I just found this forum and appreciate the experience that everyone brings. About myself though...
I started commuting 3 years ago when gas was over $4/gallon on an old Huffy full suspesion mountain bike that I had for several years before. It only took a few close calls and I went online to look for advice (there had to be a better way!) I found a local bicycling blog and others in my community (Orlando, FL) that were doing the same thing. I discovered that we have to LCI's that live within two miles of my house. I learned about vehicular cycling and my rights and responsibilities on the road, but don't consider myself a "zealot". I am willing to bend the rules when necessary, with my safety being the deciding factor.
Today, I have upgraded to a Jamis Allegro 1 with upgraded wheels and have tricked it out to look kind of like a dutch bike with the addition of fenders and a rear rack and an Topeak MTX trunk bag. My wife and I also road a tandem while on vacation and ended up buying one off of craigslist. It's lots of fun and it really turns heads.
I have ridden in two century rides (Tour de Cure) and am planning a third this fall. So far I have lost almost 30 lbs and ride every day about 4-5 miles to work one way. I try to ride every day and actually feel grouchy if I don't get to ride. I have a few questions to throw out over the next little while. I look forward to getting feedback. THanks for a great forum.