and i gotta say, you guys were right all along!
as soon as i walked in a guy was ready to help me. and gladly informed me about the bike choices and intricacies of the technology that set apart more expensive bikes from the lesser counterparts. he recommended a Marin Bolinas Ridge and even let me test ride it. and that thing rode like a DREAM. so far i've only riden (case?) Xmarts and this thing was a whole different league, whole different world in fact. i cant even describe how amazing if felt just to ride in circles in the parking lot, as the thing smoothly handled the uneven asphalt and shifted quickly and precisely. i couldn't believe it.
so to those who may read this skeptical about the endorsements of LBS's given out around here, let this testimonial confirm that LBS's and LBS bikes are THE BEST. period.