First time poster, and new reader, so forgive me if this has been hashed over and over in the past.
I'm a casual bike rider. I have ridden for years, but just for fun. As I have gotten older and less rambunctious, my riding has tapered off. I currently have a Nishiki Pueblo, bought used, just to tool around town or on some of the bike trails in the area.
But! My wife has finally agreed to go on RAGBRAI this year, with me. I went on this 7 day ride 25 years ago (twice) on a Schwinn Continental, and had a blast. Went with a group, and was not really "touring" as we had our own SAG wagon to carry most of the gear. Being much younger, that tank of a bike was not really a hindrance. Now, however, I'm looking at this heavy mountain bike and know that there's no way I want to ride that thing across the state.
I'm 6'2" and about 235, but hope to be somewhat lighter, before the ride at the end of July. I will get some miles in and get in shape, and using the Nishiki for that makes sense. Longer torso and arms, if that makes a difference, fit-wise.
So... the point of this post.. I want a different bike for this ride, and to continue to use around town, and possible for commuting to work (10 miles or so, all city for the most part. I live and work in the Washington, DC area). I don't have $3000 for the bikes I have seen recommended in other threads in this forum. I don't even have $1000 that I feel comfortable spending. What is the least expensive way to get a suitable bike for RAGBRAI and after, for someone my size? I have explored buying used, and reconditioning.. buying something really ratty that has a good frame and replacing all the parts necessary, using the frame from my Nishiki Pueblo and fitting it more for touring rather than mountain biking (not sure if that is even possible), and other options.. Cost IS a factor. Cool is not (well not much...). I don't need full gear carrying capacity, but some would be good. And I just started my second half-century on this planet, so letting gears do more of the work, and my knees less, is a definite preference.
Sorry for the long post. Hope to benefit from the group knowledge here, rather than starting from scratch!