I'm considering participating in more 24-hour type races. The bikes I have are not particuarly well-suited for this, and so I'm looking at the alternatives for buying a little speed.
Right now, I'm running maybe 230 lbs at 6'-2" or so, so I've got some extra weight. Based on past experience, I may be faster or slower, but if I place well in a race, it'll likely be due to weak competition rather than exceptional performance on my part. So it's not like I'm the top ultraracer or anything, I'm just plugging away and want to plug away faster. My budget is the low end of the market, so $2,000-$3,000 maybe, but not $8,000. Subtle improvements that save a half-ounce of weight or drag are pretty much going to be wasted, so I don't need the top-end equipment. And new or used would be under consideration. The routes in question usually include hills but not mountains. The races in question are generally non-drafting, without a follow car.
Regardless, as best I can tell, nobody actually sells a bike suited for this activity. But it looks like the options are:
-A conventional time-trial or tri-bike, which are mostly carbon-fiber with a few aluminum frames available. Drawbacks are that they're not normally set up to carry lights, extra clothing, camelbaks, or other items required for a 500 mile race that aren't required to ride 40k or 112 miles or whatever; and typically anticipate light use by a light rider, not thousands and thousands of miles with a heftier rider on chipseal roads.
-Titanium time-trial bike, used by some of the local riders, but as far as I can tell, not in current production unless you just custom-order a frame. But, they pop up on Ebay on occasion.
-A lighter faster road-bike than what I now have, possibly with aerobars. But I understand using aerobars on a regular road bike makes for some squirrely overly-sensitive handling, too, and I have no desire to go kill myself. Another concern is that it may not really be much faster than what I'm riding now (Raleigh Sojourn).
I'd be interested in your thoughts on the best approach to this.
Some other questions-
On the time-trial bikes, do you go get fitted for one before you buy it? Then get fitted again when you get it? Or is that all one fitting?
How do you know if a style of bike will be comfortable for long distances if you've never tried it, period?
How do you work out a good compromise on wheels, between light/aerodynamic/indestructible/cheap?