Just Plain Bitter
First off welcome to RBR. Test ride as many bikes as you can and let the bike tell you which one is right for you. It may be worth your while to drive to some other bike shops in the area to try other brands as well. There are still a number of bike sin your price range from Felt, Cannondale, Trek and Specialized. Ask a lot of questions of the retailer and the people here. For the most part people are friendly and helpful here and will answer your questions honestly.