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Messages - John Nettles

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Routes / Re: Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail
« on: January 04, 2011, 04:12:12 pm »
Was thinking of cycling the Great Divide route from mid April until mid June taking it pretty easy with my wife on a hardtail MTB tandem with alfine 11 gears. Realise that there will be snow in parts and will hopefully bypass these by other forms of transport or roads if needs be. Does this sound practical.

Thanks for any advice


It depends on how much you tolerate the cold and how much you want to take other transport.  Numerous passes WILL be closed due to snow so it is doable with major rerouting on to highways, etc.  If you could start at least 4 weeks later and ride south to north, you would be in a much better situation but would probably still have some of the higher passes closed due to snow.

General Discussion / Re: Bike boxes
« on: January 03, 2011, 11:45:26 am »
If you can get to the main Amtrak station, they might have one of their boxes you can buy for $15(?).  They are great in that you only have to reverse pedals, turn handlebars, and lower seats.  You do not have to remove wheels, racks, etc.

Since San Diego is not a major station for Amtrak, they may not have boxes though.

General Discussion / Re: Across America: Beginning August
« on: January 03, 2011, 11:39:15 am »
I've already learned a lot just this last week. What I would really like to do is to go down the pacific coast line, and I will probably have to start from Minnesota, to save money on travel to one coast or the other.

I would highly suggest you go southbound if you do the Pacific Coast.  I had to do it northbound and would not recommend if you have a choice.  The headwinds get old after a while going northbound.

You could always take a bus to Bellingham, WA on the west coast for about $100.  Get on the bike and head down the coast, and turn left in San Diego and cross the country again on the Southern Tier.  Start August 15th and end 97 days later in St. Augustine, FL in late November based on 50 miles per day.  Then you double your ambition  ;D!

Congrats on working through your addiction and God Bless!

Have a great ride!

GPS Discussion / Re: Anyone using SPoT Tracker for Trips?
« on: January 03, 2011, 11:19:02 am »
I too have paid the additional money for the rescues service, which I had the unfortunate pleasure of using this past summer on my Atlantic Odyssey trip.

I just wanted to check to see if Spot or the Coast Guard charged you anything other than the yearly service agreement for this "rescue"?

Thanks and I thank you for the detailed account of what transpired.

General Discussion / Re: Why the low thread numbers?
« on: January 03, 2011, 10:46:44 am »
To me, it seems the ACA Forums are more ACA specific (duh) than the other cyclotourist forums.  There is nothing wrong with that.  I also subscribe to the Thorn Cycles Forum but it too has very low counts as it is mostly Thorn specific.

Also, a lot of the questions tend to be very very specific, i.e. "I need a route getting from the LA bike path to LAX", where the vast majority of readers are unable to provide a viable answer due to lack of local knowledge (even though some readers seem to respond to almost every thread even if their point adds nothing).  A lot of the majority of the remaining questions are repetitive ("what kind of gearing do I need", "when is the earliest/latest I can do the TransAm?", etc. )

These are not knocks on ACA but just shows it is doing what it is supposed to be, that is, be the site to go to for ACA specific info.

If you want lots of comments, start a thread about panniers vs. trailers, Rohloff vs. traditional, hammocks vs. tents, or some other topic which should have been flamed to dust by now  ;D.  How about a thread on a guy wanting to ride with a trailer, Rohloff, and a tent vs. a girl on a traditional pannier hammock setup?

All in all though, I too wish more people participated.

Routes / Re: Trans Am or Northern Tier from eastern Iowa heading west
« on: January 01, 2011, 01:41:08 pm »
Hi Wayne,

I have done the TA, NT, PC, & Katy Trail (among others).  I personally think the NT is not very scenic between Fargo to around the Red Wing area.  Since you have five months (you lucky dog!) to ride, I would probably ride to and do the entire Katy (end in Clinton, MO) and connect to the TransAm in Girard, KS.  Then ride to Missoula, MT and switch to Great Parks Route. Now you can take in the great scenery of Glacier National Park and do a loop counter-clock-wise to Waterton National Park (in Canada so you need a passport) to Roosville, MT.  After this, take the NT west to the end and then connect to the PC.  Got it?  ;D  This above route is roughly 5,500 miles which should very doable in 5 months with plenty of stops for sightseeing.

