Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Washington, DC
Bikes: Jamis Nova, Bike Friday NWT, STRIDA, Austro Daimler Vent Noir, Haluzak Horizon, Salsa La Raza, Hollands Tourer, Bike Friday tikit
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Most bike shops and community colleges offer simple bicycle maintenance classes. They will show you how to fix a flat, do a pre-ride check, and so on.
From the context of your message, it reads as if you are a relatively new rider. You might want to try some shorter rides to get the hang of touring. A little more experience will help you work out the "bugs" of touring. Adventure cycling has tours where an experienced rider leads a self supported tour. It might be a good idea to try to hook up with a group.
Florida to Maine has to be at least 1500 miles. Including some rest days and you will average 50 miles a day at best. That implies 30 days. Plus you need to get the bikes back to Florida. Let's estimate 35 days ... 5 weeks ... $925 just for the rental. What happens if the bike is damaged?
Three good "cheap" (this is a relative term, less than $900) touring bikes are
(1) Bianchi Volpe
(2) Fuji Touring
(3) Jamis Aurora
All are pretty good at regular club rides and such. The Trek 520 has a strong following but is quite a bit more expensive. After reading another post on the Touring thread, I noticed that last year's Cannondales (T800 and such) are on sale. If you decide to really tinker with bikes you can find a good used steel bike from the 90s to build up into a tourer. You can probably save some bucks that way; but don't screw up.
A lot of areas have strong cycling groups. Around here--Washington DC--you can check out BikeWashington.org. There is an associated YAHOO group. If you want to plan your trip through the area, I suggest that you post something on those pages.