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Mountain Biking FAQ
Section - 4C. Mountain Biking Dictionary

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   Compiled by Doug Landauer
   There's a little Internet history behind this dictionary. In February
   ('95), Tom Purvis, from Colorado State, posted a message to the newsgroup that said, in part:
     Offroading needs more lore. More culture. More vernacular. [...] Let
     us use the 'net for something really valuable -- let's compile a
     list of bikey slang. Biff, face plant, gravity check, endo; those
     are pretty good terms, but let's get some of the really clever ones.
   So a lively thread ensued; and I assume Jerry Dunn made another,
   similar request a bit later. He (Jerry) summarized some of it in
   April, for a book he has in the works...
     Thanks so much for all the responses to my request for off-road bike
     slang, for my book ( -- to be published in fall 1995). Here's the
     summary I said I'd post. (Any corrections? Please e-mail me: Thanks for everything! You're a great group of
     people, very helpful, articulate, and funny. All the best -- Jerry
   Jerry's summary is in the exact style of, and is almost a total
   superset of, a list that my brother Mike sent me by e-mail in May or
   June (some of the entries were edited down; only one was added). He
   said he'd found his list in the LA Times Sunday magazine. The format
   and wording is too similar to be a coincidence. So ... a question for
   Jerry Dunn, I guess: did the LA Times Mag article appear under your
   byline? (I'm just curious.)
   Jerry's original chapter title was "Off-Road Bike Riders Offer a Crash
   Course in Slang".
The Mountain Bike Dictionary

