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Sheldon Brown writes, "On long, straight mountain descents, ... pumping the brakes, alternating between one and the other, will briefly heat the surface of each rim more and dissipate more heat before it spreads inwards to the tires." (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html) Also true, but a tiny effect. How long does it take heat to pass through the 1/16" of aluminum between brake block and tire bead? Less than a second, I'd think.
I plan to put my wallet, phone, etc in the handle bar bag. I was looking for a waterproof bag that "clips on" for secure mounting and easy removal. So far, the only bags I found are Ortleib and Banjo Brothers.
Waterproof is often oversold as a feature. If you can get into the bag easily or conveniently, it's not waterproof. Look for a bag that includes a rain cover. The best rain bonnets are attached so they cannot blow away.
Detachable is another feature to consider carefully. All of the detachable mounting systems require some compromise. Smaller bags do not require elastic bands that attach to the front hub. Large bags that do not have stabilizer straps flop around. If the bag detaches easily, it can be removed by anyone.
Just wondering how people manage their pictures on a long tour, whether pictures are downloaded onto memory sticks and posted home. Some of the little netbooks that people are taking with them these days do not have DVD drives and so I guess the options are to take a separate drive to plug in to the USB or backup pictures onto a memory stick.
As to "the certain type of insurance" - there's no legal requirement, I suspect they may just be commenting on the fact that a lot of standard travel insurance policies don't cover cycling.
I keep my speed up by keeping my weight down. My 2007 REI Safari with out panniers is 33 lbs.