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Messages - John Nettles

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196
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.

Thanks!

197
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.

198
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 Bikely.com; mapmyride.com; 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!!

199
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!

200
Gear Talk / Re: Considering New Handlebar Setup
« on: March 13, 2009, 02:28:59 am »
Sorry for late responses.  For some reason, I was not notified of them so I missed them.

Regarding Whittierider's question of my question.  Looking for someone with different experience.  I have been riding for over 30 years now and the 'ol body just doesn't like the same position it seems.  I have tried all the various tricks of saddle & stem adjustments but still get it occasionally.  Thanks for the thought though.

Regarding Mucknort (love the name!) question, I have just borrowed various club members recumbent for a ride or two so I can't remember the names very well.  Some were definitely entry level recumbents (EZ-Tour by Sun?) but some were mid-level.  No high end ones though.  I really wished I would like the feel of them as it seems that if you find one you like, you just love it....sort of like a Brooks leather seat.

I am currently trying the trekking bars on one bike and will basically have a different setup for each of my 4 (yes, I know that is a lot!) bikes so that may make the comparison easier.

Thanks for the updated responses!  I didn't remember I had asked this over a year ago.

201
We are going to try GOBA (bike ride around Ohio) in late June. http://www.goba.com/index.htm

We are taking 3 teens (two 16yo girls & one 15yo boy) as there are a couple of layover days which include an amusement park.  The scenery is not very good supposedly (according to the GOBA forums) and will be very flat.  However, like you, we are trying to get them interested in touring so don't want to make it too tough.

It is a lot cheaper @ $170 for adults & $85 for kids versus $495/$245.  The GHVP does sound like a really nice ride however.

202
Routes / Re: April Weather in Kansas
« on: March 13, 2009, 01:54:49 am »
I live in Oklahoma so we have our fair share of tornadoes.  I would personally be more concerned about the cold in Colorado/western Kansas and/or severe thunderstorms than a tornado.

Yes, if you get a direct hit by a tornado, you might as well say goodbye.  However, you can be within a few football fields of one and come through OK if you are low to the ground.

The weather forecasters in this part of the country are actually very accurate on storms and their locations.  Carry a small AM or weather radio and if it looks bad (if greenish/yellowish  skies and/or no animal/bird sounds be very alert) turn it on.  When storms are present, they usually give updates every 15 minutes or so.  If it is more than a couple of miles away and not on a direct path, no worries.  Most tornadoes and violent storms hit between 3:00pm to 8:00pm so if in town you will hear sirens if an alert is issued.

However, tornado's are usually, but not always, accompanied by very violent storms with up to 4 inches of rain in an hour; hail (marble to baseball size); and/or 70mph straight line winds.  If hail is forecast, keep an eye out for places to escape to (not much in Kansas though).  Locals are usually extremely friendly so don't hesitate going to someone's house if needed.

All this sounds scary but I would not hesitate cycling Kansas in May (prime time for severe weather).  The days can be absolutely wonderful with low 80s and everything green.  Just keep an eye on the sky.

203
Routes / Re: East to West
« on: March 04, 2009, 11:59:13 am »
....DO NOT USE GREYHOUND BUS....

I agree on Greyhound but some of the regional bus companies are quite nice.  Jefferson Lines in the central plains area are newer buses, nice personnel, pretty much on time, kick troublemakers off the bus, etc.  I have used them a few times with no problems unless during the harvest season when a TON of Mexicans seem to ride them to the various farming towns.  What is weird about that is that 20 will get off at a roadside stop and scatter in all directions LEAVING THEIR LUGGAGE for one guy who was already there to pick up.  So much for border security.  Anyway, some bus lines are nice but Greyhound does leave something to be desired.

204
Routes / Re: How much to save to do the TA
« on: March 04, 2009, 11:30:35 am »
Could you give more info on your touring and eating style, i.e commercial campgrounds (shower every night) to stealth camping; rice and beans to steak every night; cook lunch and dinner but breakfast in café; only drink water or you drink $4 coffee/beer twice a day; etc.

If you give a more specific question, i.e. how much does a beer, commercial campground cost, pound of ground beef, bread, etc. cost, that might be easily answered also so we can assist you more accurately.

