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Messages - John Nettles

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Routes / Re: Transam Motels around Jeffrey City, Wy?
« on: November 14, 2013, 06:54:10 pm »
Unless they have added something the past 18 months, there are hardly any businesses there at all.  If you require indoor lodging, you could head south to Rock Springs from Jackson and then over to Rawlins on I-80.  Yes, it is blah scenery along I-80 but you would have multiple options for indoor accommodations (and camping).  Plus there are a couple of places to get some really big ice cream cones.  Basically, you trade nicer scenery and less traffic for a lot more services.

Routes / Re: Money and access
« on: November 11, 2013, 01:38:03 pm »
Almost all food supply stores (convenience stores, groceries stores, etc.) accept credit/debit cards.  Some hostels do.  All motels do.  Almost any town over a 500 people should have a bank and/or ATM.  However, small stores in the middle of nowhere may not, especially if they do not sell gasoline.

I did part of the GD this past summer and basically carried about $100-150 in cash at all times and resupplied on cash when I came across a bigger town or an ATM.  Had no issues.

Routes / Re: Best way to build a route from scratch?
« on: October 26, 2013, 12:17:41 pm »
That basically boils down to time and desire.  If you have the time and have the curiousity, sure do as many miles as possible.  The primary advantages of the ACA maps are that the cyclotourist info has already been researched (and done well typically) so there is little left to chance.  This is a huge advantage.  The campgrounds, grocery stores, cue sheet, etc. are already done and the route has been ridden by others so you know the roads do not dead-end.  You will know there is a campground 12 miles up the road which is really nice since a lot of campgrounds are closed or no longer accept tents.  Be sure to check out the addendums before starting a new map.  Also, check out the journals on (website for cyclotourists) to get a feel for any of the routes. ACA maps are well worth the money.

The big drawback to pre-planned routes are just that, they are preplanned.  You lose a ton of "adventure of what's around the bend".  For me, that is big.  If you need to go off-route from a organized route, you may not have done the research to know to avoid Highway X in favor of Highway Y.  You may not realize the largest ball of twine is only 10 miles off-route and, assuming you are a twine ball enthusiast, that could be the miss of a lifetime.  I am sick in that I actually enjoy creating routes and riding them some day.  I have routed over 500 individual routes (though have only ridden about 40%) around the country so obviously I do not fear going off route  ;).  Heck, pay me 2 cents a mile & I'll do a route for you  ;D.  Most of the routes are short, i.e. 50 miles or less, and connect to other routes, either mine or some organized route or road.  Think of a spider web, not massive trails though some do connect lots of short routes into 1,000+ mile routes, i.e. Alexander, KS (TransAm) to De Funiak Springs, FL (Southern Tier) or Brownsville, TX to Winnipeg.

A major drawback to creating routes is that I tend to remove a lot of the surprises during the research.  I already know what is ahead and like I indicated above, I enjoy wondering what's ahead.

Personally, if a map exists I will use it but will just as easily create my own segments if a map doesn't exist where I want to go.  For instance, I  have a created a few routes to supplement organized routes/roads for a "fall colors" ride I hope to do in a couple of years going from Montreal, QB to Burlington (mine) to Albany, NY (ACA/mine) to Erie, PA (Erie Canal, mine, & ACA) to Pittsburg (ACA) to Sheperdstown, WY (GAP) to Front Royal, VA (mine) to past Asheville (BRP) to Statesboro (mine) to Jacksonville (ACA).  Even though the above routes lean more toward organized routes, I typically do about 75% custom.  I have been touring for over 35 years so I have done most of the organized routes so either have to repeat or do my own now.

I rarely use a topo map as you can learn to "read" the topography of a map if you have some basic knowledge of the area.  For instance, a squiggly road that follows a river is typically a gentle climb (or as gentle as the river falls).  However, a squiggly line not following a river has a good chance that it is going up and over a ridge or pass.  Occasionally, areas like the Ozarks throw you off as they just pave a straight road up and down cliffs it seems.  You can also use Google satellite and streetview to get an idea if you really need to.  However, coming from the west coast, anything thrown at you by GA will be doable.  Also, do not be afraid to ride some gravel if needed.  It isn't bad at all.

Again, have a great ride!

Routes / Re: Best way to build a route from scratch?
« on: October 25, 2013, 10:34:32 pm »
I would probably work my way over to Asheville, NC then take the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Front Royal, VA the connect to the Atlantic Coast Route in Washington (via the great paved W&OD rail trail) then head north toward NY.  If you prefer the ACA routes, go from Atlanta to Charleston, SC and connect with the Atlantic Coast Route there.

