Choosing the bike
When going on a longer bike trip, there are choices to be made. One of them is the bike and even that choice can be split up into various little, but fundamental choices. I think the main ones are: bike material, wheel size, type of handle bar, gearing, braking and maybe luggage distribution.
I will describe my decision making and will get into some details, but leave a lot of technicalities out of the story.
The choice these days basically is steel or aluminium. Of course you could treat yourself to a titanium or carbon frame, but for longer trips with your bike loaded with luggage these materials have some serious downsides. Titanium for instance is less stiff than steel and it takes a specialist with specialist equipment to repair it. Carbon is quite stiff and has the benefit of being a very light material for frames, but you'd be hard pressed to find anything touring-worthy in carbon. Usually you won't find threads to fit pannier-racks to begin with and then however great the material is, for touring application it is just not the right thing in my opinion.
So the choice for me was between steel and aluminium. Actually this choice was influenced by another factor. Geometry. The riding position, type of handle bar (I will come back to this later) and wheel size were more important to me. Eventually I chose aluminium. I wouldn't have chosen an aluminium frame from any manufacturer, but I have very good experiences with aluminium frames from Cannondale. Also the geometry suits me very well.
They make a bike they call "touring" which ticked almost all the boxes for me: sportive geometry, drop bars, disc brake, derailleur-gearing and mounts for front and rear pannier-racks. If you have read more about my cycling history (at hugmybike.nl), you might have noticed that this isn't my first Cannondale. Mountainbikes an road bikes have gone before, but touring bikes is actually what cannondale started out with.
So, the touring. There are two models available. The "touring ultimate". It has 2x11 Shimano Ultegra gearing, hydraulic disc brakes and fenders. All great options along with some other nice specs I didn't really care for. But it is painfully more expensive than the other option: the "touring 1".