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Trek used to have their WSB (women specific bicycle) line, but I don't know if that is still around anymore.Yes, Trek's WSD line is still around and pretty extensive but has no touring models.
My son had a Fuji Pro that came with Dura-Ace 7800 equipment and a tight cassette. When his racing days were over, he put a cassette with 28 teeth on and it shifted fine. The crank-set had 53/39 rings. If your chain-rings are that big, you may want to swap them for a compact.Remember, you can't just switch standard 53/39 chainrings for a compact set-up (typically 50/34) on the same crank since the bolt circles are not compatible. You would need an entirely new crank.
The biggest annoyance I had on the back roads of Kentucky were drivers who refused to pass even when they could see well ahead and I waved them by. We ran across a few of them and I found them really annoying.I've had this happen in several places, not just KY. The real problem isn't with the driver who won't pass, it's with the cars trapped behind them. They tend to blame the bicyclist, not the incompetent driver in front of them.
[The problem of balance and control comes when you suddenly are going downhill and not uphill at that gearing.That's why bikes have shift levers. When the grade breaks, you shift to a higher gear. Roads don't suddenly change grades like falling off a cliff, you should be able to easily see it approaching.
So I am grinding up hill using 20 inch gearing and now have to dive towards the side of the road. No way I can spin fast enough to maintain control of the bike and stay out of the ditch!!Uh, why would you have to "dive toward the side of the road"? Do you ride right down the middle normally?
Well SlowAndSlower, you are not living up to your nom de plume.That's why I can't understand those who claim they don't want very low gears because they can; "walk the bike faster". No one can push a loaded bike up a steep hill as fast as they can ride it.
22x36@90rpm yields around 5mph on my 29er tires. Balance and control is not particularly difficult at that pace.