From around the PA/NY border, break off and head north toward Ithaca.  When I rode the Northern Tier, it actually went through Ithaca I think but that was in the 80s and ACA keep altering the routes a little to keep them viable.  If you don't mind riding on crushed gravel/chat/stone dust, you could break off at Poughkeepsie and head toward Albany and connect with the Erie Canalway Trail (very rideable on touring tires) then break off that around Weedsport and head south to Ithaca.

For each state you are doing your own route, check the state's department of transportation for a state bicycle map, traffic count maps, and county maps.  You can use Google to see if any bike routes exist but take those with a heavy dose of salt.  Try to go to streetview and see what the road/trail is like.  I try to stay on roads with less than 2,000 vehicles per day (prefer 1,000) but that may a bit difficult in the east.  You typically give up flatter roads, possibly shoulders, and more services for much less traffic and more scenery and "character".  New York has a pretty good site.

Due to the heavy traffic in the east coast corridor and the amount of research required to create a safe route, I would strongly consider following the Atlantic Coast Route IF you want to visit the major cities.  Otherwise, swing west from Front Royal through western MD and central PA on your own route.

Whatever you choose, have a great ride!

Routes / Re: Ride across Nebraska route advice
« on: October 22, 2013, 11:32:36 am »
Try reviewing these Department of Transportation sites for Nebraska and Kansas.  You may have difficulty with accommodations only due to the lack of population thus the lack of services.  However, you may be doing high mileage??? so can adjust the mileage accordingly.


Enjoy the ride!

Routes / Re: south Carolina to Florida,Florida to new Orleans
« on: October 11, 2013, 09:22:42 am »
Need more info such as when do you plan to ride, where to in Florida (Jacksonville, Key West, and/or Tallahassee), do you want to ride along the coast, inland, etc. 

Classifieds / Re: Thorn Nomad touring bike
« on: October 03, 2013, 07:57:10 pm »

I too have the exact model you have except I have a dyno front hub.  I have had no issues at all.  You might consider selling on as there are a lot of adventure cyclotourist on there, probably more than here.  Its free too.

I just wish you had sold yours about a year ago when I paid almost $1,000 more.  You price is very nice.  Best wishes, John

General Discussion / Re: Map updates - GDMBR
« on: September 18, 2013, 07:49:23 pm »
Somewhere back in the cobwebs of my mind, I believe they are bringing out the updated book and the map this winter.  However, even if they do not, using the current book and/or maps will get you 90% of any altered route and then you will only have to deal with the up to 10% change.

One thing to consider is to look at alternate routes.    For instance, you are so close to Glacier National Park, it would be a shame not to ride Going to the Sun Highway, even if it is an up and back two day diversion.  You could also start in Jasper and take in the Icefields Highway (great!).  If you do not want to do the Great Basin, you could ride south from Jackson, WY to Kemmerer along Grays River Road/Little Fall Creek Rd. then a paved stretch to Rock Springs before beginning a deserted stretch of CR-4 in Colorado to Slater where you reconnect.  The point is do some research on alternatives that YOU find interesting/enjoyable.  The GDMBR will have plenty of research so you can make a decision as to what route YOU want to take in 2015.

Whatever you do, enjoy the ride!

Routes / Re: Going To The Sun Road...after 4 PM
« on: June 20, 2013, 01:14:12 pm »
I am coming from the north via Many Glacier near Babb (but starting in Jasper) heading over toward Eureka via Polebridge.  This is a "scenery tour" that is part-off pavement, lots of National Parks/Forests, remote gravel roads along clear rivers, etc. ending up in Spokane after about 5 weeks.  I will have gone over Logan Pass (westbound) but from memory when I did it eastbound back in 1987, the west side of the pass is much more scenic.  On this trip, I have a strong feeling I will be coasting down the west side at 25mph, looking out for cars, rocks, etc. and forget to see the scenery. If I get my fill of scenery (doubtful) or the weather is to be nasty, I will just head out and not reclimb the pass in the morning.

Routes / Re: Going To The Sun Road...after 4 PM
« on: June 20, 2013, 12:40:09 pm »
What sucks is that you can not ride either direction between Apgar and Sprague between 11am & 4pm.  I will be there arrive around July 20th (westbound) and then planned to do the climb eastbound unloaded on the morning of the 21st then back to camp, load up and head out westbound.  Unfortunately, can't head out until 4pm as I seriously doubt I will be able to climb, return, load up, and arrive in Apgar before 11am.