I can't help between the PC and Joshua Tree but be sure to ride thru the Big Sur area (fantastic!).  Maybe you could look into continue on to the end of the PC, ride over to the Sierra Cascades and up to closer to Joshua Tree?

Here is a link for a route that connects the Katy Trail to the TransAm in Girard.  I haven't ridden this in about 3.5 years and have had conflicting notes as to whether there are convenience stores (CS) still open between Nevada, MO and Arma, KS other than Liberal, MO.  If you want the GPS data for this route, email offline and I will get to you.

I really liked the variety of the TA route.  I loved the "Big Sky" of eastern Montana and especially northwestern Washington on the NT.  The coast is a classic also but definitely do it southbound.  I didn't and wouldn't recommend it.

Sounds like you are in for a heck of a great trip!

Routes / Re: Alternate Route Through Texas?
« on: December 18, 2010, 02:52:45 pm »
In order to avoid El Paso (which is tremendously safer then Juarez which the route does not pass through), you would have to go north through Artesia, NM and head west.  The problem is getting over the 8,500' mountain near Cloudcroft, NM. It is fairly steep and depending on the time of year, could very well be snowy.

If you are worried about "danger" in El Paso, you do know there is a ACA bypass route which bypasses El Paso by about 15 miles to the east?

If you choose to still go off route, check out the Texas county maps and traffic counts on-line.  Most of western Texas if pretty unpopulated and with the good shoulders Texas usually provides, you should be able to come up with something workable.

No matter what you choose, have an enjoyable trip!

If you will consider a non-ACA route, contact me privately for a 1010 mile route that goes from Girard, KS (on the TransAm) to Las Cruces, NM (on the Southern Tier).  To get to Girard, take the Northern Tier to the UGRR to the TransAm.  Once in Las Cruces, take the Southern Tier to San Diego.

General Discussion / Re: Hard times
« on: September 07, 2010, 11:57:01 am »
Only way it is helping us is positively (not trying to sound crass).  We keep getting great deals on travel (plane ticket to Europe for $600 RT ;D this past June), I am trying to come up with the specs for a custom frame/bike and the low Pound/Euro is only helping me, and less wait times for stuff we do order.

We tend to be financially conservative though (very little debt, pay cash for everything, 6-month emergency fund, "don't buy if we don't have the money" (something Congress really needs to understand), etc.) so this has not really effected/affected (never can understand that!) us that much.  We have solid jobs in solid industries but it would definitely curtain our spending if we lost our job(s) due to our conservative financial spending practices.  If either of us lost our jobs, luxury items such as travel would come to an abrupt halt until we were stabilized.

That said, as others have said, if you don't have committed expenses such as a mortgage, it is most likely cheaper to tour on a bike than it is to live in the rat race in a "typical life".  I can easily tour in the US for $15 per person/day ($450/person/month) if I cook my food.  Add a generous $300/month for other expenses such as equipment replacement, low-income health insurance (at least in OKLA), etc. and we could travel nicely for $1,500/month for the both of us.  While I would seriously consider touring until our job prospects improved if we both lost our jobs and did not have a mortgage, my better half would probably not enjoy camping for more than a few weeks :( so who knows what we would do.



Routes / Re: Rear Vier Mirror
« on: September 05, 2010, 12:27:42 am »
What I and my family use now is the "Beer-View" mirror which is made with a spoke or similar wire epoxied into a metal bottle cap with a mirror embedded down in it.  It may take 20 minutes to get it adjusted right to fit your glasses and get the angle right; but once it is adjusted, you won't have to adjust it again unless you get new glasses, sit on it, or something like that.

