I've posted a few times, but realized tonight that I'd forgotten to introduce myself here first--apologies!
Although I rode around a fair bit as a kid in the suburbs, I didn't start riding again until a couple of years after college, when I moved to the big city. I bought the first bike I tried, a Giant hybrid which was too heavy and too bulky to sustain my interest and got locked up outside the back of my apartment building, where it was eventually stolen (from right below my bedroom window--I heard the theft but assumed it was a plumber working on the pipes, since it happened in broad daylight in the middle of the afternoon--lesson learned!).
In the last year I've found myself doing a lot more commuting, since I spend about half of my week, if not a bit more, well across town at my boyfriend's place. The cost of gas, combined with considerable wear and tear on my nerves, as well as general physical ugh-ness, made me rethink cycling. So I bought a Virtue 6, slightly used and a bit re-worked (it has drop bars and short interrupter brake levers), and have fallen hard for riding. I've been feeling like kind of an addict, truth be told. A good friend has been riding for years, has several fancy road bikes and races; he's been helping me with learning the basics, but we don't have a chance to talk much so I wanted to find a place to compare notes and learn. To be very candid the co-op style spots in LA are quite nice in many respects, but I've had a hard time finding a place where I really feel comfortable asking questions and getting answers. Using the internet as a resource seemed a safer bet.
So far I'm feeling stronger, and the days when I'm not out riding for at least a little while, I miss it. I still have a long way to go in terms of working out a general fitness plan, however, particularly when it comes to balancing caloric intake with exercise (I tend to under-estimate how many calories I can eat, working against myself in the end). I really love riding around the city. Even with the awful streets and generally bad infrastructure (LA is tough but getting better; Beverly Hills is positively dismal), the forgetful or aggressive drivers, the hipster guys in skinny jeans whizzing through red lights on fixies--I've been having a blast exploring new parts of the city I'd never seen, getting excellent exercise, meeting some really nice guys and gals also on two wheels instead of four, learning our surprisingly convenient public transit system, and getting from here to there with so much less expense and hassle than when I was driving a car.
I've already had some very useful advice from other members here for working on the other bike I recently got: an old Peugeot UO-8. It's definitely a bit the worse for wear, but I like the feel of it, and basically it's still a very solid bike. I wanted an extra bike to have around in case my boyfriend and I wanted to go for a ride together, but also something to learn maintenance and repair on--something to put on a stand and really get my hands dirty working on it. So far I've not done much, but I'm itching to get started once I have the time and the right tools (like I'd love to take the crankset apart and polish the heck out of it, and install some new pedals to replace the crummy old Schwinns on it now).
So . . . That's my story! Looking forward to learning, and participating, and hopefully offering an insight or two once in a while!