Group Riding Dictionary

bridge or bridge up
When a lone rider or smaller group of riders closes the space between them and the rider or group in front of them. This term is often used to describe when riders catch up with the main pack (or peloton) of riders or those who are leading the race.  Bridging up is very difficult to do.  It requires riders who have been dropped for whatever reason to find the strength to actually ride faster than the rider or riders who dropped them.  Keep this in mind if you are off the front and ease up if you have hopes of reforming your group.

Another name for the group or peloton

bunny hop
The term given to jumping your bicycle slightly up into the air while riding.  It differs from a “wheelie” in that both wheels come off the ground by the same amount.  Bunny hopping takes practice.  Most people find it easier to do with clipless pedals, and with their hands on the hoods.  It is only necessary to bunny hop an inch or so off the road to clear most obstacles.

car back!
Hopefully, this doesn’t need too much explaining.  It is generally shouted by riders at the rear of a big group to warn of overtaking cars.  Sounds a bit like “Aflack” after you’ve heard it a few hundred times on the same ride…

A group of one or more riders who are ahead of the peloton trying to join the race or stage leader(s). There may be none, one, or many chases at any given point in a race.

counter attack
An attack that is made when a break has been caught by chasers or the peloton.

cross wheels
Refers to the overlapping of a rider’s front wheel with another’s rear wheel.  This can be a dangerous situation if the lead rider swerves unexpectedly, causing his rear wheel to hit the trailing rider’s front wheel.

To ride closely behind another rider to make maximum use of their slipstream, reducing wind resistance and effort required to ride at the same speed.

To be dropped is to be left behind by the breakaway or the peloton for whatever reason (usually because the rider cannot sustain the tempo required to stay with the group).To drop someone is to accelerate strongly with the intent of causing following riders to no longer gain the benefit of drafting.

ease up
To back off of the effort.  Generally done gradually.  See also: sit Up, of soft pedal.  Asking someone to “ease up” is to subtly suggest they slow the heck down!

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

A distance between two or more riders large enough for drafting to no longer be effective. Also used as verb (US English), for example: "Armstrong has gapped Ullrich!". It's much easer for a stronger rider to pull ahead of others once a gap has been achieved; without a gap, the others can draft along using significantly less power to sustain the same speed as the rider in front.

Italian for the “small or little group.”  It is the name given to a small group of riders who are together, but not part of the main peloton or bunch.

Usually refers to making a sustained hard pedaling effort. As in the phrase "We really put the hammer down and sprinted to the end." More literally, the verb "hammer" refers to pounding along on the pedals. e.g. "Leipheimer really hammered for the entirety of stage 19".

hold a wheel
Refers to the ability to maintain very close station behind a rider’s rear wheel (as in drafting).  Riders are frequently dropped because they cannot hold a wheel.

To aggressively increase speed without warning, hopefully creating a substantial advantage over your opponents. Also (more usually) denoting an attempt to bridge a gap from the peloton or gruppetto to a breakaway. For example: "he is trying to jump across".

lead out
Sprinting technique often used by the leadout man where the rider will accelerate to maximum speed close to the sprint point with a teammate, the sprinter, drafting behind, hoping to create space between the sprinter and the pack. When the leadout man is exhausted he will move to the side to allow his teammate to race in the sprint. Often a line of leadout men will be used to form a leadout train to drive the speed higher and higher (and to reduce the chances of other riders attacking) over the closing stages of a race. The purpose of a leadout is for the sprinter to achieve high speed at the sprint approach using as little of his own energy as possible, so he has as much energy as possible for the final sprint.

let go
two meanings - one has the opposite meaning of the other:
1.  To let go a rider or break is allowing a rider(s) to attack and not responding even if one has the capability to follow the attacking move. This is done for tactical reasons. Can be applied in the plural. "the peloton let the break go"
2.  To let go the wheels is to not be able to "hold a wheel" unable to follow the pace. "he let the wheels go" or "let go the wheel" the difference is the use of wheel rather than the rider or riders. if you let a rider or a break go you do so voluntarily. To let go a wheel is involuntary but has slightly derogatory edge in that the rider "let the wheels go" before he was pushed to his absolute limit, to be "dropped" (subtle)

 A word used to describe any type of equipment failure.  It most often refers to a flat tire or puncture.  “We stop for mechanicals” might be a stated policy for a friendly group ride.

nature break
Going to the bathroom or using the facilities.  Typically done by the side of the road, while the rest of the group soft pedals.

off the front
Describes a rider or riders who have gained a gap over the group.

on the rivet
Describes a rider who is riding at maximum speed. When riding at maximum power output, a road racer often perches on the front tip of the saddle (seat), where the shell of an old-style leather saddle would be attached to the saddle frame with a rivet.

Group of riders riding at high speed by drafting one another. Riders will take turns at the front to break the wind, then rotate to the back of the line to rest in the draft. Larger group rides will often form double pacelines with two columns of riders.

From French, it literally means “ball,” and is related to the English word platoon.   Also referred to as Field, Bunch or Pack.  The Peloton is the large main group in a bicycle race.

perceived wind
The combination of the actual wind direction and velocity, and your own direction and velocity.  A common term in sailing, it refers to the effective wind direction as perceived by a moving observer (a cyclist, in our case).  The perceived wind shifts more and more towards dead-ahead as the speed of a cyclist increases.

To take the lead on a paceline or echelon.

pull through
The term used to describe the end of a pull.  Generally refers to a gradual move made by the cyclist whose turn at the front is coming to an end.  He or she should not ease up on the pedals until they have pulled clear of slower riders not directly behind them.  Sometimes referred to as “pulling through and off.”

sit on and sit in
To ride behind another rider without taking a turn on the front (thus tiring the lead rider), often in preparation for an attack or sprint finish. "sitting in the wheels" is to take an easy ride drafted by the peloton or gruppeto. often a strategic decision to save energy in 21 day stage race

sit up
Literally to get up out of the dropped part of the handlebars, and ride the tops.  Generally it is taken to mean slowing down or easing up on the effort.  Normally done to rest or to let dropped riders catch back on to the group.

soft pedal
To pedal with very little effort, usually in response to a need to let other riders catch back on, or to rest while remaining on the bicycle.  Often asked for by shouting the Italian word for soft: piano.

Another word for paceline

A turn is a rider sharing the workload on a pace line "he took a turn" or "he is doing a lot of turns on the front". Missing turns can be expressed thus "he has missed a few turns now and has stopped working". In a breakaway the riders expect to share the work equally in "turns". A rider who doesn't take his turn is "sitting on the break"

A rider who sits on the rear wheel of others in a group, enjoying the draft but not working. This is often a sprinter who is being "protected" for the finish

To work is to do "turns on the front", aid a group of riders by sharing the workload of working against air resistance by "pulling on the front" of the group. similar to pull. Often used expressively in-combination with other expressions:eg "he is hasn't done any work all day he has just sat on the breakaway" working is used in many contexts in the peloton and road racing


American Psychological Association (APA):
Bicycling_terminology. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved January 26, 2008, from website:
Chicago Manual Style (CMS):
Bicycling_terminology. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (accessed: January 26, 2008).
Modern Language Association (MLA):
"Bicycling_terminology." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 26 Jan. 2008.