The last six months have been amazing for me on my bike. On a freezing day in January, I humped barely 8 miles down the local flat MUP. My legs and ass were shot for a week. Yesterday I completed the two-day Seattle-to-Portland ride (STP), 202 miles over the weekend. And as of today, I'm down 100 lbs from my max weight to a current 296. Lots of progress made, lots to go.
I'm starting to think about other bikes and the type of biking I like to do. Long road rides with good climbs. My current set-up is an '07 Specialized Hard Rock Sport, stock except for the Schwalbe Big Apple tires, bar ends, power grips, and the rear rack set-up. For shoes I'm in a pair of cross-trainers that are getting chewed up from the pedals. It's a great commuter but I'm definitely seeing its limitations on longer rides, even as my average speed goes up.
There is so much information out there that it is incredibly hard to figure out where to start, especially knowing that I have much weight still to lose and not wanting to invest big $$ in something that won't grow (shrink?) with my biking ability and body changes. So maybe y'all have some suggestions for next steps. I do know that one of my concerns about switching to a road bike is losing the low mountain bike gearing. Even though I like the climbs, I still need granny gear on the big ones (say 8-11%). I'm doing the Crater Lake Century in a month (7000 feet over 70ish miles) and have designs on RAMROD next year (10K over 154 miles). Plus I'm being talked into triathlons; I'm not getting a tri-specific bike, but whatever I get should be at least more suitable for tris than the hardrock. So pretend you're me, you've got a few dollars and room for one more bike, but can't do anything crazy like drop $3K on a road bike. What do you do now? What do you do in six months? 10-12 months?