Casques) this little helmet was used to protect from sun and rain or peak turned  backwards for aerodynamic advantage,  and was thought to help the head in the event of a crash. Now used mainly off the bike or under helmets when racing in Belgium
Cadence The rate at which a cyclist pedals (in revolutions per minute)
Cassette Assembly of gears on the rear wheel hub
Chain Gang A group of cyclists cycling in a close knit formation akin to a road race, normally for the purposes of training
Chainrings Gears on the front of the bike, part of the crank arm assembly
Chase/Chase on Rider or group of riders trying to catch riders in front
Chapeau French for hat. Translates as “I take my hat off to…” and is a sign of admiration or approval
Chute Crash (French)
Cima (Italian) Summit
Close the gap When riding in a group being close to the riser in front provides shelter from the wind. When a small gap opens the aerodynamicadvantage reduces. Close the gap is often shouted by riders behind as an instruction to get back to the riders wheel or as an intention that “I’m going to close the gap”. The small effort to close this gap is a lot less than having to chase on if the gap gets too big
Cleat Cleats attach to the bottom of a cycling shoes and are used with Clipless Pedals
Clipless Misleading name for a pedal-and-shoe system where the clips or cleats clip onto the soles of special shoes
Components The moving parts of a bike that are attached to the frame
Contre-la-montre See Time Trial
Crack When a cyclist runs out of strength or energy
Crank arm/cranks The metal arms to which the pedals attach
Crevaison (French) Puncture
Crosswind Wind that comes from either side
Criterium A race on a closed short distance course with multiple laps. Often but not always a 4-cornered course; often includes primes (short for premiums and rhymes with ‘seems’) which are points or prizes for intermediate laps. Course length varies from 800 meters to 5 kilometers
Crono See Time Trial
Derailleur Those things that move the chain and change gears, one in the front and one in the back
Director sportive French for “sport director,” the directeur sportif is responsible for managing almost all logistical concerns of the racing team he/she is in charge of. At the highest levels of cycling, during races, the directeur sportif drives behind the peloton watching live race coverage on a dashboard-mounted TV and informs his team on proper race strategy via radio. He may also pass out drinks and help with medical or mechanical issues
DNF Did Not Finish. Used in results to denote that the rider started but did not complete the race
DNS Did Not Start. Used in results to denote a rider who was entered in a race but failed to start
Domestique Because bicycle racing is a sport contested by teams and won by individuals a rider designated to be the team leader has his teammates work for him. These riders have been called domestiques since Tour founder Henri Desgrange used it as a term of contempt
Dossard Race number worn on back of race jersey or skinsuit
Draft/Drafting Riding behind another rider or  riders  in their aerodynamic slipstream
Drop/Dropped To be left behind a group of riders – see off the back
Drops (on the Drops) riding on the the lower part of a down-turned handlebar
Échappée See Breakaway
Echelon When the riders are hit with a side wind they must ride slightly to the right or left of the rider in front in order to remain in that rider’s slipstream, instead of riding nose to tail in a straight line. This staggered line puts those riders further back in the pace line in the gutter. Because they can’t edge further to the side, they have to take more of the brunt of both the wind and the wind drag of their forward motion
Electrolytes substances such as sodium, potassium, and chloride that are necessary for muscle contraction and maintenance of body fluid levels
Equipe Cycling Team
Equipier See Domestic
Etape A stage in a mulit stage road race. If the race is run over several days each days race is a stage or “Etape”
Etape reine Queen stage, the crucial mountain stage in a race. (Queen because mountain is a feminine noun in French)
Field See Pelton
Fixed Gear A direct drive between the rear wheel and the cranks. The rear cog is locked onto the rear hub so that the rider cannot freewheel. Used on track bikes, mad couriers and Tony Brooks
Flamme rouge the red kit symbol signalling 1km to the finish
Following a wheel Riding behind and close to a rider to obtain an aerodynamic advantage
Forcing the pace To increase the speed of the group to the point that other riders have trouble keeping up
Fred A person who spends a lot of money on his bike and clothing, but still can’t ride
Front mech See Derailleur
Gap A distance between two or more riders large enough for drafting to no longer be effective
Glass Cranking to rotate the pedals without actually applying power, but trying to hide this from those you are riding with, A tactic to slow a chasing group by rides on the front
