'Off the What?' A Bicycle Racing Glossary

Abandon: To quit during a race and remove yourself from competition.

Attack: A sudden acceleration, usually by a solo rider, to move ahead of another rider or group of riders.



Block: A tactical move in which a rider or group of riders slows down at the front of the main group in order to disrupt the speed of the group by causing its riders to slow down.

Bonk: Total exhaustion caused by lack of sufficient glycogen (carbohydrates/food) during a long race or ride. Also sometimes called a "hunger knock."

Boxed in: To be trapped in a group of riders and unable to go forward, back or sideways.

Break, breakaway: A rider or group of riders that has left the main group behind, gaining an advantage.

Bridge: To leave one group of riders and join another group or rider that is further ahead.



Cadence: Pedaling rate, in revolutions per minute of one of the cyclist's feet.

Caravan, race caravan: The official and support vehicles in a race.

Chainring: A large toothed ring (part of the chainset) that drives the chain via the pedals and cranks.

Chase, chasers: Riders trying to catch a breakaway group or rider.

Clipless: A type of pedal and matching shoe in which the shoes lock into the pedal via the sole of the shoe. The system does not use the old "toe clip" (toe strap) style; hence "clipless."

Cranks: The arms which drive the chainwheels. Cranks are bolted to the crankshaft.

Crosswind: Wind that comes from either side.



Derailleur: The mechanism that moves the chain from one chainring or sprocket to another. A racing bicycle has a front and a rear derailleur.

Directeur/director sportif: The team coach and/or manager. French for "sporting director."

Doping: Using chemicals or substances to boost performance -- usually refers to the use of substances that have been banned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), cycling's international governing body.

DNF: "Did not finish" race or stage.

DNS: "Did not start" a stage during a stage race. Rider not allowed to continue racing if they elect not to start a stage.

Domestique: A team rider who will sacrifice his/her individual performance to help a designated teammate. Duties can include giving up one's bike for another rider, supplying refreshments to teammates, catching breakaway riders. French for "servant."

Draft: To ride closely behind a competitor, saving energy by using that racer as a wind break. Riding behind a rider is much less strenuous and can give a 30% energy-savings advantage.

Drop, dropped: When a rider can no longer maintain contact with another rider or group of riders and trails off the back.



Echelon: A staggered line of riders, with each rider positioned downwind and off to the side of the rider ahead, creating a diagonal effect. In strong crosswinds, a large group will form into echelons.



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