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Messages - John Nettles

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61
Routes / Re: Route Advise Needed: Across Idaho
« on: May 04, 2012, 10:27:44 am »
While I have not ridden the somewhat rough rail trail, supposedly it does go to West Yellowstone.  Looking at the satellite view on Google, you can see the "trail" roughly parallels NF-478/South Fork Road, a gravel road.  The trail has several soft sandy areas (due to ATVs) which make riding difficult on a mountain bike so a road bike would probably be extremely difficult to impossible to ride.  In addition, the trail might have some bridges missing  >:( forcing a turn around.  If you do not mind gravel roads, then NF-478 would work.  It eventually connects with the trail but again the trail might not be as easy as a gravel road.  Note that this route is slower than the paved route.

For a paved alternative, you might consider taking the ID-47/Mesa Falls Scenic Byway (all paved) south of Island Park, ID to Warm River to Ashton.  Another alternative is to take Big Springs Loop/Fish Creek Road/NF-82 north and east of Island Park to Warm River but 17 miles of it are gravel.  Obviously, you could stick on US-20 also.

While you did not ask for this, I will suggest to you anyway  ;D.  From Yellowstone Park, you really should dip down to Grand Teton NP and Jackson, WY.  The Tetons are fantastic!  Be sure to take Teton Park Road via Jenny Lake to Moose.  Then from Moose, take US-191 south to Sagebrush Rd. and then Spring Gulch Rd. into Jackson.  Take obligatory photo of antlers then take WY-22/ID-33 to Victor, Driggs, Tetonia, and into Rexburg.  Lots of great scenery.

Lastly, if you want to head south from West Thumb in Yellowstone, you can take the gravel Flagg Ranch-Ashton road to Ashton.  It is the ACA Great Divide route.

Decisions, Decisions.  Almost as much fun as actually riding the route.

62
Routes / Re: Route Advise Needed: Across Idaho
« on: May 03, 2012, 12:30:30 pm »
For my cross county ride this summer, I need advise on crossing Idaho into Oregon.  Im looking at riding 20 thru Yellowstone.  Riding A2 into Dubois, 22 to Arco, 20 to Interstate 84, where I would work my way up to Boise (67 and 78) and catch 26 across Oregon. 
Is anyone familiar with these roads.  Are they reasonable, or would I be better off catching the ACA route up to Missoula and back down?  Thanks.

Those roads would work if you are primarily and only seeking speed.

For scenery, I would suggest you take the rail trail from Island Park, ID to Ashton, ID (via Warm River), and work my way via county roads to Rexburg.  From there, take ID-33 to Arco, then US-93 to Challis, then ID-75 to Stanley.  From there, take ID-21 to Banks, down to Horseshoe Bend, over to Ontario, MT via ID-52 and county roads.

Then take US-26 to the ACA TransAm where it hits it near Bates.

Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy the ride!

63
Routes / Re: Possible Route Change...need help!
« on: May 01, 2012, 02:31:56 pm »
The question is a bit ambiguous  :) since quickest and best are not always compatible.  If you mean getting to Astoria, just take the Pacific Coast down to Astoria.  If you mean, how would I connect to the TransAm that is different.  If that, I would take the NT over to Glacier NP then down on the Great Parks route to Missoula then connect there to the TransAm.  The scenery is fantastic.  If you wanted to connect sooner, I would still take the NT to Idaho border then work my way down to Kooskia and join the TransAm there.

I have done both the TransAm and the NT and think WA-20 is one of my all time favorite routes.  However, the Lochsa river between Kooskia and Lolo, MT is also in the rides.  But so is Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier.

Those answers assume you meant your were riding.  If you meant traveling by train or something, I will not be able to give you a knowledgeable answer.

64
Routes / Re: TransAmerica from DC, but I need to go east first.
« on: April 25, 2012, 12:56:34 am »
A quick search on Hertz.com (rental car) shows a one way rental from the Washington Hilton HLE (pretty close to Chevy Chase) to Newport News (close to Yorktown) is about $180 (less if you have a discount code of some type) for a smaller-sized SUV like a Toyota Rav4.  You can get by as little as $133 for a mid-sized sedan like a Toyota Corolla.   I frequently use one-way rentals getting to/from a trip as the cost for a bus/plane/train ticket plus the cost of bringing the gear is usually only about 10%-15% than renting.

My point is depending on how much you want to do an "official" coast to and save time, this might be a compromise for you.  It would take about 4 hours to drive there.

Can your friend in Chevy Chase just take you there if you pay the gas?  That would be best.

Anyway, these are just some thoughts and no matter what option you pick, I hope you have a great trip.

65
Routes / Re: Spokane - Missoula - Spokane Loop
« on: March 29, 2012, 11:43:00 am »
Wow, it is $10 for a day pass to ride this short rail trail!  Is the trail that nice?

I hope to be doing some off-road touring this summer in the Clearwater and Boise National Forests so I thought of doing the trail.  I probably will but gotta admit, the $10 seems awfully steep for the length.  Heck, I could buy a new 400 mile ACA map for that  ;D!

