10 Confusing Things About Cycling (and Their Explanations)

3. WHAT DOES ALL THIS CYCLING LINGO MEAN?

If you hang out with other cyclists or show up for an organized group ride, you’re sure to hear a bunch of cycling lingo you probably won’t understand at first. Don’t worry, this happens to everyone. Here are a few terms you might come across:

  • Aero: Short for aerodynamic, which basically means less wind-drag and fast.
  • Bonk: Having no more energy, usually related to not eating enough during a ride.
  • Cadence: Number of revolutions your pedals spin in a full circle per minute.
  • Century: Riding 100 miles.
  • Draft: Riding behind other cyclists, allowing them to shelter you from the wind.
  • Peloton: A group of cyclists.

4. WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO CORNER WHILE DESCENDING?

Maintaining speed through corners, particularly on long descents, can be challenging. Most beginners use their brakes during the corner to control speed and stay safe; however braking during a corner (instead of before a corner) can cause the bike to sit up and travel in a straight line and is actually more dangerous.

Because of this, it’s better to control your speed as much as you need to by braking before the turn. Approach the corner as wide as is safe, aim for the apex of the corner, and lean into the turn. Keep your outside leg straight and press into the pedal while also applying pressure to the inside handlebar drop. This helps you balance and keep your wheels on the road instead of steering too much with your handlebars. You can also swing your inside knee (the knee closest to the apex of the turn) away from the bike to improve your balance if needed. If you need more tips for proper braking and cornering, this article should help.

5. WHERE SHOULD A BEGINNER BE DURING A GROUP RIDE?

Group rides can be a lot of fun and help you meet more experienced cyclists. When heading out on your first few group rides, pick a group that fits with your ability level, as heading out with a fast group can have you off the back and riding alone in no time. To ensure you can stick with the group, inquire beforehand about how long they’ll be riding and what the average speed will be. In general, you should be able to ride a little longer and faster in a group than you can alone, so keep this in mind.

As for where to stay in the pack, most groups rotate riders off the front every few minutes to spread the work around. Riding on the front — and pulling the group — is more difficult because you’re breaking the wind for the rest of the group. If you have the energy, taking a few pulls at the front is good etiquette. However, no one will look down on you during your first few rides if you hang out at the back.

The pace is easier to maintain at the back of the group because you’re shielded from the wind, so use this time to get comfortable riding in close proximity to others, especially during your first few rides. You’ll also want to keep enough distance between you and the wheel in front of you to react to obstacles. Definitely avoid overlapping the wheel in front of you and keep your eyes up so you can see other members of the group signaling during those instances when a hazard needs to be avoided.

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