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Messages - John Nettles

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Routes / Re: TransAm Summer 2017
« on: February 24, 2016, 02:21:50 pm »
Not trying to sound rude but are you asking a question, looking for companions, or ????

If this will be your first real tour, I STRONGLY encourage you to do this as a one-way trip.  A 125 much less a 146 mile per day average, while possible, would be nothing but rising early, riding until late, and sleeping.  As a teacher, I would guess you would want to stop and look at some of the history, sights, etc.  That would be difficult at 125 a day.

I would suggest you do the TA, then when you hit the Pacific Coast, head south along the PCR until time runs out.  This way, you are not beholden to HAVING to do 125 miles a day.

I once met a guy on tour who did exactly what you are proposing but it was the Northern Tier (which is easier than the TA).  He said he hated touring (I met him in Grand Forks, ND on his return portion of Seattle/Boston/Seattle tour) cause all he did was ride.  He was averaging 115 or 125/day (can't remember) and was in his late 20s so was pretty strong.

I encouraged him to slow down and smell the roses but he just wanted to get it over with.

Do your first trip the way it is meant to be, an exploration of the country, not a speed ride across it.

I'll get off my soapbox now.  Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy the ride!  John

Routes / Re: Canada to Mexico from mid february, which way?
« on: February 18, 2016, 10:44:47 am »
You wrote "I plan to take again the bicycle because I will not be able to go by foot at this time in trail...
I don't like to walk on asphalt road so I better time to ride bicycle again."

IF you want to walk, or more accurately hike, in the USA please consider the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) .  NOTE:  This is NOT the ACA Pacific Coast Bicycle Route.  The PCT trail goes from Canada to Mexico but is definitely not easy as just walking.

If you do want to ride, the ACA Pacific Coast Route is very nice and is pretty hard to get lost (ocean always on your left if heading south).  You could easily modify it by going along the coast in Washington if you do not prefer inland roads.  Also, a GPS does help with directions and ACA does offer GPS data for its routes.

Best, John

Routes / Re: question on section of Southern Tier in CA
« on: February 13, 2016, 08:09:54 am »
I do not know about CA-94 beyond Otay Lakes Rd.  However, I would definitely exit CA-94 as it really was not a pleasant ride. That bad section was only about 15-16 miles but it really was miserable.  It does include one noteworthy climb too which luckily had a shoulder.  I was really surprised as the research showed it "should" be OK but it was not.  Definitely wear bright clothing on that day.  Maybe we hit it on a bad day.

Routes / Re: question on section of Southern Tier in CA
« on: February 12, 2016, 10:24:51 pm »
Fine overall.  Typical city traffic.  Some streets have a parallel bike path that is NOT paved but is rideable.  Chula Vista was a little hilly (70 miles day for us as we came from Jacumba Hot Springs) but not bad at all.  The RV park on Otay Lakes Rd. does have cabins/trailers by the night if you need to stop there.   John

Routes / Re: question on section of Southern Tier in CA
« on: February 12, 2016, 07:13:48 pm »
That is actually the way we rode into SD.  While the section before the Tecate turnoff is fine and scenic, the section between Tecate and Otay Lakes Rd has significant traffic and in some places no shoulder.  Luckily, we were west bound with a serious downhill so we basically spread out about 1/4 mile apart and took the lane in several places as needed.  I definitely would not take this latter section eastbound as you would be into a miserable situation uphill, no shoulders, and traffic.  Honestly, I can not recommend this section unless you are NOT afraid of traffic and such.  It was a week day mid-afternoon and the drivers were not overly patient.  The traffic counts did not match the traffic.

We did not cross into Tecate but it should be a easy crossing both ways.  You would need a passport. 

The reason we did it is that we wanted to enter SD from Imperial Beach and ride along the path through Coronado (one of the riders used to live there).


Routes / Re: question on section of Southern Tier in CA
« on: February 11, 2016, 06:33:28 pm »
You may find you want the tour to continue!  Be sure you have the old maps as the new ones, I think, have the re-route around the tunnel near Superior which would then break off to the north at Miami, AZ.  Have a great trip!

