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Messages - John Nettles

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Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Help I Need a Durango detour from 66
« on: April 23, 2017, 08:47:24 pm »
I'm from Tulsa.  We used to go to South Fork, CO every summer when the kids were young.  Pretty area.

You basically have two options, shorter or slightly more scenic.  For shortness, go up to Skiatook via the rail trail, continue to Bartlesville, then turn left and take US-60 until it runs into US-64 west of Pond Creek.  Take US-64 to Chama, NM, and take US-84 to Pagosa Springs, CO, and turn left onto US-160 to Durango.  Not much scenery unless you like WIDE open country.  Also, LONG stretches with no services.

The other option is to take the BR66 route to near Las Vegas, NM, the take NM-518 to US-64 in Taos.  Turn left onto US-64 and follow above into Durango.  Longer route, slightly more scenic.

I guess a third option (and one I would take if biking) is to head WNW up to the TransAm (I have a route if you need it) then take that to Pueblo then jump on the Western Express.  At Ridgeway, CO, turn south toward Durango.  You will have much more scenery but at the expense of some MAJOR pass (10k+ feet) and a longer route. 

I will be traveling in early June but if you would like some more detailed info, contact me privately.

Happy Trails and glad to see you back in the saddle!


Routes / Re: Transamerica route question
« on: March 22, 2017, 08:28:26 am »
Actually, there is no "right" amount of clothing.  I know people who tour ranging from people with 2 entire large panniers devoted to clothing to a one guy who basically only have 1 outfit (he rinses it out in the shower, and then bitches about walking around in wet clothes).  All of them, and all who post here, carry what they think is appropriate for them.

However, there is a lot of wisdom in what is being said.  On my first tour in the early 80s, I carried a pair of jeans also.  However, I was a young 17-year old who could sprint of hills with ease on a fully loaded bike.  Plus, I didn't know about nylon pants then.  I sure would not bring them now due to bulk and weight.  Plus I only wore them like 6 times in 84 days.  For me, I really try to get at least 2 uses out of everything if possible, i.e. my riding shorts are typically a khaki baggy style so I can wear around town and not have to carry too many sets of "street" clothes.  Again, this what works for me and I would not expect others to agree to my thinking on this.  Like others, I use zip-off nylon pants but they double as my swim trunks since it has a nylon mesh liner.

I personally hate to do laundry so carry 3 pair of riding shorts, 1-2 lightweight wool t-shirts (no, they are not hot plus they don't stink if not washed), 2 long-sleeve nylon shirts (I am very susceptible to skin cancer so typically ride in LS shirts), 1 pair of nylon zip off pants, 4 pair of socks, 2 underwear (usually wear twice since only wear a few hours a day), a pair of lightweight sneakers, and depending on the weather, a lightweight riding jacket.  I also carry leg warmers to keep my legs warm without another pair of riding pants if the temps might get cool.  Some think that is way too much, some think it is not enough.  For me, it is about right, but I agree is more than "average".  I typically get 4-6 days out of it before a laundromat visit depending on the mileage, weather, and if I can rinse my clothes out.

Another thing to consider is that the TA Route has a wide range of weather conditions. When I rode it in the 80s, I had 105 degrees near the OR/ID border to getting snowed on July 4th in Yellowstone with a high of 34 and lows into the upper 20s.  So some cool weather stuff is needed also.  However, you can always mail yourself stuff care of general delivery so you don't have to carry warmer clothes the entire way across the country.  Temps between the east coast and Pueblo, CO, will be similar.  Once you get into the mountains, it does cool off, especially at night and/or cloudy days.

In summary, bring what makes you happy (and can carry).  You can always mail it back home and/or buy more on the road.  Most of us have done that.

Enjoy the ride, John

Ahhh, that is why your ride was so tough.  I am a wimp and took the easy way!  ;D   John

I don't know what the section from Slater to Steamboat was like in 2012, but in 2015 it was extremely rough and rocky, especially the section near the top of the pass and a long section in the middle of the downhill that made me glad I was riding 3" tires. I suppose it's possible to ride that section on a tandem on 35mm tires, but IMO it would be a terrible idea.

Interesting.  The section between Slater and SBS along CR-129 was the same or better than what is shown on google streetview.  I was there in July so maybe they had recently graded it.  It was definitely able to be ridden (in the rain would not be fun) and definitely not rough and rocky (occasional patches of course but nothing major).  Maybe look at a few recent CGOAB journals to see if it has deteriorated? ???

