Skip to main content
Add Me To Your Mailing List
Shopping Cart
All KVC events with any indoor components (dining, overnights, events in private homes, etc) require proof of double COVID vaccination.  
Kingston Velo Club
HomeCycling 101


Meghan Rabbitt

17 Terms Every Rider Needs to Know | Cycling 101


Short for aerodynamic, this term is used to describe everything from bike frames and wheels to helmets and other gear that have been designed for minimal wind resistance. While you probably won’t hear the average cyclist use this term often, it’s a top priority for riders who race in time trials or triathlons.


This word is another way of saying you’re too pooped to keep going. When your body’s glycogen stores are depleted (glycogen is stored in the muscles and gives them energy to fire on demand), you’ll hit the proverbial wall — and it’s more likely to happen if you haven’t fueled yourself properly by drinking enough water and eating enough food before and during your ride. You’ll know you’ve bonked if you start to feel lethargic or light-headed, your muscles start cramping and you need to get off your bike. The solution? Rest, lots of water and high-carb eats.


This is a fancy word for rotational speed or the rate at which you’re pedaling. While experts agree there’s no ideal cadence, finding the right number of pedal strokes per minute (aka rpm, which we’ll explain in a bit) can help you get into a groove on your bike.


This is the arm that connects your pedals to the chainrings.


These are the circular metal discs with spiky “teeth” next to the pedals and connected to the cranks on your bike. Bikes have one, two or three chainrings; they’re responsible for transmitting the energy you create by pedaling to the rear wheel, via the chain.


This crucial bike part isn’t just fun to say (de-rail-ee-er), it’s also the mechanism that moves your bike’s chain from gear to gear whenever you shift. The majority of road bikes have one derailleur for the chainrings in the front, and another one in the rear for the cassette. (Read: the pyramid-shaped set of gears on the rear wheel that the chain moves up and down, depending on what gear you’re in.)


When a group of cyclists ride in a line, one behind another, they’re drafting — a technique used to reduce wind resistance and help riders expend less energy as a result. (In fact, even the leader enjoys a little less wind resistance than he or she would if riding solo thanks to a low-pressure air bubble between riders, which pushes the leader forward.)  


You know the curved part of the handlebars on a road bike, which you probably only see really serious riders using when you’re on the road? Those are the drops, and they’ll make you less comfortable and more aerodynamic. Even if you’re not out to race, you’ll want to use the drops when you’re descending a hill, as it’ll lower your center of gravity and give you more control of your bike at higher speeds.


This is slang for a fixed-gear bike, which is a single-speed that has no brakes. Before you hop on a fixie with your favorite hipster (fixed-gear bikes are popular among that crowd), know this: A fixie can’t coast, which means that whenever the bike is moving, your legs need to be moving, too.


This is the third, smallest chainring, called the “granny gear” because it’s an extremely low gear that’ll help you move your pedals (Read: keep riding, rather than hopping off your bike to walk like your grandma would) when you’re riding up steep climbs.

11. KIT

This is a fancy term for your cycling outfit. A kit typically includes shorts or bibs (special bike shorts held up by suspenders rather than an elastic waistband, to cut back on chafing and pain when you’re spending time hunched forward in the riding position), a jersey (cycling shirt), shoes, socks and even a little cap worn under your helmet.


Before you fill your tires with air, you should know if you have a Presta or Schrader valve. If you ride a road bike, odds are you’ve got a Presta, which are often found on the kind of high-pressure tubes used on road bikes. You’ll know it’s a Presta if air is released when you press on it. Keep in mind Prestas can be a little tricky to use, and can break at the rim or bend if handled roughly. Schrader valves are easier to use: Simply remove the cap, apply the pump and pump your tire full of air. You probably won’t find a Schrader on a road bike, but you will see them on some mountain bikes and beach cruisers.


This is a term for a pack of cyclists in a bike race. The cyclists ride as an integrated unit — similar to birds flying in formation — to reduce drag and increase their speed.


14. PULL

When you’re riding in a pack, the cyclist at the front works the hardest to ride against the wind, and everyone behind benefits from a draft. When you’re the rider at the front of a paceline or peloton (a group of riders), you’re “taking a pull.” When it’s the next rider’s turn to take a pull, simply drift to the side of the pack and start pedaling again when you’re at the back so you can draft until it’s your turn to pull again.


If you crash and hit pavement, there’s a good chance you’ll have some scrapes, cuts and brush burns. Collectively, these are called “road rash,” and having it means you’ll probably spend some time picking gravel out of multiple layers of skin.

16. RPM

This is your revolutions per minute or the number of pedal strokes you take every minute you ride. If you’ve got a computer on your bike, it’ll give you your rpm. If not, you can calculate your rpm on your own by setting a timer and counting the number of times your right foot reaches the bottom of your pedal stroke for one minute.

17. SPD

This acronym stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics, which is a design of clipless bike pedals where a small two-hole cleat on the bike fits into a recess in the sole of the bike shoe.

What Do I Eat and Drink on Long Bicycle Rides?

There are food products made specially for consumption during active sports activities that work well for cyclists, including sports drinks, energy bars, gummies and gels. But for the most part, you can get by pretty well on regular food and water.

The main thing is to avoid “bonking,” reaching a state where your energy evaporates and fatigue sets in, and it usually seems to happen suddenly. Technically, this condition is caused by depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, but it can leave you wiped out for the day. Mild cases may be remedied by brief rest and consuming food or drinks containing carbohydrates. But it’s better to head it off by keeping glycogen levels up, by eating and drinking throughout your rides.

I usually carry fig bars, water, a sports drink, and especially during hot weather, salty snacks such as pretzels. At rest stops where I can purchase food, I often go for a banana and chocolate milk. Ice cream and regular soda are both good quick pick-me-ups.

For more information please go to this website: 

Cycling 101

Communication is essential to a good ride. Make sure you point to and call out hazards and traffic situations in a polite way. Those in the mid-pack should pass these calls back so everyone is aware. Below are standard announcements:

  • “Car Back” warns riders that a car is approaching from the rear and to move to the right to allow the car to safely pass.
  • “Car Up” warns that there is a car approaching from the front. This is important on hilly or winding roads where visibility is limited.
  • “Single up” tells the group that riders need to move into single file.
  • “Car left” or “Car Right” warns riders at intersections that a car is approaching and might cross their path.
  • “Walker Up” or “Runner Up” warns that there is a pedestrian on the side of the road.
  • “Tracks” warns of railroad tracks ahead.
  • “Road Kill” is self explanatory.
  • “Hole(s)” warns riders of dangerous holes, cracks or breaks in the pavement. On roads with a lot of holes riders can point instead of calling out every hole.
  • “Slowing” or “Stopping” warns riders of a change in speed. This can be done with a hand signal but calling is helpful if there is a sudden or unexpected stop.
  • “On your left” warns that riders that you are passing. Riders should always pass on the left.
  • Standard for signaling Right Turns will be the Right Arm extended straight out.
  • Pay attention in groups; be decisive and deliberate but always defensive and considerate in your actions, especially with your fellow riders.
  • Advise the intent or need to move back in a group well in advance.
  • Avoid squeezing fellow cyclists when group is transitioning.
  • When necessary to re-group, do so well beyond an intersection. Alternatively, diminish speed until all riders have caught up and are ready to resume the previous pace. Never under any circumstance “fan out” and block traffic. At stop signs and traffic lights the group will sustain the formation to the right, single file or two aside, while approaching the traffic control.
  • Advise the Ride Leader and other members should you feel a group or an individual is riding in an unsafe manner. Be polite and do not yell. Any rider is welcome to withdraw from the ride if they feel unsafe.