I'm 23yo male who loves watching cycling, has learned quite a bit about the strategy and mechanics of the professional sport. I want to get into riding for lots of reasons: stay in shape now that I don't have the opportunity for team sports I used to play, easier on the knees and more enjoyable than running. I live in Birmingham, AL where cycling seems to be pretty popular but I can't say I like the roads around here.
I'm looking into getting a nice road bike, really have no interest in off-roading and feel like a commuter bike is going to be too basic. Any suggestions on what to look for in my first serious bike?