I am going to say this as concisely as I can: road bikes are not just for racers. There is a commonly shared misconception among bicycle shoppers and would be cyclists that if the tires are narrow and the bars are curled down, it must not be for them. Those bikes must be for the fast guys. "I don't want to race or anything," they assure us. But the fact is that road bikes have a lot more uses than going fast. I'd even wager to say that most of the road bikes of the world don't go fast at all. Still, that doesn't mean most people on road bikes aren't using the right tool for the job.
Well, then what exactly are road bikes used for? Primarily road bike design, which is the result of more than a century of trial and error engineering and performance testing, has succeeded at making a bicycle that you can ride for longer than other kinds of bikes. This is where the drop handlebars come in, with different hand positions to relieve monotony and upper-body strain from longer stints in the saddle. In addition to variety, the angle of your hands on drop bars is a lot more natural position which takes less energy to maintain. Just try putting your arm in front of you with your thumb pointed up in the air. Now, turn your palm down towards the ground, but keep you arm up. You'll notice that it is much less strenuous to hold your arm out with your hand in a vertical position.
Drop bars also help with power. Hold on! I don't know mean the power it takes to win a race. This same design helps you power through a brutal headwind, even if you're going 10mph in your small chainwheel. Not to mention the improved handling provided by the lower center of gravity when riding in the drops. Using your drops when turning helps prevent the teetering uneasy feeling of sitting really high in the air on those tiny wheels, as well as increases braking power by giving your hands more leverage to pull on the brakes.
So, what's the deal with the tiny wheels? First, it's not that the wheels are tiny but rather it's the tire which is narrow. Second, if the width weirds you out, you'll be happy to know that wider tires are all rage in the road cycling community. That's right, even racers are opting for wider 28mm tires. Still, don't decide that these "skinny bikes" aren't for you just yet. Think of all the benefits that even a novice rider could get from a "faster" bike.
There's socializing - you don't have to work as hard to stay with a group and you won't be breathing as heavy which means you can talk and meet new people.
There's fitness and exercise - no other bike will give you more room to grow into it. It's common for someone in their 70's to bring a road bike in for service that they've been riding since the 70's!!
There's duration - if you love riding bikes, there is no kind of bicycle you can spend more time riding than a road bike. It's the go to choice for anyone looking to go further than they think.
The versatility - part of what makes road bikes so awesome is that you can benefit from design that gives pros speed but maybe just gives you and I the extra umfph we need to make a green light or get home with that back pack full of homework or groceries. It's the one bike that can push your limits and still crawl with you when that headwind is just too intense to just muscle through. Road bikes offer us all a little finesse. We don't have to race to be graceful.