Thank you to all the posters here for the wealth of information on these boards. I've been lurking for the past week, gleaning all the information I could about the world of road cycling as I prepared to purchase my first roadbike. I was a total stranger to roadbiking (for the past 3 years I've been doing very hilly 30-50 mile road sessions on my trusty Specialized Hardrock as cross training for my main sport, running) and I definitely learned a ton of invaluable information here that was critical to me finding the right bike. Components, geometries, fits, all were a mystery to me (and they still are somewhat, but I learned enough to buy a bike I'm really happy with and that's good enough for me! )
After approximately 15 test rides of pretty much all the popular entry level bikes mentioned here (several Felts, Cannondales, Treks, Giants) I finally settled on an 09' Specialized Allez Elite, ordered today from my LBS for a reasonable (not stellar, not too shabby) price of $1300.
As soon as I got on the Allez and onto the road, I experienced the euphoric sensation of just wanting to make the bike go faster and faster, felt completely in control and I had a smile on my face the whole time. It was the bike for me, and I'm looking forward to many happy rides in the future.
So, thank you! I wouldn't have even had the confidence to walk into a bike store if it hadn't been for all the teaching that goes on in this place.
And for others out there looking for your first bike, a really great resource (beyond this website) I would recommend can be found here: http://www.chainreaction.com/roadbiketestrides.htm