Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Central Coast, CA
Bikes: Surly LHT, Specialized Rockhopper, Nashbar Touring (old), Specialized Stumpjumper (older), Nishiki Tourer (model unknown)
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Ease into this touring thing. I'm not sure what an Athena is, but the choice of a stepthrough comfort bike for touring seems very inappropriate. But then, there are lots of kinds of touring. How far are the three of you used to riding at a time? How many days in a row have you gone on typical rides? My average ride is 30 miles, unloaded, and I'm usually lucky to squeeze in one ride a week - often, due to circumstances, I go several weeks without riding at all. Yet, on tour I typically average about 50 miles a day, once I'm warmed up, and that's carrying a 40-lb. load. And lots of tourers have much higher daily averages. And I usually average at least seven 50-mile days in a row before I take a day off.
However, there are tourers who don't carry any load - who have a support vehicle following along with cold refreshments, lounge chairs, snacks, and sandwiches at every stop. That also seems like a very pleasant way to tour.
I suggest that, while you might try to steer your fiance and daughter into bike choices that seem sensible to you, ultimately you should let them decide, and let them live with the consequences. Then start with a mode of touring that fits the people and the bikes - even if that's going to a motel and taking 10-mile, every-other-day, scenic rides in the area.
Once you all have some experience, you'll know what you like, and have a better idea of what kind of bikes it will take to pleasantly do that.
Outfitting yourself for fully-loaded touring isn't cheap initially (though the equipment should last many years.) I wouldn't put out all that expense if I didn't know I was going to stick with it, but I also wouldn't want to continue to ride an inappropriate bike if I knew self-supported touring was going to be part of my lifestyle.
If they go with the bikes they want or have now and later decide they want to try more serious touring and get more serious touring bikes, great. If not, it will be their choice, and you won't come off as the pushy guy who talked them into bikes they didn't like.