...but I don't know what I should be looking at.
I'm a 5'11", 350-lb man with leg muscles like stone from walking around everywhere at this size. I'm very poor, unemployed, and facing homelessness at the end of August. I need a vehicle to extend the range at which I can job hunt, and to jump at time-sensitive opportunities in a hurry. If all else fails, I might need to do a 1,700-mile road trip on it to take advantage of an offer to stay with an old friend till I can find work. I certainly can't afford to insure a car and keep pouring fuel into it, so I'd like to get another bike.
The problem is I've never really had a good bike. It's always overpriced toys from some stupid place like K-mart. I don't know what brands or materials I should be looking at. I got a recommendation of Giant OCR2 or OCR3 from a large cycling enthusiast several years back, but Bike N Hike says they don't have those anymore. The salesman recommended the Giant Defy, but I can't do the $1100 he wanted for it.
I'd like something in a flat bar road bike. I need something that can withstand not only my weight, but also the demands I make of it when I need to be somewhere in a hurry. I've snapped chains, taken teeth off cogs... I even managed to throw a rear gear assembly accelerating to freeway speed from a standing start once. Not fun when you're five miles south of nowhere and you've got somewhere to be.
I'm not entirely certain of my budget (I don't have it on hand, I'm negotiating with a relative for a donation), but I'm thinking the absolute limit is going to be around $500 US, and lower is better. I think I need some input from more experienced, knowledgeable riders here.