Here are some notes of buying a road bike.

Depends on what you want to spend. Turns out the most important thing is to get a good fit on a bike. That means go to a good dealer (Gregg's Bellevue Cycle or Montlake Cycle in Bellevue are two of the best in the non-exotic range). You can get a good sense of what folks think by checking out www.roadbikereview.com. A quick sort by number of reviews and then by ratings, tells you what's in the mainstream.
There are basically two big choices to be made. I haven't studied bikes under $1,000 list much, so I'm not much of an expert below this, but I could research it if you want: Price range. 1.$1000 or so. That is really the minimum for a bike that you'll have great fun with and which you won't want to replace. Best bikes here are probably the various Cannondales. They are all pretty much the same in that range, so just figure out a price point and get a nice aluminum frame. Aluminum is strong, but has the reputation of being harsh.
2. $2000 or so. This is the deluxe version. You'll never have to get another one again, given that road bike technology is pretty stable these days. Best bikes here are probably at www.Litespeed.com or www.Trekbikes.com. With in this category, the frame material diverges. 2a. Carbon Fiber. This is the geek's dream and very space age so naturally I have one :-). The standard one here is the Trek 5200. Trek essentially owns most of the major brand names in bikes, they pretty much have the market. You can think of them like Honda. The 5200 is the bike that Lance Armstrong and his team uses stock to win the Tour de France, so they are very popular. Now is a good time to buy as the models are changing. There are a couple of choices here, but the basic model is about$2,400 at Gregg's (in Bellevue, pretty much the largest and in many ways the best place to buy). The reputation of carbon fiber is light, but feels a little dull. I'm happy to bring my bike along and you can try it, it is essentially the Trek 5200 but I had fun on ebay and shopping around the world building it.
2b. Titanium. This is responsive, super durable and say just a tad heavier than carbon fiber, but it is more responsive. Feels the most like traditional steel and will last a lifetime. The high volume quality company here is Litespeed. They make a range, but the Classic, is well, Classic. The "drool" bike is the Vortex, but that is more like $4K, so probably out of your range. Other minor details. If you are really going to enjoy road biking, getting a good pair of biking shorts is really essential. Nothing helped me more to do 3-5 hours in the saddle than getting a pair of Castelli VTP2K shorts. You can get a set on ebay for about$120. It sounds expensive, but baby it is worth it.
Depends on what you want to spend. Turns out the most important thing is to get a good fit on a bike. That means go to a good dealer (Gregg's Bellevue Cycle or Montlake Cycle in Bellevue are two of the best in the non-exotic range). You can get a good sense of what folks think by checking out www.roadbikereview.com. A quick sort by number of reviews and then by ratings, tells you what's in the mainstream.
There are basically two big choices to be made. I haven't studied bikes under $1,000 list much, so I'm not much of an expert below this, but I could research it if you want: Price range. 1.$1000 or so. That is really the minimum for a bike that you'll have great fun with and which you won't want to replace. Best bikes here are probably the various Cannondales. They are all pretty much the same in that range, so just figure out a price point and get a nice aluminum frame. Aluminum is strong, but has the reputation of being harsh.
2. $2000 or so. This is the deluxe version. You'll never have to get another one again, given that road bike technology is pretty stable these days. Best bikes here are probably at www.Litespeed.com or www.Trekbikes.com. With in this category, the frame material diverges. 2a. Carbon Fiber. This is the geek's dream and very space age so naturally I have one :-). The standard one here is the Trek 5200. Trek essentially owns most of the major brand names in bikes, they pretty much have the market. You can think of them like Honda. The 5200 is the bike that Lance Armstrong and his team uses stock to win the Tour de France, so they are very popular. Now is a good time to buy as the models are changing. There are a couple of choices here, but the basic model is about$2,400 at Gregg's (in Bellevue, pretty much the largest and in many ways the best place to buy). The reputation of carbon fiber is light, but feels a little dull. I'm happy to bring my bike along and you can try it, it is essentially the Trek 5200 but I had fun on ebay and shopping around the world building it.
2b. Titanium. This is responsive, super durable and say just a tad heavier than carbon fiber, but it is more responsive. Feels the most like traditional steel and will last a lifetime. The high volume quality company here is Litespeed. They make a range, but the Classic, is well, Classic. The "drool" bike is the Vortex, but that is more like $4K, so probably out of your range. Other minor details. If you are really going to enjoy road biking, getting a good pair of biking shorts is really essential. Nothing helped me more to do 3-5 hours in the saddle than getting a pair of Castelli VTP2K shorts. You can get a set on ebay for about$120. It sounds expensive, but baby it is worth it.