As far as a large backpack, IMHE, it is the least desirable way to carry.
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Brakes: Any brakes are fine. Disc brakes on touring bikes are uncommon.
IMHE sidepull brakes are doable, but I would not say "fine". Cantilevers, with greater stopping power, are more standard for touring.
Bar-end shifters: These are sometimes preferred because the cables don't get in the way of your handlebar bag. If that's not an issue for you, then what you have is fine.
Opting for bar-end shifters to avoid cables interferring with handlebar bag is a last reason I would give for making that choice. Of greater importance is robustness of bar ends compared to brifters. Many have toured with brifters (combining shifter/brake), but I have switched several bikes from brifters to bar ends for more reliability for fully loaded touring. Usually, if brifters are standard on touring bike it is on bike made for light touring
The big drawback to pre-planned routes are just that, they are preplanned. You lose a ton of "adventure of what's around the bend".
Another pitfall is that (Google) bicycle directions don't mind using dirt roads, rugged hiking trails and even private property. Sometimes, the directions will even use routes that don't even exist.
Google bicycle directions are good for getting to the grocery store. They are awful for getting across the country.
dkoloko -- By the way 35s fit on the Open Sport/MA2. My bike came with Avocet Cross inverted tread 700 x 35s, and I have run Conti touring 700 x35 also with no issue. It's a size bigger than recommended, but works fine (I did the Pacific Coast with Contis).