I really wish they had a path or gravel road or something to get around the Apgar to Sprague CG restrictions.

Anyway, best wishes!

Routes / Re: Going To The Sun Road...after 4 PM
« on: June 20, 2013, 10:11:13 am »
Just to clarify, the restriction is only between Sprague and Logan Pass east bound.  You are allowed to ride west bound on any part of the road at anytime.  You can go east bound from Logan Pass at anytime.  If you wanted to depart east bound Sprague CG after 4:00pm, I would think it would not be too bad as the vast majority of the traffic will have lessened as everyone is back in camp, heading home, etc.  The NPS must think it is OK/safe/not impede traffic to ride east bound up the road after 4pm so I would say go for it.  The pros are warmer (it can get quite cold at the top, especially coming down), the sun will be lighting up a lot of the mountains behind you so not in your eyes, and you can sleep in.  Cons are probably more traffic and the warm may be a pain heading uphill.

Be sure to report back for future inquiries!

Happy Trails!

Congrats on your journey.  I would start by heading down to Bar Harbor, Maine.

From there, if you want to see NYC, Washington, etc., I would recommend you use the ACA Atlantic Coast route.  Since the east coast is so densely populated, finding a decent route is a chore and they have done the work for you.  Once in Washington, you can take the W&OD rail trail out toward the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway (if you do not mind climbs).  This will eventually intersect with the TransAm near Roanoke, Virginia.  Or you can stay on the Atlantic Coast route until it intersects the TransAm in Fredericksburg, VA.

If you want to bypass the east coast, you could head over on the Northern Tier route through scenic New Hampshire and Vermont and angle down to Niagara Falls where you could pick up the Underground Railroad route.  This route heads southwest and bisects the TransAm in Kentucky.  This would save you some time as it is less miles plus less "big city" stops for sightseeing.

If you are a member of ACA, you can download all the GPS waypoints so you do not HAVE to buy the maps but they are really good maps.  If you buy the maps, it probably makes sense to join as it is not too expensive.  However, they do not show where to wild camp.  I would think after 4 years though you would be an expert on that  ;).

The USA is really weak on hostels.  They are mainly on the east and west coast with a few scattered elsewhere.  They are definitely more of bonus than the usual type of accommodation.  You are much better off with using WarmShowers as there are a LOT more of those than hostels.  As you get into the center part of the country, many small towns along the TransAm will allow cyclists to pitch their tent for free.  Once you get west of into the Colorado (or points west), there is a lot of public land (Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), etc. which you can legally camp on usually.

Finally, check out  for a ton of journals and such.  Very good site for the touring cyclist.

Best wishes, John

Routes / Re: Gravel roads leading into the TramsAM Teton Spur?
« on: April 09, 2013, 01:00:29 pm »
You do not need to take the Wilson Road (part gravel but quite rideable) since they now have a paved separate bike path from near Jenny Lake to Jackson.  The spur along Wilson is more scenic but the other is quite nice also.

Routes / Re: Avoiding Yellowstone
« on: April 03, 2013, 10:03:25 am »
You do not say what, if any, parameters you need.  I “assume” you want to avoid gravel and you are self-contained.  If so, consider continuing south on US-93 (from junction with MT-43 on TransAm Route) to Arco.  A remote way would be to take ID-28 from Salmon to ID-33 then points east.

Then take ID-33 east (via Rexburg, Sugar City, Tetonia, Driggs, Victor, Wilson, WY to Jackson.  Take US-191 from Jackson to Rock Springs.

From Rock Springs you can take Interstate 80 (blah, but legal) with its services east to Rawlins, WY and reconnect with the Great Parks South Route.

Or for a much more remote experience, from Rock Springs take WY-430 south to Hiawatha Road to Baggs, WY to Craig, CO (really really remote) OR take WY-430 south to CO-318 then east to Craig, CO (just really remote) and then continue east to Steamboat Springs and reconnect there.

If you go via Rawlins, I highly recommend a detour from Saratoga, WY to Centennial along WY-130 then south on WY-11 to Fox Creek Road (8 miles of decent gravel road) to Woods Landing/WY-230.  Go south to junction with CO-125 where you reconnect with various ACA routes.

Enjoy the ride!

Routes / Re: Northern Route oil and gas activity
« on: March 14, 2013, 01:09:07 pm »
ACA recently redid the route to avoid the gas activity.  However, it is mainly along the interstate (blah!).  Be sure you have the most current map and you will be fine.

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