Thursday, September 18, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

“Back in the Saddle again. Out where a friend is a friend. Whoopy-ty-aye-ay I go my way. Back in the saddle again.”

When two months after the clavicle fracture, my no biking sentence finally ended, that old cowboy song burst joyously out of distant memory into the most brilliant sunlight of an Indian summer that I can recall in many years. The saddle refers to a horse, of course, but coincidentally, bike seats are also called saddles.

Recently converted to the bike-to-work religion, my friend Linda reclaimed the sweet little Burley (Birdy) folding bike she had lent me last winter to rehabilitate from my hip fracture. So I bought REI’s new model, the Dahon folding bike. A honey in her own right, Dahon is not very much like Birdy. She has her own peculiar personality and charm at half the price.

In lots of ways, Dahon is friendlier than Birdy. As I probably mentioned in early entries, cute as she is, Birdy won’t fit on a bus rack. She has eighteen inch wheels, too small for the slots, and her big chunky chain and derailer hang way low like cow’s udder at milking time. So there’s no way of putting her on the bus, short of folding her up.

Dahon has a tidy black business woman look to her. Her twenty inch wheels fit neatly into any bus rack. Her chain is barely visible, mostly hidden by a dainty chain guard. That same shiny piece of metal also hides Dahon’s hub shifter. There is no derailer to get in the way, even with my big old panniers fully loaded, of hoisting her gracefully onto a bus rack.

As for ease of folding there’s no contest. Some sadistic male engineer designed Birdy’s folding system. Several steps must be executed in a rigid sequence or you screw the whole thing up and have to start all over. Birdy’s main folding process consists of lifting the bike twice while folding each wheel separately inward and under. The front one has a tricky double hinge. With Dahon, you just release a lever on the bar and she basically folds in half. Even so, why fold? She fits on the bus rack unfolded. Just pull up in front of the bus and lift her on. I’m really very mobile with this bike.

Dahon has only one disadvantage. Her gear range is a bit narrower than Birdy’s. It’s pretty wide for a bike with only eight gears instead of twenty-one like Birdy. But I would judge from uphill pedal resistance that Dahon’s lowest gear is somewhere in the low mid-range of Birdy’s. Never mind. Dahon’s is adequate. I can pedal her right up to the top of Capitol Hill after the #48 bus lets me off at 23rd and John.

In fact, I’m sitting up here now having a latte at the Victrola Coffee Shop on 15th Ave. Be sure to check this pace out on a sweet sunny afternoon.

I have to admit that I didn’t come up here just for a latte. I had an appointment at Group Health this morning so I’m killing some time before my ride up Broadway to Yesler for my volunteer job as an English as a Second Language teacher. Then it will be back up to the top of Beacon Hill for a community group meeting this evening. There are lots of hilly days in my life as a biking old lady who refuses to quit. But as a friend of mine pointed out, “Hills are why they made buses.” I’ll be taking the #36 up to Beacon Hill for an evening ride along the Chief Sealth Trail with its great views of the mountains and the lake.


SiouxGeonz said...

Where the longhorn cattle feed
on thelowly jimson weed ....

SMilin' with ya, old lady!

PM Summer said...

"Some sadistic male engineer(s) designed Birdy’s folding system."

They're Germans, what do you expect? But then, so am I (by heredity if not nationality), and I love my Birdy.

Thel said...

Hooray and welcome back! I dearly love the Chief Sealth Trail.

Anonymous said...

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rcp4 said...

Glad you're back. Photos of your new folder, please? You are an inspiration in determination.