Friday Amusement: Gravel Cycling Dictionary

All Show and No Go – A not so great cyclist with state of the art bicycles and clothing… see JOM for reference.

Attack – To quickly accelerate while riding in a pack, or in smaller numbers, with a view to creating a gap between yourself and other riders.  Typically happens when the lead rider is in the middle of a massive turn on the front, or has just finished a massive turn on the front.  Some riders will go to excruciating lengths to orchestrate the perfect attack.  The perfect attack would involve a lot of sandbagging and wheelsucking beforehand.

Variation: Bottle Rocket Attack.

Berg – A very short, horribly steep climb.

Big Ring – The business end of things. AKA the big chainring, the place most cyclists wish they could spend their pedaling lives. If you can push the big ring on a steep gravel incline, you might be a professional cyclist.

Variation #1: A cyclist who is a known big noter AKA smack talker, is often referred to as a Big Ring.  The vernacular “ring” has alternative meanings in British and Australian English.
Variation #2: Big Blade – What South African cyclists call the the Big Ring.

Biker – When we last checked, a “biker” is person who rides a motorcycle.  We believe if you ride a bicycle, you’re a Cyclist.  You’re not “biking”, you’re cycling.

Blocking – Cyclists of one team who set a relatively slow tempo at the front of a group to control the speed, often to the advantage of one of their teammates who may be in a breakaway.  Sometimes an involuntary act when one’s bike sinks into a patch of sand, blocking the progress of friends or wheelsuckers behind them.

Blow Up – A cyclist who has gone into oxygen debt and loses the ability to maintain pace is said to have blown up. Variants: dropping anchor, deploying parachutes, popping, exploding or the latest, “I’m sitting up“.  Invariably the cyclist is dropped. One cyclist local to Gainesville, Florida, is known for simply yelling, “That’s it”, and sits up.

Bonking / Bonked – Where a rider completely runs out of energy and suddenly has to stop pedaling. Similar to blow-up. Don’t use this word in England where K-Dogg learned it means “Boinking”. K-Dogg needs to get out more.

Bottle Rocket Attack – Where one gets a great gap, explodes, then returns rapidly to the group.

Breakaway / Breakaway Specialist – A cyclist who specializes in attacking the race from the start or some other key strategic point of the race, in order to show off their sponsor (or to show everyone how machismo they are), and to try their luck in winning the race without having to fight with others for the win.  A great tactic if you sprint like Mark Cavendish with a dose of the flu and chronic fatigue syndrome.  A breakaway may consist of multiple breakaway specialists.

Bridge / Bridging – Launching an attack from a group / peloton to join the cyclists in the breakaway who are already up the road.

Chicked – When you’ve been dropped by a woman. Some male cyclists really hate being chicked.

Classic – A one-day race of great prestige. Some classics date back to the 19th century.  In Gravel circles, a “Classic” refers to a massive screw up.  i.e., “Nature Boy just ate $hit in the mud… Classic!”

Cluster: British terminology for cassette (gears on the rear wheel).

Variation: “This ride is a complete cluster. I’m going home”.

CrampedKnackered legs can result in involuntary muscle spasms that nobody likes too much. Possibly the result of a crappy diet, or improper hydration during a race.

Crystal Cranks – A feeble cyclist, whose legs are on the edge of a complete fail.   If their cranks were made of crystal, they’d break easily.  i.e. “Hey Crystal Cranks, sit on the back, that last turn you pulled was weak as piss.  It’d be a shame if you were dropped.”

Cyclist – The proper terminology for a person who rides a bicycle.

December Champion – The name given to a bloke in the USA winter who is training like he’s peaking for a race in June.  See Training Ride Champion.

Derailleur – The best invention on a bicycle ever.  The gadgets on the bike that changes gears.  The opposite of a Single Speed which has no derailleur.

DFL – Last place in a bike race.

Dick Waving Contest – When two very strong (and possibly insecure) riders deliberately enter into a Half Wheeling marathon.

Domestique – A cyclist whose job it is to support and work for other riders in their team (literally “servant” in French).  See the definition of Attack, i.e. “while performing domestique duties in the race (as in grabbing a Coke from the following Team Van for his lead rider), cyclist Joe Blow was ruthlessly attacked as he rode alongside the Team Van”.

