It’s here! Amgen, Tour of California

May 16, 2012 | Categories: Events | Tags: ,

It’s here! Amgen, Tour of California . . . the 3rd largest bicycling event in the world! Join us Wednesday, May 16 in Old Town Clovis at the Amgen Stage 4 Finish. A crowd of 40,000+ enthusiasts are forecasted to attend the race throughout Fresno. In Old Town, where the finish takes place you’ll find a festival for all ages. Pony rides, facepainting, huge slide and cotton candy for the young ones, and a climbing rock for the daring! Great food and beverages to quench your thirst!


The best places to see the bicyclists ZOOM through Old Town is most likely on Pollasky Avenue. The finish line is at 7th Street in front of the Old Town Clovis Fire Station. So anywhere along Pollasky is the prime place to watch the final stage. (See map below) Riders will also be riding into town on Clovis Avenue headed South, and making a final loop, riding up Woodworth, heading North and then turning east on Sierra and a quick right, headed south on Pollasky for the finish. So the side streets will also afford a good look with a smaller crowd!

If you’re like many of us, you are excited at the prospect of seeing America’s most successful bicycle race, but you’re not entirely familiar with the terminology that goes along with it. Following we have included a “Primer” of bicycle racing terminology so you can look like a pro while you’re cheering on the riders.

Attack: A sudden acceleration to move ahead of another rider or group of riders.

Bonk/Hit the Wall: Both are bad news for a cyclist. To “bonk” or to “hit the wall” means a rider has not consumed enough calories to fuel his/her body. Cycling races are usually long and require careful replenishment of calories and electrolytes. Failure to fuel correctly can lead to a rider falling off the pace of the main group and may even cause them to drop out of a race.

Breakaway/escape: A rider or group of riders who ride off the front of the peloton and form a lead pack. Breakaway riders will obviously want to maintain their lead, but whether they do so depends on how well they cooperate and how well the peloton cooperates in any attempt to chase them down and close the time gap.

Bridge: A rider or riders who sprint away from the main group of riders, or peloton, and catch the breakaway.

Bunch/Peloton: The main group of riders who ride together at a comfortable pace and share the pace-making. Flat stages tend to finish in a bunch or field sprint contested by most of the riders.

Caravan/Follow Car: The riders are followed by a large group of vehicles that support the race. This includes: commissaires, team directors, medical staff, VIP’s, and neutral mechanical support. Each team is allowed two vehicles to provide riders with water bottles, food, and bike parts. A team’s best-placed rider determines the order of the vehicles in the caravan so the athletes competing for the lead can have the quickest service when they find themselves in a dire situation.

DNF: Short for “Did Not Finish”.
Drafting/Slipsteam: The biggest enemy to a cyclist is aerodynamic drag. Riders can save a significant amount of energy by riding in a group behind other riders or by having their teammates break the wind for them. In a breakaway, riders rotate from the front of the group to the back in order to take a short rest. Larger groups are more successful because each rider spends less time riding in the wind.

Domestiques: A French term for the “helpers” or “servants” on a team. Cycling is a team sport and a team leader, primary sprinter or star climber may find it difficult to win a race without the help of their loyal domestiques. Domestiques will shelter their teammates from the wind, visit the team car to collect extra water bottles, and chase down breakaway groups. On a rare occasion a domestique will receive to go-ahead to race for a stage victory if the conditions are right.

Drop/Dropped: When a rider has been left behind by another rider or group of riders.

Echappee: The cyclist who escapes from the pack. The “escapee”.

Echelon: A staggered, long line of riders, each downwind of the rider ahead, allowing them to move considerably faster than a solo rider or small group of riders. In windy sections where there are crosswinds, a large peloton will form into echelons.

Equipe: A cycling team.

Feed zone: A designated stretch of road where soigneurs distribute musettes filled with food and drink to riders while as they pass by at full speed. A rider only grabs a musette from his own team’s soigneur who is typically dressed in a matching team uniform. The end of the feed zone is often a good place for fans to get souvenirs as riders discard musettes and bottles after taking the supplies they need.

Field Sprint: A mass sprint at the finish among the main group of riders in a road race.

Gap: The amount of time or distance between a rider or group of riders in a road race.

General Classification Riders: Well-rounded riders who compete for the best overall time in a stage race. These riders are typically strong climbers and time trialists who are protected by their teammates.

Hammer: To ride hard. Also to “put the hammer down”.

Jump: A quick acceleration, which usually develops into a sprint.

King of the Mountain: During a stage race, points are awarded to the first few riders to cross the summit of categorized climbs. Difficult climbs are worth more points and the rider who has accumulated the most points over the course of a race is crowned at the King of the Mountain.

Maillot Jaune: The presentation jersey is now made with a full-length zip at the back and the rider pulls it on from the front, sliding his hands through the sleeves rather like a strait-jacket. He then receives three further jerseys each day. In American English it is sometimes referred to as the mellow johnny, a mispronunciation of its French name originally by Lance Armstrong, who wore it many times while winning the 1999-2005 races. Armstrong also uses the name “Mellow Johnny” for his Texas-based bike shop.

Mechanical: Slang for a problem with the bicycle. “He had a mechanical.”

Off the Back: When a rider or riders cannot keep pace with the main group and lag behind.

Off the Front: When a rider takes part in a breakaway.

Paceline: A formation of two or more riders who are drafting. Typically racers take turns doing the hard work at the front of the line.

The Peloton: Is the “bunch or the “field” or the “pack” of cyclists that consists of the main group of cyclists in a race. The word peloton is drawn from French where it means “ball” or, more loosely, platoon. The “bunching up” of the riders to form the peloton is a tactic designed to save energy on a ride while remaining competitive. The riders at the front of the peloton “break the air” on the ride, and those following “draft” behind them saving as much as 40% of the “energy cost” through a given stretch of riding. A link is provided.

Slipstream: The area of least wind resistance behind a rider.

Squirrel: A small rodent, but also a rider who is erratic and “squirrely” when riding in a group.

Rouleur/Strong men: Literally a “roller” this is a rider who can pedal a difficult gear for a long time on flat and rolling terrain. Every team has three or four rouleurs employed as domestiques who protect their leaders by chasing down breakaways and sheltering them from the wind.

Soigneurs: From the French verb meaning “to take care of”. The role traditionally involves preparing food for the riders, driving the team’s spare vehicles and providing massages.

Sprinters: Each team typically has one powerful rider who has the ability to produce a quick burst of speed at the end of a race; this is a sprinter. On flat courses, teams protect their sprinter from the wind so they can conserve as much energy as possible until the final few hundred meters of the race. A win for a sprinter is always a win for the entire team because a sprinter would not be able to showcase his finishing power without the support of his teammates throughout the race.

Train: A fast moving paceline of riders.

Velo: French word for “bicycle”.

Wheelsucker: A somewhat dated term for someone who, while riding in a paceline, doesn’t take a turn at the front of the line. These days they get called lots of other names, none of which are printable here!


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