I'm getting back into bikes after a long time away ... and have been completely overwhelmed by all of the choices. I originally posted in the Commuting forum, and they sent me and my 6' 290 lbs of laziness and lard over here. My target weight is 230-235 (at 220 I look like I'm sick) ... so even when I get there I'll still be a Clydesdale. So ... I guess I have found home. ;-)
I am going to visit several LBS, but I want to have some idea about what I want before I go. I don't want to buy something just b/c I visit a dealer who doesn't carry a line I should be testing.
Anyway, here is what I can tell you about what I want ... and I'm hoping someone can offer either bike recommendations or point me in the direction of a resource/book/whatever that'll give me details without totally overwhelming me.
* I started off looking at hybrids b/c I wanted to be able to do both pavement and light trails. I have two nice, long trails within minutes of my home --- the W&OD trail (paved MUP) and the C&O Canal Towpath (unpaved, which I have read requires wide tires). The Bad Boy Ultra seems like a great fit because of this. Are there other bikes that can swap out road and wide tires ... or should I look at "cyclocross" bikes?
* Even aside from my weight, I need the bike to be able to handle rough handling. I grew up racing BMX and won't be able to resist the urge to hop curbs and push performance beyond just speed.
* Most of my riding will be on local roads or paved bike trails (I live in Lansdowne, VA ... a stones throw from the W&OD trail). Long term, I'd love to be able to take it into DC for city riding.
* I have been told the distance I intend to ride matters ... I envision 2-3 hour riding sessions, I'm not sure what that'll translate to distance-wise. I have an office in and within walking distance of my home, so my "commuting" is going to be more like riding to a coffee shop, or riding on a bike trail just because I picked a direction and headed that way.
* I'd rather not do the whole "entry level until I see if I'm serious thing." I dive into things completely when I do them (and obsessively). I don't mind spending $$$$$ on a great setup, but I want value for it ... not just the most expensive thing in the shop.
* From what little I have been able to gather from forums, I think I'd like to try a Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra (the ability to do both road and light trails is a plus), a Janis Coda Elite, and a Kona Dr. Dew (the latter two mostly b/c I see them recommended a lot). But, when it comes right down to it, I have no idea what the pros and cons are ... and why I might or might not want them.
Any help, comments, feedback ... even questions or ask or bikes to test out ... would be very much appreciated. I'm very excited about getting back to this ... and need some help to make it happen.