66
Routes / Re: NT vs NT+Lakes
« on: December 26, 2011, 12:24:24 am »
Then it narrows down the choice between woodlands and blueberries (northern Wisconsin and Michigan/Ontario) and farmlands and corn (traditional NT) assuming time is not an issue.  I personally preferred (slightly) the traditional route but I slightly prefer farmlands over heavy forests and I also thought the people in Indiana and Illinois countryside were much friendlier.

Both sections are nice routes.  You can always come back to Minneapolis and do the section you didn't do earlier (that's what I did).

67
Routes / Re: Is the NT a traffic nightmare?
« on: December 26, 2011, 12:17:31 am »
John,

I have done both routes.  However, both were in the 80s so take that into consideration.  At that time, both routes had similar amounts of traffic, hazards, etc.

I really do not remember any major area of concern compared to the TA other than Glacier NP had some heavy traffic but it was quite doable as the traffic speed was fairly low.  I also dipped directly through Minneapolis/St. Paul so that obviously was busier but I planned it accordingly, i.e. rode into town in early afternoon and out of town on a Sunday.  The traffic for a 20 mile radius around Cleveland (at that time it went thru Cleveland) was heavier also.

ACA does a pretty good job of staying off overly busy roads.  Sometimes there are just no alternatives.  Also, it may be partially due to today's litigious society we live in.

All in all, I would say if you handled the TransAm without difficultly, you should most likely be able to handle the NT.  After all, you have crossed the country before so give yourself some credit :).

68
Routes / Re: NT vs NT+Lakes
« on: December 26, 2011, 12:08:36 am »
I have done both routes.  I did the short Lakes route via Manitowoc/Ludington ferry.  To me, the factors are: the amount of time you have, time of year/temperature (Lakes is cooler), whether you have a passport (required now), etc.  Both have similar terrain, i.e. hilly in Wisconsin and flat in the rest.  Ontario had some hills as you dipped down to the valley to cross a river but was otherwise flat.

I would also say that while you have similar terrain, the traditional NT has more of it, i.e. longer farming sections, as it is just a longer route.

You might also consider the brand new "Detroit Alternative" to the UGRR if you want to do Michigan but don't want to pay for the passport ($110+).

69
Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Southern Tier to NYC
« on: December 22, 2011, 08:20:45 pm »
You questions are a bit vague, i.e. are you leaving San Diego, Safford, or Las Cruces in early September?  How far east on US-60/US-380 are you talking?  What kind of mileage due you do/are you capable of per day.  Are you camping, motels, cooking, cafés, etc.??   Do you ride every day or take days off every other day?

If you are leaving San Diego about September 1st and do typical mileage, you will end up in Las Cruces about September 17th.  It will be very hot in places, i.e. the AVERAGE high temp for Phoenix is 102 on September 10th.  Once you gain altitude it cools off pretty quickly, i.e. Silver City's average on Sept 17th is the mid/upper 80s.  Still warm but not near as bad as 100+.  Getting from there to Tulsa via Alamogordo, Roswell, Clovis, Amarillo, Route 66 (loosely), to Tulsa is about 860 based on a route I developed a few years ago thinking about a similar trip.  That would put you into Tulsa about October 1st.  Assuming you connect up in Girard, KS on the TransAm and stay on until the Blue Ridge Parkway, you are adding approximately 1,500 miles or 27 days.  To get to NYC, add 400 miles or 8 days which is arriving in early to mid-November.  If you are comfortable with the weather, that is quite doable.

You should note that between Roswell and Portales, NM there is not too much other than a conv store.  If you are camping and willing to eat cold food for a few days (assuming you are eating out), again it is doable.  There are services between Las Cruces and Roswell fairly evenly spaced, and from Clovis eastward.  This is based on camping not motels.  Once you get to Oklahoma, even motels will be doable but you may have to ride short or long days which could alter the dates/times above.

If you can give as much detailed info as possibly, the community could help you better.

70
Routes / Re: Lewis & Clark
« on: December 20, 2011, 12:15:53 am »
The "backdoor" of Theodore Roosevelt N.P. (North Unit) is a great option if you are willing to do 10 miles of dirt roads.  (From ND 68 eastbound stay straight onto county road 7 miles; turn right/south 4 miles on paved county road; then left 3 miles with zigs to park) It's easier to find heading east to west than vice versa.  Also the gate is usually locked - which means lifting your bike over - usually easier to remove panniers, first.  Most importantly, you better have a map and know your directions - esp. in hot or cold weather.

Could you be a little more specific to the directions, i.e. the starting and ending intersections or towns?  I was looking on Google and MapQuest and couldn't find the paved CR that is 7 miles east of anywhere on ND-68.  I was thinking you meant east on MT-23, south on Bennie Pierre Road/CR-202 which becomes CR-38 in ND, weaving thru the park and coming out near Grassy Butte, ND but couldn't be sure as at no point was "my" route on ND-68.

Thanks, John


71
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!

72
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.

73
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.

74
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!

75
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!

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