Help! I'm a novice cyclist setting out on a 2.5 month cycling jaunt around Xinjiang, China, where I'll be roughly following Marco Polo's route along the ancient Silk Road. I've heard a lot of conflicting advice on what kind of bike to get for the trip, and I guess I'm posting this to hear even more!
Basically, I'm looking for a steel frame touring bike suitable for carrying a heavy load over rough terrain (ranging from paved roads to gravel, and lots of steep climbs and descents) for an extended period of time. The Trek 520 bike looks promising, but can you guys suggest any other bikes or bike parts for such an adventure?