Welcome to The Opposite Pedal, the ramblings of a man who’s spent too many hours alone on the trail. Z - A mumblings on mountain biking life and language. This week we get “ill" while riding “well", delving into the potentially contradictory world of slang with some Sick talk.

S is for Sick.

sick 1 |sik|


1 affected by physical or mental illness: nursing very sick children | we were sick with bronchitis | (as plural noun the sick) : visiting the sick and the elderly.

• of or relating to those who are ill: the company organized a sick fund for its workers.

2 [ predic. ] feeling nauseous and wanting to vomit: he was starting to feel sick | Mark felt sick with fear.

3 [ predic. ] (sick of) intensely annoyed with or bored by (someone or something) as a result of having had too much of them:I'm absolutely sick of your moods.

4 informal (esp. of humor) having something unpleasant such as death, illness, or misfortune as its subject and dealing with it in an offensive way: this was someone's idea of a sick joke.

• (of a person) having abnormal or unnatural tendencies; perverted: he is a deeply sick man from whom society needs to be protected.

5 informal excellent: it was a sick party and there were tons of cool people there.


Sick of the weather? Fed up with not being able to shred your sick trails? Or just laid there in bed feeling sick as a dog?

We live in a weird and wonderful world of contradiction, false 'truths' and half facts surround us, the language we use (or create) to describe this world is fraught with confusion to those who sing from a different hymn sheet.

Take your every day café conversation between two bikers and you could be forgiven for thinking they had just landed from the planet gnar (abbreviation of Gnarly pronounced Nar-Lee). But this creation of terminology and “misuse" of language is nothing new, humans since the Ug Ug days of cave dwelling have made up sounds to form words to describe the things we see and feel.


A huge amount of our modern “cool" slang owes itself to the Jazz musicians of the 30’s & 40’s as well as the surfers from the 60’s & 70’s. Mountain bikers have taken it further with our own phrases to describe the ride, how long will it be before made up words like “funnest" enter the dictionary.

An estimated 1000 words are added to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) every year and it currently considers there to be in the region of 750’000 distinct words, your average man on the street knows and uses around 45’000 words!

As a skills instructor I’m constantly evaluating the terminologies and language I use to describe riding, I have to pay particular attention to them considering how the words I use will be received (neurological linguistic programming) in order to get the desired result from my customers.

I love language and wordplay, making up new words being cynical and facetious just for the hell of it. I also like pondering on how our tribal elders perceive the conversations we have about the latest “mental" section of “nadgery" (pronounced Nad-Jerry) trail.

Can a trail exist in a state of health? Was that drift executed “well" or was it “unwell"?

On the note of health and drift Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is the longest recorded word in English, it is a medical term which describes a specific type of “Silicosis". This is a lung disease caused by breathing in fine particles of dust, specifically silica based ash particles often related to volcanic emissions. Something to be aware of when following in the roost of another rider.


I wonder what words and phrases you use to describe the ride? What slang have you and your friends created to describe your trails? Here are some of my favorites to ponder and use.

Cased - Coming up short on a trail feature, especially a jump

DRFT - Spoonerism for Drift, to slide sideways, rear wheel slide. derived from driving the M1 way too often - DRFT Daventry Rail Freight Terminal

Gnadgery - Super rough trail surface where forwards progress is hindered by constant stalling

Gnarly - Super rough trail surface

Gurt or Girt - Very large

Huck - To drop without finesse or grace

Rinsed - Tired beyond belief

Roost - The particles of trail surface ripped up by drifting/sliding

Sent - From the lip of a jump, to take massive air

Spent - See Rinsed

Sweet - Nice, smooth, well executed

Until next time, keep it figurative folks.

Clive Forth. MTBSkills, Transition Bikes.


Follow Clive on twitter - twitter.com/cliveforth