Did you do the other route in this areai.e. go south from Slater then east along Forest Service roads or east then south along CR-129?

Routes / Re: Transcanada trail mapped?
« on: March 19, 2017, 09:39:32 am »
Yes, but verify with Streetview that place is actually grocery store (not just a convenience store), BICYCLE shop (not motorcycle), campground (not a mobile home park), etc.

While I love Google Maps for planning, I also get frustrated with the classifications sometime.

Best, John

Routes / Re: Transamerica route question
« on: March 18, 2017, 03:04:28 pm »
How many miles a day do you plan on averaging?  I would not plan on getting to Pueblo until June 1st at the earliest unless you want to wait out any late winter storms in the mountains and/or be cold at night.

I do have a tandem but have not ridden on gravel roads.  Also, I have ridden a single bike over regular gravel forest service roads with 37 tires with no issues.  However, I was not on a loaded tandem.  It "probably" is doabale but not necessarily advised, sort of like crossing the country on a "townie" bike.  But you already knew that or you would not be posting your question.

I do know the stretch between Lima and Island Park would be OK.  However, I would think the stretch between Warm River and Flagg Ranch would be tough due to the rough nature of the road (at least it was in ~2012.  Also, the stretch between Slater, CO, to Steamboat would be fine (I love the valley north of Steamboat). Can't help you between Bannack and Lima as I took the pavement and after Jackson, I rode between Alpine, WY and Kemmerer along Grey's River Rd and others (some of the best I have ridden) then over to Slater.  This would be doable for about 90% of the way but 10% was a little rough on a single bike (road "bouldery" and/or washed out in places for up ~1 mile at times so would definitely be tough on a tandem.

If I were you (on a tandem), I would ride between Lima over to Island Park, then up through Yellowstone, down to Jackson, down to Rock City (stop in Farson for some ice cream), interstate it over to Wamsutter (blah but easy & legal), then down to Steamboat.

Lastly, if you can continue further, the stretch between Steamboat and CO-134 is fine but I would definitely not do the stretch between CO-134 & New Trough Road on a loaded tandem with narrow tires as the downhill to the river is steep and narrow. 

Have an enjoyable trip.

Routes / Re: Best/easiest route from the Pacific to Michigan
« on: February 10, 2017, 03:49:22 pm »
It all depends on the route and how many miles you do a day.  For instance, you said "Michigan".  Is that northern, southern, entering northern going to southern, then going through Ontario vs the US, etc.?

Anyway, a good rule of thumb is an average is 55-60 miles per RIDING day.  Obviously, some only do 25 miles per day and other super-strong riders do 125 miles on average (and miss a lot).  Figure roughly 2,800 miles or about 51 days on the second option I showed.  The ACA routes page will break down the various routes and segments to be more exact.

If you are trying to do it during the summer break, I would definitely do east to west as the western mountains may still have cooler weather and/or a few mountain passes MAY still be closed with snow.  Plus you will be stronger for the longer climbs once you get there and then you can do any route you want.  If home-schooled, west to east is slightly better due to a slight tailwind favoring.  Regardless, I did my first TransAm route when I was 14.  I missed the first week of school and can tell you the experience was a LOT better than the first week of school.

Best, John

Routes / Re: Best/easiest route from the Pacific to Michigan
« on: February 10, 2017, 01:59:18 pm »
While I have not ridden the L&C between the ocean and Lewiston, ID, I have ridden the TA and the NT.  I "think" the L&C has less climbs until you get to Montana.  As Indyfabz mentioned, the NT has some serious climbs pretty early into the ride.  The TA has some also but they do not for a week or so.

If I were trying to have the "lowest" but best route, I would probably try the L&C to Missoula, then either 1) go to Glacier NP via Northern Parks then connect to the NT until you reconnect to the L&C    OR   2) connect to the TA until Waldren, CO,  then go "off route" toward Muscatine, IA, where you can reconnect with the NT.

Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa all have a wonderful bike map produced by the state.  The roads are typically low traffic counts.  The big drawback is that you have to do more work every day looking for camping places but honestly, being a woman with your son you should have little difficulty finding places.  Small town folk typically are very helpful for woman riders.  Not trying to sound sexist, just honest.

While the 2nd option would have higher elevation, you should be strong enough by then to tackle it.   Plus you get some better and more varied scenery.  Be sure to go to Jackson, WY, if you take this route.  However, option 1 definitely has less elevation.

I started touring when I was 14 years old.  I am now in my early 50s and have around 65k miles of touring.  Be warned, he may develop a lifelong addiction.

