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I've got a bike with Shimano brifters, one with Campy brifters, and one with bar-ends and like riding them all!. Frankly, the worst part about switching between bikes is the difference between the Shimano and Campy,
Personally I don't get why folks like to ride in boots or sandals when cranking out long miles, but I guess it is a matter of personal preference. I much prefer a pair of bike shoes with plenty of mesh for good ventilation, drying, and drainage.
If you go nutty and try a 36 rear cog, then your derailleur hanger my not be low enough and the rear derailleur will not fit underneath the 36 cog. So that will not work.
I add that changing components to get below 20 gear inches can be much more challenging than being satisfied with a 20 inch low.
BTW I am a 50 year old greatgrandfather.