Lisa's Mum presents The Non-Cyclist's Guide To Cycling

Wondering what all the fuss is about? (Cadel @ TDU 2010)

Today's post (I say this like I write them everyday...) is for a good mate of mine from college, Trupti. I caught up with Trupti and a handful of uni friends last night over dinner. My friends from college are some of my dearest - it's hard not to become close when you spend 3 or 4 years living with each other. Since leaving uni, though, it's been hard trying to keep in touch with everyone, especially my non-cycling friends. I seem to spend all of my spare time now riding, or thinking about riding, or trying not to think about riding. There just aren't enough hours in the week for drinking red wine and catching up with friends.

If there were more pubs with bike stands like these outside, I could combine the two

Anyway, last night I was chuffed to discover that Trupti was a Ride Happy reader. But some of the cycling lingo in my posts is just plain hard to follow for someone who isn't into racing. This was clearly a job for Lisa's Mum. I unlocked her from the cupboard under the stairs, put a cup of earl grey in her hands and set her to work. So here it is Trup - Lisa's Mum's guide to cycling lingo, especially for non-cyclists:

  • Classics: A type of one-day race in Europe in the Spring, usually combining rain, sleet, mud and cobblestones. Not in any way classical.
  • Tours / stage racing: A big race run over multiple days (or 'stages'). If you think of one day races as the racing equivalent of slamming your hand in a door, stage racing is when you take your hand out of the door, then put it back in and slam it again, over and over. The winner is the one who slams their hand fastest.
  • World cup: The highest level of racing, comprising a series of one-day races held over the year. The winner claims the title of world cup champion and the losers claim that they were never really targeting it, anyway.
  • Bleeding from your eyeballs / Scraping the bottom of the barrel of hurt / In the box: Essentially, you are f*cked. There's no other way to put it. Your lungs are probably screaming, but you can't hear it because the screaming from your legs is louder. You would sell your own grandmother to make the pain stop. I've tried.
  • Chewing stem / humping the top tube: Similar to above, but it's much more drawn out. Comes from the position of a cyclist's body towards the end of a race when they have absolutely nothing left in the tank. Bent over double, a spectator could be forgiven for thinking they were trying to unwrap the tape on their handlebars with their tongue.
  • Ergo: Something Melbourne cyclists do a lot of in the winter, involving a stationary bike trainer and an ipod. Not a lot of fun if you're doing it because the weather's too rubbish to ride outside. Hence the latin expression: cognito, ergo shit.
  • Intervals: A particular type of training exercise, often quite difficult, done multiple times in the vague hope that it will get easier. It doesn't. (See also In the box, above)
  • Soigneur: If you translate it from French, it means 'trainer', 'groomer' or 'one who cares for others'. Really this is because the French have no word for 'Team Mum'. The soigneur washes, cooks and cleans, picks up your dirty shoes and kisses your grazes when you fall off. Everyone knows that without them the team would fall apart, but no one wants to give them a public holiday once a year in May... because who would wash the bidons?
  • Form: Everyone wants it, you know when you've got it, but I'd be buggered if I could tell you how to find it.
  • Coach: Helps you find Form (see above). Also provides lifestyle, career and relationship advice, if you're lucky.
  • Race wheels / carbon clinchers / titanium bolts / Super Record: Things that will cost you a lot of money and a few awkward moments if you and your non-cycling partner share a bank account.
Getting ready for some hand-slammin' fun

Next week: Eur-wrap up #3 - Back To School

Until then... ride happy