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Messages - John Nettles

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Routes / Re: Route across North America
« on: January 20, 2018, 10:15:19 am »
I would actually be more worried about the Tiajuana to Baja Sur border along Highway 1 than the mainland.  Yes, I would avoid talk of drugs, immigration/law/legal,politics, etc. in smaller areas, especially up in northern departments (states) along the border.  If asked, say something like "I really don't care about those issues" or some other laid-back attitude but I have very rarely been asked.

Highway 5 (enter at Mexicali) is much more quiet and very remote in places and does have a long stretch (about 30 miles) that is rough road and/or sandy.  However, that was a few years ago and the road is/was being paved so it may be finished by now.  Read a bunch of journals over on CrazyGuyonaBike and see what it shows and if it is for you.  You can also ask the journal author questions via their guestbook page for more specifics/clarity.

I personally feel safe in central mainland Mexico than the coastal areas with a lot less traffic.  We have visited Mexico and C. America 2-4 times a year for decades.  Avoid the big cities (lots of traffic & pollution).  Hotels are quite cheap if you are not looking for a "American" type hotel.  A clean, basic hotel can be $20 or less but expect no services and/or amenities.  Hotels that are more upscale (think an older but nice Holiday Inn) is around $40-60.  Free camping (ask permission if possible as they almost always say yes) is almost always available in the countryside.

A good road map is the "Guia Rojo Por las Carreteras de Mexico" atlas. It is a coiled binder atlas so not super small, but shows most roads except for truly local roads.  Costs about US$10 in Mexico (at a lot of larger Petro or OXXO stations) but is about $30 in the US. Almost any village will have something available for sale at a tienda (small convenience store) but it may be just "snacks" like chips, cokes, etc.  Obviously, the larger the town, the more services.  Just ask around.

Best, John

Routes / Re: Route across North America
« on: January 20, 2018, 08:42:38 am »
Since your request is so out of the ordinary, please provide as much specific info about yourself as possible, i.e. is this hotel only, camping only, cooking/eating out, miles per day you ride, any time constraints (must be done by X date), what kind of gear & bike you have, etc. 

However, without that info, I will say that most routes (with detours due to winter closed passes) are possible if you are willing to get hotels when needed (12" of snow on an ordinary tent will collapse the tent and break the poles most likely), sometimes staying at same hotel for days at time as you wait for the roads/pass to clear.  You would also need to have the appropriate riding clothes for cold, wet weather, and if camping, have true 4-season camping gear based on the coldest areas you expect to encounter.  Expect to go slow overall due to increased time off the bike waiting out storms, etc.  Obviously, you will be cold.  A lot of services will be closed, especially out west.

Suggest you check out for weather averages anywhere in the world.  Remember, to look carefully at the temperature bands (normal, extreme, etc.) and precipitation info.  Riding in 35*F wet weather would not be fun to me.  Doable, yes.  Enjoyable, no. Why ride if you are not enjoying it if you do not have to.

Honestly, I would suggest you go to S. America (or at least Mexico). They have some beautiful routes there and other than the cost getting to/from S. America, it is relatively inexpensive.  Another option is to head slowly north from Key West towards Bar Harbor, ME, then into Canada to the NE if you want to "cross the country".  The final option I would suggest is to go from Key West counter-clockwise along the Gulf Coast to Brownsville, TX.  Definitely more traffic between Panama City, FL, to around Corpus Christi, TX, (rest can have fairly quiet back roads) but also a lot warmer and more services.

Best, John

General Discussion / Re: Experience with Bikes on Greyhound Bus
« on: January 19, 2018, 09:28:43 pm »
Yes they do take bike boxes for a small fee, I think ~$20.  However, getting a bike box in remote places might be a problem.  Also, you might look into 1-way rentals (including U-Haul) to see if that is an option if Greyhound is not.

