Spoke ‘n Words: Learn cycling lingo before watching Tour de Nez

Rick Reynolds
Spoke 'n Words
Courtesy of Mark NadellRacers in a past Tour de Nez zip through downtown Truckee. Racing in this year's event stretches from June 18 through 20 in Truckee, Reno and Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort.

The Tour de Nez is coming to Truckee and Northstar June 18 through 20, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to explain some cycling terms and make watching the races more fun.

The Tour de Nez ( is an and#8220;omniumand#8221; and consists of three races and#8212; a criterium in Truckee, a criterium in Reno and a circuit race at Northstar.

A criterium and#8212; also called a and#8220;critand#8221; and#8212; is a circuit race held on a short course, about one mile in length, and the riders race for a predetermined time. When the race officials have a feel for the lap times, they will start putting up lap cards that let the racers know how many laps they have left.

A circuit race is on a longer course with a specific mileage/lap count. Generally, crits are held on flat courses with mellow corners. In downtown Truckee the corners are technical and demanding, testing riders’ bike-handling skills. This leads to hard accelerations out of the corners and is more taxing on the legs than a more typical crit.

During a crit, the race officials will offer and#8220;primes.and#8221; When a and#8220;primeand#8221; is announced, it could be for cash or merchandise. The announcer will let the racers and spectators know what’s on the line. On the next lap, the first rider across the line wins the and#8220;prime.and#8221;

At any time during the race you may see a rider and#8220;attackand#8221; and go on a and#8220;flyer.and#8221; If the rider on the flyer is a threat, an opposing team will send someone to and#8220;bridge upand#8221; and and#8220;cover the break.and#8221;

During the race you will notice how the racers try to tuck in behind each other, called and#8220;drafting.and#8221; When a cyclist is drafting, he can save as much as 30 percent of his energy compared to the leader.

If a racer and#8220;flatsand#8221; in a crit, he may be given a and#8220;free lap.and#8221; This allows him an opportunity to get a new wheel in the pits and rejoin the field. When the race nears the end, no more and#8220;free lapsand#8221; will be allowed.

An and#8220;omniumand#8221; is a set of races where athletes compete for points in each event, and final placings are determined by total points in all the events. It is not required to finish each race.

In a and#8220;stage raceand#8221; the riders are required to finish each stage, and the overall results are usually determined by cumulative time.

After each race the leaders will be awarded a leader’s jersey to be worn in the next stage, thus identifying him to his competitors and spectators.

In a sanctioned USACycling event, each athlete needs to be licensed and must race in his category. Every racer starts off his career as a and#8220;cat 5and#8221; (category 5), then moves up in categories by placing in races and gaining upgrade points.

One of the categories you will see locals racing in during the Tour de Nez is the and#8220;Master 45+ 1, 2, 3.and#8221; This means the racer is 45 years or older, in category 1, 2 or 3.

The Tour de Nez is open to professionals, cat 1-3 and masters 1-3.

I hope you enjoy this year’s Tour de Nez.

and#8212; Team rider Rick Reynolds is the author of this week’s Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries Racing column. Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries Racing is a Truckee-based cycling team focused on racing and local bike advocacy. For more information, results and upcoming events, visit

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