When my boyfriend and I started dating I knew he was into bikes, we met at a bike shop, afterall. The more I got to know him the more I understood about the cycling world: the culture, the dress code, the lingo, the tribes of different cyclists. The person dressed in vibrant spandex has, in some ways, a lot less in common than the pierced, tattooed fixie rider than you might think.
And slowly, I learned to speak bike.
The following is a list of terms and cycling minutiae. This list is definitely skewed towards the vibrant spandex set but some of these terms carry over into other cycling subcultures as well. And, for the most part, these are terms that describe things that are completely unapparent to those not in the cycling world, but once explained make total sense.
1. Peloton: the main group of riders, also sometimes called a pack.
2. To get dropped: to be left behind by the peloton
3. To break away: to ride faster than, escape the pack. It can be the means to an end or part of a larger strategy.
4. To draft: when one cyclist rides behind another to benefit from decreased wind resistance. To draft off of someone without them knowing is rude.
5. To bonk: when your blood sugar drops and you can barely pedal anymore. In this instance drink soda, seriously.
6. Kit: a one-word catch all for any item of clothing as well as the whole ensemble.
7. A soigneur: pronounced like”Swan-your”, a helper. At the end of the race they give the riders massages, food and water. When I tagged along to races Philip would affectionately call me his soigneur.
8. Pro: short for professional. The ultimate compliment. As in, “that kit looks so pro.”
9. Shaved legs: pretty much a must if you want to be considered a “cyclist”
10. Best food after a long ride: anything and everything. All day long. Unless…
11. Manorexia: when cyclists, particularly racers, are obsessed with keeping trim
12. Rapha is the Lululemon of cyclists. Very nice, very expensive, but if you wear too much of it it’s clear you drank the Kool-Aid.
13. Domestique: a team mate that blocks the wind for you, gives you water and food when you are in need, and does whatever they can to make sure that you are taken care of during a race.
14. Cyclists make it look really easy to eat, drink, pee and all sorts of things while riding. I can barely take my hand off the handlebar.
15. Chamois: pronounced “shammy,” is the padding in cycling shorts. Fun fact: chamois used to be made of chamois, which is a type of leather.
Any other definitions or alternate definitions are welcome.