I am new to touring but was hoping to get in some short trips this summer. I am wondering what the best bike would be preferably for around or under $1000. I have been looking at the Novara Randonee as REI is having it 15% off sale this week (so it would be $800). I don't want to jump into a purchase but like the idea of being able to return the bike after my first tour if it is not to my liking. They also sell Cannondale in some stores though I am not sure what model. I was looking at the T800. A big difference btw the T800 & the Randonee seems to be the aluminum vs. steel frame. Any thoughts? Also, I hear that the T800 doesn't ride well without a load. I would like this bike to double as a commuter so that is not as appealing. I see there are other bikes for around the same price point--Bianchi Volpe, Fuji World, Jamis Aurora, etc. Someone suggested the Surly LHT to me but the smaller versions (I am 5'3") only take 26'' wheels. I thought of getting the Novara Safari but the REI salesman discouraged it unless I was going to do third-world travelling (which I won't be anytime soon). Anyway, let me know what you think!