  - A -
   air n. space between the tires and the ground. (Both tires must be off
   the ground or it isn't "air".)  Said to be caught or gotten.  See sky.
   ano adj. frequently-misspelled abbreviation for "anodized".  See
   ATB n. All-Terrain Bike or Biking.  A synonym for MTB.
   auger v. to involuntarily take samples of the local geology, usually
   with one's face, during a crash.  See face plant.
  - B -
   bacon n. scabs on a rider's knees, elbows, or other body parts.
   bail v. to jump off in order to avoid an imminent crash.
   betty n. any female rider.
   biff n. a crash. Synonyms: wipeout. v. "I biffed and then wiped away
   the blood."
   biopace adj. a now-discredited Shimano techno-fad where the chainrings
   were intentionally made non-circular--instead, they were elliptical,
   in order to (allegedly) smooth the power delivery, by giving the rider
   an effectively lower gear for part of the spin cycle.  Now used to
   describe any uneven pedaling motion.  Also used as a synonym for
   boing-boing n. a bike with full (front and rear) suspension.  Might
   possibly be considered offensive by certain owners of said bikes.
   bolt-on n. a woman with breast implants.  Derived from the term for
   after-market bicycle parts that are literally bolted on.
   bonk v. to run out of energy or grow exhausted on a ride. "I bonked so
   early it was embarrassing."
   bring home a Christmas tree v. to ride (or crash) through dense
   bushes, so leaves and branches are hanging from your bike and helmet.
   See prune.
   BSG n. acronym for "Bike Store Guy".
   bunny n. 1. same as betty, but used to emphasize the female rider's
   body; could be considerd insulting to some. 2. female novice rider.
   bunny hop v. to lift both wheels off the ground by crouching down and
   then exploding upward, pulling the bike with you.  Useful for clearing
   obstructions, such as curbs, potholes, logs.  Differs from its older
   BMX & trials meaning -- see jump.
   buzz n. euphoric feeling.  Commonly used after a particularly hard
   passage is successfully completed.  "I got such a buzz after that
   uphill grunt."
  - C -
   carve v. (from skiing) to ride with great speed around the corners of
   a twisting fire road.
   captain crash v. to "go down with the ship".  Usually the result of a
   novice spud-user failing to clip out in time.
   cashed adj. to be too tired to ride any farther;  bonked.
   chainring tattoo n. the dotted-line scar you get from gouging your
   shin on the chainring.  See rookie mark.
   chainsuck n. condition when the bike chain gets jammed between the
   frame and the chain rings, or when the chainring is so worn that it
   holds onto the chain and lifts it up to meet the incoming part of the
   clean v. to negotiate a trail successfully without crashing. "I
   cleaned that last section."
   clipless adj. misleading name for a pedal-and-shoe system where the
   clips or cleats clip onto the soles of special shoes.  Called
   "clipless" because you can't see the clips when you're clipped in.
   Contrast with toe clips.
   clip out (or, sometimes, click out) v. to disengage one's spuds.
   cloon n. slamming into the ground, resulting in a ringing head, or a
   delay in the action.  Term used in biking, skiing, and snow boarding.
   corndog v. to become covered in silt, usually after a fall.
   crotch-testing n. sudden impact between a male rider's private parts
   and something very hard and pointy, such as a handlebar stem or seat.
   curb grind n. expensive erasure of low-hanging, shiny parts of the
   bike on a curb or rock.
   curb slide v. to place the front wheel up on a curb and allow the rear
   tire to scrape along the curb, usually resulting in a loud tearing
  - D -
   dab v. to put a foot down in order to catch your balance on a
   difficult section of trail. "I made it without crashing, but I had to
   dab once."
   death cookies n. fist-sized rocks that knock your bike in every
   direction but the one you want to proceed in.
   death march n. a ride that turns into an investigation of your
   endurance limit.  "The bridge was out, and I had to go all the way back
   the way I came.  So the morning's nice, easy ride turned into a Bataan
   death march."
   dialed in adj. when a bike is set up nicely and everything works just
   digger n. a face plant. "Look at that guy on that gnarly single
   track... he's going to go over the bars and do a digger."
   dirt bike n. an off-road motorcycle.  Usually louder than MTBs.
   drillium n. any part with lots of holes drilled in it to make it
   dual-track n. a dirt road used by four-wheeled vehicles rarely enough
   that their tires have made ruts that became parallel singletracks.
   Also called doubletrack.  See singletrack.
  - E -
   endo n. the maneuver of flying unexpectedly over the handlebars, thus
   being forcibly ejected from the bike.  Short for "end over end".  "I hit
   that rock and went endo like nobody's business."  See "superman".  In
   BMX riding, "endo" used to be a synonym for front wheelie.
   engine n. the rider.
  - F -
   face plant n. hitting the ground face first.  "Joe hit a tree root and
   did a spectacular face plant."  Synonyms: auger, digger, soil sample,
   spring planting.
   first blood n. credit to the first rider in a group who crashes and
   starts bleeding as a result.
   foot fault n. when a rider can't disengage his cleats from the pedals
   before falling over.  See horizontal track stand.
   fred n. a person who spends a lot of money on his bike and clothing,
   but still can't ride.  "What a fred -- too much Lycra and titanium and
   not enough skill."  Synonym for poser.  Occasionally called a "barney".
   front wheelie n. what endo used to mean in BMX: a trick where the
   rider applies the front brake and lifts the back wheel off the ground;
   this is the basis for many BMX tricks. Most riders cannot pedal
   effectively while doing a front wheelie.
   FS or F/S adj. an ambiguous term, can mean Front Suspension or Full
   Suspension.  Not used by anyone who wishes to be understood.
  - G -
   giblets n. all the colorful parts and pieces that you can add or
   change out on a bike.
   gonzo adj. treacherous, extreme.  "That vertical drop was sheer gonzo."
   granny gear n. the lowest gear available on a bike, which only a
   grandmother would need to use;  designed for steep uphill climbing, but
   extremely easy to pedal in on flat ground.
   gravity check n. a fall.
   grindies n. e.g., "All that dried mud and sand left me with a loud
   case of the grindies in my drivetrain."
   grunt n. a very difficult climb, requiring use of the granny gear.
   gutter bunny n. a bicycling commuter.
  - H -
   half-track n. a trail so narrow and/or overgrown that you'd hesitate
   even to call it singletrack.
   hammer v. to ride fast and hard. n. someone who hammers.
   hardtail n. any bike with front suspension but no rear suspension.
   Contrast with rigid and F/S.
   HOHA n. Hateful Old Hikers Association.  "HOHA members hate mountain
   bicyclists with a fervor exceeding that of rabid wolverines."
   horizontal track stand n. a foot fault that happens at a stop sign.
  - I -
   IMBA n. International Mountain Biking Association.  An organization for
   trail advocacy.
   involuntary dismount n. a crash.
  - J -
   jump n. or v. where we now say bunny hop, BMXers used to say "jump".
  - K -
   kack n. an injury to the shin received while doing trials, a kack can
   be the result of any injury receive during technical riding.
   kick-out n. a bunny hop in which the rider pushes the back tire to one
  - L -
   LBS n. acronym for "Local Bike Shop".
   line n. the desirable path or strategy to take on a tricky trail
  - M -
   male blindness n. when a male rider watches a beautiful female ride
   over rough terrain and stares intensely at all the jiggling parts,
   making him too dizzy to see straight when it's his turn to ride the
   same terrain.
   mantrap n. hole covered with autumn leaves, resembling solid earth and
   effective at eating the front wheel of the unsuspecting rider.
   Marin n. (muh RINN') the county in Northern California where MTBing is
   said to have been invented.  Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
   mo n. momentum. "If you don't get in gear at the bottom of that hill,
   you'll lose your mo."
   mojo n. charm or icon worn by a biker or attached to the bike.
   MTB n. the activity of MounTain Biking.  Or a mountain bike itself. v.
   "MTBing".  See ATB, OHV, ORV, VTT.
   mud diving n. what happens when a bike slows abruptly in mud, throwing
   the rider into wet goo.
  - N -
   nard guard n. used to prevent wang chung.
   nirvana n. the state of being in absolute control and totally in tune
   with your bike, the trail, and your physical strength.  "I was just
   doing it all so smoothly and delicately and quickly, it was nirvana!"
   Synonym for The Zone.
   NORBA n. National Off-Road Bicycling Association.  They organize most
   of the larger races.
  - O -
   OHV, ORV n. Acronyms for Off-Highway Vehicle and Off-Road Vehicle.
   These have motors and are not bicycles.
   over-the-bar blood donor n. a rider who is injured while doing an
  - P -
   pogo v. to bounce on a full-suspension bike like a pogo stick.  Also,
   for a full-suspension bike to bounce annoyingly and uncontrollably.
   poser n. derogatory term for people with $7,000 bikes that never see
   an actual trail.  Usually found near a trail head and never dirty.
   Seinfeld may be an example.  Synonym for fred.
   potato chip n. a wheel that has been bent badly, but not taco'd.
   powerslide n. a two-wheel sideways slide, with the foot opposite the
   direction of travel kept on the ground.