Good wheel to follow Denotes a rider who it is good to follow on the road to take shelter from the wind. Normally this rider will not only be strong enough to keep a good pace, but will ride smoothly, behave predictably and give clear shouts and signals. It also helps if they are big enough to provide some shelter. A 6ft rider following a 5ft rider gets less shelter than the other way round
Gregario Italian for Domestique
Grimpeur (French for) Climber
Group See Peloton. Also used for smaller number of riders riding together
Half-wheel To ride half a wheel in front of another on training rides and group rides. No matter how much the pursuer speeds up to keep up with him/her, s/he stays that distance ahead, forcing the speed up
Hammer To ride hard. “to give it some hammer”  and “hammering it”
Hammered Exhausted
Hit the wall See Bonk
Hooks the curved portions of drop handle bars are called the hooks
Hybrid A bicycle that is a compromise between a road bike and a mountain bike
Intervals a structured method of training that alternates brief, hard efforts with short periods of easier riding for partial recovery
ITT Individual Time Trial
Jersey A cycling shirt with pockets in the back, often decorated with team colors and sponsors’ logos. Tight fitting for arodynamic advantage, modern sport materials for comfort. Special colored jerseys in races such as the Tour de France denote the leader in a certain category
Jump A quick acceleration
Kermesse A lap road race much like a criterium but the course is longer, up to 10 kilometres
Kick Accelerating quickly with a few pedal strokes in an effort to break away from other riders
Kilos Kilometres. Cyclists usually measure speed and distance in Kilometres, partly because of the European heritage of the sport, but mainly to confuse non cyclists
Kinderkopje Dutch for Pave (cobblestones)
Knock See Bonk
KOM King of the Mountains
Lanterne rouge French for “red lantern”, as found at the end of a railway train, and the name given to the rider placed last in a race
Lead out A sacrificial race tactic in which you allow a teammate to draft immediately behind you (“on your wheel”) as you accelerate to high speed, to give them a head start for their own impending attack or sprint
Lycra A fabric made by DuPont that’s highly breathable, stretchy and comfortable. It’s widely used in cycling clothing because it fits so nicely and moves so well with the body when you’re riding. It’s also extremely durable
MAMIL Middle-Aged Men In Lycra
Mecahnico See Mechanical
Mechanical A problem with the function of a rider’s bike, usually not a flat tire
Minute Man In a time trial the rider who starts a minute ahead. It’s always a goal in a time trial to try to catch one’s minute-man
Musette A cloth bag containing food and drinks handed up to the rider in the feed zone. It has a long strap so the rider can slip his arm through it easily on the fly, then put the strap over his shoulder to carry it while he transfers the food to his jersey pockets.
Neutral support At a ride or race, neutral support means if you have a mechanical there is assistance on the course available to all riders (versus in racing where team riders receive support from their own mechanics who will not help other riders)
Off the Back when a rider is dropped, or cannot keep up with the pace of the windshield and falls behind
On the rivet Riding very hard. (Some old leather bike saddles had a rivet on the nose of the saddle, and you tend to sit closer to the nose when pedaling very hard.)
On the Hoods Ridging with your hands around the brake hoods
On the Tops Riding with the hands on the top of the handlebars like the brake leavers
On your wheel Riding  close to the rear wheel of the rider ahead of you. Used to inform the rider that you have positioned yourself in their slipstream for optimum drafting
Overgeared The rider is using a gear combination which is too high or “hard” given the circumstances
Overtraining deep-seated fatigue, both physical and mental, caused by training at an intensity or volume too great for adaptation
Paceline A single file of riders, each of which takes his turn battling the wind at the front
Palmarès Cyclists list of race results
Paniagua Bread and water. To race paniagua means racing without performance-enhancing drugs
Parcours Race Course
Pavé French for a cobblestone road
Pedalling squares Riding with considerable fatigue such that the rider is unable to maintain an efficient pedalling form that is strong and smooth
Peloton The main group of riders traveling together in a race. Breaks leave the front of it, dropped riders exit its rear. Synonyms:  bunch, group, field, pack
Pinch Flat an internal puncture marked by two small holes caused by the tube being squeezed against the rim. It results from riding into an object too hard for the air pressure in the tube
Piano riding at a gentle pace
Prime  special award given to the leader on selected laps during a criterium, or the first rider to reach a certain landmark in a road or cross-country race. It’s used to heighten the action. Pronounced “preem.”
