I'm planning on getting back into some fairly serious biking and I'm way out of touch with current technology. When I last rode triple cranks and six cog cassettes were just becoming available and I don't think anyone had combined them yet. Twelve and fifteen-speed bikes were "wow" items.
First, let me give you a little background on myself. I say I'm a "sorta newbie" because I used to ride quite actively (100-120 miles a week) but that was over twenty years ago. I was using a bottom-of-the line Schwinn that was a bit large for me (picked up second hand) but it was fun nonetheless. I also did a fair amount of backpacking in those days.
I enlisted in the Air Force intending to do my four and then get out and spend a year bumming around the country on a bike. But, halfway through my tour of duty I got married, started raising kids, and went on to pilot a desk -- i.e. your typical American couch potato for the last 20 years.
In 1998 I had a massive heart attack that killed the front wall of my heart (hence, my username), and this past April I had a quintuple bypass. Since then I've been working out regularly (over an hour five days a week at medium resistance and a fast jogging pace on an elliptical glider). I'm in better shape with better stamina than at any time since my mid twenties (even after an hour I'm not really wiped out, I could press a little harder or quite a bit longer). But, because of the irreversible damage to the heart muscle I can't reach the peak output of an undamaged person of similar age (46) and conditioning and never will be able to.
The elliptical glider is good exercise but it's boring as can be so I'm planning on getting a bike soon and spending a fair amount of time on it. I'll be doing a lot of fitness riding on streets and hard packed trails, quite a few two and three day camping tours, again on pavement and packed dirt and gravel, and maybe one or two longer credit-card tours over the next couple of years.
I live in North Texas kind of on the edge between flatland and hill country so I won't be seeing a lot of long steep grades until I get a chance to do some longer touring, which won't be until late fall at the earliest because of massive projects at work.
I posted a specific question regarding bike choice in the touring forum and I won't repeat that part of the post here but in short I'm planning on getting a not-too-expensive hybrid bike (TREK T7100) and upgrading it as need be over the next couple of years.
As you can tell from this post, I'm a bit of a windbag, too