Tour Down Under Glossary

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The Tour Down Under officially gets started today and I’m looking forward to getting in a full week of riding amongst everyone from the PROs to us MAMILs (middle aged men in lycra).

I got a good laugh out of this guest post that Jamie Jowett sent me. When Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwin or Matt Keenan are speaking bike lingo while commentating, certain things can have multiple meanings. Here’s a pretty accurate set of translations for what some of these things mean to us MAMILs.

Tour Down Under Translations

by Jamie Jowett

The official Tour Down Under website has a glossary of terms on its website that contains ultra handy explanations, like “QUADRICEPS – this is the large muscle in front of the thigh” and “ABANDON – when a rider quits the race”.

Personally, I can’t wait for them to post something even more useful, like “AIR = that stuff you can’t see, that you breathe”.

Anyway, there are bound to be instances on your group rides at the TDU where you get stuck alongside a rider spouting inane bike-related dribble that you don’t understand, or just plain bores the Cinelli out of you. Really, the TDU is a Star Trek convention for blokes with quads. So to help you out, here are some translations:

Aero = any cycling position less than 90 degrees.

Bidon = a $1 piece of plastic that you paid $15 for, simply because it has the logo of a Belgian floor tile manufacturer on it.

Bottom bracket = anything roughly below the handlebars on a bike that can be blamed for making a noise (as in “oh? that sounds like the bottom bracket..”).

Cadence = the number of beers you are able to drink per hour.

Campag = rare and expensive  bike parts, once used many years ago by the Pro peloton, and spoken about in hushed tones by old-timers, which also helped pay for the LBS owner’s Porsche.

Carbon bidon holder = a small piece of black plastic that has the magical ability to make a rider feel like King Arthur pulling Excaliber from the rock simply by grabbing a bidon. Awesome huh?

Cassette = something on your bike you never knew you had, until your LBS tells you it’s stuffed and charges you a lot of money for a new one. Not to be confused with your cassette ‘mixed tape’, which you stood holding the Play & Record buttons on once and is still the icon of awesomeness.

Chamois crème = a $50 tub of home brand moisturiser with a fancy label, sold by the same people who made your wife’s $150 tub of glittery anti-wrinkle cream (that you scoffed at).

Ceramic bearings = the yeti of the bicycle, which no one has ever actually seen, yet is spoken about in hushed and revered tones.

Checkers = a hill outside of Adelaide that is, like everything else in Adelaide, a lot smaller than it’s hyped up to be.

Chewing the stem = a psycho-sematic bodily response to a minor increase in Lactic acid. 

Cipo = a mythical creature who once ruled Europe, said to have the ability to impregnate women simply by staring at them.

Clenbuterol = marinated Spanish steak served with a sauce that tastes a bit like plastic.

Clincher = expensive piece of circular rubber that automatically punctures when you travel more than 60km’s from your house.

Drive train = a chain. Term usually used to confuse newbies or identify the speaker as a tosser.

Echelon = random collection of riders splayed all across the road, sucking the wheel of one or two decent riders.

Epic = generic term for any ride lasting longer than 20 mins.

Fingerbang = a mystical Spanish hand waving technique used to excites members of the same sex.

Going down into the drops = shifting your cycling position in an attempt to relieve pain from your aching back caused by your expanding gut.

Grimpeur = French word used to describe anyone skinnier than the fat person saying it.

Hammerfest = any ride longer than 20 mins with an average speed of more than 28km’s/hr.

Hard man = any Pro who raced prior to 1992.

Hunger flat = that 10 minute time period since you last stuffed a pastry in your mouth.

LBS = a difficult-to-get-to retail establishment, where you overpay at a factor of three for stuff you can otherwise get on the net, just so you can be made to feel inadequate by a surly guy who would rather be riding anyway.

Look = a once great bike, but now the bicycle equivalent of a middle-aged divorcee in a too-short dress who drinks too much and starts hanging all over you in a bar.

Lugs = the big stupid guys you ride with every weekend.

Monocoque = a single male with an unhealthy and unnatural interest in carbon fibre technology.

Paceline = line of people all sucking each other’s wheel, but because it’s in a race it’s called a “paceline…”

Pista = a sticker which adds $1,000 to a bike’s value on eBay (see ‘Fixie’).

Power Band = a small piece of cheap rubber jewellery sold for $50.

Power Meter = a $3,000 piece of handlebar jewellery that tells you what you already know, that you’re slow.

Pro (verb, ie. to “look Pro”) = the act of achieving cycling fashionista status (for tips, see here –

Radio Shack = a special Masters category team created for ageing Pro’s.

Recovery ride = any ride where you’re not pulling big turns on the front or where you have been busted wheel-sucking.

Rickshaw (Mark) = a two wheel vehicle used to carry short grumpy English tourists to the front of a race.

Rigid front end and excellent stability” = bike speak for “I didn’t fall off on my 2km tootel down to the pub on this one”.

Rouleur = anyone bigger than you, who can ride better than you.

Serotta = an expensive Italian bike only able to be sold to dentists.

SRAM Red = God’s way of telling you that you are spending too much on a hobby.

The Tour (as in “Yeh, I did the Tour”) = paying someone $6,000 to book your hotels, drive around for a week, riding a little in between, while consuming three times your body weight in cheese and chocolate, and watching a race on TV in a crowded French bar that stinks of BO and smoke, that you could otherwise have seen far better at home on your couch.

UCI = a local voluntary bicycle advocacy group that hands out race numbers.

Vertically compliant = a term used by fat bike reviewers to sound like they rode it. Means nothing.

Vino = a small, white, hairless beast known to take the blood from his prey after killing them.

Watts = specific scientific measurement of how weak you really are (see ‘Power Meter’).

Zabel (verb, to “do a Zabel”) = to celebrate too early. They make a nasal spray for that, apparently.

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