Well, I went and did it! I am now the proud owner of another bike. This one custom built just for me and for the sole purpose of doing a fully loaded, long distance tour. It has all the bells and whistles, except the one thing it doesn't have is a bell or a whistle! It's a Soma Saga touring frame, sized for me. I've taken it out several times now and it's so very comfortable, even with a new Brook's saddle that isn't broken in yet. It's so very easy to handle, rolls up the hills and down - I never feel out of control. It was a bit on the pricy side, but I think it will prove well worth it. Besides, isn't that why I'm still working? So I can play? And buy toys?
I plan on doing many other tours with this sweet ride.
In the meantime, daily training continues. I have been riding to work 3 out of 4 days this week, 72 km round trip. Twice with about 30 pounds on the bike and once with two smaller panniers on the rear. This weekend, this afternoon actually, Mary Anne and I are driving down to Bellingham to do the Tour de Whatcom tomorrow. I'm seeing this as the last endurance session before our tour begins. We are planning on doing the 105 mile ride. And no, I'm not doing it on my new Soma bike - the saddle is still a bit too hard to sit on for 100 miles! Maybe my road bike, probably the Tri-Cross simply because it's a bit more comfortable for a long ride.
Stay tuned, I'll let you know how we fared.