Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Most Defs: Clarifying the Lexicon of Cycling


Of the many contributions Sheldon Brown made to cycling, one of the most valuable is his Bicycle Glossary. Now, I would never presume to add to that or to undertake such a project myself. However, I do think there are many cycling-specific terms that intimidate newcomers and serve as a barrier of entry into the sport. Not only that, but once you're in the sport it can take you even longer to learn what some of these terms really mean. To that end, I've chosen a few words and phrases more or less at random and provided what I feel are accurate definitions:


Bike Culture: A social clique organized around a certain style of bicycle and clothing. Members identify one-another through recognition of certain inside jokes and by displaying certain labels and brands on their clothing and bicycles. Periodically members of the “bike culture” organize events which only peripherally involve riding. Such events include: art installations; film screenings; and sitting on their bicycles for as long as possible without putting their feet down. Ironically, one can ride or race a bicycle every day for years without ever becoming—or even meeting—a member of the bike culture. Then one day one might stop into a bar for a drink and suddenly encounter 20 or 30 of them.

Bike Polo: A popular ironic social pastime for members of the bike culture who might otherwise opt for adult kickball except that it does not allow them to be close enough to their bikes. In New York City, bike polo is played in a Chinatown playground, which has resulted in exchanges like the following in many of the local homes:

Mom: Hi, son. What are you doing home so soon? You finished all your homework so I said you could go play with your friends.

Son: Yes, but when we got there a bunch of big kids was already there. They said we couldn’t play because they were there first.

Mom: Big kids? How old were they?

Son: I’d say mid-20s to early 30s. They were playing hockey on their bicycles.

Mom: Those don’t sound like kids to me. You should have told them the playground is for children.

Son: We did, and they said they’d be done around 10 or 11 and we could play after that. We explained that was past our bedtime, and they said too bad, they all had graphic design jobs to get to the next morning too. But they did say if we got there at the same time tomorrow we could do “odds-evens” for it. They also said we could play if we wanted, but it looked really stupid.


Campagnolo: The only bicycle components that can imbue your bike with true Italian flavor. Unfortunately, like most Italian bicycle companies these days Campagnolo’s “innovations” are increasingly gimmicky (Hirth joint cranks and 11 speed for example), so now that Italian flavor is mainly desperation with a hint of garlic.

Cat 4: A Cat 5 who has done 11 or more races. [e.g, “Lame duck;” “Virgin after graduation.”]

Ceramic Bearings: The most exciting development in cycling in the last five years, these allow manufacturers to charge four times the regular price for a bottom bracket without improving either its design or performance.

Integrated: See “proprietary”

Laterally Stiff and Vertically Compliant: An oft-repeated phrase in bicycle reviews meaning the frame did not buckle and collapse during the test period.

People who type their entire email message in the subject line and then leave the body of the email blank: Annoying.

Proprietary: disposable

Shimano 7900 Hollow Chainrings: The world’s most exciting and innovative production chainrings and a few grams of synthetic mozzarella away from being the stuffed crust pizza of drivetrain components. [Stuffed crust pizza: see Bianchi Structural Foam]

Pendulo-anatophobia: The irrational fear of somehow getting your testicles caught in the cutout of your anatomic saddle.

Training With Power: Riding with your head up your ass. [e.g., Wearing a Bluetooth headset during a romantic dinner.]

Technical: When used by road cyclists, this describes any course containing challenging features like turns. When used by mountain bikers, it means a course containing any obstacle that can still be felt when ridden over on a dual-suspension bike. When applied to specific sections of certain cycling publications, it refers to the act of simply reprinting manufacturers' press releases verbatim.

83 comments:

Anonymous said...

1st!

Anonymous said...

2nd!

Anonymous said...

Podium!

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bobbo said...

I miss Sheldon, but remain grateful for the rich legacy that he left for all of us.

Anonymous said...

perhaps bsny has a take on the crash in Mexico and the cop car that swerved out of the way of the oncoming car instead of taking one for the team?

db said...

