I figured out what's wrong with the bike!
That's a joke between my girlfriend and I. When I make some adjustment or read up on a possible solution, I'll start with the sentence, "so I think I know what's wrong with the bike."
This time, I actually do. I had it running way too rich.
I took the clip up about 3 notches (then greased everything up).
Much more power for much less gas.
Also, I'm using a 44t and I weigh 195lbs. 20-22mph is about where it's going to cruise before it gets into the high revs, realistically.
And the noise I've been trying to kill is a 415 chain going over the front sprocket teeth. Not much to be done there.