This post originally posted on Urban Adventure League, 18-April-2011.
After a long work day Saturday, I stopped at the Belmont Branch of Multnomah County Library to pick up some holds. Locked up to the bike rack was this beauty:
A red Robin Hood 3 Speed!
If you don’t know, Robin Hood was one of the many badges made by Raleigh. It was intended to be more an “entry level” bike line, the Chevrolet to Raleigh’s Buick.*
It was a well preserved specimen, as noted by the pristine headbadge and rear fender sticker:
And logo on the seat tube:
And of course it’s Made In England!
And purchased in Kansas!
But upon closer inspection, I noticed the peculiarities that make this particular bike unique. The hub is a more modern Sturmey-Archer hub, a SRC3 coaster brake model!
Which means the wheels are newer, hand-built wheels. I ran into the guy who owned the bike. Not only are the wheels rebuilt, he rebuilt them on 650B rims vs the standard 650A size (a.k.a. 26″ x 1 3/8″) that came standard on Raleigh 3 speeds. I found that interesting and a bit odd. While both sizes are rare in the US, the 650A is more common, and you can buy tires and tubes in places like Fred Meyer and Walmart. 650B? Not many bike shops carry that size, and the tires tend to be higher end.
Anyways, whilst ogling the Robin Hood, I also thought about the selection of “hold” items I had just picked up. Besides a Fugazi CD**, I had checked out a few Adrian Tomine graphic novels. I recently re-read his earliest collection 32 Stories, and wanted to re-read his other stuff. The great thing about the “modern era”, besides cartoonists getting respect*** and the availability of comics in libraries is the whole graphic novel/collection trend. “Back in the Day” you’d have to search for the scattered issues. Now you can go to the library or bookstore, pick up a volume or two, and Bam! You have (-artist name here-)’s total oeuvre, which you can read in one sitting. 20 years reduced to a few hours. Amazing.
What made me ponder this was that I realized this weekend was the Stumptown Comics Fest. And I had no plans or interest in attending. Why this is significant is comics and zines were such a big part of my life (and still are to some extent). Up until a few years ago it was a no brainer. It would be automatic that I would go to Stumptown and also the Portland Zine Symposium. But now…
I think what’s the weirdest thing about it is it doesn’t really matter to me. I maybe had a fleeting moment where I thought “I should go,” mostly to see people I wouldn’t see anywhere else. Now I would just rather go home. But the thing is, I still like comics and zines. They are still a part of my life. But the importance has diminished. Part of it is due to the increased importance of all things bicycle in my life. But part of it is…I don’t know? Moving on? Loss of interest? Personal shit?
To make it even weirder, as I left the New Seasons on Hawthorne, R. Seth Friedman passed me by.**** Was it an omen? The Ghost of Zines Past?
The Robin Hood was sure pretty, wasn’t she?
*Would this make Rudge the Cadillac? Wait, what about Humber? Would that be Cadillac? Then I guess Rudge would be Buick. But then Raleigh would be the Oldsmobile. And I can’t get behind that.
****He also stopped into my work on Sunday. Weird.