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#30daysofbiking: Day 5

April 5, 2012

As I sat at a diner counter for lunch today, my trusty Dahon compactly folded in the space beside me, I thought about the past year with my red friend.

In April 2011, I started spending part of my week at a USDA lab in Beltsville, MD. The green line would only take me as far as Greenbelt leaving me two miles short of my destination. A bus could get me 1/3 of the way closer – but the cost, time waiting, and leftover walk didn’t make this a practical solution. I soon discovered that I could beat WMATA’s rush hour bike restriction by getting a folder. First, I needed to overcome the fact that I would look like a circus bear riding a bike. Next, it was time to shop.

While researching, three brands I saw most often were Brompton, Dahon, and Bike Friday. I loved the elegance and sophisticated look of the Brompton. However, it and the Bike Friday were out of my price range – after all folding bikes were only a novelty, I thought. Dahon on the other hand, had a wide range of bikes – with their top-of-the-line more expensive than Brompton’s but also more economical and reasonable ones. I wanted my Dahon to be small, light, and have internal gearing avoiding greasy cogs and gearing. The Curve D3 met these specifications (16-inch wheels, 25 pounds, and SRAM internal 3-speed hub). Amazingly, I soon found a great deal on a still-in-the-box one on Craigslist – it was meant to be!

I’ve ridden this bike in all types of scenarios since then – not just its original purpose of going to the lab. It’s zippy and quick but not fast. But, it’s the bike I can most enjoy the contours of the country with. The only modification made was a handlebar cup holder to match the lazy Sunday morning ride mentality. As far as maintenance, other than brake pads that wore down quickly (small rims?), it’s been my most trouble-free bike.

Here’s one thing I cannot get used to: the comments. Prior to purchasing, a reviewer said that anyone with a folding bike is going to have to expect to get a lot of attention and questions. This was fine and welcomed  during the initial months (who doesn’t love to show off their new toy). However, for me, the novelty factor has transformed into practicality. Sir, I appreciate that this is the coolest thing you ever saw but I really must be going. In BikeSnobNYC first book, he hit it on the head when comparing bikes to underpants. You don’t ask strangers what their underpants are made of; how much they paid for their underpants; and definitely wouldn’t try to touch a stranger’s underpants.

And then there’s the cow’s fascination with my Dahon – don’t even get me started with that creep show.

Government cows covet Dahon

Cool bike, human.

Steel is real man.

Distance: 10.27 miles

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