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Messages - John Nettles

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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

Routes / Re: Illinois to Idaho
« on: September 01, 2020, 10:33:26 pm »
First welcome to the ACA forums.  A couple of suggestions for you.

1) Most states have a "bicycle map" that shows roads that are suitable for biking.  All the states you would go though have them I think.  Stick to roads with less than 2000 vehicles per day (AADT) and/or shoulders and you should be fine.  Obviously, less is better.  The further west you go, the less traffic there is.

2) If you want "paths", consider looking at Google Map's bicycle mode.  Go to Google Maps and in the far upper left click on the 3 horizontal lines and select "Bicycling".  The green lines that appear (you have to zoom in some) are either bike paths (solid dark green) or bike friendly routes (lighter green).  Be careful of the dashed lines as they could be sidewalks, hiking trails (not suitable for bikes), mountain bike trails (not suitable for most touring). About half the time, they are unpaved (crushed limestone) paths, especially if straight as on when a railroad has been converted into a trail.  The Cowboy Trail across Nebraska looks inviting but you may have to get onto the adjoining highway in places as the gravel is a bit rough in places. CAUTION:  Do not try to map a route using Google that is more than say 30-50 miles at a time.  While they are pretty decent in metro areas, they rapidly begin to suck the longer the route and/or outside metro areas.  Be sure to spot check using the Streetview (drag the little yellow guy in the lower right of the screen to the map to see the road) to ensure the road is paved and/or looks fine to you.  Google has been known to route onto private lands and old abandoned jeep trails.

3)  Use Google maps to find campgrounds and cheap hotels.

4)  A lot of smaller towns out west will allow you to camp in the city park but a shower and/or restroom may not be available.  The local public swimming pool is a decent place to grab a cheap shower but they usually close by Labor Day.

5) You will have to zig zag some, especially if you have requirments, i.e. 60 miles per day, etc.  It is not uncommon to have to do 70 miles or 50 miles on various days as that is where the services area. 

6)  Finally, you mentioned "early fall".  You should note that high altitude Wyoming can get quite cool and/or cold in early October.  Snow is a very real possibility.  For instance, Jackson, WY, begins October with an AVERAGE high of 61* but ends with a high of only 45*.  Lows in the 20s (or teens in late October) can be expected. Rock Springs is warmer (lower elevation) but then you would ride on an interstate (legal out west) to and from so some traffic (nothing like in Illinois).

7) If you have difficulty planning a portion of the route (such as you need suggestions between Rawlins, WY and Idaho), ask back here and you will most likely get some help. 

Tailwinds, John

Routes / Re: First time, but year long trip. Nervous.
« on: August 30, 2020, 08:23:30 pm »
I would say so.  Thousands have toured by bike for years at a time on the cheap.  The caveat is they typically do not stay in the USA or Europe due to expenses. 

That said, check out the various Facebook pages devoted to full-time touring and/or the journals over at .

Out of curiosity, why are you limiting yourself to the eastern USA.  If I were going to do this, I would definitely expand my geographic area as the western USA has many more free places to camp but the internet would be harder to come by.

Tailwinds, John

General Discussion / Re: Overseas medical and crash insurance
« on: August 30, 2020, 08:17:44 pm »
Be sure to do a search for insurance here and on the other forums (, etc.) as they have had over the years several articles about the pros and cons of international travel insurance, the companies that over them, etc. 

IIRC, outside the USA, travel medical insurance can be quite reasonable, at least compared to the American cost.

Tailwinds, John

Gear Talk / Re: A must item
« on: August 30, 2020, 08:13:32 pm »
Bandanna. A must for any/all outdoor activities.
I have carried a bandana for 5+ years and think I have only used it a handful of times.  However, it is potentially so useful, I keep bringing it.  What do you actually use it for?  I think some of the uses are a "sweat rag", a sling in case you injure your arm, a place mat, a cover for a wound, a water filtration pre-filter for silty water (that is what I use it for), and a place to put small parts when working on the bike.

Tailwinds, John

Gear Talk / Re: Tubus Tara Lowrider Front Rack Technical Question
« on: August 30, 2020, 08:07:44 pm »
You should be able to.  Most touring bikes in the last 20 years that have mounts on the fork, have them placed in the "standard" position.  It might be slightly off level but should work.  Definitely keep the Tubus rack as it is a great rack. 


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