So, I've tried to pull together everything I've learned so far about long-distance road cycling gear, including from these forums, into these gear recommendations.
Basically where I'm coming from here is that I have several friends who are looking to get into this sport, and who are looking to me for initial guidance on what kind of equipment makes sense for their price range (since I've been at this for much longer). I don't mind the challenge, and feel I've put together a reasonable set of recommendations that might at least serve as something for them to try initially.
If anyone feels like critiquing my recommendations I'd love to hear what your alternate suggestions would be.
I've had look. It's a comprehensive list. I would suggest perhaps something at the start saying that you are basing all this on your own experience -- presuming, of course, you haven't got any commercial interests in REI or the other suppliers. And do remember that there is one thing about cycling -- nothing is absolute, because a favourite thing for one rider can be the bane of another.
We've had a good recent discussion over in the maintenance forum about use of chain-checkers. I know they are fairly cheap, but so is a steel ruler, and it has multiple uses -- and the discussion concluded the rule was probably a more accurate measure of chain wear. In particular, you should reference chain wear over 12 inches as the 1/16th and 1/8th threshholds as well as the chain-checker limits.
I'd think a good quality cycling jacket with pitzips should be on the list, especially if you are talking about Seattle. MEC over the border makes a great jacket in yellow or blue or red.
For complete newbies, I'd suggest they stick with platform pedals to start off with, then graduate to clips, then go clipless and cleats. Also, just a little niggle -- whether a pair of shoes has laces or not is irrelevant. I've tried on lace-less shoes and found them far too tight across the top of my foot. I prefer laces... but then the advice also would be to ensure the laces are tucked away from chainrings or covered in a Velcro strap. Mountain bike shoes that have a dress-shoe appearance about them (Shimano make them, and Specialized have the Taho) are good for touring and have a less aggressive sole than many of the specific MTB shoes.
There is something else which is a hobbyhorse of mine -- rider training. You don't mentioned anywhere a newbie can go to get rider training. I am not particularly enamoured of cycling clubs for this purpose as they don't have a structured approach, and people who think they are good telling people what to do... suck. Is there an LAB-sanctioned course in your area?
You might pop Sheldon Brown's link in there somewhere... I didn't see it. Plus the late Ken Kifer's website remains a tremendous resource for all things cycling, including cycle-touring.
Anyway, a good and thoughtful effort and getting stuff together. It's not too complicated which is a good start.
Excellent, thank you. I've incorporated all of your suggestions (there were already links to Sheldon Brown's site), as well as a link to an illustrated tutorial on how to use a steel ruler to measure chain wear.
The multi-day rider rider training courses which the Cascade Bicycle Club offers are LAB-sanctioned, and the one I took used the LAB road riding booklet