"...desperation with a hint of garlic."

I'm trying to decide which Italian red wine would go with that...

Anonymous said...

My mom is so proud of my top ten!!

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:39pm,

Yes, I think it's fantastic. More drunks should drive into cyclists.

--RTMS

Anonymous said...

Irrational, maybe. But I'm still afflicted

smartypants said...

Top eleven!! (maybe?)

The "training with power" comment was priceless.

Frederick said...

gruppetto!

g said...

"Pendulo-anatophobia"
I knew it was a real disease!

What's so bad about an empty message body? said...

g said...

isn't it the equivalent of leaving a voicemail that only says, "call me, I have something important to tell you"?

Anonymous said...

no. technical was top cheese of the post. sorry pants. like the video on 'the onion' dealing with nascar

Niki said...

For what it's worth, the people who organize bike polo have worked with the families of the children who play their to preserve the park: http://www.thevillager.com/villager_237/poloplayers.html

Fipper said...

Pendulo-anatophobia is not irrational.

Oh, and shouldn't it be anatochidectophobia or something like that? Don't know. I'm not a bike snob, I don't play one on TV either.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, bike polo players are awsome.

Anonymous said...

niki,

for what its worth bike polo is stupid, really stupid.

bikesgonewild said...

...re: pendulo-anatophobia - not w/ big balls ya don't...

...funny stuff all round but i agree, the technical: description is a podium topper...

scott said...

BSNYC/RTMS/CLY:

The bike polo entry is hilarious. Fantastic post. Would read again and recommend to others.

leroy said...

I've said it once, but I'll say it again.

Bike polo is rigged.

I showed up at a match with training wheels and all of the sudden they have "rules" other than don't put your foot down.

Honestly, it's just professional wrestling without the athleticism and an engaging story line.

mattyfatty182 said...

First

Adam said...

I used to think bike polo was cool. Then I turned 14.

Anonymous said...

wait what did I miss ... what is CLY? see scotts comment

Anonymous said...

Yes, I've been wondering too... what is CLY?

Anonymous said...

first paragraph: "No only that" should be "Not only that"

Anonymous said...

BSNYC/RTMS,

Thanks for pointing out the ceramic bearings... my husband keeps telling me he needs them! NOT!

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymii 2:52pm and 2:55pm,

I believe CLY refers to Clem LueYat, "The Master HairWeaver of the World,” a.k.a. the Eddy Merckx of Hair Weaving, who I mentioned on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. Though I should mention I never adopted his name--I'm just a fan.

--BSNYC/RTMS

Comment deleted said...

This post has been removed by the author.

geetus said...

I have a feeling, Sheldon Brown, who rode a fixie to work, would have been down for a little bike polo. But, he was, of course, still cool, turning his cranks well above the frothy stink of "bike culture."

Jack said...

Ran into one of those bike (sub)cultures at the "Road to Roubaix" screening at the Bicycle Film Festival this past Sunday. I stuck out like a sore thumb and supposedly I belong to the same (larger) culture. Wasn't sure if the bike messengers (the subculture) were there to hang out because all of the offices were closed or if they actually knew anything about the multi-geared society.

Wrote a review about the film on my site, www.savethelegs.com

Commiecanuk said...

Sigh, I suffer from Materialus-wikipediaphobia, or fear that my bike frame will not have a new buzzword apply to it.

Campy 11 speed is true innovation, this is the result of a prototype developed for that other cycling rock star, Nigel Tufnel:

Nigel Tufnel: The cogs all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most cassettes go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's faster? Is it any faster?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one faster, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be riding at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your cassette. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One faster.
Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten faster and make ten be the top number and make that a little faster?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] Campy go to eleven.

Anonymous said...

