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Messages - John Nettles

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Routes / Re: Best/easiest route from the Pacific to Michigan
« on: February 10, 2017, 03:49:22 pm »
It all depends on the route and how many miles you do a day.  For instance, you said "Michigan".  Is that northern, southern, entering northern going to southern, then going through Ontario vs the US, etc.?

Anyway, a good rule of thumb is an average is 55-60 miles per RIDING day.  Obviously, some only do 25 miles per day and other super-strong riders do 125 miles on average (and miss a lot).  Figure roughly 2,800 miles or about 51 days on the second option I showed.  The ACA routes page will break down the various routes and segments to be more exact.

If you are trying to do it during the summer break, I would definitely do east to west as the western mountains may still have cooler weather and/or a few mountain passes MAY still be closed with snow.  Plus you will be stronger for the longer climbs once you get there and then you can do any route you want.  If home-schooled, west to east is slightly better due to a slight tailwind favoring.  Regardless, I did my first TransAm route when I was 14.  I missed the first week of school and can tell you the experience was a LOT better than the first week of school.

Best, John

Routes / Re: Best/easiest route from the Pacific to Michigan
« on: February 10, 2017, 01:59:18 pm »
While I have not ridden the L&C between the ocean and Lewiston, ID, I have ridden the TA and the NT.  I "think" the L&C has less climbs until you get to Montana.  As Indyfabz mentioned, the NT has some serious climbs pretty early into the ride.  The TA has some also but they do not for a week or so.

If I were trying to have the "lowest" but best route, I would probably try the L&C to Missoula, then either 1) go to Glacier NP via Northern Parks then connect to the NT until you reconnect to the L&C    OR   2) connect to the TA until Waldren, CO,  then go "off route" toward Muscatine, IA, where you can reconnect with the NT.

Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa all have a wonderful bike map produced by the state.  The roads are typically low traffic counts.  The big drawback is that you have to do more work every day looking for camping places but honestly, being a woman with your son you should have little difficulty finding places.  Small town folk typically are very helpful for woman riders.  Not trying to sound sexist, just honest.

While the 2nd option would have higher elevation, you should be strong enough by then to tackle it.   Plus you get some better and more varied scenery.  Be sure to go to Jackson, WY, if you take this route.  However, option 1 definitely has less elevation.

I started touring when I was 14 years old.  I am now in my early 50s and have around 65k miles of touring.  Be warned, he may develop a lifelong addiction.

Best, John

Routes / Re: Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED
« on: February 03, 2017, 04:47:52 pm »
First word of advise is to get some STRONG wheels.  Since you are a "Clydesdale" rider AND you are adding gear, a standard set of wheels will most likely cause you trouble.  Unfortunately, good strong wheel are not cheap.  Look at 48 spoke wheels if you can find them.  Another option is to look at a recumbent trike.  Utah as a really good recumbent trike shop.  The three smaller wheels would not have to be modified to carry your weight.  Just some thoughts.

You might be able to find the wheels and the maps (and/or recumbent) on eBay.

Finally, consider taking a bus over to Phoenix (or any place further from home), so it is not as easy to bail after the first few days of hills.

Absolute worst case is just start riding around the neighborhood and go next year when you are in a little better shape and have the gear.

Best, John

Correct.  Again, I did it on a Sunday afternoon and all was quiet.  Don't know what it would be like on a week day and I would probably avoid rush-hour if possible. Enjoy the ride.

As a side note, I HIGHLY recommend going from Pensacola to Navarre along FL-399.  I'm actually surprised ACA did not take this route.  From there you can go north up to Milton and rejoin the ST or turn right and go along the coast.  Again, if you don't like traffic, the section between Navarre and east of Sandestin, FL and around Panama City is more miles, not smiles due to the traffic.  Also, DO NOT cross the bridge Tyndall AFB during rush hour and ESPECIALLY west bound Friday night at 5:00pm.  Normally semi-quiet, it was absolutely terrifying as a thousands of 20-somethings driving fast rush into Panama City to start the weekend partying. One of my top 3 worst ever experiences but again should be OK during non-rush hour times.

Best, John


The Paris Road bridge looks a little iffy with no shoulder and a pretty good climb up to the top with moderate traffic.  Have you ridden it and is it similar to what is shown on Google Maps in the Streetview mode?  I crossed the channel on a Sunday on Simmon Drive based on a local rider's suggestion (it was nice and quiet but it was a Sunday afternoon) but am always looking for better ways.  Thanks, John

I understand about the maps.  However, points Kansas and west are pretty easy to research.  Plus with the sag vehical, this frees him up a LOT since the sag can carry food, water, etc.  Look up the "average annual daily vehical" count maps in the various states and/or look at the various states' bike maps (not all have them though).  Also, you should allow a couple of days  for rest/buffer days in case his body requires a rest or the weather truly sucks.  Nothing spoils a trip like having to maintain a deadline.

Best, John

You don't say if you need to keep solely to an ACA route but I would guess not nor do you say how you are doing services (Food & Lodging).

Anyway, if I were attempting to do what he is doing, I would take the TransAm to near Ordway, CO then take CO-10 to Walsenburg.  Then US-160 to AZ-98 in Arizona.  Then US-89 in Page, AZ, to Kanab.  Then US-89A to AZ-389 St. George, UT.  Then up to Enterprise, UT and rejoin the Western Express to the end.

