Hi, I'm glad to join the forum and share info and learn from fellow cyclists. Years ago when I lived in a flatter town I owned a three-speed and got around quite well. I moved to a North Shore town more than a decade ago and thought my pedalling days were over. A friend brought me back to two-wheel travel by educating me on how much bicycles had changed since I'd last bought one.
I read every library book available and searched the websites to learn what bike would suit me for the long run. Steel, sturdy, many gears, "traditional", versatile. The LBS ordered my Trek 520 and modified the gearing to half step + granny. I added unfashionable fender/mudguards and Carradice Nelson longflap.
I practiced in the neighborhood until I could ride 20 miles, shift thru all the gears smoothly and could climb the closest hill without the lowest gear. It was August before I joined the local cycling club. I hadn't known that the rides became longer the later in the season. Luckily my first club ride was mostly flat as it turned out to be nearly 40 miles and all the folks were very welcoming.
This past year I've mostly been away from cycling. My mom had to move from assisted living to a full nursing home and my twin sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. I've had repeated attacks of sciatica that have finally strengthened my left leg as my right one was weakened.
Mom is diminished but safe and still recognizes me. My sister is recovered from the ghastly medical procedures and her hair is now long enough to clip back. Knock on wood, my leg is okay and I'm ready to ride. I'll have to start from scratch again. The bike is tuned up and finally the weather matches the spring season.
BTW my old three-speed found a second life in Manhattan with my sister.