I find I can tolerate a lot with a good rain jacket, a pair of tights, and neoprene booties to keep my shoes and socks dry.
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Count your blessing then. My experience was different.2) 10 speed road shifters do not work with 9 speed mountain bike derailleurs--mountain bike shifting over shifts and settles into position and road shifting moves exactly where it wants to go and demands that everything else follow along.
3) 10 speed chains want 10 speed jockey wheels.
I disagree. I use 10 speed Shimano 105 triple STI shifters on one bike. Bike has a 9 speed Shimano Deore mountain bike rear derailleur. 11-32 10 speed cassette. Perfect shifting.
That's interesting since I have 10-speed triple cranks (FC-5703 and FC-4603) on all my bikes and 10-speed cassettes on three of them shifted using downtube levers (on Retroshift brackets) or one bike with 10-speed barends. Of course, these are all friction shifters in front and all work wonderfully. Shifting is fast, precise and reliable. I can only assume you have a mis-matched, incompatible (or very poorly adjusted) front derailleur and that causes the poor shifting.
I have an old Paramount Series 3 that I ride. It has a short wheelbase racing geometry, and the position is not too aggressive for me. I could ride this bike every day and be happy riding it. One of my buddies was trying to lure is wife into riding with him, and I let her ride my Paramount as it was about the right size for her. She did not enjoy the experience as the steering was too responsive for her. From remarks the OP has made it sounds like overly responsive steering is not his issue with the CAAD8. I also have a VooDoo mountain bike that I now mostly use as my winter bike. The ride position is pretty aggressive, and if my weight gets over a certain number then the ride position is not that comfortable. I said "age out" but I meant a multitude of reasons for why a bike with an aggressive posture could no longer be comfortable. If you are 65 and agile then you are truly lucky. I am 57 and have to listen to complaints from more sedentary 40 somethings about all their aches and pains. For whatever reason, the OP thinks his CAAD8 will not be comfortable on a Southern Tier ride.The CAAD8 has a short wheel base racing geometry. This means responsive (twitchy) steering and an aggressive posture. I can see where that might be unsettling to some riders.I can see that, but I don't see how a bike that he rides OK around home suddenly feels unsafe on a supported tour. I guess he might be planning to carry a bunch of gear even though the tour is supported. Perhaps it is the extra weight.
I generally feel safer with a more responsive bike, but I guess not everyone feels that way.I can see where that would be fine and then rider ages out of that being fine. I can also see where that would be fine for club and event rides but not I am going to cover 75 miles a day for the next 12 weeks.Aging out? Maybe. We don't know the OPs age, but I have seen no sign of aging out in myself at almost 65. In 10 years, maybe?
My thought was always that on a long tour is when I am most likely to be fully acclimated to the bike and most appreciate the more efficient posture. Again, YMMV.I think the bigger question is why the LHT will not do for a tour.Everyone is different, to me the LHT is more of a tank than I would want even for heavy touring. I'd rule it out entirely for me. On the other hand for someone who feels uncomfortable and unsafe on a road bike, I'd think the LHT might make sense.
I happen to own a CAAD7 and a CAAD9 bike. Aluminum frames and carbon forks. I consider them to be some of the best bikes ever built. They have no flaws. Did Cannondale somehow make a horrible CAAD8 bike in between the great CAAD7 and CAAD9 bikes? I'd suggest you figure out why you do not feel safe or comfortable on a likely great CAAD8 bike before wasting money on a new bike. You do not have bike problems, you have other problems.
Don't know why Jamis set the Aurora Elite up like a road bike when the Aurora is geared for touring.