Brian Adams []
  prang v. to bend or dent a bike/body part
   prune v. to use one's bike or helmet to remove leaves and branches
   from the surrounding flora.  Usually unintentional.
   purple ano adj. anodized aluminum in purple.  Some riders need to
   obtain as much of this as possible.  It comes in other colors, but they
   are of no consequence here.
   push-push n. 1. a novice's pedaling motion, consisting of alternately
   pushing each foot down, instead of spinning. 2. a Shimano techno-fad
   shifting system.
  - R -
   R&D[/b] n. Ripoff & Duplication, or Research & Development.
   rag dolly v. to wreck in such a way that one's person is tossed like a
   flimsy scrap of cloth.  "Did you see me rag dolly back there?  I think I
   pierced my ear on a tree branch."
   retro-grouch n. a rider who prefers an old bike with old components
   and isn't fond of new, high-tech equipment.
   'rhoid buffing n. going down a hill so steep that your butt touches
   the rear wheel.
   rigid n. a bike with no suspension.
   roadie n. a rider who prefers riding on paved surfaces.
   road rash n. large abrasions on a rider's legs and body caused by a
   crash, particularly on asphalt.
   rocket fuel n. the mandatory pre-ride coffee.

Gary Koerzendorfer [] added:
  ROMP n. "Responsible Organized Mountain Pedalers", a Silicon Valley
   organization teaching MTB skills, organizing rides,  and active in
   trail politics.  "" mirrored at

   rookie mark n. chain grease on a rider's pant leg.  "Give that guy
   extra points for his rookie mark.  It's even on the wrong leg!"  See
   chainring tattoo.
   roost v. to go fast or accelerate quickly.  Or, to stop suddenly.
  - S -
   singletrack n. trail just wide enough for one person or bike -- the
   MTBer's holy grail.  Contrast with dual-track.
   skid lid n. helmet.
   sky v. to jump extremely high.  To get big air.
   snake bite n. a double puncture of an inner tube, caused by hitting an
   obstacle too hard or by under-inflation of tires.
   snowmine n. an object hidden by snow on the trail.  "Be careful of the
   snowmines -- you know, rocks, logs, hibernating bears..."
   soil sample n. a face plant.

   spin v. smooth pedal motion.  Opposite of push-push.
John Stevenson []
    SOPWAMTOS abbrev, n Society Of People Who Actually Make Their Own Shit -
    loose (so loose it's amazing it hasn't fallen apart) US organisation of
    small framebuilders and component manufacturers. Members include Yeti,
    Arctos Machine, Ibis.

   spring planting n. a face plant.
   spuds n. "SPD" (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) clipless pedals.
   stack n. crash. v. crash.
   steed n. your bike, the reason for your existence.
   stoned adj. describes a rider after a crash which imbeds stones into
   the rider's skin.

   STI adj. "Shimano Total Integration" -- a marketing ploy that forces
   you to buy new brakes when you replace your shifters.
   superman n. a rider who flies over the handlebars and doesn't hit the
   ground for a long time. This may result in injury, but when it
   doesn't, it's really funny for everyone else.
   swag n. the stuff that manufacturers and vendors donate to be given
   away at bike related events.  When you race, go to bike shows, help put
   on events, write bike articles, you are often rewarded with swag.
   Sometimes called "schwag".