Routes / Re: question on section of Southern Tier in CA
« on: February 11, 2016, 06:17:47 pm »
Other than that it is a bit boring, nothing bad with it.  I personally would rather ride I-8 to CA-98 over to Calexico then up as I personally do not like the freeway noise.  So where would you break off of the ST to get to Yuma?  Quartzsite?  Phoenix?  You could almost break off in Safford but US-191 between Safford & I-10 was a tad heavy on traffic.  Like you we had no camping gear and did do the Palo Verde to Brawley and it was a mildly tough day but doable.  Next day was a short day to El Centro so it was fine. 

Routes / Re: question on section of Southern Tier in CA
« on: February 11, 2016, 04:59:27 pm »
There is the "biker host" Palo Verde Blythe (which is south of Blythe.  This is a lady who rents bunk beds out of her trailer home.  The stay is about $25/person which includes dinner and breakfast.  She is a little unique and very nice.  The day from her home to Brawley is about 63 miles which includes about 1.5 miles of very sandy road (2 out of the 4 could not ride it) to her house.

Be sure to do this day on a non-holiday weekday as the RV traffic can be really bad otherwise and there is no shoulder.  Trucks are not very fun either on the weekday but I trust truck drivers to know where the sides of their vehicle is a little better than the guy pulling the RV/Dune buggy.

The terrain until the junction with Ogliby road is large rolling hills (you do work at times).  Between Ogilby Road and Glamis is downhill then a climb followed by descent oriented rollers.  After you cross the canal, it is flat until the climb after El Centro.  If you have a headwind, the day will be tough.  The Motel 6 in Blythe is pretty nice actually.

As a side note, if you like Mexican food, be sure to stop at Garcia's Mexican Restaurant at the intersection of Hobsonway & Main in Blythe.  Some of the best tasting Mexican food I have ever had and I love Mexican.  Huge portions too.

Routes / Re: Period to begin Great Divide Mountain Bike Road
« on: February 07, 2016, 04:14:17 pm »
Welcome to the ACA Forums.

I assume you are going north to south.  September 1st is a little late, especially if you are wanting optimal weather AND to go slow.  This is a good journal and a good summary of when to go:

You do not mention your speed or how slow is "ride slowly" but 90 days is more than enough (60 is typical).  Please note you do stand a chance of snow at the higher elevations since you are starting late so be prepared for waiting it out and/or rerouting to a lower elevation.  If you want to ride slowly I would start at least a month earlier.

Best wishes, John

Routes / Re: Options for crossing the plains from New Roads, LA to Taos, NM
« on: February 05, 2016, 09:49:36 am »
If you are interested in the New Orleans to Navasota and/or Brackettsville route discussed on your other posts, that is pretty easy and very flat.  It does get remote and has few services in places but nothing drastic.  If you feel you want that route, I can send you cue sheets and/or GPS waypoints.

Unlike litespeed, I have found Louisiana easy to ride in.  The routes I have used have been 95% NON ACA routes but the drivers were always nice.  In fact, when leaving NO and heading north toward Baton Rouge (west side of river), we kept waving the drivers around us as they would be happy to just sit behind us until it was REALLY clear.  Interestingly, the further north we got, the worse it got.  By the time we were back in Oklahoma, we had our "normal" impatient, slightly aggressive drivers.  All 4 of us on that tour agreed with that view.

I personally would not try to deal with going through the Dallas/FT Worth metroplex.  As always, in May, follow the local's lead in dealing with severe storms & a tornado.  The weather stations can make a gentle spring rain sound like Noah's Flood is coming.  If a tornado is around, they make it sound like you are better off just to kill yourself and get it over with as you are surely going to die in the tornado.  If the sky gets greenish however, take cover as hail is coming very soon.

If you take a "northern" route, the route between Mayhill, NM and Las Cruces is nice but does have a 8,600' pass which will be quite cool in May.  You might be able to camp at White Sands NM but you will have to push the bike off the road a ways.