Routes / Re: tucson to moab
« on: January 17, 2018, 06:30:01 pm »
Hey Jeff,

Welcome to ACA Forums.  You will most likely getting a much more applicable answer if you review this link and then come back here and update your post.  Best, John

General Discussion / Re: Tourist stickers
« on: January 15, 2018, 08:10:48 pm »
I would try eBay or maybe contact the area's Visitor's Bureau.  The problem is finding one that is small enough to fit on a bike.  I would guess a regular "luggage size" sticker would be too big.

I do something similar to you in that I buy a mini-flag (kind you wave at a parade) of the state, province, country, etc. I ride through. That way when I am sitting at home during the cold winter, I can remember past rides as I look at the flags in my office.  Typically only cost a couple of dollars each.

Best, John

Honestly, in 40 years of touring, I have never needed a chain whip while touring.  However, I always start a tour longer than a month with a fresh chain or belt.  For tours less than a month, I review the chain or belt and make an educated guess if it will last for the tour.  If I replace it, I keep the used one (assuming it has life in it), for use in the future.  Assuming you maintain your bike well, you should not have an issue.  At the first sign of something not right (weird feel, sound, look, etc.), deal with it.  Do not ignore it.  You do this, and you will almost be able to at minimum get to a bike shop before it totally craps out.

Best, John

Pat made all the valid points to consider.  Only thing I would add is could you change your departure date to say early September and if not could you reverse your route to reduce the time in the heat a little bit.  If you are fixed on your departure date, the southern portion will be quite warm.  The 50-70 miles per day is reasonable by itself.  It is the heat that makes it so you have to ride very early (before dawn) and end by 11am max.  Then you have to find a place to hang out until night.  Not always easy in very rural areas where the only "public" place might be a convenience store.

Check out for weather averages (temp, wind, rain, clouds, etc.) for anywhere in the world.  Best, John

Gear Talk / Re: This Platform Pedals looks great for Bicycle Touring..
« on: January 01, 2018, 11:22:56 pm »
Due to bad knees, I use Speedplay Frogs since they have a ton of motion range.  Downside is the cleats are outrageously expensive @ $35/pair and only last about 2,500 miles of touring.  John

General Discussion / Re: USA immigration
« on: December 31, 2017, 12:19:39 pm »
As an American, I am not overly familiar with the immigrant rules.  However, here are a couple of thoughts. 

If you can afford it, buy a fully refundable one-way ticket (LAX>LHR for instance) so once you are in the USA, you can cancel your ticket and get a full refund.  Then just buy the real return ticket like you had planned. I guess you could also book to Mexico which would be MUCH cheaper (LAX>MEX is ~US$600 for a fully refundable ticket on Alaska Airlines for 10/30/18) but then it would not be on a UK carrier so a little bit of a hassle there.  I would assume you could pick another date if that is cheaper.

If that does not work, post this question over at as they have a much more international audience who can probably answer the question.

A final thought is consider purchasing a cheap ticket that can be wasted, i.e. it currently costs about US$82 to book a flight from LAX to Vancouver, BC on 10/31/18.  You could show this as your onward ticket and then just waste it or maybe not as they do have cheap flights to the UK out of Vancouver.

Have a great trip!  John

Gear Talk / Re: Search for the perfect touring bike mirror
« on: December 30, 2017, 01:23:36 pm »
No mirror is going to be perfect as the bike/rider are always having slight "bumps" causing the mirror to slightly (or violently) vibrate.  I see you have the same helmet mirror I use.  While it is ugly, I have found it to be by far the best helmet mirror out there.  I would try it again for a least 4-5 rides and maybe then you will get used to it.  I personally will not ride without a helmet mirror and even carry an older traditional eyeglass mirror as a spare in case the helmet mirror breaks.

Hope you find what you are looking for!  John

Gear Talk / Re: Should bicycle helmets be retired after a certain age?
« on: December 29, 2017, 11:32:04 pm »
First question:  I have "heard" that helmets should be replaced after about 2-3 years use as the styrofoam hardens and reduces the "cushioning" effect in a crash.  My question is what is 2-3 years "use"?  If I go on a 90-day tour where I ride an average of 6 hours a day that is probably probably almost 2 years typical use right there compared to a 3-hour ride, twice a week for a year.

