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Messages - John Nettles

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Routes / Re: Great Divide Route Conditions
« on: August 19, 2012, 10:29:14 pm »
I plan on doing the southern half north bound next May & June.  I will depart San Diego in early to mid May as a "get in shape" tour before starting the GD in Silver City, NM.  I am like you in that I don't want technical stuff or too much punishment for going off pavement, just great scenery.

Go to and look at the journals for the Great Divide.  Most have lots of pictures to show you.  The vast majority of the GD is on gravel or graded dirt roads forest service or county roads.  However, some is single track.  Occasionally you will have to push a bike due to steepness or roughness but I would guess that is less than 5%.  About 10-15% is on pavement.

Note that if you go early in the summer, you may encounter snow drifts, rough roads that need to be graded from winter damage, higher water in  creek crossings and/or fallen trees causing you to have to unload your bike to get over/around it.  If you go later in the year, a lot more washboard, drier conditions (harder to find water), hotter, etc. but most of the above early problems will have been resolved.  Pick your poison.  I prefer wildflowers and a little cooler temps over dryness and heat.  Plus the bears aren't as hungry supposedly  ;D early in the summer if you stay away from their cubs.

Hope you enjoy the Divide!

Routes / Re: Need Route and info from Georgia to San Diego
« on: August 17, 2012, 10:00:54 am »

Interesting.  Was it because of the rumble strips forcing you into the lane or high  traffic counts (or both)?  Can you explain anymore?  I plan to ride this next late May (oh the heat!) on my way to Silver City to do a northbound great divide.


Routes / Re: Tour Divide 2013
« on: August 16, 2012, 10:50:18 am »
Welcome to the cyclotouring world!  My comment has to do with your anticipated daily mileage while riding the GD.  Doing an average of 100-120 miles per day is exceedingly difficult, i.e. on the range of the top Tour Divide Racers.  That amount is a significantly difficult goal.  You will have to ride about 15-20 hours per day.

Are you sure this is what you want to do?  If so, and you are capable of it, great and I wish you a have a wonderful time.  If not, you may want to reevaluate your daily mileage goal.  Remember, a rough rule of thumb is you will ride about 65% on gravel of what you would do on pavement.  If it is muddy, it can drop much more.  Remember, the majority of people doing the GD do less than 50 miles per day.

Your training schedule is a good start.  Adding weight and/or packs to get the full effect.  If you can do a three-mini tourtour averaging 120 miles on gravel 90% of the time, you should be good to go.  Otherwise you might be pushing it.

No matter what you do, I wish you an enjoyable trip!

Routes / Re: transamerica Missoula MT to Bend OR
« on: June 07, 2012, 10:22:32 am »
The vast majority of each ACA route is on roads.  Occasionally, a dedicated separate biking trail is utilized, i.e. the Katy Trail as part of the Lewis & Clark route.  However, that is indeed the exception.

That said, most of the roads are on low-traffic roads and usually have decent shoulders.  The portion you are considering has been used since 1976 by tens of thousands of cyclists over the years so the motorists are accustomed to seeing cyclists on the road.  ACA usually gives a heads up in the narrative if you are to expect increased traffic.

The Lochsa River portion of the route you are considering has been one of my all-time favorite sections almost 35 years of touring.

First, I am unfamiliar with the route you are suggesting.  However, if you have a GPS and Google Maps before the ride, you can still map your route.

Go to Google Maps, get to the area you are talking about.  Find the road you know exists such as main highway, town, etc.  Switch to satellite view, and follow the road.  If you come to an intersection or junction, zoom the map in and right click the map specifically where the intersection is (the tip of the cursor arrow is the actual point) and then click on "What's here".  This will give you the GPS coordinates of the point where you clicked "What's here".

Transfer that to your GPS map and repeat.  It is a somewhat slow and tedious way, but it is easy to do and reliable.   Frequently, in heavily forested roads, I have to redo the route several times so that I can get a route that goes through to where I am going.  I develop my off-road maps this way if decent maps do not exist and it works pretty good, but slow.  I usually get a little "waypoint happy" and get lots of points to confirm my direction after the intersection, in case a road is closed, a junction was made after the satellite passed by, etc.

The biggest caveat is that while a "road" shows up on the satellite, the condition of the road or if it is actually permitted to be traveled on is unknown.

Finally, if you call the local forest office, they may have a current Motor Vehicle Use Map which would show the roads and trails.  I usually do this first if the roads are difficult to see from the satellite.  However, at  quick glance, Ashland Loop road and Siskiyou road seem to connect down to the California border where tons of unmarked roads exist that lead to near Hamilton.