Hey Snob -

Enjoyed your piece on the NY Times. Especially liked the correlation with Fat Cyclist - that puts things in perspective. Just wanted to make sure you were aware that according to Cyclingnews.com - those stuffed crust chainrings are the real deal:

"We're not sure that most recreational riders will be able to feel the difference in chainring rigidity underfoot but particularly strong pro riders who have been known to fold outer rings in the past just by pedaling will assuredly be happy with the improvement."

So - in keeping with your pizza theme, it's the prevention of the rings becoming "calzone-ified" Shimano is after. Man - I did not realize how many pro's were actually folding those rings - must have missed that...

Anonymous said...

they have a completely different definition of "bike culture" in Denmark. check out this website: http://copenhagengirlsonbikes.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Bike Culture nearly had a collision with me yesterday. I was going through a green light at a busy intersection, when she blew through the red at speed on her fixie, nearly colliding with me. Since Bike Culture likes to talk about cyclists rights, I pointed out that the right to use the roads is accompanied with a responsibility to follow traffic laws and to stop at red lights (Bike Culture consistently misses that 2nd part). Bike culture was sure that she didn't need to do that, because she always looks first. Which is why she almost collided with me. After a short conversation about the topic at the next red light (funny, she actually stopped at that one to have this discussion), she wished me luck. She was very nice to do so, but after experiencing how carefully she scans for traffic while blowing the red, I'm pretty sure she needs good luck more than I do.

ChrisB. said...

From The Villager article:

The kids wanted the roughly 7,000-square-foot multiuse space located just south of Delancey St. to play baseball and kickball while the group of bike messengers and other cyclists wanted to expand the emerging street sport.

“There was some conflict over who was here first,” said Dave Currence, an organizer and player in the polo league. “But we patched those things up.”

------

Holy crap, I am so glad the 26-30year olds were able to patch things up with the 9-11 year olds without the situation escalating to the point where it required adult intervention.

bike's knob cmh said...

golden.

Daniel! said...

Pendulo-anatophobia: The irrational fear of somehow getting your testicles caught in the cutout of your anatomic saddle.

But what do you call the fear of getting your "nuts caught" on the cable guides that apparently motivates so many FG converters to saw off their braze ons or throw on a TTP?

Anonymous said...

A fixie polo player's wet dream:

http://gizmodo.com/5013082/million-dollar-olympic-bicycle-so-specialized-no-ordinary-person-could-ride-it

urchin said...

Endocrinologists among us will be aware that the risk of Pendulo-anatophobia skyrockets with regular steroid use (and warm days). Doping control? Just keep an eye out for those guys that always climb in the saddle and won't dismount until they've been carried with their bike into the team trailer...

Hmm, actually maybe the risk goes DOWN once the shrinkage begins...

Anonymous said...

Ya know, in my bucholic little Southwestern hamlet, I saw a fake messenger ride between two lanes of traffic to run a red in a large busy intersection without a hint of slowing down. We have no real downtown and the only real messengers drive geo metros. Very retarded. Even racers and DUI guys come to a sorta stop and look both ways if they're gonna run a low volume intersection.

bucolics anonymous said...

hi
My name is Jed,
I'm a bucolic,

frilly said...

Fellas-

Not to be rude, but if you're worried about getting your "junk" caught in various components...

And, I think I know what I wanna be in my next life!

scott said...

LOL @ BSNYC claiming that he isn't Clem LueYat. Priceless.

dopepedaler said...

I can not wait for the .000001% reduction (over an 180 degree arc) in effort for the impending ceramic bearing headsets.

mr.complaint said...

I can understand Campagnolo as "...desperation with a hint of garlic."

But then wouldn't Shimano 7900 Hollow Chainrings be more like a tuna roll?

Unfortunately the bike culture that I've been around has been giving me a rash.

techb3 said...

bikesnob is carl lafong.

Anonymous said...

hi
My name is Jed,
I'm a bucolic,

Dude, that's funny. My bad on the spelling.

Anonymous said...