Best, John

Routes / Re: Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED
« on: February 03, 2017, 04:47:52 pm »
First word of advise is to get some STRONG wheels.  Since you are a "Clydesdale" rider AND you are adding gear, a standard set of wheels will most likely cause you trouble.  Unfortunately, good strong wheel are not cheap.  Look at 48 spoke wheels if you can find them.  Another option is to look at a recumbent trike.  Utah as a really good recumbent trike shop.  The three smaller wheels would not have to be modified to carry your weight.  Just some thoughts.

You might be able to find the wheels and the maps (and/or recumbent) on eBay.

Finally, consider taking a bus over to Phoenix (or any place further from home), so it is not as easy to bail after the first few days of hills.

Absolute worst case is just start riding around the neighborhood and go next year when you are in a little better shape and have the gear.

Best, John

Correct.  Again, I did it on a Sunday afternoon and all was quiet.  Don't know what it would be like on a week day and I would probably avoid rush-hour if possible. Enjoy the ride.

As a side note, I HIGHLY recommend going from Pensacola to Navarre along FL-399.  I'm actually surprised ACA did not take this route.  From there you can go north up to Milton and rejoin the ST or turn right and go along the coast.  Again, if you don't like traffic, the section between Navarre and east of Sandestin, FL and around Panama City is more miles, not smiles due to the traffic.  Also, DO NOT cross the bridge Tyndall AFB during rush hour and ESPECIALLY west bound Friday night at 5:00pm.  Normally semi-quiet, it was absolutely terrifying as a thousands of 20-somethings driving fast rush into Panama City to start the weekend partying. One of my top 3 worst ever experiences but again should be OK during non-rush hour times.

Best, John


The Paris Road bridge looks a little iffy with no shoulder and a pretty good climb up to the top with moderate traffic.  Have you ridden it and is it similar to what is shown on Google Maps in the Streetview mode?  I crossed the channel on a Sunday on Simmon Drive based on a local rider's suggestion (it was nice and quiet but it was a Sunday afternoon) but am always looking for better ways.  Thanks, John

I understand about the maps.  However, points Kansas and west are pretty easy to research.  Plus with the sag vehical, this frees him up a LOT since the sag can carry food, water, etc.  Look up the "average annual daily vehical" count maps in the various states and/or look at the various states' bike maps (not all have them though).  Also, you should allow a couple of days  for rest/buffer days in case his body requires a rest or the weather truly sucks.  Nothing spoils a trip like having to maintain a deadline.

Best, John

You don't say if you need to keep solely to an ACA route but I would guess not nor do you say how you are doing services (Food & Lodging).

Anyway, if I were attempting to do what he is doing, I would take the TransAm to near Ordway, CO then take CO-10 to Walsenburg.  Then US-160 to AZ-98 in Arizona.  Then US-89 in Page, AZ, to Kanab.  Then US-89A to AZ-389 St. George, UT.  Then up to Enterprise, UT and rejoin the Western Express to the end.

Remember that by the time he reaches Colorado, he should be strong enough to do any climb, especially unloaded.  However, he may (like me) have lung issues so elevation does factor in.  You should understand that having a day or two that has a big climb but with much less mileage does not add any days.  In other words, typically, taking a 200 mile route with a couple of big climbs is quicker than taking a 300 flatter route.  If he has lung issues, he can angle down toward US-64 from Walsenburg then take it through northern New Mexico. over to where it intersects with the above mentioned US-160.  This is lower but not nearly as scenic and has more traffic.

If you have extra days available, the ride from Mexican Hat, UT, to Kayenta, AZ, is wonderful through Monument Valley and so is the western Express through Utah.

Best, John


Numerous people have done it (check out CrazyGuyonaBike for some journals.  I did it (East>West) a few years ago.  However, I actually rode along or near the coast from Perry, FL to Galveston, TX.  Doing Galveston westward in early April.

The coastal route definitely has more traffic than the ACA route but was quite doable.  I road the west side of the Mississippi from NO to BR due to lower traffic counts and quieter roads.  In NO, be sure to cross the Inner Harbor Navigation Channel up next to Lake Pontchartrain as the other crossings would be suicidal.  There is a nice sidewalk/bike path along the beach in the Gulfport/Biloxi area also.

Lots of services once you are in Mississippi.   Be sure to check on campgrounds ahead of time as several do not accept tents (ACA should use it advocacy for that!).  Lots of hotels but most are not inexpensive.

Hope you have an enjoyable ride.  John

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