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Messages - John Nettles

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General Discussion / Re: How many days for a good ride
« on: January 02, 2010, 12:58:57 am »
It's doable assuming you are in shape.  I concur with others that the "stop and smell the roses" is a more enjoyable way to tour.  I did the original Northern Tier in 46 days and my riding days averaged 105 miles per day.  It sucked but I was doing a perimeter tour and had to beat the weather in the northeast as I hadn't left Anacortes until about August 5th.  I have also toured as low as 30 miles a day and all areas in between and sort of prefer a riding day average of 60 miles.

This summer while on a 1,200 mile tour (averaged 71 mpd), I met a guy just north of Fargo who blew me away.  He was doing a round-trip Northern Tier tour (Seattle to Bar Harbor to Seattle) and averaged 127 miles per day and had only taken 1 day off.  He said he didn't really like touring because he never saw anything worthwhile.  I suggested he stop occasionally to see stuff.  He said he might but was considering ramping it up a little so he could be home in 10 days (average of 181 miles!).  This was in late August so the daylight was not that long.  Granted his thighs were HUGE and he went very light but I sort of felt pity for him since he was missing the point of "touring".

That said, if your goal is to "cross the country" and you only have 5 weeks and you are capable of it, I say that is better than not doing it and regretting it later on.  You could also do a Mexico to Canada crossing also but that is not the same.

Hope you have a great time!

General Discussion / Re: Your first long distance tour...
« on: January 02, 2010, 12:37:58 am »
I was 15 going on a 1,000-mile, month-long ride with a fellow rider who was a newspaper reporter.  We were scouting out other cross-state (RAGBRAI, SAAGBRAW, etc.) rides to see how Oklahoma's could improve.  I had to walk my first hill ever as we ended up on a road under construction so had a gravel road on a really steep uphill next to the Mississippi.  I couldn't get traction so I had to walk.  Over 30 years later, I still remember that blasted hill but now I don't care as much if the old body doesn't have the wind to make it up the hill.

At the end, I was thinking, man I gotta go back to school.  Bummer.

Good question!

General Discussion / Re: General Age Range of the TransAm?
« on: December 28, 2009, 11:24:55 pm »
I have not done the TransAm on an organized tour but did it solo when I was 17 before my senior year in HS many years ago.  You will remember this forever.  I am sure ACA would be able to give you some decent stats if you email them.  You will probably learn a lot from the older, long-time riders who go on the tour with you.  Enjoy the ride!

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route
« on: December 28, 2009, 11:21:04 pm »
Does it have a shoulder or anything that might make it a little better??  Thanks for the heads up as I am considering riding it next year.


Routes / Re: Midwest three state route
« on: December 21, 2009, 10:46:32 pm »
You might want to expand on your trip, i.e. number of days, points of interest you like, etc. to get a better response.

If you want something researched for you, you could do the ACA Northern Tier from Fargo to Stillwater, MN (border of WI).  Then you can research a route thru Wisconsin as they have a very good website showing maps based on suitability for cycling.  Plus Wisconsin has lots of rail trails to utilize.

Hope this helps and enjoy your tour!


General Discussion / Re: From Maine to Wisconsin
« on: December 21, 2009, 10:34:47 pm »
You don't need to get in shape to bicycle tour.  It's a lot like money and happiness.  Money (being in shape) doesn't buy you happiness but it sure helps get rid of some problems which makes life more enjoyable.  Just take it easy at first.  If your body is complaining, listen to it.  I have know people to ride less than 10 miles per day for the first couple of days until their body adjusts.  Also, ACA has lots of resources and maps to help you plan.

Hope you have a great adventure!


I have had a chance to look at what was suggested. The information has been really helpful. Its going to take me a while to plan this all out and get in shape...but, I am really looking forward to it. I think this is going to be a healing adventure. Thank you again. Destination.

You might consider taking the new Sierra Cascade route that is coming out this spring.  It appears you can go south from Sisters, OR to Woodlands, CA and turn east with the Western Express.  You would have researched routes the whole way and be a First Year rider on the Sierra Cascade route.

Hope you have an enjoyable ride!


Be A Volunteer and Build Alliances / Volunteer in Oklahoma
« on: May 20, 2009, 02:16:41 pm »
I would be happy to assist in route development in my state/region.  I have been touring for 20+ years and have assisted with the development of many state-wide bike routes.

Thanks, John Nettles

Be A Volunteer and Build Alliances / Re: Intro Thread
« on: May 20, 2009, 02:13:39 pm »
If anyone has any suggestions or comments on the routes, now is definitely the time to let your voice be heard.

I would really like it if routes were developed connecting the various map section ending points so that multiple "new" circular routes could be created.  For instance, creating a route to connect Council Bluffs, IA to Muscatine, IA would create at minimum two large loops and several others could be enlarged upon this.  A lot of people can only take off for two weeks and would like to get back to the starting point for transportation logistics.

I am not advocating NOT doing the USBRS also, but to develop the connecting routes simultaneously.


