ok, no one has really addressed your needs here, just thiers. long distance riding, not RACING, requiers a bike with a few things road bikes lack. when you hear "road bike" read it as "racing bike", because thats what they are designed for. road bikes have
stiff frames for acceleration, light weight for the same reason, flimsy wheels, same reason, and aerodynamic riding positions, same reason. they also have narrow saddles, and a gear range that is too high, or hard, for normal guy long distance riding.
touring bikes on the other hand, have a much wider range of usable gears, including a series of extra low gears for steep extended hills, higher handlebars for less back and neck and hand and wrist strain, wider saddles for better sit bone support,
more compliant frames for a nicer ride, more powerful brakes for stopping under load, and more durable wheels, not to mention fatter tires, which makes the ride more comfortable. road bikes cant take fat tires or fenders, rendering them useless in the rain, gravel, dirt, ect. fat tires protect the rims from pot holes, and general road debris. steel is generally accepted as the ideal touring bike frame material. people say steel is heavy, but well made steel bikes are within a quarter pound of an aluminum bike, and will survive wrecks much better. good steel bikes last a lifetime. aluminum lasts a decade. long story short, a good touring bike will be a lifetime investment, wearas a road racing bike is a fragil object at best, suited for fast paced riding over smooth roads in ideal weather.
a decent touring bike can be had for 1300, custom complete, made to measure. if a shop tries to talk you into a road racing bike, its cause thats all they know, and all they have to sell.
touring bikes arnt money makers, they last too long, and cost too much to build. 800 dollars buys you nothing, not even a bad cheap road bike. think of it as an investment. road bikes, if your lucky, last 10 years. thats if you never crash... they will never carry loads well, never handle predictably under load, and are prone to mechanical failure..
i've built custom touring bikes for a decade, have worked with rivendell, waterford, clark custom cycles, to build frames from scratch for various customers. i've fit women, men, old people, whoever, for treks across america, nepal, china, canada, austrailia and the alps. i own 2 touring bikes 1 racing bike, 3 mtn bikes, all of which are steel, and all of which are at least 13 years old, and still holding up fine, despite crashes, daily commuting and lots of touring...