OMG I am soooooo in over my head right now.
First a little bit of back story. I haven't ridden seriously in over 15 years. I'm way out of touch - clueless even, but have decided to commit myself to riding the STP next year. In order to do this, my friend lent me his mountain bike to train on while I learn about bikes.
One thing led to another, and I am now signed up for a 43 mile ride for the Tour de Cure in Portland later this month. No problem, I'm currently riding a 30 miler this weekend, up from my 22 miler last weekend (I'm riding 6 nights a week anywhere from 10 to 16 miles, and graduating that each week).
The real issue is that I have signed myself up for the Portland Century next month, and I need a bike for it. I was hoping to spend around $800 for a starter bike, but when I went to the bike shop, the guy there said that anything less than $1100 is probably a bad investment if I am planning on riding centuries and doing the STP. After that he showed me a couple of the road bikes that he had and showed me the differences in derailers, and cranks, and shifters, and what I get for the $1100 model vs. the next step up, $1300 model.
What I've realized: I don't even know where to begin to shop for a good starter cyclocross bike.
Here's my profile: overweight dude who sees cycling as my ticket back to fitness. I plan on riding the Portland Century this August, train for the Tour de Blast in June, and ultimately I want to become a regular rider on the STP. I want something that will carry me through at least to STP 2012 and maybe 2013. I also would like to be able to do some trail riding and some touring as a change of pace. Just getting into this, I'm finding that I need all kinds of things I didn't think of... Shoes, clothes, helmet... this is getting expensive. I just want the most amount of bike for the least amount of price to get me started.
Can Bike Forums help me out and give me some ideas on what I need to get going here? What should I be compromising on early? What should I not be compromising on? (seems like brake shifters might be something that I not compromise on - I don't know)