Variation: Domestic.  Your wife just found out how much you paid for that bike, after you lied to her about the price.

Dropped – A cyclist who cannot maintain the pace of the group they are riding with, i.e. “Oh look, Jeremy just got dropped. That wouldn’t happen if his Mrs allowed him to ride his bike more”.  See Under the Thumb.

Echelon – (French), a line of riders seeking maximum drafting (wheelsucking) in a crosswind, resulting in a diagonal line across the road.

Variation: Belgian Echelon.  The lead rider deliberately places himself into the gutter, so that NOBODY can echelon to get a draft.  Only a complete bastard would attempt this.

False Flat – A low-gradient climb, usually occurring partway up a steeper climb.  So-called because while it may look deceptively flat and easy (especially after the steep climb preceding it), it is still a climb.

Variation: A False Flat Tyre (tire), intended to gain a temporary advantage, in order to launch a real attack.

Flat Liner – A rider who is strong on flat roads, but is dropped as soon as the road goes up.

Frog Sack – Someone who doesn’t have many friends in the peloton.

Gramped – When you’ve been dropped by a cyclist who could be your grandfather.

Gran Fondo – Typically a long distance road cycling event.  In Gravel riding, when a cyclist has blown up, they enter their own Gran Fondo (in their mind).  In this case, the Gran Fondo is all about riding just to finish the event.  An impromptu Gran Fondo entrant’s thoughts may include, “why the F am I doing this $hit again”, “I’d rather be playing darts”, “I wish my mum would collect me”, etc.

Grovel Cyclist – A really off day on the bike for the Gravel Cyclist.

Gutted – The feeling you experience when you open the box to your online order, and the wrong bicycle part is inside.

Variation: Guttered – When one of your mates deliberately pushes you into the gutter.  Possible causes: You were executing the Belgian Echelon, and someone got pissed off (the gutterer).

Half Wheel – A cyclist that rides 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, he/she stays that distance ahead.  Some cyclists are deliberate half wheelers (bastards) or nimrods, who don’t have a clue about riding etiquette.  Regardless, all of this business is frowned upon.

Variation #1: Whole Bike Length Half Wheel – A cyclist that rides an entire bike length ahead of you.  Remedy: Hang out to Dry.
Variation #2: Half Wheel Marathon – A lengthy Dick Waving Contest.

Hang out to Dry -The terminology used when a cyclist who has attacked the group, is left dangling just ahead.  The group will not lift their speed to catch him, rather they allow him to dangle, watching him waste energy.  This tactic is employed to teach the attacking rider a lesson.  i.e. “Let that bugger go up the road, he reckons he’s a breakaway specialist… let’s hang him out to dry.”

Keyboard Hero – A cyclist (can be applied to other scenarios) who types rubbish on Facebook and other social media, but can’t back any of it up in person.  The hero seldom rides a bicycle, they’d rather type about riding a bicycle.  Usually has zero personality or in-person social skills; guilty of excessive texting and use of emoticons. Nobody is LOL’ing.

Knackered – Beyond tired.

Laughing Bunch – Riders who have been dropped, and congregate just to finish the race. Members of the laughing bunch are not always laughing.  Most are crying and riding a personal Gran Fondo.

LSOS – Acronym for Lying Sack of Shite. i.e. Cyclist #1, “I’m taking it easy tonight, I’m knackered“, only to attack two Kms later.  Cyclist #2, “You’re a LSOS”.

Masters Cyclist – Those who work 40 hours a week.

N+1 – The well known mathematical equation for buying more bicycles.  See Domestic.

Off the Back – Someone who has been dropped from the group.  Could be a result of a failed attack.

Panzer Bike – An indestructible but heavy bike, usually made of cheap steel and the cheapest components possible.

Peloton – The main group of riders in a bicycle road race.

Prang – Aussie slang for a crash.  Not good.

Robot Bike – A lame terminology devised by a person who is too much of a tight arse to fork out for electronic shifting on their bike.

