Been lurking here and on the Road forum, with occasional side trips to Classic and Vintage and have decided that my first "re-entry" road bike will be a used one off eBay.
Yes, I'm forgoing the LBS fitting, forgoing the endless test riding. Frankly, all the bikes in my price range I've ridden differed very little. Perhaps, as one poster somewhere put it, you need several hundred miles at least in the saddle to be able to really recoginze the characteristics of bikes and form an opinion.
I know my height, standover, frame size, (equivalent to a level top tube 51 or 52cm, depending) and that I'm a bit long in the torso. So I'll need to futz with different stem lengths.
I figure just about *anything* will be an improvement on my Trek 7200! I'll keep that for MUP rides.
So I'm looking mostly at compact geometry bikes (that eliminates the various Bikes Direct/Sprtymama offerings I was tempted by) if for no other reason than that it's easier to swing my leg over. I've set an $800 maximum including shipping. Right now I'm bidding on an '04 Giant OCR2. A somewhat "laid back" bike like that might be my best bet for re-entry. And after several hundred miles maybe I'll have a clear idea of its strengths and weaknesses and better know what I want in my next bike. If I'm lucky, I won't want another bike. For awhile...