But when my knees went bad, I turned to cycling. We used to do a week long cycling vacation every year. One year we rode around Lake Champlain, which was really hard, but had a lot going for it.
What we did mostly was credit card touring. You carry some clothes and stuff, but you stay in hotels, motels and B&B. We did one sagged trip. That was the Italy trip. Most vakays were just us, wife SIL and me. Sagged trips have a sag wagon. You get into trouble, you jump in the van, and they'll whisk you to the next destination. A good company will work hard to make sure the restaurants and places you stay are good. When you roll your own trip, it's the luck of the draw. But we rarely had a problem.
I organised the trips. There was always 2 or 3 days of riding, then a day of rest someplace nice, then a couple more days of riding. I particularly liked Camden, Me and North Conway NH for that. There are some terrific rides in the North Conway area. The restaurants are a bit disappointing, but you can't have everything.
Way back in the 1970s, Consumer Reports wrote a review of bicycles. They said that below a certain price, bikes weren't fun, and would stay in the garage. Above that bikes were a pleasure to ride, and you would make up excuses to go out and ride. That's still true.
$1K is a rough minimum, $2K is a lot better. I know that's a lot, I used to feel the same way. Then bikes made my life a lot better, and I'd skimp on car buying before bike buying. My favorite bike is the Gunnar Sport. It's very expensive, and worth every penny.
If you're going to buy a bike, there are things that help to know. The first thing you want to do is use the best bike shop in your area. A good shop will work with you, they will have rides for beginners.
A lot of adults buy their first bike, as an adult, a size too small. A couple weeks later, they want to lean forward and they can't. Yeah, I know.
When you sit on the bike, if 90 is bolt upright, and 0 degrees is lying flat, you want 50-70 degrees. You want some forward lean, but not a lot.
You don't want a racing bike, for a bunch of reasons. You want relaxed geometry. That can get complicated. Pretty much you want a bike made for fun, that isn't slow. In America, there are way too many racing bikes, and even more that are dog slow. You also want to avoid touring bikes. They are for loaded touring, tents, food, stove, it adds a lot of weight. Without that weight, the bike feels stiff. You don't want a bike for one week a year. So a recreational bike that is lively. Every bike shop will have at least one do it all bike. They used to be called Sport bikes, btw. But they may only have one. You will have to try a few, you want one that feels right. I know, how do you tell. Ideally, there should be a smile on your face, but that may not happen at these prices. What you can is ride for 20 or 30 minutes, make sharp turns, hit a pothole on purpose, get going fast and see how it feels.
A bike with relaxed geometry will be stable most of the time. A racing bike will want to turn even if you don't. You want little holes where you can attach racks. Small packs called panniers will eventually go on your racks. They can hold your clothes on vacation, or groceries any old day. We used to go to yard sales on our bikes.
You want a bike that can take 28c tires and fenders on a 700c wheel. If you are under 5'6" you will want a bike that has 26" or 650b wheels. If you put someone 5'2" like my wife on a bike with 700c wheels, the geometry will be all messed up.
You are going to make mistakes, like leaning your bike against a boulder, or dropping it. Get steel or aluminium, for your first time.
The American lifestyle is a trap. It will give you heart disease and heart attacks and diabetes and a hundred other ills the flesh is heir to. You can avoid most of that with a bicycle. The price suddenly sounds more reasonable, doesn't it.