I did not do the big chop. I transitioned for a year then cut the last off in oct. 2011, but I wanted to say that you are correct in stating that many long transitioners have to cut off more than anticipated. During my long transition I tended to straighten form time to time to make dealing with it easier and blend the two textures so I had some added heat damage to get rid of.
3b/c with some 4a in the middle of crown and back, medium to high porosity, frizzy, thirsty hair!