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Messages - John Nettles

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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.


Do you know the status of this and any updates?

Thanks, John

Gear Talk / Re: Mitts or Gloves for extreme cold
« on: January 27, 2010, 10:50:18 pm »
I agree with David as far as passing along the info.  Regarding recommendations, I like Manzella Ranch Hand gloves but be careful when removing so the lining doesn't come out and it is a pain to get back in.

General Discussion / Re: Bike tours for charity?
« on: January 27, 2010, 10:39:38 pm »
I am not trying to sound stingy but you don't have to make it a ride for charity/awareness obviously.  In some aspects, having to always solicit funds or hold meetings could definitely be a chore on a tour thus making the tour less enjoyable.

If you truly want to raise funds for some charity, as opposed to raising funds that pay for your trip and any excess goes to some charity, just think of your favorite charity or hobby.  For instance, if you were really into "widgets" or "widgeting", then you could ride to raise funds so that the young, old, poor, unwidgeted, etc. are able to go.  If you only raise $200 dollars for the widget charity, that is fine since the primary purpose was to enjoy the tour and any money raised would be more than they would have gotten anyway.

You could charge by the mile, a flat donation, by state, etc.  At 1,850 miles for the west coast at 1 cent per mile is only $18.50 per person; $92.50 for 5 cents, etc.

Just my two cents or $37 (can I have a receipt for taxes ;D ).

Gear Talk / Re: 3-4 person tent
« on: January 26, 2010, 11:38:48 am »
You might consider getting a 3-person tent for you and the better half along with a 2 person tent for the child.  I have traveled with my family on tours and I can say that, for me, I really like having multiple tents.  Sure it is more weight but sanity comes with a price.  Of course, the length of the trip may help determine how long you can endure crowded condition.

If you are stuck on a single tent, also consider some REI dome tents (quarter, half, etc.).  Relatively inexpensive and fairly well made.

General Discussion / Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« on: January 22, 2010, 02:58:36 pm »
See if does what you want.

Routes / Re: Pros/cons of which direction to ride GDMBR
« on: January 22, 2010, 12:42:53 am »
An extremely similar question was asked over in the General Questions forum.  Might want to check there.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: TransAm to ST going through Dallas W to E
« on: January 21, 2010, 09:34:14 pm »
Planning a trip starting on TransAm W-> E about as far as Kansas.  Then I need to drop south through Dallas and will hook up with the ST to continue on to Florida. 

Any suggestions on when to break off TransAm to head south?  How to enter Dallas?  How to go south from Dallas?

Thanks for the help.


Hey Don,

I have a route that goes from Navasota, TX to Girard, KS (both are connecting points for the ACA maps).  While you would not need it for Oklahoma or Kansas, you can catch it just SE of Dallas in Kaufman.  It is primarily on county roads or low-traffic count state highways.  Take it down to Navasota and connect to the ST there.  If this might help, email me at john at nettlesfamily period com and I will try to send you a map & cue sheet.

As far as getting into TX from OK, under no circumstances should you cross into TX on US-75.  It is basically a older mile-long bridge with no shoulder with lots of truck traffic.  Enter anywhere between there and Wichita Falls, TX.  Also, some maps do not show the road crossing the Red River south of Ringling, OK but it is there (OK-89).

Have a good tour!


Routes / Re: Texas and Eastern 1/2 of Souther Tier in Summer?
« on: January 21, 2010, 12:46:46 pm »
If you did well with the heat and humidity, you should be fine again.  It is definately doable just hot and humid.  I would encourage you to rise early and take a long lunch break if the heat/humidity becomes a problem.

What route are you taking from the TransAm to the So. Tier?

General Discussion / Re: BRAN - Bike Ride Across Nebraska
« on: January 21, 2010, 12:31:26 pm »

I have done both.  I did RAGBRAI way back in 1980 when it was "only" about 12,000 people and I did BRAN this past summer.  I have also done Oklahoma's FreeWheel several times, SAAGBRAW (Wisconsin) twice, and Ohio's GOBA once.

Of course, there is a party/zoo flavor to RAGBRAI compared to its much more sedate BRAN cousin.

While the scenery, roads, people, etc. are nice to great, we overall did not like BRAN as much as others.  This was primarily due to a couple of reasons important to us.  One thing was that everyone getting up at the un-holy time of 4:00am-4:30am  :o (I am not joking) so they can break camp, eat, etc. so they can be on the road before daylight.  I prefer to sleep until dawn but the zip zip zip ziiip ziiiiip zip ziiiiip ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip (this guy at least tried to be quiet) of the !@#$% tent zippers all around you is absurd.  One day I was literally the last guy out at 6:28am.

Additionally, this is a very fast ride.  I don't know how Nebraskans train in the winter but by June, they were strong.  On the vast majority of rides, I ride about average speed compared to others.  I am basing this on that I get passed by about the same number I pass and the camp seems about 1/2 empty when I typically leave.  It is a tad discouraging to others I ride with that we left at 5:00-5:30am (about the time everyone is departing it seems) and be passed by everyone expect we might pass 1 or 2.  I personally don't care but others get bummed by this.

Like other states ride, they have some days that are high mileage.  The difference is that almost every year has a mandatory (no optional loops) 100+ mile day.  I understand the reason is that in the central/northern plains, towns are spread out a bit more but requiring every rider to do a century is a little much.  This is probably why not very many families go as the little ones can't do a century.

Finally, while this is nothing they can actually control, the weather in early June in Nebraska can be quite varied.  This year, it rained and on some days the high was in the 50s.  Some years are hot and dry with headwinds and other years are just perfect.  Some might like the variability but we prefer it to be at least 70 for the high in June :) .  I would prefer it if they moved it later just 1 week as the average temp raises 2-3 degrees and the weather is more settled according to the locals.

Now that I have ranted on them, I will give the good side.  They are the least expensive of all the rides.  It was something like $125 for the week which included LOTS of free refreshment stops (4-6 per day with fruit, candy, etc.), sag service if you needed it; super friendliness (but what else is expected from people in the flyover country), short lines for showers, food, etc.  great town support overall, etc.  Dinners and such were all church-type functions and really good and plentiful.  Mostly inexpensive @ about $6 person.  Additionally, this is a fundraiser as compared to a money-maker for most other rides so that is nice.

As compared to RAGBRAI?  You are comparing grapes and watermelons.  On RAGBRAI, you can leave 15 hours before or after the ride and still see people on the road.  I understand the logistics have gotten a little crazy now but I can't do a fair comparison since I went in 1980.

How would I compare BRAN to the other rides?
BRAN:  Fast, long, great people, inexpensive, great SAG & food stops; not for slow or weak.
FreeWheel:  About 400 miles, follows prevailing winds and overall gently rolling hills, inexpensive, great people, so/so SAG stops, roads need work.
GOBA:  225-275 miles (without optional days), more upscale, can sleep indoors (HS gymnasium) tad pricey, has layover days, nice roads on overall gently rolling hills, more lines; probably would go again.
SAAGBRAW:  about 400 miles, scenic, great roads but can be hillier, expensive (much more commercial), can sleep indoors, nice weather, well ran but not as friendly; would do again.
RAGBRAI:  Lots and lots of people, food everywhere (unless you are at the end then good luck!), garden hoses for showers; somewhat inexpensive but can get pricey if you join a "support crew" that secures private camping, showers, etc. for you, good roads but can be hilly, good weather (maybe a tad warm), great experience; will do again, maybe.

Hope this helps.

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