As to getting to KY from Columbus, the annual TOSRV route from Columbus to Portsmouth, Ohio is well known and very bicycle friendly. From there the US23 bridge crosses the Ohio river into KY and you can plan from there.
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Did the Bon Ton Roulet last month.
Whatever you do don't take the derailer off as it's a bitch getting it back on.I used to have an S&S coupled Co-Motion single bike and I had to unthread the rear derailleur to make it fit in the travel case. I used a Wipperman chain with a master link and removed and bagged it separately but just unthreaded the derailleur and padded it without detaching the cable.
For all those eager advocates of SPD clips, or any other mechanical method of attaching your feet to the pedals, here's something few of the clip using fraturnity rarely tell you. Unless you aquaint yourself at an early stage in your cycling life and feel very comfortable getting in and out of clips at split-second notice without having time to think you might end up as I did a few years back, running out of momentum on a steep hill and quite suddenly face down on the black-top.Your experience was unfortunate but was the result of unfamiliarity, and not an inherent problem with clipless pedals, and your generalized warning is completely wrong The learning curve is fast and easy and it doesn't take long to get familiar to the point that the release motion is instinctive. A few rides and some practice will make you competent and a few weeks will make fast release a complete non-issue. Clipless pedals are much more secure and faster to get out of in an emergency than any clip and strap system.
I have four touring / commuter bikes and have put tens of thousands of miles on them. Three have Dura Ace one has Ultegra... I have a couple other brakes with Dura Ace also. Never had a failure or a gum problem with any kind on of them. All this equipment is incredibly reliable. Also, instead of moving your hands to the unstable end of the bars away from the brakes to shift is, in my opinion dangerous. Not to mention more difficult to shift than STI. The performance of Dura Ace is exceptional, even when compared to Ultegra. The idea you get bar end shifter because they are more reliable is silly. . If on the incredibly remote chance that something breaks on tour... there is Fed Ex virtually anywhere in North America, Europe and much of Asia. Perhaps if you are touring in sub saharan Africa, or Siberia in the winter. I can shift with my pinky with Dura Ace. Unless you are really constrained by money, I would get nothing else. If constrained, I would get the highest level you can afford. I have found you get what you pay for with Shimano.I think Dura Ace is the last group you'd consider for a true touring bike. There is no longer any triple crank or shifter option, a "compact double" (50/34) is the smallest chainring set available and the cassettes are 11-speed and none with very large big cogs. It's a wonderful racing and sports riding group but out of place for touring.
While possible, IMHO it's irresponsible to recommend an X-mart BSO for a ride like the GDMBR.I think you are over reacting and the comment wasn't a "recommendation" to use a Walmart bike. This forum gets a lot of questions about using basically unsuitable bikes for specific tours, etc. and the reply that a Walmart bike could be used was meant to be facetious.
This is what I do also. I do as little tire changing as possible.Yeah, that's my feeling too. Sort of a let sleeping dog lie approach. I once tried rotating a used front to the rear and replacing the front. To my surprise the former front wore out very fast as a rear tire, much sooner than a new rear would have. I expect the time and miles had effected the rubber even though there was little to no apparent wear.