Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Glossary of (Humorous) Terms...

I thought it would be fun to create a glossary of terms for the site so we're all speaking the same language, so to speak. It's mostly in jest with some occasional facts thrown in. It may or may not fly, but let's give it a shot. If you have any ideas put them in the comments section and we'll start compiling a list.

Wool - A magical fiber shorn from animals known as "sheep". Wool has many magical properties that defy physics such as the ability to keep you cool when it is hot while simultaneously keeping you warm when it is cold. Explanations of this vary but the most widely accepted is that sheep are the domesticated pets of faerie-like creatures known as "Elves" that reside in a magical land known as "Rivendell" which until recently was not thought to exist. Turns out Rivendell is located in Walnut Creek, not too far off from a citadel known as "San Francisco."

The Great GP, GP - GP, an abbreviation of Grant Peterson, founder of Rivendell and designer of the much coveted mythic steed known as the XO-1, a bike that is said to be simultaneously a mountain bike, touring bike, road bike and commuting bike at once, defying all modern marketing classifications. Those clever elves.

Hemp Twine - A thin ropey material that is related both to cannabis and to hops, but can get you neither high or drunk if ingested. The most typical modern use of hemp twine is to "finish off" handlebar tape. The finishing off process also generally involves a coat of shellac which is bug poop, which unlike hemp twine, will get you light-headed if inhaled deeply (don't try this at home).

SOP - SOP (Step-On Pedal) is the belief that using the cheap pedals that came with your bike and not the expensive ones that look like a pancake whisk or lollipop is technically and morally superior. It is both a brazen act of practicality and an act against conspicuous bicycle consumption.

Steel - A legendary magic alloy which lays between iron and carbon. Steel is said to absorbs bumps, bangs and vibrations. Steel has been said to be nearly indestructible. In event of a crash it can be either bent back into place, welded or unbrazed and partially replaced. Elegantly lugged or brutally TIG'ed, the steel frame can be a work of art to last a lifetime. It's density even gives an excuse for slow climbing! (thanks Hocam)

"Index" Shifting - A bicycle advancement of little note. Said to be a fashion of the time (see elliptical chainrings). It allows those with neither finesse or acumen to shift gears by virtue of a simplified "one-click equals one shift." Index shifting "systems" are highly incompatible, prone to maladjustment, are not field serviceable and often come in ugly plastic configurations.

JRA - Acronym for "just riding along." Often used to explain inexplicable, sudden, and mysterious bicycle failures which usually has nothing to do with curb jumping, wheelies and BMX tricks, honest! For example, " I was "just riding along" with some friends and my chain broke causing me to wreck my new front tri-spoke and shattering my rear Synergies."


Steve West said...


God bless that Grant Peterson and his bringing cycling back to some saneness. Don't get me wrong, I'm sometimes enchanted by shiny things but GP does keep it real and I always go back to the sight for that reminder.

Love your site, keep up the great posts, they're quite the excellent intermission at work.

Colin said...


I am not a tourer (but I'm working on it), so maybe this is silly question, but what's the technical advantage of riding platform pedals? I sympathize with the aesthetic point (Crank Brothers = not pretty), but I find myself loving my clipless pedals more and more as my rides get longer. What am I missing?

RussRoca said...

From my experience the advantage of platform (SOP) pedals isn't a technical one in terms of pure riding. SOP pedals won't win any stage wins in the Tour (the one with yellow jerseys and such), but they do offer many conveniences when touring (the sort with the tent and camping).

For example, right now my current favorite and best bike touring shoe is a Keen H2 sandal (the one without the cleats). When on tour, I can use this one shoe for cycling, hiking and bathing in questionable camp showers. I don't have to carry more than this.

Another example, and actually the one that convinced me to try SOPs, is when riding fire roads or rock gardens. It's simply easier to dab your foot down when you're tipping over some loose gravel and rocks than it is to clip out. Likewise, starting up some super steep hills, its nice to be able to bail if I didn't get quite enough momentum.

I've worn cleated shoes almost exclusively until the last three months and I'm finding the existential need for them to be growing less and less.

Hope that helps.


Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of what I call flip-flop pedals -- cleated on one side, SOP on the other. Even if I ride clipless on long tours, there are times when it's crucial to be able to ride in SOP mode -- say, when you ended up off-road, and now that your shoes are muck-encrusted, clipping in would be a permanent affair. Or when you're on a gravel road with switchbacks -- going uphill. Need to be able to get the feet undone fast, and SOP are the way to go. And with flip-flops, when you're done, you can go back to clipless mode.


Hocam said...

How about this:

Steel: A magical alloy between iron and carbon, the stuff of legend. Absorbs bumps, bangs and vibrations; in the case of a crash it can be either bent back or unbrazed and partially replaced. Elegantly lugged or brutally TIG'ed, the steel frame can be a work of art to last a lifetime. It's density even gives an excuse for slow climbing!

Anonymous said...

"The biggest myth in bicycle riding is the need for special cycling shoes and the benefits of stiff ones. The argument in favor of Special Shoes is this: With a firm connection to the pedal, you will be able to apply power for the full 360-degrees of a pedal revolution.

That's one of the biggest, fattest lies of all time on any topic."