Cycling terminology and can be daunting for the newcomer, so we’ve put together a glossary of terms that you may hear talked about. Hopefully this will demystify some of the disciplines and activities we are involved in as a youth cycling club.


What is Go-ride Coaching?

Go-Ride is British Cycling’s development programme for young people. It provides a fun and safe way to introduce young riders to the world of cycle sport and provides a platform to improve bike handling skills.

Getting involved is easy – Sotonia is a Go-Ride Club, where kids aged 6-16 are able to sample the various cycle sport disciplines and start enjoying one of the fastest growing sports in the UK today.

For those who are already involved and want to move forwards, there is the Go-Ride Racing competition programme. Go-Ride Racing is British Cycling’s exciting competition programme which helps young riders make the transition from club coaching sessions to inter club and open regional competition. Go-Ride Racing events offer entry level, local competition for young cyclists under the age of 16. British Cycling racing licences are not required and the events are aimed at novice racing cyclists.

Go-Ride provides the first step onto the Performance Pathway – over 60% of riders on the Great Britain Cycling Team started out at Go-Ride Clubs.


How does Sotonia’s coaching programme work?

The hub of our programme is our Saturday morning sessions on grassland at Southampton Sports Centre where we assess and place new riders into suitable groups of kids of similar ability – we currently have five ability based groups – starting with youngest in group one, up to group five for the most advanced riders. Our other cycle coaching disciplines of Sunday road coaching and Thursday night cyclocross specific training are currently available to groups 2 to 5.


What cycling disciplines does Sotonia offer for coaching?

Our core discipline is Cyclocross (or CX), this is held off-road on grass and woodland. It is a brilliant way to improve bike handling and offers an exciting mix of skill and fitness. Any bike with off-road tyres is suitable (mountain bike, hybrid, even bmx) but the most popular choice is a cyclocross bike (looks a lot like a racing bike with drop handlebars but with bigger knobbly tyres for grip). We also offer road cycling coaching to eligible riders in the spring and summer – this is held at a closed road circuit at the South Winchester Park & Ride venue.


What is Cyclocross?

Cyclocross is also one of the most accessible forms of cycle sport with racing for everyone from young kids to grandparents. Cyclocross takes place in off-road venues such as public parks and other open spaces. Surfaces can include grass, mud, gravel and sand. Courses are short and winding, enabling multiple laps to be completed in a set race duration. Courses often feature obstacles such as hurdles and sand pits, forcing riders to dismount and carry or run with their bikes. Some courses are more ‘technical’ than others, featuring tight single-track trails, tree roots and other obstacles.


I have a road bike and don’t ride off-road

If you have joined Sotonia youth coaching programme, and are in a suitable ability group, you may be eligible to join our road sessions.


What is a Time Trial or TT?

Timetrials are solo rider races against the clock over distances of 10 miles and above on set courses. These are on open roads, usually in the New Forest for our club and for ages 12 and over. Sotonia has a full TT program throughout the summer months. We highly recommend cycling the course beforehand as advised in the video below. Full details of Sotonia’s and other local Timetrials is here.

More information on what to expect when entering a first time trial can be found in this video:


What is a road Criterium?

A Criterium or “Crit” is a bike race on a closed road circuit or track held over a set duration, from 15 minutes to over an hour depending on age and ability where the winner is the first rider to cross the finish line without having been “lapped”. It requires a mix of technical skills — in particular, the ability to corner smoothly while holding the line on the road, as well as rapidly and sharply, riding safely with a group and “sprint” ability to attack other riders and repeatedly accelerate hard from corners. Age categories start at under 8 where riders from the age of 6 usually compete. Kids age categories are Under 10, 12, 14 and 16.


What is XC MTB?

This is cross country (XC) mountain bike racing, held mainly in woodland courses, with single track, fire roads and climbs. XC focusses on endurance with the aim of completing a set number of laps on the course as quickly as possible. The local XC MTB league is Southern XC which hosts races in the Spring and summer months in the New Forest, Winchester, Basingstoke and elsewhere in the South. It is suitable for any ages from 6 up to adults with race categories to suit all ages and abilities.


What is Zwift and virtual cycling?

Zwift is an app for cyclists that makes indoor training fun. Sotonia Youth have used this as training platform for riders in the last year over the winter months and in lockdowns when outside coaching isn’t possible. It is a turbo trainer game that enables you to link you turbo trainer up your computer, Tablet, Smart phone or Apple TV, letting you ride with other cyclists in a virtual environment.

Is Zwift free?

Zwift costs around £12 a month for adults but is free for child accounts and you can cancel at any time. You don’t need to commit immediately, either – as there is a seven day free trial available to all new members.

What equipment do I need to play Zwift?

The most obvious thing you need to use Zwift is a turbo trainer. These turbo trainers generally have a direct drive design, with a built in power meter and variable resistance. These turbos will measure your power output, then send this data to Zwift to power your online avatar although “dumb” turbo trainers can also be used where a rider’s pedalling speed is used to calculate speed in the game, albeit less accurately.