If you take the "southern" route, I highly suggest you break off at Marathon and do the Big Bend area and then ride along the Rio Grande up to Presidio.  Note, there are a couple of very steep hills and you will need to keep an eye on supplies, especially water, but there are tons of Border Patrol trucks buzzing around so you can always request water from them.

Hope you enjoy your trip!  John

Routes / Re: Katy Trail riding conditions?
« on: January 23, 2016, 09:12:23 pm »
You might be OK.  The trail is compacted limestone screenings, AKA chat.  While the trail is packed for 99% of the time, you will come across occasional short stretches of a soft spot or such but you should be able to see them before you hit them.  I did a tour with 33mm tires and was fine with a moderate load.  I noticed that my speed was about 75% of my overall average and that I felt like I had worked about 25% extra.  If you are trying to maintain 16mph, you may have your work cut out for you due to the increased rolling resistance.


Routes / Re: Miami to St Augustine - Florida Connector or Atlantic Coast?
« on: January 21, 2016, 10:38:38 am »
Mr. Nettles is not required  :) .  John is fine.

You are not allowed to cross Lake Pontchartrain on a bicycle via the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (bridge going north & south) nor I-10 in Louisiana.  I personally would not use or recommend US-11 to cross the lake.  That leaves US-90.  When I rode it a couple of years ago it was not bad at all.  Due to the hurricane, a lot of the bridges and some roads were totally rebuilt.  Traffic was quiet but it was acceptable and it had 3+ foot shoulders if I remember correctly.  According to last years Louisiana Dept. of Transportation, US-90 had about 3,500 vehicles per day (AADT) east of the US-11/US-90 intersection.  Between there and to I-510, the traffic increased to about 6,200 AADT.  From there US-90 traffic very quickly but you turn off onto 1km later so it does not matter.  One word of caution is to NOT ride at night in this area as it is a bit economically depressed and did not appear to be the best of neighborhoods. 

I would also encourage you to not enter New Orleans on a Saturday or Sunday if possible as you may have more traffic as people take their boats and such to go fishing, etc.

Coming into New Orleans from the east is via the northside of New Orleans along the south side of Lake Pontchartrain.  On that trip there were three of us and no one had any issues with it.  The traffic west of New Orleans is heavier but uses a paved bike trail to get you out of the worst of it.  On a separate trip from New Orleans to Tulsa, OK, we did the portion from New Orleans to New Roads and it was fine.  Since you indicate you have extensive experience with city riding, I doubt you will have an issue with the route.

One thing to remember about US news reporting is that good news never sells so you typically only hear about the bad news.  Try reading a few journals over on CrazyGuyonaBike to see the various aspects of each route.

Best, John

Routes / Re: Miami to St Augustine - Florida Connector or Atlantic Coast?
« on: January 20, 2016, 11:37:24 am »
Is there a specific reason for not choosing the Florida Connector / Atlantic Coast route? You mention quite a few trails - better for biking? Nicer towns for overnight/camping? I can see the Atlantic Coast being very busy and congested in places. I don't mind cycling in traffic (I'm from Amsterdam and used to cycling in utter chaos) but I definitely don't want to be dumb about it and choose the best route possible.

Maybe cycling from Miami to Fort Meyers over land would give me a nice tour of the Everglades and also a little less miles? Would that be advisable?

I have 35 years of loaded touring experience and tens of thousands of miles.  With that you learn what you like.  Also, as I have said, I have already done the Florida Connector (FC) and parts of the Atlantic Coast (AC).  For the route listed above (which I did a few years ago), I did not want to overlap too much of the same routes I had previously done (except for the Keys which I enjoy).  I strive to balance services with lack of traffic.  The above route definitely is less on traffic than the AC and since I didn't want to go all the way to Jacksonville just to head west, I looked for a place to break off the FC.  However, from Panama City on, the route has equal or much more traffic than the ST, especially around the major metro areas. After a day or two past New Orleans, the traffic drops significantly.

