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Messages - John Nettles

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Routes / Re: Late start to ST
« on: December 06, 2011, 04:38:55 pm »
I would echo what others have said in that if you are flexible on routing, you might consider a South to North route (Pacific Coast, UGRR, Atlantic Coast, Mississippi River Trail, Sierra Cascades, your own personal, etc.).  I have ridden South to North routes 4 times and they usually take 6-8 weeks with moderate mileage.

All of these are border to border but just shorter so not near as much balancing required.  Doing a road-based version of the Great Divide would also be doable and quite nice.  Being at altitude, you certainly would miss the heat and as you go further north, would get more daylight.

If you do a summertime ST, your body will get used to the heat, even the high 90s, but the humidity in the southeast would be a pain I would think.

No matter which route you choose, have a great time.

And thanks for your service to our country!

Routes / Re: TransAm East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« on: December 04, 2011, 03:25:32 pm »
I can say for sure pea-sized hail does indeed penetrate a tent fly as my BA Seedhouse 2 fly had six holes in it after my son left the tent up in the backyard after a "camp out".  Granted they were small holes (I patched with Tear Aid) but it did occur.  I have the older non-silconized nylon Seedhouse and I noticed that your link shows many sil-nylon tents so maybe they are stronger.  You know about gear better than I do so maybe you know.  Anyway,  am just giving an opinion based on my personal experience, not something I have heard.

As I have said before, go on the trip, just be prepared and know the signs, i.e. a greenish sky is much worse than a black cloud, and be sure to have a great time.

BTW, I really do hope you know the flying cows was a joke  ;D.

Routes / Re: TransAm East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« on: December 02, 2011, 11:49:08 pm »
I would say those people live in Kansas City, haven't lived there a long time, and/or can't see more than a block or two away due to development.

If you have lived in the Kansas countryside then there is a very high probability you will have seen and or been near one.  Kansas averages 55 tornadoes a year according to NOAA.  I am guessing about 25% of them are accompanied by hail with anything larger than pea-sized easily going thru a tent.  Golf ball size hail can shatter car windows and dent the heck out of cars.  Imagine what it can do to your body if caught out in it.

Pete, you have ridden the TransAm and know how wide open the Kansas countryside is and how you can see for miles in each direction so I think you may be a bit mistaken if you think most life-long Kansans have not seen a tornado at least once.  Heck, I have seen or been too close to one 4 times and I am in my late 40s.

However, as I said before it is not the tornadoes but the hail.  I live in this area and know what it can do.  It is not the gentle "severe" weather of the east coast (yes, I have lived there for 3 years and went thru some "storms".

I totally agree it is not a major factor but it is a factor nonetheless as there is a pretty good chance of being in a storm.  I also said before, I am not saying do not go.  Just be prepared for severe weather, know the signs, and be prepared to get to durable shelter if needed.  I am not trying to scare anyone, but make sure they know what they are getting into.  Think of this as the equivalent of knowing how to cook/store food in bear country.

Routes / Re: TransAm East to West 2012 Advice Sought
« on: December 02, 2011, 02:14:29 pm »
Depending on how fast you ride there is a very good chance you will in the middle of tornado season in Kansas and Missouri.  While you stand a pretty good chance of missing a tornado, they are usually accompanied by severe storms with major hail (1-1.5" is common) and tremendous rain/lightening.

I am not saying don't do it, but be educated and prepared.  Learn how to read the weather clouds, ask the locals, and bring a small AM radio.  A weather radio is nice but it can be a pain by warning you of everything.  With an AM radio, the broadcasts are much more specific, i.e "A tornado is down 16 miles SSE of Girard, KS and heading NE at 28mph.  The storm will hit the following towns:  McCune 4:24pm, Beulah 4:47pm,...."  They are pretty accurate but they do gt excited at times.

One great weather sign is that if the birds are flying/singing it is OK even if it looks bad.  If cows are flying, it is not good weather outside ;).  Serious about the birds though.

If a storm is on the way, take shelter.  Do not be embarrassed to ask at a farm house.  The people are very friendly in this part of the country, especially to the British and Australians (we love the accent!).  While you can miss a tornado by as little as a 1/10 of a mile and be fine, hail is much harder to miss.

Wishing you an enjoyable trip and that the twins are not early!

General Discussion / Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« on: December 01, 2011, 09:19:50 pm »
It is certainly doable to go self-contained.  I would like to strongly encourage you to do several multi-day trips before hand, perhaps a week-long trip over spring break.  I was 14 on my first "big" tour (1,000 miles) but had been on a couple of supported cross-state rides before then.  You don't mention if your son is a strong rider or an average rider.  The amount of gear you need is not that different no matter the size of the person.  I would assume your son would have a little more difficulty lugging 30 pounds of gear around compared to you.  Of course, a self-supported tour is easier to pedal but you loose a ton of freedom.

