A Few More Things I Have Learned So Far*:
1. Don't expect to buy your road bicycle on your first visit to the cycling shop unless you are an experienced cyclist, who knows exactly what you want.
2. Women-specific bikes are arguably less important for women of my height (5'7").
3. As much as possible, ignore online bicycle reviews; learn about bicycle components and what materials and parts you need for your cycling purposes.
4. There is really no way to test a road bike before you buy it from a bicycle shop; riding a bicycle around a block for a few minutes will not tell you much about how the frame will accommodate you long-term; it may help you decide if you like the saddle.
5. There is an entire world of cycling out there, complete with official terms, various road lingo and slang. For example, I will soon be a betty.
6. Bicycle aesthetics can make up as much as 90% of your purchase decision. Sales representatives believe that if you don't like how your equipment looks, you're less likely to use it. However, the pro bicycle fitter at R&A Cycles will make you swear you'll never choose a bicycle based on color.
7. Trek bicycles are high value, but can be over-priced (maybe because they seem to be Lance Armstrong's brand of choice) - look for sales; Cannondale bicycles are like the foreign cars of the cycling world - nice value but less likely to have brand-interchangeable part
8. Shopping for a new bicycle can be as much - if not more - stressful than looking for a new car.
*From my cous-riend, Elizabeth's boss, and sales representatives at R&A Cycles.