Understand the language of cycling with our guide to some commonly used phrases…

Turn up to any group ride this autumn and you may be left wondering what on earth people are talking about. Cycling has developed its own language and it’s not one that always makes sense. To get the most out of your bike training, it’s time you were in the know. This guide will help you get to grips with some of the most commonly heard phrases.


What does it mean? This is a method of group riding where everyone takes turns on the front.

Who says it? Someone in a group who either wants to go faster or wants to spend less time facing the wind at the front.

As in? “OK, through and off all the way to the tea shop everyone.”


What does it mean? An organised, regular group ride, normally involving ‘through and off’ where everyone takes a turn on the front.

Who says it? Normally people from cycling clubs, or anyone who attends group rides.

As in? “I was so tired from the chain gang ride that I had to eat three cakes when we stopped at the tea rooms.”

Triathlon Cycling - JargonGETTING DROPPED

What does it mean? When you can’t keep up with a group of riders and you lose touch.

Who says it? Anyone in the group who noticed you drifting off the back.

As in? “Did you notice who got dropped from the chain gang ride this week?”


What does it mean? An order to ride closer to the rider in front, so your front wheel is just behind their rear wheel.

Who says it? Someone who is either experienced, or just thinks they are.

As in? “Concentrate on staying on her wheel or you’ll end up getting dropped and nobody will wait!”


What does it mean? Tiredness as a result of running out of glycogen, due to not eating and drinking enough on the bike.

Who says it? Someone who didn’t eat any breakfast or forgot to bring enough food on their long ride.

As in? “I desperately need to stop at the garage for a Coke and a flapjack. I think I’ve bonked.”


What does it mean? An order for someone to ride through the group to get to the front, often when the group is riding ‘through and off’.

Who says it? Usually someone who is tired of sitting at the front of the pack.

As in? “Come through! I’m not sitting on the front all day while you chat at the back.”


What does it mean? When a group of riders form a diagonal line, in order to maximise their shelter from cross winds.

Who says it? Anyone who wants to impress people with their knowledge of cycling lingo.

As in? “Crosswind everyone, we’d go faster if we formed an echelon.”