I would also strongly suggest you adhere to the rule "Each item must be at least double duty."  This means, you do not take an item if it can not be realistically used for two things, i.e.  your off bike shoes can be Crocs, i.e. you can walk around in them, shower in them, and use them as a "pillow".  Another example is that your rain jacket is your cool weather jacket.  Obviously, some critical items like a stove are rarely multi purpose, but try to keep the rule.  Otherwise, you end up shipping a ton of stuff home a couple of weeks into the ride.

Since you have all summer, IF both are strong riders, I would encourage you do to the TransAm.  It is easily doable during summer break.  I did it the summer after my junior HS year and loved it.  It is very educational, the scenery is great and changes often, and it has been around for over 35 years so the locals are used to cyclists.

Whatever trip you do, I wish you an enjoyable time!

Routes / Re: Florida Connector and a few questions
« on: November 30, 2011, 10:41:59 pm »
Welcome to ACA and cycle touring!

It would help if you gave a little more info, i.e. are you going northeast up to St. Augustine following the Florida Connector (FC) and then south on the Atlantic Coast (AC) route to Key West and you want info regarding camping or hotels, traffic, dogs, best beaches for seeing space aliens, etc.  Really vague questions tend not to answered.

A few years ago, my wife and I did the Key Largo to Key West portion of the AC, then took ferry to Ft. Myers then northeast on the FC.  We went in late March.  For us, it was unseasonably cool but luckily, no rain.  Depending on when the maps were last printed, I would highly encourage you to double check the addendum for the maps and still verify any required services, i.e. the motel in Metropolis is still open.  There were several times when motels or cafés were closed and not on the addendum.  This is very unusual for ACA to not have fairly accurate addendum but it was in our case.  I still recommend the maps.  We enjoyed the trip until I got ill and we had t bail in Wachula, FL.

Prices on the Keys are higher than on the mainland, maybe by 15%-20%.  My wife really enjoyed the Hemingway House in Key West (she loves cats).  I have done a modified AC route but it was way back in '87 so most info is not relevant anymore.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Connecting TransAm and L&C
« on: November 30, 2011, 05:15:41 pm »
IF you enjoy the Mickelson Trail and Katy Trail type riding, you might consider doing the entire Mickelson Trail route then dropping down and over to Valentine, NE and pick up the Cowboy Trail.  This will take you to Norfolk where you can then either continue due east to Onawa, IA to the L&C or, with less traffic, go up to Sioux City to the L&C.

If you have time, I too would suggest dipping down to the Tetons as they are quite nice.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Southern Tier to NYC
« on: November 30, 2011, 05:02:45 pm »
What time of year are you doing this? You will need to go a good job of balancing ST heat and TX/OK/KS spring storms.  You might following Route 66 loosely once you get to I-40 and around Tulsa connect up to Girard, KS and the ACA route.  You would have more services, more scenery variety, and less traffic.  I am in Oklahoma so if you need some help here, send me a private email.

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades Piedra route mystery.
« on: November 26, 2011, 11:29:24 am »
Disclaimer:  I live in Tulsa and only did my analysis using Google Maps so you get what you pay for  ;D

Since you provide only limited info to go on, if I had to guess, you would find the bridge at the GPS coordinates of 36.818823,-119.341822 .  Copy and paste the coordinates into Google Maps and see the satellite view.  It shows a narrow bridge that has closed (see the white barrier on the SE side of the bridge).  The road (Pine Flat Rd.) leads to what appears as a campground on the south side of Kings River SE of the bridge that crosses the river below the dam.  The bridge crosses Mill Creek which is a tributary of Kings River.  From your picture, the bridge doesn't appear to cross a river but a stream.

My guess is after the store, you went left and crossed over the river to the park for lunch then went east Elwood Rd to Pine Flat Rd (the one on the south side of the river).  It appears you should have taken the Pine Flat Rd on the north side of the river (via Trimmer Springs Rd) then crossed the river at the COE office.

If you think this is wrong (remember my disclaimer!), it would help if you could give more detailed info as to how you got there.  For instance, if leaving the park we turned right onto Piedra Rd. then left onto Elwood Rd.  The bridge we know was before "X" and after "Y".

Routes / Re: Milwaukee, WI to Jasper NP
« on: November 25, 2011, 02:08:33 pm »
Hello Lindsey,

The maps are wonderful.  They are geared specifically for cyclists showing all the info you need, i.e. where food, camping, elevation profile, turn by turn description, etc. are located.  I have used them for decades and rarely have a gripe with them.  Be sure to look at the addendum before/during your trek as small town stores close and open with regularity.

Hope you have a great trip!

Routes / Re: Southern tier
« on: November 25, 2011, 01:58:32 pm »
Depending on what direction you are headed, I would think you could handle the NT if going west bound.  There are a few noteworthy hills in New England then relatively flat until Glacier National Park in Montana.  From there, you get the typical western Rocky topography, i.e. long ups and downs.  If going westbound, you should be in pretty strong shape by then but you will have battled some headwinds during the trek.  I did this east bound and only thought western OR and Glacier were the more difficult areas.  Perhaps you could do a "warm up" tour on the San Juan Islands before heading east???