  - T -
   table-top n. a jump in which the rider throws the bike sideways in
   mid-air.  Less commonly, a jump made over a hill that reaches a plateau
   and goes back down.
   taco v. to bend a wheel over on itself, in the shape of a taco.  "I
   taco'd my wheel, and it cost me a hundred bucks."  Worse than a potato
   tea party n. when a whole group of riders stops and chats, and nobody
   seems to want to ride on.
   technical n. a section of trail that is difficult to ride because of
   rocks, tree roots, steep drops.
   techno-fad n. a screwy or unique technology that a dominant company
   (usually Shimano) tries to foist upon the innocent cycling public.
   Past techno-fads include Biopace chainrings, and overly complex
   "thumb-thumb" or "push-push" shifters.
   techno-weenie n. a rider who knows more about the newest MTB parts and
   techno-fads than about the trails.  Someone who buys lots of gadgets to
   add supposed iotas of performance to the bike.  Greeting a friend whom
   we haven't seen in a year, I might say "Hi, Marta!"  A techno-weenie
   might say "Oooh, you got White Industries hubs on that bike now?"
   three-hour tour n. a ride that looks like a piece of cake at the
   outset but turns out to be a death march.  Derived from the theme song
   to "Gilligan's Island."
   ti n. titanium. Some riders would replace their watches, rings,
   glasses frames, and gold tooth-fillings with titanium if they could
   afford to.
   toe clips n. a clip-and-strap system that connects a rider's feet and
   toes to her pedals.  Toe clips usually don't require special shoes.
   track stand n. (from road-cycling) a maneuver where the rider stops
   the bike and attempts to remain standing.
John Stevenson []
   Er, oddly enough this term comes from *track* cycling.
   trail swag n. equipment or accessories dropped by other bikers and
   found on the trail.
   tricked out adj. when a bike has the latest and hottest components.
   tweak n. a jump during which the rider twists the handlebars back and
   forth in mid-air, the more times the better. v. 1. to slightly injure
   a part of the body or the bike in a crash.  "I tweaked my wrist when I
   fell." 2. to make a minor adjustment.  "My brake pads were rubbing but
   I tweaked the cable and it went away."
  - U -
   unobtanium adj. describing a bike or accessory made from expensive,
   high-tech material. A play on "unobtainable" and "titanium." (Unobtanium
   had been used for decades before the advent of mountain bikes, both in
   auto racing and in the space program.)
  - V -
   vegetable tunnel n. a singletrack that is heavily overgrown with
   foliage, so a rider must duck and bend to get through it.
   VTT n. Velo Tout-Terrain, the French term for mountain biking. Velo =
   bike, Tout = all, and don't even ask me about terrain. :-)
  - W -
   wang chung n. what you might get when your stem has no nard guard. See
   washboard n. small undulations of the soil surface that make for a
   very rough ride.
   wash out v. to have the front tire lose traction, especially while
   going around a corner.
   weight-weenie n. a MTB owner (not even necessarily a rider) who is
   more concerned with how many milligrams a certain component saves off
   the bike's total weight than with how to be a better rider.
   wheelie n. lifting the front wheel off the ground, usually with some
   combination of pulling on the handlebars, pedaling harder, and
   wild pigs n. poorly adjusted brake pads that squeal in use.
   wipeout n. a crash. v. ("wipe out") to crash.
   WOMBATS n. "WOmen's Mountain Biking And Tea Society", a Marin-based
   organization founded by writer and former MTB racer Jacquie Phelan.

   wonky adj. not functioning properly. "I bailed, and now my wheel is
   all wonky and all I hear are wild pigs."
  - Y -
   yard sale n. (from skiing) a horrendous crash that leaves all your
   various "wares" -- water bottles, pump, tool bag, etc. -- scattered as
   if on display for sale.
  - Z -
   The Zone n. a state of mind experienced while riding. You don't think,
   you just do.  A truly mystical experience that can't be fully
   explained, but when you get there you'll know it and strive to reach
   it again.
   zone out v. a state of mind where you think you've reached The Zone,
   but you really just stopped paying attention to what you're doing.
   Usually used as an excuse for a particularly embarrassing biff.
Cast Of Characters

   Contributors(for the dictionary):
   Jeff Deskins (
   Jerry Dunn ( author of forthcoming "Idiom Savant...")
   Alan Goldman (
   Catherine Heggtveit (bz328@FreeNet.Carleton.CA)
   Doug Landauer (
   Mike Landauer (
   Dave McSpaden (
   Mike Mitchell (
   Todd Ourston (
   Tom Purvis (
   Rob Sutter (
   Maintained by Jim Frost.

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