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Messages - John Nettles

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You might check out and search through the thousands of journals.  Someone probably has done it or come close.  Tailwinds, John

General Discussion / Re: Max speed unavoidable critter crashes?
« on: October 19, 2020, 10:14:01 am »
Under your parameters, I give very very little chance.  There is a reason why news stories, photos, and videos of a cyclist hitting a bear or other large animal (or vice versa) attract so much attention is because it just doesn't happen that often.  Yes, it can, but probably along the lines of hitting the lottery.

That said, I have several small creatures encounters in my 40+ years of touring, two birds, a few snakes, and two frogs that I can remember.  The birds and frogs both flew or jumped into my spokes; all times when I was riding close to high weeds alongside the road.  One frog was during a fast downhill and it splattered over my legs; not fun.  The others went round a few times and then fell out dead.  The snakes were just accidentally ridden over.

My biggest fear about flying down a hill is having one of the tires deflate suddenly which would cause loss of control.  I have personally known 1 amateur racer killed that way (way back in 70s but he rolled a glued on sew up tire) and one severely injured (90s due to a blowout).  Imagine going even just 25mph downhill and then having the front tire blow.  You would probably survive but have a lot of rash for sure; the real reason racers shave is so the bandages do not stick to the rash after a crash.

Sorry to give you something else to worry about  ;) . Tailwinds, John

General Discussion / Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
« on: October 18, 2020, 07:12:33 pm »
I don't much about physics but I tour with a heavier guy who carries a $hitload of stuff. He carries 4 panniers, HB bag, & a rack pack for just an overnighter. On some mutliweek trips, he has been known to take that plus a trailer with gear on it.

Anyway, on decent downhills, he can out coast me fairly easily regardless how tight I tuck. 

The time I almost made 50mph, I was young, very strong, skinny, had only 2 rear panniers (about the same as front panniers now so somewhat narrow), with my foam mattress on the rack and a HB.  It was a massive downhill and I had a pretty strong tailwind.

That said, my "usual" top downhill speeds over the past 5 years or so are between 35 to 40mph, rarely over 40 but it does happen about once per week on average.  I am a bit reckless on downhill corners due to my really old racing days and can tuck pretty narrow and low which helps quite a bit. I typically tuck my knees together under the top tube and bend my elbows in as much as possible while keeping a flat back. 

All you need is a steep downhill, smooth road, fast tires (I use Marathon Supreme usually),  a tailwind, and be too stupid to have a fear of corners since it always seems the fastest downhills have lots of curves.

Tailwinds, John
P.S. My fastest ever speed was when I was young and racing.  We would go out occasionally into the countryside and draft behind one of the other racers who had a van.  He rigged it so the rear doors would stay open and mounted a piece of plywood as a cover or top over the rear doors so it created a 3-sided "cave" which created one heck of a "vacuum".  It would suck you right along with little effort (for a young racer) until about 40mph.  We would switch the chainring and freewheel (old Regina) to a 58/13 combo and spin like crazy.  That is one good thing about riding on true rollers is that you get very good at doing a smooth cadence.  Anyway, my top speed then was 54mph which was fairly foolish considering I was probably about 3"-6" from his rear bumper.  Some of the older racers (I was a teen) could top 60mph but they were truly nuts as they looked like a gerbil on a wheel they were spinning so fast.  One thing is you got super hot as there is barely any wind and you are working pretty hard.  However it is fun to just cruise along at 40mph. 

General Discussion / Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
« on: October 15, 2020, 11:43:37 am »
There are a lot more photos going uphill than down.
Totally agree.  Who wants to stop on a great downhill.  About the only place I have done that with any significance is on the western side of Going to the Sun Highway.
Tailwinds, John

General Discussion / Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
« on: October 11, 2020, 10:26:25 pm »
In 40+ years my fastest touring speeds was 49.9mph.  Ticked that I could not get it to 50mph.  I think it was in Idaho but not positive as it was back in the 90s.  My slowest average RIDING speed was less than 5 but I only rode a couple miles in traffic in the Washington DC area from a hotel to a hostel so that may not count.

Check out the

This is a non-ACA rail trail heavy route from Washington, DC to Walden, CO, at which you can connect to ACA's TransAm Route (not the TransAm route you are referencing). Granted there are so heavier traffic sections in Indiana and Illinois that I personally would re-route but it is a pretty good compromise while maximizing rail trails.

Both routes you reference are little used by bicyclists.  The non-ACA TransAm is geared for motorcyclists so you would need to really review the map for services plus the terrain is not nearly as gentle as the Eastern Express Route mentioned above.

Tailwinds, John

Gear Talk / Re: Drivetrain spare parts for a long tour
« on: September 26, 2020, 08:51:43 am »
"In my reality covid doesn't exist so I don't care too much about it."   

Well bless your heart.  Just remember the world doesn't revolve around your reality as much as the government's and society's reality so if they prevent you from entering their country because of their reality, then you will have to adjust your reality since regardless of whether you believe covid is real, most of the world does.