Remember that by the time he reaches Colorado, he should be strong enough to do any climb, especially unloaded.  However, he may (like me) have lung issues so elevation does factor in.  You should understand that having a day or two that has a big climb but with much less mileage does not add any days.  In other words, typically, taking a 200 mile route with a couple of big climbs is quicker than taking a 300 flatter route.  If he has lung issues, he can angle down toward US-64 from Walsenburg then take it through northern New Mexico. over to where it intersects with the above mentioned US-160.  This is lower but not nearly as scenic and has more traffic.

If you have extra days available, the ride from Mexican Hat, UT, to Kayenta, AZ, is wonderful through Monument Valley and so is the western Express through Utah.

Best, John


Numerous people have done it (check out CrazyGuyonaBike for some journals.  I did it (East>West) a few years ago.  However, I actually rode along or near the coast from Perry, FL to Galveston, TX.  Doing Galveston westward in early April.

The coastal route definitely has more traffic than the ACA route but was quite doable.  I road the west side of the Mississippi from NO to BR due to lower traffic counts and quieter roads.  In NO, be sure to cross the Inner Harbor Navigation Channel up next to Lake Pontchartrain as the other crossings would be suicidal.  There is a nice sidewalk/bike path along the beach in the Gulfport/Biloxi area also.

Lots of services once you are in Mississippi.   Be sure to check on campgrounds ahead of time as several do not accept tents (ACA should use it advocacy for that!).  Lots of hotels but most are not inexpensive.

Hope you have an enjoyable ride.  John

Routes / Re: Pros and Cons of Northern Tier vs. Lewis and Clark in Pac NW
« on: January 30, 2017, 07:54:50 am »
I agree with John Nelson.  I have used a power bank (rechargeable battery) over the past several years.  I use it to recharge my phone, GPS, AA & AAA batteries (if I am taking on that trip), etc.  Buy a 10k -15k mA power bank.  Much larger and you won't use the extra storage that much so you are carrying extra weight.  Less than that, and you have fewer charges.  A cell phone typically holds about 2-2.5k mA.  Be sure to get one that will match (or at least come close) your phone's charging input.  A lot of newer phones charge at 3a now instead of the older 1a,  While it will charge at 1a, it will just take significantly longer.

If you are only recharging the phone, a 10k mA is plenty as you will able to recharge as you go along in campgrounds (some), restaurants, some city parks, etc.  You to will become an expert at spotting electrical outlets  ;D !

Hope you have a great ride!  John

Routes / New ACA Chicago to NYC Mapped Route
« on: January 22, 2017, 04:53:38 pm »

The Feb 2017 issue of Adventure Cyclist implies there is a new mapped route coming out, Chicago to New York City.  Can you let us know when the maps will be ready?  I "assume" it will be before the ACA van-supported Tour following the same route beginning in early June. 

Thanks for all you do, John

Routes / Re: Start date for NB Sierra Cascades route.
« on: January 17, 2017, 11:24:35 am »
Another thing I would suggest is to avoid CA-94 between Tecate and Otay Lakes Road, especially if Tecate bound.  A group of 4 road this a couple of years ago, mid-week, in early afternoon, and we agreed the road was not at all enjoyable.  In my 35+ years of touring, this was one of the worst.  Narrow, twisty, LOTS of car and truck traffic.  Going from Tecate to Otay would be much better as it is mostly downhill (somewhat steep).  We basically had to take the lane as cars would try to pass us on blind curves, etc.  At least we could hook it up to 30+mph due to the downhill.  Going uphill (5+ miles????) would have sucked big time.  Maybe we hit at a bad time, but it really did suck.

My recommendation is to touch the border at Imperial Beach south of San Diego, ride up Santa Monica then take the Route 66 Route to Pasadena then work your way to the SC route at the intersection of Angeles Creast Highway and Angeles Forest Highway.  Or you could take the Southern Tier Route over to Pine Valley, CA and connect with the SC there. 

Whatever you choose, enjoy the ride!  John

Routes / Re: Southern Tier 2017 Thread
« on: January 15, 2017, 01:04:16 pm »
Personally, I would just ride from Jacksonville along the coast.  It is only a 1 day ride.  Best, John

Routes / Re: Northern Tier vs. TransAm
« on: January 02, 2017, 12:12:08 pm »
I strongly prefer the TransAm over the NT.  However, which ever route you choose, be aware that if you will be west bound, some of the western mountain passes may still be closed when you get there if you are east bound. Granted, there are alternatives but still be sure to look ahead to save some miles.  Also, if you have the time and you are doing the TransAm, a brief loop up to Glacier is great.

Routes / Re: Help with Route Planning From KS to CA
« on: December 28, 2016, 11:24:15 pm »
While John is correct that big towns or cities are typically a pain to get into and out of and best avoided, Denver may be a different beast.

If you ride to the airport ENE of town, you can take a shuttle train to downtown Denver (you are able to roll your bike onto the train).  Then you could take the bike routes (some are separate paths out to Golden where you can make your way to Idaho Springs via side roads and a short (legal) section of I-70 (use Google Maps/Bicycling to see bike routes).  Then you could take the Great Park South route over to Silverthorne to connect to other routes.  NOTE:  This is a high traffic route but if you MUST go to Denver, there is a way.

You could also take a shuttle from Denver to Silverthorn and bypass a LOT of climbing and time (recommended for beginners).

If you give more info such as time of year, are you camping or hotels, cafes or cooking, your daily distance, ability at altitude, etc., perhaps you could get better answers.

Happy Trails, John

Routes / Re: What is Your Favorite Cross Country Route and Why?
« on: December 16, 2016, 10:35:19 am »
Indyfabz, you are cheating!  I didn't know we could combine the routes  :D

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