The TransAm is a great route (my favorite ACA route).  However, this route has more sections of noteworthy hills.  I personally think the Ozarks are harder than the Rockies since the hills tend to go over versus around the hills.  The Rockies are overall pretty steady slopes whether going up or down.  Then eastern KY/Western Va is at times a bit of a struggle.  The Rockies in Colorado really aren't that much trouble but the altitude might slow you down.

I have not done the Southern Tier (I plan on doing 1/3 this spring).  The entire eastern half (Austin, TX east) is flat.

I would suggest you look at several journals over on CrazyGuy to see what you think.  I would also suggest that if you did the Atlantic Coast route without difficulty, you would most likely be fine on any of the route IF you were in shape prior to starting.

No matter which route you choose, hope you have a great trip!

Routes / Re: Suitability mapping?
« on: November 07, 2011, 12:09:54 pm »
Hello Ginny,

If I had know you were going to be there, I would have attended.  None of the PR info mentioned you, just plugged Ron Haldemon again.

If eyes were opened, it would be great.  I met with them when OBC tried to get a grant for developing a US-66 route but they basically said we have no desire or intention of doing anything.  Again, this was the "bike coordinator" and his superior.  Nice people, just not interested in biking.  The same attitude occurred back in the early 80s when Freewheel was going strongly.  They had no desire to help.  The tourism people who helped to try to get the grant were great.  Just our DOT.  Hopefully, they will improve.

Senator Coburn is a love/hate relationship for me.  As a conservative, I like him.  As a biker, I do not.  I spoke to his offices a couple? months ago when he first proposed axing the Transportation Enhancements.  While they understood our (bikers) viewpoints, Sen. Coburn's is that we must cut "unneeded" spending.  Thankfully, his proposal got killed but I hear a different version is up now.  From what I hear, he is not running for re-election so that may be helpful for the biking community.  In either case, I will continue to work in any positive way I can to promote bike tourism, not just for Oklahoma but for all.

Thanks for all YOU do also.

Routes / Re: Cross Country Dream
« on: November 07, 2011, 09:01:23 am »
Thanks so much for the awesome feedback everyone! We are going to be leaving the last week in June and would actually have a 10 weeks to enjoy the ride.  The main thing motivating us to do the Western Express is this guys journal...
we would try to take a bunch of side trips to the parks like he did!
were just concerned that it would be too hot to enjoy and opinions?
Why not just ask Wayne directly.  Use the Guestbook section of the journal.  Wayne is a good guy and I would be surprised if he didn't answer your question.  Just be prepared for an answer you don't want to hear.

Routes / Re: Suitability mapping?
« on: November 06, 2011, 07:14:27 pm »
Heck, I would be happy if "Bicycle/pedestrian" components of projects would be "we put in 6" of shoulder for bicyclists".

In Oklahoma, we pay for our roads with a gas tax.  However, since our tax is one of the lowest in the nation (gas is now as low as $3.07 in parts of metro Tulsa compared to $3.43 nationally) our roads are not the best.  The vast majority of the state highways have no shoulders even if traffic counts are higher.  It is literally sometimes safer to ride a 4k/day AADT road with an 18" shoulder than a 2k/road with no shoulder.  A lot depends on the road, i.e. is it a bedroom-commuter road or just a regular rural highway.

Oklahoma has a lot of diverse scenery and cool historical/cultural places, especially Native American, but it can be a little frustrating at times riding here.  I guess that is why I am so frustrated since we have great stuff and hardly any support.

I will now end my rant :)

Routes / Re: Suitability mapping?
« on: November 06, 2011, 03:00:04 pm »

Oklahoma's Bike Coordinator is no longer, at least in any real capacity.  I have met in person with ODOT and they say they don't actually have someone who does anything anymore.  It may have been the actual "coordinator"  but was a couple of years ago so can't quite remember.  I am very well aware of the AADT maps and other resources.  My question was more about trying to force Oklahoma to actually DO something with the federal funds, especially if it is a mandate, or give up the funds.

I have created my own bicycle suitability map by color coordinating the traffic counts, etc.  I, and several others, have even offered to so all the work if they will just publish it.  Even the state tourism department agrees but until ODOT gets around to it (past 2 decades!), nothing is being done.  I am tired of us having crappy resources when, to me, it is so easily corrected.   That is why when a federal mandate was mentioned, I perked up since I thought maybe we could force them to do something.

As far as the OP is concerned, I tour extensively.  I do 2-5 tours multi-week tours every year.  I always go to the state's website looking for "bicycle map" or similar.  I then cross reference with county road maps (if available on-line) and of course, AADT maps, again if on-line.

For instance, I am currently planning multiple trips for next year, Tampa to New Orleans; Jackson, WY to Denver (via Grand Junction); Jackson to Phoenix, Jackson to Portland, Asheville to Baton Rouge, Boston to St. Johns, NF, and others.  I most likely will tour 5-8 weeks next year on mainly self-developed routes (I have literally hundreds).  So, yes, for me, these types of maps are critical.


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