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Knowledge Base

There is an old saying, "you don't know what you don't know!"

Glossary of Terms

Here at Midland Cycle Club the focus is on two main types of disciplines of Cycling which are then broken up into a number of Sub Categories and race types. These disciplines are collectively known as "Road" and "Track."

Track is raced at a Velodrome which is a banked track. Usually indoor Velodromes are made of timber but outdoor Velodromes are generally made of concrete or bitumen.

Road racing is just that, racing on the road however there are also different versions of that too.

For both road and track we have scratch races and handicap races, Scratch means that everyone starts together and handicap means that some people are given a head start, generally this is determined by the commissaire (race overseer) who hopefully will use this head start to even up a race where some riders are known to be stronger/weaker than others. This is mostly done with juniors.


This is where contestants compete in a number of different events sometimes over a period of days and points are awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd and so on at the end of the meet the points are added up and the winner of the Omnium is the one with the most points. The overall winner can sometimes not have won a single race but simply done well in all of them! An Omnium event can be either track or road or very rarely a combination of both.

A Criterium or Crit as it is often abbreviated to, is a race on a closed road circuit. Often this may simply be a city block or similar that is closed off to traffic during the event. These events are usually along the lines of the ride for a period of time and then a lap to go or a set number of laps for the contestants. Sometimes a Crit will be ridden on a "hot dog" circuit this is raced up one side of the street, turned around an object usually cones and then back down to the other end. This is usually very technical and requires a lot of skill to race up to the turn around point slow down and then speed up again.

Road Race
An event that takes the riders from point A to point B or sometimes on an out and back course. Typically they will have a range of terrains from flat, to undulating to hilly. They are generally longer races in excess of 40 to 50 kilometres for senior riders although juniors will ride over shorter courses.

Time Trial
Or TT's are often known as the race of truth. The reason for this is that there is no hiding behind other competitors it is simply the individual against the clock. The winner being decided on time alone, therefore the fastest time is the winner. Time Trials can be ridden on both the track and the road over varying distances.

Pairs Team Time Trial
Essentially this race is the same as the Time Trial above however as the name suggests this race is ridden by two riders and can be ridden on either the road or track.

Team Time Trial
Team Time Trials are usually ridden as part of major stage races such as the Tour de France where the entire team rides off as a group and the time of the team is taken on the fifth rider to cross the line. This type of time trial requires the whole team to work together as one in order to achieve the best time.

Individual Pursuit
Two riders compete over a fixed distance. They start from two opposite points on the track. The winner is the rider who catches up with his rival or who records the best time. ** **

Team Pursuit
Two teams usually of 4 riders compete over a distance of 4 km. They start from two opposites points of the track. The winner is the team which catches up with its rival or records the best time.

Italian Pursuit
Larger teams contest these races. Each rider does only one lap in the lead, and then pulls up above the blue line out of the way, leaving his team to carry on without him. Each time a rider finishes his lap the team becomes smaller until it is a one-to-one pursuit on the final lap. The winner is the first of these final riders across their respective finish line.

Motor Paced Racing or Derny Racing
Motor paced races can be over a known distance or over a period of time. The riders follow in the slipstream of pacing motor bikes or "dernys" at high speed. The noise and speed make for an exciting distance race. The driver of the pacing machine must be an excellent rider, and be able to help his cyclist by sensing when to attack, and when the rider needs a rest. The only way for the partnership to win is to cross the line first. These races are generally held on the track.

Team Sprint
This spectacular event is run with teams of 3 riders, over 3 laps of the track. Each rider does a lap before handing over. The last rider finishes alone. At the World Championships, the eight teams with the best times qualify; four of them are eliminated after head-to-head races. Finally the two teams with the best times race off to decide the winner. This event is very similar to the Italian Pursuit.

A race where tactics are very important. After a selection over 200 m. with a fliying start, the riders race one another to qualify over 2 or 3 laps, depending on the length of the track. The losers may still qualify. From the quarter finals onwards, the riders race against one another over two legs. Sometimes we see track stands session, where the idea is to get your rival to make the pace, which puts him at a disadvantage when it comes to the explosion into the final sprint.

In this event from Japan, 6 to 8 riders square up against one another in a sprint of from 600 to 700 m. held after riding for around 1400 m. behind a trainer on a moped, motorbike or derny gradually increasing in speed from 30 to 50 km/h. The moped pulls off usually with two laps to go and the winner is then the first across the finish line.

Points Race
For sprinters who know how to marshal their resources. This is a speciality where the final ranking depends on the number of points won and accumulated by 20 to 30 riders during sprints (in all 10 laps of 250 m track) and according to the laps won. It is run over 30 km for men and 25 km for women.

This requires a perfect understanding. The event is between teams of two riders with intermediate sprints. The ranking is drawn up on distance and the points won by the riders. With a maximum of 18 teams, generally run over 50 km, this is a spectacular event. The team members can take over from each other as and when they like, by touching hands or cycling shorts. While one of the riders is in the race, the other one goes round at slower speed, and recovers.

Elimination, Miss and Out or Devil-take-the-Hindmost
A type of mass start race, usually on a track, sometimes on a Criterium course. At each lap, the last rider over the finish line is called "out" of the race. Generally the race continues until a certain number of riders are left and then they will race for the "finish".

Training Acronyms Defined (FTP, LTHR, NP, TSS & IF)
TSS, NP, IF, and FTP are terms created by Dr. Andy Coggan and are specific to cycling.

FTP - Functional Threshold Power
Functional Threshold Power, or FTP, is the maximum average power you can hold for one hour. So if you can hold 250 watts for one hour, that means your FTP is 250.

FTP is the best single marker for fitness in cycling. The higher your FTP is, the stronger you are.

LTHR - Lactate Threshold Heart Rate
Lactate threshold heart rate, or LTHR is the maximum average heart rate you can hold for an hour. So if your average HR for an hour ends up being 180bpm, that means your LTHR is 180. It's very similar to FTP.

LTHR is not a good fitness marker, but it can be used to scale workouts. As you progress, your LTHR might go up or down, but don't think of this as a reflection of fitness. Stroke volume, BPM and efficiency play a role.

NP - Normalized Power
Normalized Power gives you an average power number if you would have ridden at a constant power output. For example, in a crit, you would have lots of power spikes and lots of coasting. This would result in a low average power. Normalized power was developed to try to figure out how much stress was actually put on your body.


By using some math and weighting the really hard stuff more than the easy stuff we can figure out what your power output would have been if you would have ridden steady the entire time.

IF - Intensity Factor
This is how intense a ride is. A ride with an Intensity Factor of 1.0 would equal an all out effort for an hour. If you did an hour at .8 IF that means it was about an 80% effort.

TSS - Training Stress Score
TSS is the amount of training stress generated from a workout. The higher this number the more potential fitness you earned from a workout.

How do TSS and IF relate to each other?
Some rides can be intense, some can add a lot of fitness, some do both. A workout that is just 30 minutes long can be really intense and have an IF score of over 1.0, but that doesn't mean you'll earn a lot of TSS from it. By contrast, you can have a 2 hour ride that's not very intense, but will earn you a lot of TSS

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