Spokes and Superfolks

I have been working on two goals in the last 2 weeks: to reorganize my comic books and to purchase a new bike.


Just before our last move in June, I purged my comic collection and gave away a lot of books I did not believe I would ever re-read, that were just taking up space in my comic drawers. As I try to keep my collection from growing exponentially and taking up too much space (especially now that space is a rare commodity in our diminutive new home), I try to  regularly give away books I either did not enjoy or enjoy enough to want to read again.  Unfortunately, during my last purge, I foolishly failed to delete the books I disposed of from my comic book excel spreadsheet (a list I keep of all the comic books and graphic novels I have.) Because of this, I do not currently have an accurate list of what books I have. I decided to take inventory and start going through them, updating my list, confirming what books I still own.

I also decided, since I was going to be going through my books anyway, it was a good time to re-bag and re-board my books.

Many (most) comic collectors and readers place all of their comic books in comic bags (“sleeves”) with backing boards to keep them sturdy and protected. I , few years back, that I was a READER, not a COLLECTOR, so I removed all of my books from their sleeves with boards, with the idea that I wanted to be able to open any drawer and pull out a book to read or reference without having to un-tape and remove it from a  sleeve and then replace it in the sleeve before returning it. My comics have been sitting in my comic boxes, au naturale, since. However, they are starting to curl. Also, because they are not naturally sturdy, if I don’t keep the boxes stuffed full, and leave room to file more books, they are always falling or sliding forward or backward, which drives me batty. SO, I’m replacing them all in sleeves with boards. You can imagine how much time and effort this is taking, as I have to first purchase the sleeves and boards (which I do a few at a time each week when I pick up my weekly comic stash); then I have to marry the boards and sleeves (slide one backing board into one sleeve); then I have to place each comic in a bag and board unit and tape it closed. I currently have 6000+ books. I completed a batch of 400 books this weekend.  Boards and sleeves come in packages of 100, so if you do the math, you can imagine the cost and time this will take to complete.  This is one of those times when my compulsive obsessive need to get a project started and done NOW competes with my pragmatic, economical side. I have neither the time nor money to purchase enough boards and sleeves all at once and then sit, non-stop, in my office for days (weeks?) and completely re-bag and re-board my entire collection. It is also not the kind of project ones’ husband or friends are willing to help with,  so I will just have to be patient and tackle them myself, one box at a time, one week at a time, until they are done. And did I mention the number it does on my back hefting boxes and comics and sitting for long periods of time re-bagging and boarding them? Oy!


Thanks to a good (hasn’t blogged in a while – ahem) blogger buddy (Thom of Bald Thoughts) who was visiting at the time, I purchased a new bike two summers ago, after not riding since I was in high school.  Unfortunately, I made a very bad choice and purchased an all terrain mountain bike, a choice that was completely informed by the affordability and availability of it. I’m an immediate gratification kind of guy and when I want something, I want it now. I had the fire in my belly to start riding again and so I had to have a bike immediately. I walked into target, saw it there on the rack, it was on sale (and thus, affordable) and so I purchased it and took it home. I began riding it as soon as I got home. It was startling to discover the effort it took to ride the damn thing and I was embarrassed and frustrated at how short of a time and distance I could ride before being completely exhausted and having to stop. This continued even after I began riding semi-regular that summer and the next and I really wondered how I had gotten so out of shape and why I was finding bike riding a grueling exercise when I used to enjoy it so much.  It was only after some discussions with others that I realized I had bought the wrong kind of bike for the type of riding I would be doing: extended rides on bike paths. Apparently I should have bought a ten-speed like road bike. (Yup, the last time I had ridden prior to buying the mountain hike was when they still made ten speeds.) I was having to put way too much effort into just operating the bike I owned. Just before the move, I disposed of that bike on Freecycle (to a very handsome young man, I might add, who was very ecstatic and appreciative to get the bike for free, although not appreciative enough to show up naked to get it…sigh.) So, I have been bikeless since we moved.

I knew, once we moved, we would be living right around the corner from a  bike shop (The Downtube). I fully intended, once we were settled, to pop around the corner, buy a shiny new (appropriate) road bike and begin riding again. Unfortunately, I got sick, so that had to wait a bit. Finally, last week, Jeffrey and I took a post-dinner stroll over to the shop. I was so excited and sure I would be walking home with my new bike. Sadly, I failed to account for the fact that the type of bike I wanted had skyrocketed in price since my highschool days and that this was an actual bike shop, a bit higher end than the bike section of the local Target I had bought my previous bike from. Although I did not expect to find a bike for $59.00 like I could in 1988, I was not prepared to see the prices I did. My hoped were immediately dashed as I walked from the store, head hung low, bike-less and crushed. This weekend, we took up the hunt once again and hit several different stores: 2 big name sports equipment stores and 4 different department store. Much to my chagrin, the selections for road bikes were abysmal and those that were in stock were well in excess of the price I could/was prepared to pay. I even searched Craigslist and Freecycle (I am not too proud to buy or own a used bike) but came up empty-handed.

I, regretfully,  remain bike-less as of now, dejected and disappointed. I had fully expected to be going for my first bike ride on my new bike this morning.  I have been researching on-line and, much like first time home buyers who realize their $100,ooo.00 price limit is just not going to buy them the home they hoped for, I have realized I am going to have to up my bike budget considerably if I want to own the type of bike I’m looking for. Sadly, I do not have that kind of money to spend right now, and the frugal side of me balks at spending that kind of money whether I have it to spend or not. Still, my heart is set on getting a new bike, not only because I truly enjoy riding, but also because it is GREAT form of exercise.

I just wish I could get my high-school ten speed bike back. Sigh….



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2 Responses to Spokes and Superfolks

  1. Sean says:

    I don’t know what kind of biking experience your friends have their advice sounds completely wrong. I completed 5 AIDS Rides and worked in a bike superstore for almost a year.

    It sounds like the type of riding you plan on doing is 25-75 miles on streets, bike paths and some packed dirt trails.

    First, you’re not going to get a bike worth riding at any store like Target – they are all way too heavy and will be very uncomfortable and inefficient to ride and probably put together poorly.

    Mountain bikes are for 80% off road riding, the frames are much heavier and so are the tires – compared to hybrids it’s like carrying an extra 50 lbs. Also the geometry of the frame is for a different body position reflecting the different kind of riding you’ll be doing and will be less comfortable for riding flat distances in the 50 mile range.

    Road Bikes are for very long distances 75 miles per ride at high speeds. They are very light weight and very stiff (meaning uncomfortable) and because the tires are so thin, they get flats very easily and frequently. Again, the geometry is for speed, aero dynamics and long distances.

    Hybrids are designed for a more upright position for visibility in traffic for both you and the cars and this is also more comfortable riding position. The gearing allows to climb the steepest hills more easily (if you change gears properly) and riding into the wind. The higher gearing makes you more efficient when riding flat or down hill.

    One last key difference among the bikes is the gearing. Mountain bikes have mostly climbing gears and will be less efficient on flats and down hills. Road bikes have racing gears and can be a bitch on the smallest of hills. Hybrids are the best of both worlds and are geared for optimum performance in all conditions.

    Go to a bike store, they’ll fit you properly to the bike and allow you to take it for a test ride for as long as you need, 15-30 mins so bring your helmet. Try several bikes to see which one feels the best. Expect to pay $350 -$600 and don’t be swayed by the pretty colors, that’s what the clothes are for.

    OH! Don’t be fooled by needing a soft seat. If you are really going to be riding a lot, a hard seat will benefit you much more than a soft one. Ask anyone do did an AIDS ride on a soft seat.

    Good luck.

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