I'm relatively new here, I've been doing a lot of reading and researching about picking up a new touring bike, and I'm really having trouble picking out which one is right for me.
I've only had a little experience touring, pretty much on a whim in college I took a two day touring trip on a cheapo 50 dollar bike and I had such a great time that I decided that maybe this is a hobby I could get into a little more seriously. At the moment I know very little other than what I've read on the internet, which is synonymous with "not much, really."
I have visited a few LBS here in Austin and I had a hard time shaking the feeling that they smelled fresh meat and were trying to load me up with a super fancy bike that was more than I needed right now. One cycle shop tried to convince me that to start I should drop 2 grand on some crazy cannondale with bells and whistles and all manner of hooplah. I mean, if this is the way to go, I am willing to do it. But, I really don't think it's necessary.
Anyway, I decided for my first bike I might be better off looking on Craig's List and picking out something used that I could push around at least so I can start learning what I like and dislike and things like that.
So with that preface, I present to you two seemingly noble steeds for my pauper's bum.
The first is the one that seemed closest to what the LBS was recommending. It's a cannondale T200 in really great shape with Panniers and a travel computer for 1100.
here's a pic:
The other is a little less expensive, branded as a beginner touring bike (hey, thats me!) labeled just as a "Bianchi Hybrid" that's only 650, and comes with a rear rack and panniers, extra tires and whatnot.
Any sort of advice would be helpful, even if it's some of that metaphysical "there is no spoon" kind of advice that doesn't really mean anything to you until it's too late.
Edit: Oh yeah some other information. The cost isn't THAT much of a factor if the Cannondale is worth it. Similarly, advice along the lines of "for that kind of money you could get [bike x] that would be much better" is more than valid and part of me is undecided because I could probably swing a Randonee or a LHT for the same price range. Anyway, I know this question seems like one of those "do the research for me" kinds of things, but I don't even know what to think much less look for. Thanks again!