There seems to be two groups here - those who've been riding bikes a long time and those who are relatively new. That seems to cause some funny postings.
Some guy asks what bike he should buy since he hasn't ridden since grade school. Of course he gets more jokes than actual suggestions because few people can relate to his problems. And after all, he could get better advice from a 17 year old kid working in his local bike shop.
New riders are worried that they'll NEVER be able to ride well. Their saddles don't fit right and after 20 miles they're so sore that they can't walk for two days. Even when experienced cyclists take his fears seriously it is still hard for the newby to understand that a correctly fitting saddle STILL makes you sore, it just doesn't give you the same sort of pain. I still get those sit bone pains in the first months of a season but being sore and suffering from the screaming out loud pain from a misfit saddle are two different things.
New riders have sore necks, sore arms and sore knees. They especially worry about their knees because all of the literature tells them to take these pains seriously. And that literature is correct. But everything is relative and 99.99% of all bike riders can find a saddle that is pretty comfortable to ride, will find that their arms and neck will slowly get better until you seldom have a problem and that your knees really do stop bothering you all the time as long as you ride often and not too hard for your body to compensate and eventually you can ride as hard as anyone else your age.
Experienced riders already know that it isn't the bike but the rider. We already know that a 1980 Basso with a new paint job is every bit as good a bike as a 2006 Colnago Lux. My 1982 Colnago Super with a carbon fork weighs in at 21 lbs and rides as well as the best other bike I have.
STI or Ergo shifting isn't any better for a sports rider than barend shifters. And it costs only 25% the tab for the racy stuff.
After 70,000 miles I still almost forget to clip out once in awhile. But at least I have the built-in response now to TWIST out instead of trying to lift my foot straight up.
A light bike is nice to have but for every pound under 21 lbs you can expect to pay an additional $1,000. Using super light wheels gains you exactly nothing unless you're a top level racer and they wear out really fast. And the only difference you get is that you climb ever so slightly faster. Something like 10 seconds per 1000 feet per kilogram. Does that sound like something you want to spend a couple of grand on?
Experienced riders are more likely to believe that the fun is in the challenge of the ride itself and not in competing with the other riders. Sitting in the coffee stop half way through the ride and BSing with your buddies is the high point of the ride and not the 3 minute lead you had on Joe "The Lance" Rider who was having a bad day. (Though surely revenge is sweet upon occasion.)
I love bicycling. It has given me more pure pleasure than anything else I've ever done. Riding motorcycles in the desert was great fun. Now I look back and think that I could have bought a REALLY nice bike for a lot less money and ridden the same trails and had the same fun and gotten stronger and healthier a lot earlier. I might have become a pretty good racer if I'd started in '67 instead of '87.
Racing sailboats was great fun but the good parts don't even come close to making up for the bad parts. Try throwing up for three days straight and see how much you look forward to the next race.
Since I started bicycling I've never felt better (or worse for that matter but the better is MOST of the time). The old experienced riders will know what I'm talking about and maybe that'll help the new riders to look forward to that time.
It took me about two years of constant riding before I started feeling like I knew what I was doing.
Find a group to ride with and have fun. You'll regret it only for short periods of time when you've fallen on your butt. And who doesn't do that?