I see it all the time. Usually at the start line for a metric century. It’s not glamorous. It’s not a sexy fluorescent yellow. It’s the REI house brand.

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I left the house for the first Friday ride of the year before sunrise, so, yeah, I was opting for visibility. Things have been pretty casual since I got back from my Arizona ride. I was dressed for comfort, and while we’re not getting the sub-zero temperatures of many of the states I haven’t scheduled yet, I still like full-fingered gloves for sub-fifty degree starts.

I rolled up at the coffee shop, and I knew it wasn’t going to be casual Friday. The big kids were there, in their racing kits, with their carbon-fiber time trial bikes.

And here’s the thing about the yellow windbreaker: it marks me as an amateur – which I am – and it marks me. Just as the leader of the Tour de France has his maillot jaune so that he can’t break away from the pack, so too do I have my marking. When I’m out for a ride, I don’t care if some seriously fit guy on a great bike flies by my. He’s entitled. But woe betide the woman who passes me if she doesn’t look like a racer on a racing bike. It’s on.

Needless to say, any time I drifted to the front of the pack this morning, these guys would have none of it. I’m twice their age! I think my steel-frame bike is older than some of the other riders. Not to mention that I’m a girl.

I’m sure today was still a mellow recovery ride for them. I got dropped at a couple traffic lights, but I wasn’t alone. I caught up. I hung with the leaders on Ballona Creek (who weren’t really pushing the pace). I kept my eyes on the road, not on the Garmin.

At the end of the ride, it was my best time for Friday, and a PR on one stretch. A good start to the cycling year.

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