So after doing some soul searching to find the bike to match my style of riding (or what I want it to be) I decided on a touring style bike. I found this site and downloaded the nifty touring bike spreadsheet--and kinda gasped at the prices.
...It was going to have to be a used bike...
I looked around craigslist and lucked out (I think), finding a 2010 Jamis Aurora, in my size, slightly used. I have no idea about how to appraise used bikes.
OK, I'm going to post the ad, please don't steal it out from under me if it is a really good deal
I've already emailed the guy and am going to meet him this week. I did manage to knock $50 off his asking price.
I'm still a little sticker shocked, and wondering if a "big box" $200 bike would be good enough for me and I'm wasting my money. I'm basically looking for something to go on long regular road rides with a local group (30-60+ miles once or twice a month) so I didn't want to go cheap. It also needs luggage capability and be able to hook up a trailer so I can tow my toddlers around a bit. After a lot of research I also am partial to the drop bars. I also need the bike to be able to do some light off-road, mainly the local tow path (packed dirt and gravel). I'm not worried about buying it and losing interest, I'm a pretty determined guy and stick to things for a while.
It does seem kind of heavy for a lot of road riding, but considering my old bike was an old diamondback rigid mountain bike with knobbies I think I'll be OK.
One of my buds was trying to talk me into a cyclocross bike, but they are way too expensive.