Nice group of people.
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Thanks BikePacker. I'm so excited for this tour. What do you consider more gear then most, weight wise? I'm thinking of carrying no more than 50 lbs, likely less and I'm on the lighter side at 140 lbs.
The nice thing about bike touring is that it doesn't require all that much in the way of equipment or clothing.
Having lived around and taught many "redneck" with their big trucks (I also drive a pickup, have for 30 years) I have found that most of them will treat you with as much respect as you have for them.
What front rack are you using? I'm looking for a rack just like the one in your photo for my new Mazama.
I think a lot of what the OP wants hinges on what "local rides" mean. Now if it means roadie style club rides as others speculate, then yeah, a traditional touring bike probably wouldn't be appropriate. But when I heard "local ride", I thought more commuting, or non-competitive recreational rides. For those, a touring bike would be fine. For many years my Long Haul Trucker was my good bike, so I used it for touring, commuting, and other recreational rides. And it worked fine for my needs. Sure, a lighter road bike would have been better for some of the long rides, but I didn't feel that hindered by my choice of the bike.