Anyway, I had read a few journals on CrazyGuyonaBike that went along the coast and a few that did the ST.  While the ST seems to be a a fine route, I personally enjoy beaches so thought I would hig the coast and if I did not like it, I could break off and head to the ST.  Plus I wanted to see New Orleans.  Finally, I hate to double-back, i.e. New Roads, LA to New Orleans back to New Roads, so I just researched a route going from New Orleans to Bracketville.  As indicated before, there are numerous locations you can break off of either route and go to the other if that suits your needs.

I have ridden the route between Key West and Galveston but due to a family emergency of one of my touring partners, the ride ended there.  I have driven the route between Galveston & Bracketville howevere and it appears fine for touring.  Depending on your needs/desire (prefer Austin or San Antonio, going to Mexico/south, want to do a more "perimeter tour", etc.), there are a couple of options I have mapped out and/or ridden.  Just email me privately and we can discuss further.

Please note that you will need to do slight more hotels on my route compared to the ST due to development and a LOT of campgrounds do not allow tents.  Also, the costs are higher since you are in a high demand area.  I am blessed financially so that did not concern me but wanted to let you understand the ST is definitely cheaper.

Regarding the Everglades.  I rode between Naples and Miami way back in '87.  While OK, I would not do again if I could do another route and to me, if you have time and money, the Keys then ferry over to Fort Myers (or even Marco Island if you want more land miles) is MUCH more scenic and interesting.  I didn't even see one alligator  :( so maybe that is why I prefer the Keys.  Look at Google's streetview of the various portions of the section between Miami & Naples versus the Keys (especially southern Keys) and determine what best fits your needs/wants.

As a side note, you will have difficulty in places stealth camping in Florida and the Gulf Coast in general due to the swampy/tropical topography and/or development.  However, there are more WarmShowers available.

Finally, if/when you contact me privately, please note I travel sporadically about 3-4 months a year so if I don't answer right away that is why but will upon my return as I go through the 10,000 emails that have piled up.


Routes / Re: Miami to St Augustine - Florida Connector or Atlantic Coast?
« on: January 18, 2016, 11:51:14 am »
I have done the Connector, parts of the AC, and my own routes.  If I did it again and left Miami, I would head to Key West, ferry over to Fort Myers Beach, north on the Connector to Brooke Road (east of Fort Mead), north using back roads to Lake Alfred, west to the Teco/Van Fleet Trail, north to Bushnell (larger town for supplies), west to the Florida Trail in Nobleton, and north Bronson.

From there, you can continue north to High Springs and intersect the ST there OR you could go east along the coast to as far west as Surfside Beach, TX if you prefer beach and a lot for services (and a lot more traffic).  I have done both but since I love beaches, I prefer the coastal route.  If you do this, you could also head north and reconnect to the ST in several places (near St. Marks, Grayton Beach, Pensacola, etc.).

Also, if you prefer San Antonio over Austin, I have routes that break off the ST in La Grange and reconnect in Brackettville.

Regardless, I highly suggest the coastal section between Navarre, FL and Pensacola. Check out Google Streetview along the beach here to see what I mean.

If you want to do the coastal route AND have a GPS, contact me privately and I can send you cue sheets and GPS waypoints.

Regardless which route you choose, I wish you a great trip!

I have done extensive solo touring and touring with others, both small and large groups.  I prefer traveling with 1 other who is extremely compatible then solo touring then a distant third other groups.

By compatible, I mean we tend to have the same sleep patterns; similar riding strength, endurence, and abilities; same eating preferences; same lodging preferences; and same temperament/attitude.  If possible, I also like to have similar financial resources so that if one of us wants to get a motel, that doesn't cause stress.

Even when I ride with someone, I frequently ride by myself, especially if a hilly and or windy day.  To me, those are days when you really need to set your own pace.

Remember, being solo allows you a lot of freedom.  You do not give up much by going solo.

Sure there are places that just suck due to the conditions, isolation being one of them.  But if I know when it will end (300 more miles of wheat stubble in Kansas into a headwind), I can mentally do it.  Granted, I will bitch but I can do it.

In summary, I let the route be the primary deciding factor, not who goes with me if anyone nor the isolation.

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