Prologue A short time trial held on the first day of a stage race, before Stage 1
Primavera (Italian for Spring) the the nickname of the Milan-Sanremo race
Pull A stint at the front
Pull off 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
Puncheur rider capable of frequent attacks
Presta High Pressue Valve found on road bike inner tubes
Quick Release Bolts with levers attached, for easy adjustment and removal of wheels
Race of Truth See Time Trial
Randonee A very long recreational event, lasting two or three days
Rear Mech See Derailleur
Road Rash Large abrasions on a rider’s legs and body caused by a crash, particularly on asphalt
Rouler rider capable of fast riding on the flat
Saddle Bike seat
Sag wagon See Broom Wagon
Schrader  inner tube valve identical to those found on car tires. A tiny plunger in the center of its opening must be depressed for air to enter or exit. Moutain bikes and Hybrids – see Presta#
Shifter The leaver that changes the gears
Shimano The Japanese company that’s the worldwide leading manufacturer of bicycle components. Founded by Shozaburo Shimano in 1922
Soft Pedal to rotate the pedals without actually applying power
member of team staff who looks after the riders, performing duties such as giving massages, handing up food and water bottles
Sit up When a rider eases his or her efforts and stops pulling or maintaining the pace of the group
Sit-on and Sit-in To ride behind another rider without taking a turn on the front
Slipstream The still air behind a rider. At racing speeds most of a rider’s effort goes into overcoming air resistance, and it’s therefore significantly easier to ride in the slipstream of another rider than to break the air yourself.
Speed wobble Also called “shimmy,” this is a dangerous side-to-side front-end oscillation while riding caused by a damaged or in-need-of-repair bicycle, or road/trail conditions. It starts off slowly and gets worse and can easily lead to losing control and crashing. To stop a speed wobble, clamp your knees against the top tube and slow down. If it happens often have your bicycle checked for problems
Soigneur A member of the team staff who cares for the riders, including physical therapy, food preparation, transport, etc. French for “care giver.”
Spin Smooth Pedal motion
Spuds “SPD” (Shimano Pedalling Dynamics) clipless pedals
Take a Flyer to suddenly sprint away from a group
Tempo Steady pace at the front of a group of riders
Ti Pronounced “Tie” The periodic-table abbreviation for titanium, expensive and light metal used for bike components and wedding rings
Tifosi Italian cycle sport fan
Time Trial A race in which either an individual or team rides over a specific distance against the clock. It is intended to be an unpaced ride in which either the individual or team is not allowed to draft a competitor. The riders are started at specific intervals, usually 1 minute for Individual TTs. Fastest time wins See Know Your Racing
Train A fast moving paceline of riders, often comprising teammates working together for tactical purposes
Trainer A piece of equipment that a bicycle stands on so that the rear wheel can spin while the bicycle is stationary, allowing stationary riding
Tri Bars See Aerobars
TTT Team Time Trial
Turbo-trainer See Trainer
Turn Time spent on the front of a group or Paceline
UCI Union Cycliste Internationale, the international governing body of cycling
Velodrome An oval bike racing track with banked curves
Velo Slang for bicycle from the early French term “velocipede.”
Voiture Balai See Broom Wagon
Water Bottle See Bidon
Water Carrier See Domestique
Watt a measurement of power produced. It tells how much force is applied to the pedals
Wheel sucker Someone who sticks to somebody’s rear wheel and refuses to go to the front
Wipe out A crash
Work To work is to do turns on the front, to aid a group of riders by sharing the workload of working against air resistance