A glossary of cycle speak

ABANDON: When a rider quits during a race.

ATTACK: A sudden acceleration to move ahead of another rider or group of riders.

BIG RINGING IT: A "big" gear -- when the rider has his chain on the larger of the two front chainrings -- allows a rider to go for maximum speeds. This gearing is most often used on rolling terrain.

BONK: Total exhaustion caused by lack of sufficient food during a long race or ride.

BONUS SPRINTS: In each stage, race organizers designate several locations along the route where bonus points are given to the first three riders that cross the line. These sprints create a "race within a race" during each stage.

BREAKAWAY: One or more riders who sprint away from the peloton in an effort to build a lead. Competing riders in a breakaway will often form uneasy alliances, working together and drafting to increase or maintain their lead. Those alliances break down, though, as they approach the finish. A team leader in a breakaway with multiple teammates has a decided advantage over a rider who has no support.

BRIDGE: A rider or riders who sprint away from the main group of riders, or peloton, and catch the breakaway.

BROOM WAGON: The vehicle that follows the race, picking up racers who have to abandon the race.

CARAVAN: The official and team support vehicles in a race. Each team has a car in the official race caravan. The team cars follow the peloton and riders will often go back to their team car for food, extra clothing or to speak to their team director.

CIRCUIT RACE: a multiple-lap race around a course of 2 miles or more. Circuit races are great crowd pleasers.

CRITERIUM: a multi-lap, one-day race on a closed, short course, typically 1 mile or less.

DERAILLEUR: a mechanism for moving the chain from one sprocket to another to change gears on a multi-speed bicycle.

DOMESTIQUE: a rider whose main job is to help the team leader win the day's stage, or the entire race. A domestique may pull the leader up to a breakaway or pace them up a steep climb. If a team leader gets a flat, a domestique may even be called upon to give up their front or rear wheel and wait for the team mechanic, saving the leader precious seconds.

DRAFTING: One or more riders ride single file behind another rider, taking advantage of that rider's slipstream. By doing so the rider behind has less of a headwind and gets a breather. In a crosswind, riders may ride in a diagonal line, instead.

ECHELON: a staggered, long line of riders, each downwind of the rider ahead, allowing them to move considerably faster than a solo rider or small group of riders. In windy sections where there are crosswinds, a large peloton will form into echelons.

HAMMER: to ride hard.

KING OF THE MOUNTAINS (KOM): The KOM is the fastest climber in the overall standings. King of the Mountain is awarded to the racer who is awarded points based on the many KOM sprints in the Tour. Look for the KOM jersey in the race.

PELOTON: the main group of racers. With its dozens of colorful jerseys, maneuvering for position and breakneck speeds, the peloton can be quite a sight. Also called the pack.

SCHWAG: the free stuff competitors get when they race. May include water bottles, jerseys, food or more expensive toys.

SLIPSTREAM: the area of least wind resistance behind a rider.

TEAM LEADER: the rider for whom the team supports in order for the leader to win a stage or race.

WHEELSUCKER: a somewhat dated term for someone who, while riding in a paceline, doesn't take a turn at the front of the line. These days they get called lots of other names. None are printable here.