· How To Ride

When you’re traveling to a new country, you look up basic terminology to help get you through your stay. When you accept a new job, you prepare by familiarizing yourself with the industry lingo. No matter what new venture it is, knowing how to talk-the-talk will get you far … or at least make it seem like you know what the heck’s going on.

New to the cycling world? Pull up a chair and let’s get you up to speed on the cycling lingo you need to know before gearing up.

  Cycling Lingo #1: Kit

Your cycling kit is your ensemble made up of a top and matching shorts or leggings. There are advantages to wearing proper cycling apparel versus everyday wear: reduced air resistance, moisture absorbent materials and cooling fabrics. So when someone tells you to grab your kit, they are not taking about your first aid one (although, that might be a good thing to have as well).

  Cycling Lingo #2: Bonk

If you skip on necessary food and hydration during a ride, you risk bonking. When you bonk, you feel as though you’ve hit a wall and physically can no longer pedal. You may become light-headed or experience muscle fatigue, and need to rest ASAP. Remember: always stay hydrated and properly fueled.

  Cycling Lingo #3: Clipless

The term “clipless” refers to clipless pedals which you might think you clip into, but you actually click into them. Prior to clipless pedals, cyclists used toe-clip pedals that attached to the front of the pedal and surrounded the toes. Although some prefer keep their toe-clips, many have chosen to transition to clipless pedals.

  Cycling Lingo #4: Shifting

Don’t confuse shifting with being shifty; shifting in cycling is a good thing! Shifting refers to switching from one gear to the next. This is important when faced with varying terrains and inclines, and it helps to maintain constant cadence.

  Cycling Lingo #5: Half-wheeling

Don’t be this person … just don’t. Half-wheeling is when a rider rides a half-wheel ahead of the person in front of them. It’s incredibly annoying, so if you hear someone telling you to stop half-wheeling, remedy the habit immediately.

  Cycling Lingo #6: Chamois (or shammy)

Pronouncing this term incorrectly is the quickest way to earning yourself a rookie reputation. A chamois is the pad in the seat of your cycling shorts that cushions your bottom and prevents chaffing. Incorrect: when referring to an animal you say, ‘”sham-wah.” Correct: when referring to the cloth you say, “shammy.”

  Cycling Lingo #7: Hammer

When you hear the term “hammer,” it’s time to pedal hard while you’re on the big gears (a.k.a highest gears). Feel the burn!

Cycling Lingo #8: Cross-chaining

This is a big no-no that any experienced cyclist will be quick to point out if they see you doing it. This refers to the incorrect location of the chain in relation to the front gear chainrings and rear cogs. Cross-chaining can cause unnecessary wear, so avoid at all costs.

  Cycling Lingo #9: Rookie Mark

This is the easiest way to separate the pros from the novices: the rookie mark. If someone says to you, “nice rookie mark,” then you know the taunting has just begun. The rookie mark is when a rider’s right calf has a greasy chainring mark on it. To avoid this, don’t press your leg against the chainring.


We hope you’ve enjoyed this quick lesson in cycling lingo. Now get out there and show those roadies what you’ve got!

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