If you contact those riders who were/are on a world-wide tour as I previously mentioned, ask them if covid has influenced their reality to ride.  Many had to abandon their tours due to being forced to either stay in isolation (like everyone else) or return home.

Gear Talk / Re: Drivetrain spares for a long tour
« on: September 25, 2020, 09:35:47 pm »
Welcome to the ACA Forums!  It looks like you have quite the adventure coming!

I would think the chains should last 3000-4000km assuming you take care of them.  If not, estimate 2000-3000km.  Typically the cassettes are switched about every 2 to 4 times the chain is switched, again depending on how well you maintain the chain.  While the chain ring may have a lot of "teeth" left, the wear from the chain will cause it to start to not mesh right.  The rest of your equipment is fine.

If I were doing this, I would consider a few things.  First is your route fairly set in stone?  If so, consider writing a WarmShowers host and see if you can mail them a package and have them hold it for you.  Better yet, ask them if their local bike shop can get the parts.  I would think so.  They may not be shimano but they should work. I would think the chains would be easily available.  Also, the same holds true for tires.  Again, they may not be top of the line Schwalbe tires but you should be able to get something that works.

A final suggestion is to check out a couple of other places for this information as ACA is more US-centric.  Ask over on (CGOAB) as it is much more worldwide than ACA or any of the several Facebook "world wide bike tourists" groups. Some FB pages are not as good as others so do your research.  CGOAB has lots of journals.  You can post questions to the authors of journals that are similar to what you are doing to see what they suggest.

Hope you have a wonderful trip! Tailwinds, John

Routes / Re: route 66 and southern tier
« on: September 18, 2020, 08:09:46 pm »
I would suggest you check out as it has an excellent climate database.  Check various spots along the route so you decide if it is best for YOU as others may have a significantly different tolerance for cool weather and miles per day (which you do not indicate).

That said, I would probably do the Southern Tier (west>east) at that time as I personally do not like cool weather.  Or even maybe Chicago to Sullivan, MO, along BR66 then south to the Southern Tier along the Great Rivers Route (GRR).  From St Francisville, you can decide if you want to head east (warmer) or west (longer) to the coast.

If you feel comfortable riding off-route you could go directly to, say Cave-in-Rock, IL, to access the GRR to save some miles.

Tailwinds, John

General Discussion / Re: Pacific Coast Canada to Mexico
« on: September 16, 2020, 03:43:47 pm »
First, welcome to the ACA Forums. 

The answer is it depends.  A lot of the campgrounds (and some stores) may be closed due to Covid, the fires, or the end of the season. The weather is a little cool but OK.  Check out for a really good climate almanac to see if the climate is fine for you.

On the plus side, you should have a tailwind and less traffic.

Hope you have a great ride if you decide to go.

Tailwinds, John

General Discussion / Re: Photography
« on: September 15, 2020, 12:12:00 pm »
While know nothing about them, you got me interested in them.  A couple of questions for you.  Did you mean you want to permanently install a mount on the bars or what?  I could not tell if the grip has a camera thread socket.  Also, specifically what Osmo product are you look at (link would be nice)?  All the Osmo products seem to be for handheld use.  I definitely would not want to use the Osmo DJI OM4 as I would worry that the phone would come loose if I unexpectedly hit a bump or pot hole.  Anyway, thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Tailwinds, John

Routes / Re: Route around the Great Lakes
« on: September 12, 2020, 10:28:04 am »
Welcome to the ACA Forums and I am glad you enjoyed the ride!  Curious, how was the traffic between Marinette and Escanaba?  I have heard other reports it was not that enjoyable.  And how was your last day in regards to traffic?

Tailwinds, John 

General Discussion / Re: Touring Alaska going south
« on: September 10, 2020, 06:07:20 pm »
A few have done it.  Obviously, since there are fewer trike tourists in general it won't be as many.  I would think it would not be that much different than the lower 48.  If you would feel comfortable in similar terrain, less services, etc., I would say go for it.

Search the journals over on and you will see several journals.  There is even one if I remember correctly of a woman who rode from Florida to Alaska and back or something.

Tailwinds, John


Have you ridden this or are you asking about it or are you presenting it?  I am from Oklahoma and would probably not use several parts of the route in NE OK due to traffic, the road conditions and/or topography on certain road, or lack of services.  It is a scenic route however. 

If you are asking about a route, I have a route that goes from Brownsville, TX (on border with Mexico) to Winnipeg that I did several years ago.  Primarily on low-traffic count roads with services.  I call it the "Tailwind Express" since you have a very good chance of a tailwind for most of the route.  The big negative is that you have a somewhat tight window to do it in unless you like the high temps of deep south Texas.

Tailwinds, John

General Discussion / Re: Cycling across the US (east to west)
« on: September 03, 2020, 02:34:45 pm »
I wish you a successful trip!  For routes, head out on the W&OD trail to Purcellville then work your way over to the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway to the TransAm route.  Take it as far west until you need to drop south.

Tailwinds, John

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