I've scanned through your forum and am impressed with the volume of information present here! When I was a kid (before I got my license) I enjoyed cycling a great deal. Sadly, my cycle was stolen, and I never replaced it.
Now, I would very much like to get back into cycling. I plan to start commuting to USC from the San Fernando Valley (about 18 miles each way) a couple times a week (once I get my cycling legs back ). However, I'd like to be able to ride with friends up in the hills/mountains from time to time.
Bike technology seems to have skyrocketed since the last bike I owned, and I find myself at a loss. Any guidance would be appreciated. It seems that tires are key -- slicks for the commute seem a must. Other than that, I don't know what to do frame-wise.