Yesterday I received an amusing backhanded compliment while commuting home. I passed a guy on the way up Dexter. At the top he caught up with me again and said, “The way you passed me, I thought you were on an e-bike!”

Why, thank you.

E-bikes go sailing up Dexter, which has a small but steady incline for a good distance, and they pass all the regular cyclists constantly. I rarely have a conventional cyclist pass me on that road, but moms in jeans on cargo e-bikes do it all the time. I’ve gotten good at recognizing the unique way people pedal on e-bikes, an effortless and blithe steady spin. If that’s how I looked, I’m doing okay.

That reminded me of another backhanded compliment I received on the Levi’s Gran Fondo. At the 50-mile food stop, a guy came up and said, “You’re really pale. How are you so fast?”

Apparently in California, you can gauge fitness based on someone’s tan. If they spend a lot of time outside riding, they’re more tan.

Of course, even in summer, that’s not the case for us Washington cyclists. I told him where I came from, and it all made so much more sense to him.

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