I hope you can find a smoke free route. Maybe hop on a bus or rent a car and go somewhere with no smoke? Pacific Coast maybe?
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You may spend more time sleeping on top of it, for padding, than in it for warmth.
On the bags, would it be overkill to have a 32 degree bag for the high elevations in the West and then ship it home once into ... Kansas? We will have friends sending us re-supply items via General Delivery as we go along, so I am thinking a swap to a "lighter" bag could be accomplished.
We are wondering the same but for a July 1(ish), 2016 start from Portland to Astoria, then to Yorktown. Based on some other threads here, I am thinking a 32 degree bag. I sleep just a bit warmer than my wife, but I also have very cold feet.
I recommend that you take Hwy 95 south from Las Vegas. It will run into ACA's Route 66. This will take you into LA. You could take I-15 but it would be a very noisy ride with lots of truck tire debris that will likely result in flats.FWIW, I actually like riding the interstate when in the desert. Some hate it though, so YMMV.
Note to Slow and Slower: Yes, the recent generation of Shimano 10-speed barend and downtube shifters do lack a friction option. It's unfortunate but friction shifting a 10-speed cassette is a bit tricky due to the close cog spacing and barend and downtube shifters are so reliable that perhaps the friction option as a bail-out was deemed unnecessary.
[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.
And, yes, I've ridden back roads in both Virginia and Kentucky, particularly in Western Virginia, and have never had to "dive suddenly" to the side of the road. If I'm climbing slowly i'm already at the edge of the pavement.
Several models of Salsa Vaya and Fargo already use SRAM - that is how I became aware of it.Hopefully other manufacturers will do the same as Salsa and/or Shimano will offer a solution to avoid losing the touring and adventure markets.
Back to the original issue, is there a way to use drop bars and brifters with a full modern group to get to 20 gear inches or below?With 9 speed, sure easily. Do you consider 9 speed modern?
I find all the gearing below 20 inches some what perplexing. 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!!I don't understand what you mean by that. I can't say I have ever had a problem with that. Why would you be diving toward the side of the road and why would it make you unable to maintain control?
Seems pretty extreme to me, but I can kind of understand. I used to want a big gear, in part so I could pedal lightly against a little resistance on long down hills to keep my legs moving.I have 52/11 and very often wish I had a higher gear, and I have never raced.Really? A 52/11 is 127 gear-inch and gives 38 mph at 100 rpm. Can you really ride that fast except on a big downhill where you would go as fast or faster by just tucking in and coasting? My problem with the excessive use of 11T cogs is that you give up a far more useful interior cog to get it.
I have never broken a cable nor a chain or a spoke. Doing a cross country trip you will not need to adjust your brakes - if you ride during the summer. I believe if you use some Loctite 243 thread locker your screws and bolts will never unwind unless you did not clean the threads before application.