Have a great trip!

Routes / Re: Route from Winnipeg Canada to Northern Tier
« on: May 17, 2012, 10:40:11 am »
I rode from Mexico to Winnipeg back in 2009.  I rode through Fargo on my way north.

To reverse my route, get to PR-100 & MB-200 and head south.  Do not take 75 as it is pretty busy and has no paved shoulder.  There is a CS in St. Adolphe. At junction of 200 & 305 (near St. Agathe, restaurant), continue south on 200 (begin 8.5 miles of decent gravel) all the way to border crossing just west of Emerson.  Dominion City has a grocery store, Emerson has a restaurant.

Cross border, ride on I-29 (great wide shoulder, legal, low traffic, and it is the only way) to Pembina, ND (very large CS).  Go east on ND-59 which becomes MN-171.  Bridge with HUGE tire grabbing expansion joints at border.  Be careful!

Take MN-171 to US-75 and turn south.  Hallock has a GS, R, CS, nice city CG.  Due to a massive tailwind, I rode from Hallock to Winnipeg in one day, a Sunday.  There may be more stuff open on other days, but a lot of places seemed closed on Sunday.  I couldn’t tell if this was a Sunday only thing or a permanent thing since some towns (especially in Canada) had a store out of a non-descript metal building.  I did not notice any legal CGs north of Hallock until Winnipeg.  I would definitely carry at least an emergency ration or two just in case everything is closed.

Kennedy has a CS.  Stephen has a GS that accuses you of stealing their money bags.   Argyle has a CS.  Warren has a CS, R, GS, & CG.

Head west on MN-1 to Alvarado (tiny gas station with very limited stale products) and head south on MN-220 into East  Forks, MN services and a GREAT CG).  Cross river into ND on a bike path accessed on east side at Demers Ave & river.  When you get to Washington Ave., turn south onto Washington which merges with CR-17 and CR-81.  Thompson (off route) has a CS and allows I think allows camping if you call the sheriff.  Reynolds (off route) has a restaurant I was told.  Buxton has a small CS in the Cenex.

Hillsboro has a GS, CS, R, hotel, overpriced CG.  Grandin has a CS & R on the west side of the interstate.  I don’t think Gardner had any services (sorry, can’t remember). Argusville has a bar/restaurant but is not that good.  Harwood didn’t seem to have any services.

Take CR-20/40th Ave. north of Fargo to the east to University Drive and turn south to 12th Ave. in Fargo.

One strong word of caution is that the wind is really strong out there.  I had either great tailwinds or horrible headwinds.  My mileage would go from 35-40 one day and be exhausted to over a hundred miles and had extra energy.

Routes / Re: Route Advise Needed: Across Idaho
« on: May 04, 2012, 10:27:44 am »
While I have not ridden the somewhat rough rail trail, supposedly it does go to West Yellowstone.  Looking at the satellite view on Google, you can see the "trail" roughly parallels NF-478/South Fork Road, a gravel road.  The trail has several soft sandy areas (due to ATVs) which make riding difficult on a mountain bike so a road bike would probably be extremely difficult to impossible to ride.  In addition, the trail might have some bridges missing  >:( forcing a turn around.  If you do not mind gravel roads, then NF-478 would work.  It eventually connects with the trail but again the trail might not be as easy as a gravel road.  Note that this route is slower than the paved route.

For a paved alternative, you might consider taking the ID-47/Mesa Falls Scenic Byway (all paved) south of Island Park, ID to Warm River to Ashton.  Another alternative is to take Big Springs Loop/Fish Creek Road/NF-82 north and east of Island Park to Warm River but 17 miles of it are gravel.  Obviously, you could stick on US-20 also.

While you did not ask for this, I will suggest to you anyway  ;D.  From Yellowstone Park, you really should dip down to Grand Teton NP and Jackson, WY.  The Tetons are fantastic!  Be sure to take Teton Park Road via Jenny Lake to Moose.  Then from Moose, take US-191 south to Sagebrush Rd. and then Spring Gulch Rd. into Jackson.  Take obligatory photo of antlers then take WY-22/ID-33 to Victor, Driggs, Tetonia, and into Rexburg.  Lots of great scenery.

Lastly, if you want to head south from West Thumb in Yellowstone, you can take the gravel Flagg Ranch-Ashton road to Ashton.  It is the ACA Great Divide route.

Decisions, Decisions.  Almost as much fun as actually riding the route.