+1 for these mirrors.  Once you get them adjusted, leave it and forget it.  I strongly prefer eyeglass models as, to me, they vibrate much less than any other style, and you can easily turn your head to see what is behind you where ever it is located, i.e. is the !@#$% dog now behind you and to your right.

In 30+ years I have tried them all but only use the "beer view" now.  If you buy one, do not be tempted to get too large a mirror as the weight can cause it slide down if it is large (bigger than 3/4" square).

Take a look at the Kansas Bike Maps and the Nebraska Bike Map (which is a tad old).

The Nebraska map is heavily weighted in favor of shoulders.  For instance, if you look at NE-89 (right along the KS border east of McCook in SW Nebraska, the map shows it as "Fair Compatibility", i.e. low traffic but no shoulders.  However, this road gets an daily average vehicle count of less than 400!  By comparison, US-83 (same area but runs N-S) is marked as "High Compatibility" has a 3'-4' shoulder but has 1,800-2,500 average count.  My point is if you like a Fair Compatibility road (with no shoulder), it very well may be a quiet country road.  You can cross reference the NE bike map with the NE Traffic Flow map to decide for yourself which is better.

You should note that northern Kansas and Nebraska are not flat.  Lots of rolling hills.  There are also very few windbreaks so if there is a headwind or tailwind your average speed could greatly change, i.e. 7mph  :'( to 18mph  ;D (fully loaded).

Finally, I have a few routes in KS and NE I have used.  If you email me privately (john at nettlesfamily dot com), I can help you if you want.

Sounds like a good trip and I hope you have a great time!


You might try asking John Egan over on CrazyGuy when it comes back on-line.  John has traveled extensively in that part of the country (lives in WY).  One thing I see is that you could very easily have northern Rockies passes that are closed due to snow after October 1st.  He would know.

Sorry I can't help but I am positive John can.

General Discussion / Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« on: February 10, 2010, 09:12:20 am »

No one offers complete coverage everywhere, and so you are best to ignore the commercials.  Every region has local cell phone operators that give equal or better coverage than the national mega-telecom companies.

My highest recommendation is this:  bring the cell phone you already have, as it will work for 911 calls anywhere.  For all non-emergency calls, just ask a local.  99 times out of 100, people have been helpful and let me use their phone.

All phones will make 911 calls but only if the phone gets a signal.  I have been numerous places where I got absolutely no signal when someone standing beside me got a strong signal on a different carrier and vice versus.

Routes / Re: Favorite tours?
« on: February 07, 2010, 12:02:46 am »
In addition to numerous non-ACA routes, I have done the TransAm, Pacific Northern Tier, Atlantic Coast, Florida Connector, and Lake Erie routes.  I have done parts of: Lewis & Clark, Great Rivers, North Lakes, Tidewater Potomac, & Washington Parks.  Big "trails" include Katy and C&O.

Out of all these, the TransAm was my favorite but far.  Scenery changes every few weeks, varied geography & people, lots of fly-over country hospitality, less traffic, etc.  Overall, just a really great route.

On the "North America Bucket List":  Great Divide; ride to Prudhoe Bay, AK or Dempster Highway in Canada; the new Sierra Cascades route, southern Tier.  Of course, lots of non-ACA routes thrown in for good measure.

It's winter so keep dreaming but come spring start touring!

Routes / Re: Texas and Eastern 1/2 of Souther Tier in Summer?
« on: February 02, 2010, 05:35:23 pm »
Sorry for the delay in replying.  Are you wanting to break off the TransAm at a certain location, i.e. Pueblo, central KS, etc.?  I have several routes I can help you with if you want but most go from western KS (around Tribune) southeast toward St. Francisville, LA (on the Southern Tier) but can help you with a route thru western and central Oklahoma.  If that might be of interest, you can email me at john #at# nettlesfamily dot com.

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