As an early Christmas to myself, I went out and bought a new road bike -- A Trek 2100 from Blues (the wife finally gave me the green light). Got a pretty good deal as it was a 2006 model and was discounted. 9-speed, triple chain ring, 105 shifters, Ultegra RD, carbon seat-stays. It will replace my old tank of a bike, the Schwinn Traveler, on group rides next spring/summer. I can't believe how much lighter it is -- guess bike technology has come a long way in 20 years.
I'm well aware that I'll still be slow as molasses as the "engine" is still the same, but it is nice having the STI shifting and it feels more responsive in the couple times I've had it out.