Here are the thoughts of a guy with 40 years of cycling and could provoke some conversation. Take it for what it's worth.
The new bicycle:
If you do not have a bicycle you would show up with in public, you probably need a new one. There are two types: aluminum frame and carbon fiber frame. The aluminum bikes are from $750 - $1500 and weigh around 23-27 pounds. Decent Carbon fiber bikes range from $2000-$5000 (and up and up) and weigh from 14 to 19 pounds. Carbon bikes, aside from being a waaay lighter, have a silkier ride then the aluminum ones with a harsher ride. If you are interested in joining the Kranks, you probably weigh a bit more than you did 20 years ago so, if you can afford it, check out a carbon fiber and get it precision fit.
Pedals and Shoes
Most cyclists start out with flat pedals, sometimes with metal toeclips attached. But for optimum efficiency, speed, comfort and safety, eventually you're going to want to take the plunge: get clipless pedals and cycling-specific shoes, with cleats that clip into the pedals. (Ignore the horrer stories of riders first day at a stoplight in their new pedals!) Here are biggest benefits of going clipless:
With your feet attached to the pedals and your body attached to your feet, you become one with your bike, which means more of your energy makes its way to each pedal stroke, giving you more juice to climb and accelerate. Clipless pedals let you pull on the upstroke as efficiently as you push down, creating a smooth and constant application of power through each crank rotation. The only way to achieve this with toeclips is to snug them dangerously tight, and even then you won't have as smooth and steady a cadence as with clipless pedals. When clipping in and out becomes second nature, you'll begin to notice that your skills will improve, and you'll take more chances, knowing that you're only a quick foot-twist away from detaching yourself from a doomed bike. Nearly all clipless pedal systems have float and tension adjustment. Float allows your foot to swivel a few degrees laterally to ensure that you don't injure your knees by having them locked into one position. Tension adjustment lets you control how hard or easy it is to get in and out of the pedal.
Drive Train (the cranks, gears and chain)
With road bike gear ratios now approaching mountain bike gearing, you don’t have much to worry about when it comes to climbing the local alps. Middle-of-the-line Shimano Ultegra now offers front chain rings of 50/34 standard and an optional eleven speed rear cassette of 11/34, producting a 1/1 ratio. No problemmo.
When you are zipping down a nice hill at 35mph, you don’t want to think about your tires so here are the things you should check before riding:
Tires require constant attention, particularly in city streets where debris (metal, glass, thorns) collects at the sides. It is always a good practice to manually spin the tires by hand to check for small pieces of metal or glass that have yet to cause a flat. NOTE: It's NOT a good practice to use your NAKED FINGER against the spinning wheel to find these sharp objects. Some riders use a glove, others use a cloth napkin or keenex to find them. Also, this is the time to check tire wear. When you start to see the threads beneath the rubber, CHANGE THE TIRE. Good tires range from $25 to $70 online, with little quality difference
This depends on a number of factors: The weight of the rider, the width of the tire, the temperature, the road surface, etc. Proper tire pressure lets your bike roll quickly, ride smoothly, and fend off flats. Narrow tires need more air pressure than wide ones: Road tires typically require 80 to 130 psi (pounds per square inch). If you fall below this pressure range, expect a “pinch flat” from a hole in the road. How many miles you can put on a bike tire? Generally Speaking, expect 1000-2000 miles from the average road bike tire. Touring or puncture resistant tires often last 3,000 miles or more, lightweight racing tires, less than 1000 miles. All of this depends on the weight of the riders.