John Nettles


I was looking at the U.S. Bicycle Route System route map and wondered if Corridors 37, 55, 66, 80 or 84 are actually “mapped”, even if in draft or cue sheet form only?

During the past two years I have been developing two multi-state bike routes that connect various ACA map ending towns.  The routes fairly closely track all or parts of these corridors.

One is from Brownsville, TX/Mexico border north to Canada that is fairly close to Route 55.  The route I have goes through Navasota, TX; Girard, KS; Atchison, KS; Council Bluffs, IA; and Fargo, ND to connect to various ACA route terminus points.

The other route goes from Las Cruces, NM to Girard, KS.

I have been contacting towns along the way verifying services, reviewing traffic counts to ensure low-traffic roads and/or shoulder suitability, etc. and if a similar route has been already developed (even initially) but not “mapped” for development by some official agency, I would like to know so I don’t duplicate the effort ACA/ASHTO is doing as you know it is a long and arduous process.

As a side note, if you need/want a “local” aide to Oklahoma, I would be happy to help.

Thanks and keep up the good work.

John Nettles

Routes / Re: Florida Connector Hotel recommendations
« on: March 28, 2009, 11:16:57 am »
We are going from Key Largo to Key West then ferry to Ft. Myers Beach then ride to St. Augustine following the route mostly.  We are bringing no camping gear so we must be motel/hotel/B&B/warmshowers based.  I normally just camp but the wife prefers a bed (can't blame her!).  Hope this helps but I will be on the road soon. 

Routes / Florida Connector Hotel recommendations
« on: March 20, 2009, 02:43:43 pm »
We are getting ready to depart on a hotel-based (wife doesn't want to camp!) Florida Connector tour.  I have read about some conflicting hotel reports in a few towns and was wondering if anyone happened to have recommendation based on first hand knowledge (at least seen if they look okay as riding by) of motels/hotels/B&Bs in Port Charlotte, Wachula, Haines City, and Deland, Florida.

We don't need a Ritz-Carlton but don't want a dump either.


General Discussion / Re: Is it worth installing a kick stand?
« on: March 19, 2009, 04:39:40 pm »
I guess I am in the minority here, but I prefer no kickstand.  It is simple, and I don't ever seem to be at a loss to find a good sturdy place to prop my bike up, or at the worst lay it gently on the ground.  Sure beats it toppling over unexpectedly.

I used to be like that and it worked quite well.

However, more and more places don't like you to lean the bike against the window and so I can still keep an eye on it but it is not hurting anything.  I have only had it topple twice....once due to a kid playing with the bike and once my fault.  I just take the time to place it right and it is fine.  It is great on club rides when everyone is stopped and only a few places to lean.

It also allows a more variety for locking a bike to a pole.

Routes / Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« on: March 15, 2009, 11:37:22 pm »
You didn't say if you meant basically following an ACA route but breaking off occasionally OR a route you totally made up on your own.  Nor do you give you  r skills as topography and map reading.  While I have not crossed the country itself without using ACA maps, I have done numerous regional or multi-state rides without them.

If #1, I would strongly consider using the ACA maps and use #2 when breaking off.

If #2, yes you can.  It has been done probably thousands of times over the years.  You can use basically any decent map but stick to the smaller roads when possible.

Typically, but not always, avoid the 4-lane divided highways unless a full shoulder exists.  If possible, get a hold of a traffic count map from the state riding in and review it.  Avoid roads over 2,500 vehicles/day when possible but obviously, this count increases closer to towns.  Avoid major towns (bigger than 10k people) so that you avoid major traffic.  Use google maps to help plan the route as you can sometimes zoom down to see the road as if you are standing there.  This is useful in seeing the shoulder width.  If a road is squiggly, it most likely hilly unless following a creek or river.  Don't be afraid to ride a gravel road if need be (just have decent tires and go a little slower).

Go to;; etc. and see if routes exist in the area you are looking to ride.  View these routes with suspicion however as racer-types tend to not worry about traffic as much it seems.  If you like a route, click on the author's name and see if s/he has other routes to get a feel for their riding style.  These websites are really good for getting into and out of a bigger town/city.

Others have suggested CGOAB.  You can search journals (which can give a map) for a particular state.

Finally, ask for help here for a specific state and you will most likely get help or suggestions.  For instance, if you ask for the best route between LA & Vegas, I am sure you will get some decent suggestions from here and CGOAB.

The biggest problem I have been having recently is that a lot of the services (grocery, campgrounds, etc.) are drying up even in towns of 2,500 so supply stops are getting harder to find.

Overall, use common sense and stay away from bigger towns.  Hope this helps and enjoy the adventure!!

Gear Talk / Re: Considering New Handlebar Setup
« on: March 15, 2009, 10:53:29 pm »
Thanks driftless,

I understand and totally agree with what you are saying.  I have 30+ years of cycling but the ol body does not like the same position as much.  I have tried all the tricks earlier as you had suggested but that did not work as it was already pretty much dialed in.  Thanks for the thought though!

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