If you do the TransAmerica route, then take the Great Rivers route west and south out of St. Louis down 40-50 miles or so until you cross the TransAmerica route. Then go west.
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don't hesitate to buy something expensive or fancy if you so desire. I'd love a custom Co-Motion or Independent, but I cannot justify the expense.
I'm also active in a German bicycle touring forum:
In this forum the guys have tested all kinds of hub generators and by far the SON is the best:
I'm not a big fan of the neoprene booties, although I used them for years since I didn't see many options. I was forced out of them when I started using mtb shoes
Below -20F!!! Do you actually tour in those conditions? I could see myself getting stuck with those conditions on an XC ski or snowshoe tour, but if I experienced -20F on a bike tour, I'd be looking for a room to wait for warmer weather.What's the best shoe cover for riding in cold weather?
Probably whatever the other guy is wearing.
I have neoprene booties. They achieve nothing except some water protection. If you need to keep your toesies warm in sub-20F, you must have adequate insualtion and you must add heat. Even pedaling at a nice clip (risking wind chill on the exposed bits) you cannot get enough warm blood into your toes to keep you comfortable for long.
At home I wouldn't dream of riding in -20F, I would hike, trail run, snowshoe, or XC ski, but riding a bike in those conditions wouldn't even occur to me.
My hat is off to any braves souls who would tour in -20F or lower.
Additionally, and like Shimano, a nice all-SRAM touring drivetrain could be put together mixing their road, mountain and Truvativ lines.
Campy Ergo brifters address and/or eliminate most of your comments on the disadvantages of brifters.
-They have a "micro-shift" ratchet for the front shifting so you can trim any deraileur to center it over any chainring, including triples.
-The upper lines (Record and Chorus) allow a full sweep of both the cassette and chainrings in both directions, upshifting and downshifting.
-Ergos have had the shift cables under the bar tape since the 8-speed days so they don't interfer with any handlebar bag.
-Ergo brifters can be rebuilt so the durability issue is lessened
I ride the drops a fair bit but I don't, and most other riders don't, climb with my hand in the drops and that's where the ability to shift from the hoods or tops is so very welcome. For the record, both Ergo and STI brifters can be shifted from the drops if you wish. Bar ends can only be shifted from the drops. I'm not frightened of them, I've used them more than enough to give them a good evaluation and found brifters better in almost all conditions.
Finally, I assume everyone is going to say, true but they can only be used with Campy (read expensive) components and their gearing range is limited. Well, Jtek's Shiftmate will make Ergos compatible with otherwise all Shimano components and they shift like a dream.