Woody Itson nailed that gold bike shit 20 years ago:

http://www.bmxnonstop.com/oldschool/images/itsongold.gif

Anonymous said...

http://www.bmxnonstop.com/oldschool/images/itsongold.gif

Anonymous said...

Actually they elimnated Cat 5, so Cat 4 means anyone who can pay the fee.

Anonymous said...

You should define "urban fixture" I have been riding a bike in LA for years, only to find that a bunch of trendy hipsters get a cool term in every editorial about "bicycle culture" I have come across. I'm still "some guy on a bike"

Noah said...

The bike polo definition was scathing.

daddo.one said...

this really goofy but nice guy who rides with my club (gang?) had like two pair of shorts until recently despite daily riding. We finally confronted him: "Dude, just guessing, you've got some rash between your legs" "How did you know?" "Because you're not washing your shorts, you need more pairs. That stuff between your legs is called 'bike culture'" "Oh, is that what that is? I've heard of it and always wondered what that meant!"

Eric B said...

Snob, Great post! I am hoping this will further develop into you own Devil's Dictionary.

Taylor Adam Holmes said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLA3EVLb9mA

Anonymous said...

We need cycling shirts with RTMS and text "I am BSNYC"

The Grand Master Crackhead said...

HEY! I train with power...but I ain't in no "bike culture," and the only Campy I own is the front derailleur on my Pinarello.

You can mock me but I'll be riding one of my bikes while you do it.

bonechilling said...

Anonymous 1:39:

The cop was following the cyclists, and swerved to avoid running them over.

Corey the Courier said...

Funny as hell depiction of NYC bike polo. Spot on.

Did You Know? said...

hi everybody! just call me don. i'm new here

Fish said...

Campy rocks now. They've got shifters that go all the way to 11!

Anonymous said...

Michael Creed

AMRcyclist said...

Have been saving for ceramic bearings...What now?

Anonymous said...

"Pendulo-anatophobia: The irrational fear of somehow getting your testicles caught in the cutout of your anatomic saddle."

where's the 'irrational' in this fear. perfectly rational to me.

Paul said...

One polo player did get b*tch slapped once by a neighborhood dad. Kind of great. Snob, come to polo so we can taco your wheels, you smarmy tool. love the blog!

veloben said...

Does this mean it's not proper to lubricate the anatomical cut on a Terry Fly? Gently massaging Chamois Butter on to that glorious ultimate bike seat for men. The generous gel padding more enticing and appealing than most Euro-style race saddles, and of better quality that any west coast plastic surgeon can supply. The flexible and comfortable against soft tissues cut out makes the daily commute.

Oh my, the lads will not be pleased to hear about this.

dopepedaler said...

All cyclists ride bikes...but not all that ride bikes are cyclists...or some shit like that.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious comment about bike polo.

Bike polo seriously has to be one of the most idiotic sub-hipster ideas ever.

matt said...

i like how you echoed the same Polo/Adult Kickball comparison that Outside magazine has in its most recent issue arriving in mailboxes this week.

is Bike Snob a reader of Outside magazine?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Matt,

Not at all--I had no idea.

--BSNYC

Anonymous said...

Training With Power: Riding with your head up your ass. [e.g., Wearing a Bluetooth headset during a romantic dinner.]


Ha! thank you BSNYC/RTMS ... as a person who works in a restaurant i found that comment especially poignant...

Anonymous said...

Ugh, bike polo.

A few months back I went to the LBS to get bearings. I had to listen to two douche customers gleefully recount their polo adventures for 10 minutes. It's back to mail order for me.

Anonymous said...

Matt: it's a pretty obvious comparison. Both involve (mostly) hipsters playing a game not because it's particularly fun in and of itself, but because they like being seen playing it and talking about it later.

Zakkaliciousness said...

I took on the noble task of correcting the Wikipedia entry on 'Bicyle Culture' because it described the sub-cultural types described in the post and not the hundreds of millions of normal people who just ride their bike to work in Europe and Asia in cities oozing with bike-friendly infrastructure. :-)

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