205
General Discussion / Re: A Few Questions About the TransAm
« on: March 01, 2009, 12:38:12 am »
No one has mentioned the weather.  You can get tornadoes anytime of year but especially between mid-March to mid-June.  Also, the severe storms the central plains have are much more intense than those of the coasts (hurricanes excluded).  That said, the weather forecasting in this part of the country is actually pretty accurate and they can track tornadic storms pretty well and forecast where something will be hit within a mile or two.  The thing about tornadoes are you are safe unless within 1/4 mile of one.

I used to storm chase when younger and have seen EXTENSIVE damage but also just a block away, absolutely nothing wrong.  Bring a small (pack of cards size) radio (does not need to a weather radio) and listen to the forecast.  If it is going to be bad, get a motel or head away from it (harder with dog if you can only travel 20 miles max per day).  I have never heard of a touring cyclist killed by a tornado, but I have seen a bike struck by lightening before (awesome, scared the !@#$ out of us), and leaves a little weld mark).

Use reasonable common sense and you should be fine.

206
Routes / Re: I'm looking for a route . . .
« on: March 01, 2009, 12:12:03 am »
I definitely agree with Valygrl.  That said, I once met two retired ladies touring in Idaho.  One had ridden her whole life.  The other bought the bike & gear two weeks before the start, rode it around the block to see how the gears/brakes worked, and shipped it off to Oregon.  I met them about 3 weeks into their ride.  The "experienced" one was sore for a day or two (you are ALWAYS sore for the first day or two) but the other said the first two weeks were Hell.  However, they just took it easy, rode low miles, and after three weeks, had mostly caught up in strength to her buddy.

I have trained before and left somewhat cold-turkey.  It is sort of like money (training) and happiness (riding the tour).  You can be happy without money but it is a lot easier if you have it.

207
Routes / Re: Great Parks Tour or Great Divide -- late season start?
« on: March 01, 2009, 12:04:57 am »
Over on Crazy Guy on A Bike, there are a few rockies experts.  You might consider asking over there.  I have not been on the GDR yet, but from what I hear, you will definitely get some washboard.  Whether or not, certain sections are worse or worse at certain times of the year, I can not tell you.  Remember that if you do the GDR, you will probably not make as much distance per day as when on the road.

208
Gear Talk / Re: Should I get a new bike?
« on: February 28, 2009, 11:59:20 pm »
If you enjoy it, keep riding it.  You can always buy new parts.  I assume the frame is steel due to the rust but that too will most likely last for another decade.  I personally would keep it.  As matter of fact, I recently built up a "frankenbike" for rail trail and more gravel/dirt road touring.  The frame is a steel Trek MB-1 which I think (but not sure) is a late 80s/early 90s bike.  A lot of the newer bikes (road & MTB) are not that good for touring unless specifically built for touring.  I have 3 bikes and 1 tandem and they are all older (mid 80s to late 90s), steel touring-oriented bikes.

If you do buy a new one, there are several touring specific bikes out there that use 26" MTB type wheel ranging in price from $1,000 to $7,000 depending on how custom you want to get.  I would definitely sell your old bike frame instead of trashing it as there are people who definitely want something like what you have.

209
Read http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=3UY0x&doc_id=2126&v=2e0 if interested on someone riding long distances solo while on a trike.

If you pay my way, I will be happy to go along and guide  ;D .

If you are concerned about your ability, try solo shorter rides until you build the confidence/skills up.  If you want companionship, look for companions on the various sites.  If you don't want to carry your gear (can't blame you), you can sometimes find private groups that have a private sag also by asking around on the various bike sites. 

210
Routes / Re: Perimeter Tour
« on: February 28, 2009, 10:49:20 pm »
I have completed 3/4 of a perimeter (San Diego to Vancouver to Portland, ME (via original northern tier), to Key West.  It took me about 3 1/2 months but my mileage averaged 83 per day overall which is a tad high and would not recommend.  The big thing is to factor in weather.

I started from San Diego on a spur of the moment thing on July 4th so I hit the northeast with winter storms coming soon and arrived in Key West on November 12 with about 8,900 miles.  If I would have headed west, it probably would have been too late for NM, AZ.

If doing again, I would probably give a serious look at the weather in the Rockies (when does snow come/leave) and work from there.  I was not as concerned about the northeast as once I headed south, it gets warm pretty quick.

Hope this helps!

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