The problem with forums, and and with the whole internet, is that everything you say is documented. In a couple of years I'll look at the post you're reading now and I'll think to myself, "did I ever shut up?"
The answer to this question is no. I talk a lot, and I don't feel bad about it. The reason I don't feel bad is because most of the things that come out of me mouth are questions. In my entire life I have never ridden a bicycle more than 20 miles in one 24 hour period. I own a bicycle now: it's a Huffy from K-mart with a bent rim and worn brakes. The greatest compliment I can bestow on this friend of mine is that I know no one will steal it.
Thus, the Bicycle Forum documents my life as it is now: a 20 year old college senior with no bicycle experience. I am looking forward to the blessings that will come during my lifetime, and I am looking forward to a whole world of opportunities.
One of the goals I have for my life is that I want to cross the country on a bicycle. I have no experience, I have no mentor. I have no bike (worth stealing). I've got a long road ahead!
This is where you come in. You are the salt of the Earth, (it's not the last time I'll quote the Bible out of context) and have all the answers. You, oh esteemed forum member have a wealth of knowledge to share with the less endowed. Thank you for your willingness. I'm going to ask a lot of questions, and you're going to calmly explain the basics. The best of you will even post hotlinks to more resources. Some others will reply with all the wisdom of a lemming. Some of those will include flames. So be it. Some day, thanks to this forum and the endless knowledge base preserved within, I will come back and read this post again, and realize that I have added a little bit to that knowledge base. Maybe it'll be a story of a cross-country ride from the Columbia Gorge to the Capital Mall. That's the wonderful thing about internet, we can see how far we've come.
Enough of my rambling! Off to gain wisdom!