I've been a life-long bike commuter ever since my graduate school period at Cambridge. For most of my life I treated bikes strictly as a tool to get around.
When I first came to the Bay Area I used to marvel at all the riders out on weekend with their fancy bikes and colorful gear. But I hardly ever saw anyone bike commuting. In those days I rode a Dawes Galaxy, hand built in England in the 1970's. It had a close-ratio cassette (Cambridge is flat) and no triple. I made a few vain attempts at the local foothills but could never imagine that I could get up something like Page Mill. Eventually, when the crank wore out, I put on a triple and its original lower gear touring cassette and got talked into riding up Mt Hamilton in September 2006. That was the beginning of my recreational riding. It was timely as a couple of meniscus cleanups on my knees finally persuaded me to give up my previous passion for soccer.
I bought a new Trek 5200 and was amazed how light it was and how easily it went up those previously impossible hills. Then I discovered I actually liked climbing hills!