Pardon my newbie-ness. I am, like many before me, looking to buy my first bike. (Well, technically, I just bought one this week, but I don't like it so let's pretend I didn't.) I've been looking on Craigslist and poring over these forums for a few weeks now trying to determine my best course of action, and all I've come out with is questions (which I'm sure have been asked and answered many times before, so I apologize in advance!). Namely:
1. I'm slow and out of shape. Not fat (quite small, really) but when I've biked with friends in the past, I've consistently lagged far behind while they zoom off into the sunset. I don't know how much is the bike and how much is me, but I've convinced myself that getting a FAST bike is what I need to keep up with everyone else on the road. I imagine fast bikes are fast because they convert energy into distance more efficiently--i.e., I will need to exert less effort to go farther. Is this indeed true, and will I find a fast road bike to be less taxing than the hybrids I've ridden before, or am I just trying to weasel my way out of getting in shape?
2. I'm cheap. I don't want to spend more than $300, and ideally much less than that. I am totally okay with buying used and in fact I expect I will have to. One thing that confuses me is that every time I see what appears to be a good deal on Craigslist, I search through these forums for info on the bike (usually a vintage 10-speed of some kind), and people claim that it can be found for $50, or $20, or some other obscenely low amount. Where are these magical deals?? Why is everyone on Craigslist trying to rip everyone else off?
So basically: I want a fast bike so I don't feel like dying every time I go up a hill, and I want it to be cheap. Where should I be looking? Not Craigslist, evidently. Goodwill? Used bike stores? Garage sales? Help!
(Sorry for the essay. What I lack in experience I make up for in wordiness.)