I am interested in touring, I have a 2003 trek 7500. I am a police bike patrol officer so I get a lot of riding time in on this bike, and I like the bike a lot. I would rather make the necessary mods to this bike since I just dropped the $$$ into it instead of getting a new one. Any suggestions would be great. I am planning a cross country tour for the summer of '04.
you need to be reasonably comfy over the course of a few hours of riding. Build the miles up slowly, add 5-10 miles to the weekend ride each week. As issues come up, fix them. Saddles often cause problems as you start riding longer. What works depends on what you like. I like the WTB Speed V, and I like the Brooks B17. You can search older posts stored here for other opinions on saddles. I searched high and low to get light handlebars for my hybrid that look like motorcycle handlebars. That can help, getting the wrists in a more natural position. What size are your tires? Do you know how much they weigh? Do you have panniers?
Bikeranger, it's a decent bike and if you're already comfortable with its fit and confident it won't cause discomfort or pain on long rides, then you just have a couple of issues to deal with.
The hybrid's riser bars don't help you get into an aerodynamic position, and if you find yourself needing to do 75 miles into an unrelenting headwind across the plains of Kansas, this can become a *very* significant factor. This is one reason touring bikes usually have drop handlebars. (The other reason is because drop bars offer multiple hand positions, which helps reduce fatigue.)
Replacing the bars means replacing a bunch of drivetrain components, beginning with the shifters/brake levers, and that gets expensive. So consider at least putting bar ends on your existing bars. On my old Trek 7300 I also replaced the riser bars with flat ATB bars. I've seen people mount aero bars on hybrids, even, but you're probably going to need the space on your handlebars for lights and perhaps a bag.
The other issue comes into play if this is a loaded tour for which you'll want front panniers, since mounting a front rack is complicatred by the presence of a shock fork. See this site -- http://www.oldmanmountain.com -- for some racks designed to fit such forks. You should be OK for rack and panniers on the back.
If you're a strong climber you'll probably be OK with those gear rations, even with a load.
Finally, if it were me my primary personal concern would be the state of the wheels. If you're confident that these machine-built wheels were properly prepared by a competent wheelbuilder at the shop that assembled the bike (spokes fully tensioned and stress-relieved by hand), then you should be OK. If not, then be sure you're prepared to do spoke replacement and field truing on the road.
The bike should be OK, as long as you recognize its limitations and can deal with them. During the next year plan to master the maintenance and repair skills, and acquire the necessary tools, so you can be self-supporting on a tour. (Unless you're talking about a supported tour, in which case it's really mostly just the bike's fit and comfort, and your own fitness levels, that will determine your success.)
Good advice on the bar ends Rich. touring on a montain bike with classic handelbars doesn't offer many different hand possitions. I have experienced this. I strugled for different hand possitions on a tour with my mountain bike and found myself wishing I had barends. I was talked out of them because I was informed they were out of style, and dorky. However fasion aside, as much as I sufferd my girlfriend sufered more and experienced hand numbness for almost two weeks after the trip. Look around I think Axiom makes a nice small pair of barends, don't get anything to massive as you will run the risk of snaging them on branches, and other obsticles.