If your now shorter chain will still allow big-big, you are mechanically ok but be SURE it will.
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To cross the Appalachians easily, take the C&O Trail/GAP out of DC to Pittsburgh. Lots of single females on that run. Again your option.The GAP is pretty easy riding but the C&O can be miserable riding, particularly if it's wet. Neither are particularly good on a narrow tire road bike so plan on 700-28 or larger tires if you go that route.
Three of us each rode Windsor Touring bikes ($599 delivered) on the Trans America and a few other longish tours. It is as far as I can tell a rebadged Fuji Touring. We were all pretty happy with them. So I feel like I can readily recommend the Fuji (or the Windsor Touring).To the OP:
In Bellevue WA there is a bike mechanic who seems to know his stuff (claims to have been a wrench on the TdF and have worked for Shimano. Very nice guy) he reckons you should use the cheapest chains you can get and change them every 500 miles! I kid you not.Pro mechanics treat chains like they are free because, for them, they are. The sponsors provide them by the case. Team mechanics scrub the rider's bikes every day and change chains every couple of days. It doesn't mean the rest of us can or should do that.
On my road bikes I currently use ProGold Xtreme but when it runs out I'm going to try Rock and Roll Gold, but either lube requires that I clean the chain every 150 to 200 miles, a bit impractical while touring."Cleaning" doesn't have to mean removal, solvent soaking, etc., etc. It can be as simple as a wipe down by running the chain, still on the bike, through a rag or paper towel followed by dripping on fresh lube. It can be done in a minute every few days. Don't over think or over complicate it.
..... it continues to generate interest, and, I take it, that indicates desirability.That's a reach. "Interest" can mean only curiosity and a desire to see if it works at all, not intent to purchase.
Jan Heine is such a French bike chauvinist that I discount his opinion of the Rohloff.Yes, I put him in the same category as I do Grant Peterson. They are so narrow in their attitudes that they get tiresome quite quickly.
There never seems to be a Subway when I need one, though!You must ride is some very remote areas. Those things are EVERYWHERE.