I wanted to say thank you to all for your posts, comments, and suggestions. After doing much research and reading over the past month I purchased a Trek DS 8.1 Dual Sport Hybrid bike.
I plan on riding mostly roads & maintained trail paths (Rail to Trail etc.)
I got my bike from Main Bike World in Wilkes-Barre, PA - Chuck was awesome and very helpful.
For those looking for a entry level bike I also checked out the jamis citizen 2, cannondale quick 6, specialized trail, giant sedona, Trek FX, and a few mtb 29'rs. The DS felt like it fit the most, had the features I was looking for entry level, and I thought was a good place to start.
I got a helmet, new grips, hand pump w/co2, patches, tube, new seat, and some nylons with pads & an outter shell.
I'm excited to get started. I will be using the android app Strata to keep track of my rides (& my runs).
Some personal background, as of february 12th this year I was 330 lbs, and as of June 1st I'm down to 265 lbs. All through running, exercise, biking at gym, & good food choices. I'm going to be using the bike as another method to help lose weight, and keep my activity high while adding some variety to my training.
Thanks again to all! If anyone in NEPA has some good recommendations please let me know. I plan on hitting the D&L, Pine Creek Rail Trail near wellsboro, and a few others I have seen or have jogged on.
If there is anything else you would recommend that I use to get started or any apps or anything please let me know.
Again, thanks for all your helps, input, and stories! You have been most helpful..
So I decided to use this as a log thread for the time being as well. I have a few questions for some of you.
Update as of 6/3/13
I took the bike out on my first real ride. 3.6 miles, 23 minutes, avg speed 9.6 mph (Note: I had 2 huge grades on my trip that I had to walk. I will be determining their actual grade shortly, but they hurt!!) (Grade Info: 1st averaged 4.3% (.43mi) with 6-8% at times, 2nd grade averaged 10% (.11mi) with 15%-16% at times)
1) I feel like I'm putting too much pressure on my hands, how do I tell?
2) If so, I need to figure out something as my palms did hurt a bit when I was done. Will this just build up in time?
3) PSI: I decided to fill them to 80/80 on the bike. It improved my ride greatly vs the 60/60 it was before. However, it still seems like the back tire is "bulging" out too much on hard pedals and up hill. What is the term for that? And how do I tell if it is too much? I know it should toe out a bit in order to gain traction, but I can almost feel the power loss sometimes on hard pedal. Tire sidewalls are rated at Min 60 / Max 80 and are Bontranger LT1's 700x38.
Other then that, my helmet is great, my bike pants are awesome as is the seat I bought. I will list the actual parts later and a review after I get a good 50-75 miles on it.
Update as of 6/9/13
Got my 3rd ride in today once weather cleared up. 7.1 miles with avg speed 11.4. Those same 2 grades are massive. However, I did make it up a smaller 8% grade over 1/4 mile that I had to walk the last time I attempted it.
As for the bike, I lowered my seat a bit, that helped out drastically with the hands. My seat was just a tad too high. I also pumped up to 85 PSI, and noticed a little bit less flex and squishyness on my ride which was an improvement.
For the future, most likely next year, it's pretty clear to me that I'm hooked and want to build up my strength, speed, & cardio. So next year I may be in the hunt for a decent road bike. Even if my weight loss drops in 1/2 I'm working towards the 220 range by end of the year. The dual sport will be perfect though for those rail trails. I took the bike today on some rougher stuff and I felt very confident with it.
Loving it so far. And Strava is freaking awesome. I have a couple of "segments" that I plan to attempt. Some riders in my area are slamming them with road bikes, but it looks like fun!