Thursday Throwup – Reminding yourself on Thursday Throwback about all your horrible moments on a bicycle.

Saddle – The proper name for where you plant your bum on a bicycle.  A seat is what you sit on at the office.  Saddles are also used by equestrians, although they’re a lot bigger than the bicycle variety.  Like the horse variety, saddle choice is different for everyone.

Sandbagging / Sandbagger – A term used when a cyclist shirks all and any attempts to do any work near the front of the ride or the race.  The cyclist is quite capable, but because they are possibly orchestrating the perfect attack, they’ll sandbag to the max, to save energy for their little ploy.

Single Speed – A bicycle that has not embraced the rear derailleur concept. Sometimes ridden by Hippsters, or surly dudes with mustaches who are generally bad arse cyclists. Not to be made fun of.

Singles – The name Australian cyclists use for tubular tyres. Not to be confused with a single cyclist, who is single because they ride too much, and look too weird with their tanlines to upload a shirtless photo to a dating website. FYI shirtless photos are generally frowned upon.

Sitting Up / Sit Up – The act of a cyclist sitting bolt upright on the bicycle, because he/she has no further desire to ride the same speed as the other cyclists they are riding with.  Reasons for sitting up may include lethargy, boredom, or lack of interest.  However, in most instances, the cyclist has been dropped, and is using sitting up as an excuse to cover their weakness.  Example, “That’s enough of your riding fast crap, I’m sitting up”.

Spit the Dummy – A rider has had enough for one ride, takes his ball, and goes home.  i.e. “Awww, K-Dogg just spat the dummy, because he got dropped for the 3rd time.”

Sprint – To ride really fast, generally towards the finish line.  Some riders are great sprinters, others, not so much.
Variation: A rider may sprint ahead to take the perfect line through a sludge patch, to avoid getting his jersey all dirty, and to throw mud and crap onto those behind him.

Taking out the Rubbish – Cyclists in a breakaway take turns creating a gap at the back and then bridging, with a non-working breakaway member on their wheel.  This tactic forces the non-working member to jump repeatedly, hopefully knackering their legs and dropping them.  Sitting on the back of a breakaway is frowned upon, unless you are legitimately knackered and don’t contest the sprint.

Variations: “Cracking the whip”, or “taking him off the back”.

Taking it Easy – An excuse to avoid doing any work on a ride, and likely a precursor to an attack. “I’m taking it easy, I did 35 hours of Zone 2 tempo last week, my legs are knackered“. Similar to sandbagging.

Treadley – What a South Australian like JOM calls a bicycle.

Training Ride Champion – Kicks everyone’s arse on training rides, but is a miserable flop on race day. i.e. Frequent Winner of the Tuesday World’s Tallest Leprechaun Championships.

Tyre – The proper spelling for a bicycle tyre (tire).

Unobtanium: A super rare bicycle part that is a prototype, or acquired from a professional cyclist / team.  Something to be in awe of.

Under the Thumb – When a cyclist is not allowed to ride their bicycle because their spouse / partner wears the pants in the relationship.

Up the Road – A group of cyclists in a breakaway that you aren’t part of.

Vapourware: A bicycle part featured in magazines and online articles, that will never be produced by its manufacturer.  The 3D drawings and blurry photos look cool, but it’s all a clever marketing ploy.

Waaambulance – Who we call when a cyclist complains too much.

Wheelsucking – Like the barnacles that sometimes adorn the bottom of a boat, these creatures firmly attach themselves to the middle or rear of a group of cyclists. Hanging on for grim death, “taking it easy”, or plotting an attack, they cannot be trusted.


  1. K-Dogg K-Dogg

    Very nice JOM!
    Under Blow Up one local cyclist simply yells
    “That’s it” and sits up.
    I would also add “Bonking” where a rider completely runs out of energy and suddenly has to stop pedaling. Don’t use this word in England where I learned it means “Boinking” instead.

  2. Avatar David Bello

    I’ll be doing much wheelsucking, but believe me, I’m not one to attempt attacking 😉

    • JOM JOM

      You are wise beyond your years Mr Bello.

  3. K-Dogg K-Dogg

    Falling over in deep sand.

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