QUESTION: What is a sag stop in cycling? I am signed up for a century ride in June, and the web site mentions sag stops and sag support.—Jay H.
RBR’S STAN PURDUM REPLIES: At organized group events, a sag stop is a predetermined location along the route where beverages, snacks (perhaps even lunch), a floor pump, tools, spare tubes, (sometimes even a mechanic), portable toilets, first-aid workers, etc. are available to the participating cyclists — in short, a temporary setup with items and services the riders might need to continue the ride.
Sag can also apply to a motor vehicle carrying some of those items that travels a cycling route to pick up riders who drop out, and resupply or service those who continue. Regardless of what kind of motor vehicle is used, it’s usually called a “sag wagon.” (In bike racing, a similar vehicle is called a “broom wagon,” which follows behind the riders to “sweep up” any who can’t make it to the finish line.)
On smaller bicycle events, a sag stop may be little more than a cooler filled with drinks left at a designated point along the route.
Cycling folklore has it that SAG is an acronym for “Support And Gear,” but it’s far more likely that the term entered the cycling world as a verb to describe what happens physically (and perhaps even emotionally) to some riders on these events: They sag, which the Oxford Dictionary defines as “to sink, subside, or bulge downward under weight or pressure or through lack of strength.”
The same volume also suggests the following synonyms for sag: slump, crumple, flop, droop, falter, weaken, languish, fade, wilt, shrivel, wither, decline.
Been there. Done that …
There is one other use of sag in the cycling world — this time as a noun — but it applies only to bikes with rear shocks. There, sag is the distance the shocks move under the combined weight of your body and gear. That sag can be adjusted so that the shocks are neither too stiff nor too soft. See details here.
Stan Purdum has ridden several long-distance bike trips, including an across-America ride recounted in his book Roll Around Heaven All Day, and a trek on U.S. 62, from Niagara Falls, New York, to El Paso, Texas, the subject of his book Playing in Traffic. Stan, a freelance writer and editor, lives in Ohio. See more at www.StanPurdum.com.
Roger Coombes says
It’s great to see you explain the term Sag as a verb, because that’s certainly the only way it was used in the 1950’s when I was racing in England. It wasn’t until decades later in this country that I heard it explained as an acronym and thought how ridiculous it was that someone obviously didn’t understand a perfectly good verb and had to invent such an outrageous explanation