I'm lurking around here, reading up in preparation for getting a bike in June when I graduate from grad school and move back home to Seattle. (I'm getting an MFA in Dance)
I went riding a few times last summer on a borrowed bike--first time on one in at least 15-20 years!--and had a great time. It turns out that decades of dance training (=making unreasonable demands of my leg muscles and building extreme flexibility) are actually useful for something after all My husband is a randonneur, and while I'm not sure that a 1200k sounds like my cup of tea, I'm looking forward to sharing the fun on some "shorter" brevets.
At any rate, thanks to y'all for providing an excellent way for me to procrastinate homework!
I'm looking at steel cross-type bikes, for the slightly relaxed geometry, steel ride (ok, and steel looks), and ability to put fenders, etc, on for our lovely Pacific NW weather. Right now, I have my eye on a Bianchi Volpe, and have also been looking at the other usual suspects, like a Surly Cross-Check and a Salsa Casseroll. But it's all been window shopping--I need to get in to a store and see what feels right.
Thanks for the info on the women's forum--I'll check it out!