Since my wife is a safety freak, she insists I replace mine every two years.  I have noticed that twice I have dropped my helmet from waist high and it has cracked the shell and styrofoam. Even though it gets periodically dropped over the helmet's 2 year life (typically when putting on or taking off the handlebar after during a stop), both times they cracked in the latter part of its second year.

You might contact Bell, Giro, etc. and ask them????

Can't help with the second question.  John

Routes / Re: From Sea to Shining Sea.... 2018
« on: December 29, 2017, 10:46:04 am »
Welcome to the ACA Forums!

Yes, it will be quite hot in August.  It is not just AZ & NM but also Oklahoma, Arkansas, & Tennessee.  In Oklahoma City (you would most likely pass through), the average high is 93F.  It is very common for the temps to hit 100+ in August.  Plus the humidity is in the 50%-60% typically so not pleasant.

The average high temps in late October in Rhode Island (RI) is around 55 with lows around the high-30s.  Again, averages so it can vary by 10 degrees.  A little cold for me but you are from the UK  ;) so it may be OK.

If possible, I would consider leaving RI and head west.  That way the weather would be better overall.

Check out Weather Spark for a good overview of weather data:

Hope you enjoy the US and I wish you a pleasant trip!  John

Routes / Re: Cross-country US entirely via US 83
« on: December 28, 2017, 08:17:34 am »
I know of Howard but have never met him.  Tulsa's cycling community has really fragmented over the past 5 years or so.  We used to work together on coordinating rides/events but now it seems every group does there own thing.  I tend to hang with "Train for 2 days before a 1,500 mile tour Bike Club" here in Tulsa. Not too many members. Work and other commitments keep me from more active riding but at least about 4-5 of us tour a couple of times a year for a week or so and I usually do a longer tour also (up to 3 additional months).

As far as leaving Laredo, you really do not have many choices but at least it is pretty easy.  I would suggest you just take the I-35 frontage the left onto US-83.  Again, riding on interstates outside of cities is typically OK as there just are not any alternatives.  Be prepared for flats from all the blown truck tires though.

Hope you enjoy the tour!

Routes / Re: Trans America starting in or around Myrtle Beach?
« on: December 27, 2017, 11:32:04 pm »
Since it sounds like you are not in a rush, I would probably ride north on the AC route to connect with the TA.  Best, John

Routes / Re: Western Express
« on: December 27, 2017, 07:38:17 am »
Welcome to the forums!

You might get a better/more accurate answer if you answer some basic questions like how many miles you do a day on average, are you camping/hoteling it, etc.  Also, when you say Western Express (WE) is that ONLY the WE or including the eastern portion of the TransAm (TA)? 

For the WE starting in late-August, if you do the typical general average of 55miles/day AND starting from Pueblo, you should be OK if you can handle/enjoy cool/cold weather.  Expect average temps with highs frequently only in the mid/upper 60s with lows in the 30s to even mid-20s.  However, you may get some nice fall color in places so that would be a plus.  If you want to do the combo WE & TA, I think the weather would slow you down significantly and would be cold once you hit the Rockies.  Yes, there are a handful of hardy souls who have ridden Colorado in October and even November, but that is definitely not for me or those inexperienced with winter camping.  Note that with the WE, you will need to occasionally do more than the average 55 day or have several shorter days, thus extending the tour and slightly upping the chance for more iffy weather.

If you start mid-August, it would average about 5-7 degrees warmer overall so I personally would start in mid-August.  It be a very nice time to go.

Since the L&C takes longer about twice as long (assuming you are doing entire route) to do as the WE itself, and since you would have cold weather (most nights in the low 30s to mid-20s on AVERAGE), I personally would advise against starting in late-August going E>W.

WeatherSpark is a good website showing historical weather info:

Also, unless you are a strong rider who can do high mileage days repeatedly, you will most likely be camping at least part of the time on both routes.

Best, John

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