I'm sure this topic has been covered in the past, but I've found the search function on this forum to be difficult to use, so I will ask again.
I'm looking for opinions on which bike I should consider purchasing. Before I start, I realize I will have to get fitted and test ride any bike I consider buying. What I'm really looking for is a starting point.
I want a bike I can use for centuries and other long distance rides. I rode my first century last year on a 20 year old, 12-speed Raleigh. It handled it well overall, but I didn't feel like I had enough of a gear range and I think the top tube is a bit too long.
I probably should describe how I ride. Most of my rides are for exercise/stress relief and are 20-40 miles in length. I'm not particularly fast, but also not that slow. Anyone who has ridden with me knows I'm not very good at a "leisurely" pace. I will usually average around 17 mph on a training ride. I averaged 15.9 mph on my century. I'm typically in an upright position with my hands just behind the brake levers on a set of traditional road bike handle bars. I almost never get more "aero" than that.
My goal is to do several supported century rides per year along with the type of training rides described above. I don't have any plans for touring, but I can see myself doing it in the future.
I see that most bikes are either light weight racers or "touring" bikes. I feel like my choices are a "Usain Bolt" or a "my grandma". There has to be something in between.
I want a new bike to be durable and reliable. From what I have read, steel or at least all metal would be the best idea. I want this bike to last a long time, because if I fork over $1000+, it might be 10 years before my wife will even let me look at something else.
I also want the bike to be fun to ride. Not racy, but fun. If I'm on a local club ride, I don't want to feel like I am trudging along behind.
A few small things I would like are enough clearance for fenders, multiple mounts for water bottle cages, attachment points for at least one rack and a relaxed geometry.
My LBS suggested a Specialized Secteur or a Giant Defy. I have also looked on-line at the Trek 520, the Surly Long Haul Trucker, and a Soma Stanyan.
I would appreciate any and all thoughts and opinions. Thanks.