I had to go look up what that was. https://www.tosrv.org/14/index.htm
Looks like it's a 105 miles out one day, 105 miles back the next.
With that in mind, if they let you take all day to do it, then just about anything will work. So the trick is to make it fun.
Drop bars do help in the wind. However, with a 105 mile out and 105 mile back, you're liable to wind up riding into the wind for 105 miles. I ride in the drops on occasion, but never for 105 miles straight, either. Riding into the wind, best approach is to just take your time, grind away at 12 mph or whatever you can manage, try not to get in a hurry, stop when you need to. On a road bike, you'd likely be a bit lower, have less wind resistance in your body and in the bike, so it'd be advantageous, but not just because of the drops. (If you have back problems or stomach-flab problems, riding in the drops may be difficult to begin with!)
Do you normally draft each other? If one is a stronger rider, put that person in front, let the other draft, off to whichever side helps the most with the wind. If you're similar strengths, try alternating. Main drawback to the drafting, for me, is I wind up riding with my hands in the same position instead of moving them around.
I would focus on bikes that are reasonably fast and fun for now, and worry about toting luggage later if that still looks like an option you wish to pursue.
On the componentry- it's hard to say. Expensive stuff can be lighter and not necessarily more durable or more functional. The bike experts I know seem to have considerably different opinions as to what is good and what isn't, too. Anyway, if you ride a bunch, you'll be wearing stuff out, whether cheap or expensive.