Even though I've been riding bicycles along time I am still a bicycle newbie. My home city, Athens, doesn't have a positive attitude towards bikes and only recently have I convinced myself to make cycling my main method of transportation. This forum has been a lot of help and I'm glad to be a part of it.
For the past two years I have been commuting daily to my university on a very heavy steel hybrid bike. It cost 120 EUR and has fenders and a rack so you can imagine a very practical but tiresome bike. Last year I accidentally broke the cheap gear selection mechanism on the road and had to lock the front derailer to the biggest gear. Being lazy and stingy I've only relied on the 7 remaining gears in the back since then and, as a result, I've become much stronger in the legs.
I'm currently looking into buying a better bike (just posted a question in the cyclocross section) and I'm looking to expand my bike experience with something more than just commuting.
For those of you who haven't visited Athens, Greece, I'll try to give you an impression of what it's like:
Athens is a city of more than 5 million people and it seems as though _everyone_ of them has a car :-) There is a lot of traffic and order is the last word you would use to describe it. We have a very high accident rate and it is due to a combination of bad roads and bad drivers. Bicycles are an oddity.
That said, the weather is very nice and the city is surrounded by three mountains so there are plenty of opportunities for nice rides. Any one coming to Greece and needs some tips on where to go, feel free to ask :-)
I toured through Greece- took the train from Petras to Athens, but chose to ride back along the coast from Athens to Patras. Leaving Athens was probably one of the scariest experiences of my life! I didn't feel like I got my legs back until Corinth! But it is a beautiful city for sure, and I enjoyed spending time there, and I really loved the scenery. I will be back, and I'll look you up.