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I just picked up the sample issue of ACA's "Adventure Cyclist" magazine at REI last night. It has an article entitled "Wheel Size Matters." They concluded that 700C wheels are best for narrow tires up to about 30 mm, and the smaller 650B wheels are better for wider tires, 30 to 42 mm.
As Pat Lamb mentioned, there is a cost to flying with a bike. I thought it was around $100 each way, not $400. But check with the airlines.
We are going to travel with Adventure Cycling Routes for sure, especially the Trans Am from Pueblo CO to Missoula MT. Then we want to hit Seattle.
What I see over a decade or more of wheel building is that commercial wheel sets use less rather than more spokes, higher spoke tension, a tendency towards 0-cross spoke patterns rather than 3-cross or 4-cross, a reinforcement of the points of attachment of the spokes, a reduction of the rim and nave mass where there are no spokes, and a liberty to introduce arty patterns rather than maintaining traditional artisan symmetries. I guess this is all the result of finite-element design calculations that gave much better insight in wheel strength.