Routes / Re: Route Advise Needed: Across Idaho
« on: May 03, 2012, 12:30:30 pm »
For my cross county ride this summer, I need advise on crossing Idaho into Oregon.  Im looking at riding 20 thru Yellowstone.  Riding A2 into Dubois, 22 to Arco, 20 to Interstate 84, where I would work my way up to Boise (67 and 78) and catch 26 across Oregon. 
Is anyone familiar with these roads.  Are they reasonable, or would I be better off catching the ACA route up to Missoula and back down?  Thanks.

Those roads would work if you are primarily and only seeking speed.

For scenery, I would suggest you take the rail trail from Island Park, ID to Ashton, ID (via Warm River), and work my way via county roads to Rexburg.  From there, take ID-33 to Arco, then US-93 to Challis, then ID-75 to Stanley.  From there, take ID-21 to Banks, down to Horseshoe Bend, over to Ontario, MT via ID-52 and county roads.

Then take US-26 to the ACA TransAm where it hits it near Bates.

Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy the ride!

Routes / Re: Possible Route Change...need help!
« on: May 01, 2012, 02:31:56 pm »
The question is a bit ambiguous  :) since quickest and best are not always compatible.  If you mean getting to Astoria, just take the Pacific Coast down to Astoria.  If you mean, how would I connect to the TransAm that is different.  If that, I would take the NT over to Glacier NP then down on the Great Parks route to Missoula then connect there to the TransAm.  The scenery is fantastic.  If you wanted to connect sooner, I would still take the NT to Idaho border then work my way down to Kooskia and join the TransAm there.

I have done both the TransAm and the NT and think WA-20 is one of my all time favorite routes.  However, the Lochsa river between Kooskia and Lolo, MT is also in the rides.  But so is Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier.

Those answers assume you meant your were riding.  If you meant traveling by train or something, I will not be able to give you a knowledgeable answer.

Routes / Re: TransAmerica from DC, but I need to go east first.
« on: April 25, 2012, 12:56:34 am »
A quick search on (rental car) shows a one way rental from the Washington Hilton HLE (pretty close to Chevy Chase) to Newport News (close to Yorktown) is about $180 (less if you have a discount code of some type) for a smaller-sized SUV like a Toyota Rav4.  You can get by as little as $133 for a mid-sized sedan like a Toyota Corolla.   I frequently use one-way rentals getting to/from a trip as the cost for a bus/plane/train ticket plus the cost of bringing the gear is usually only about 10%-15% than renting.

My point is depending on how much you want to do an "official" coast to and save time, this might be a compromise for you.  It would take about 4 hours to drive there.

Can your friend in Chevy Chase just take you there if you pay the gas?  That would be best.

Anyway, these are just some thoughts and no matter what option you pick, I hope you have a great trip.

Routes / Re: Spokane - Missoula - Spokane Loop
« on: March 29, 2012, 11:43:00 am »
Wow, it is $10 for a day pass to ride this short rail trail!  Is the trail that nice?

I hope to be doing some off-road touring this summer in the Clearwater and Boise National Forests so I thought of doing the trail.  I probably will but gotta admit, the $10 seems awfully steep for the length.  Heck, I could buy a new 400 mile ACA map for that  ;D!

Routes / Re: NT vs NT+Lakes
« on: December 26, 2011, 12:24:24 am »
Then it narrows down the choice between woodlands and blueberries (northern Wisconsin and Michigan/Ontario) and farmlands and corn (traditional NT) assuming time is not an issue.  I personally preferred (slightly) the traditional route but I slightly prefer farmlands over heavy forests and I also thought the people in Indiana and Illinois countryside were much friendlier.

Both sections are nice routes.  You can always come back to Minneapolis and do the section you didn't do earlier (that's what I did).

Routes / Re: Is the NT a traffic nightmare?
« on: December 26, 2011, 12:17:31 am »

I have done both routes.  However, both were in the 80s so take that into consideration.  At that time, both routes had similar amounts of traffic, hazards, etc.

I really do not remember any major area of concern compared to the TA other than Glacier NP had some heavy traffic but it was quite doable as the traffic speed was fairly low.  I also dipped directly through Minneapolis/St. Paul so that obviously was busier but I planned it accordingly, i.e. rode into town in early afternoon and out of town on a Sunday.  The traffic for a 20 mile radius around Cleveland (at that time it went thru Cleveland) was heavier also.

ACA does a pretty good job of staying off overly busy roads.  Sometimes there are just no alternatives.  Also, it may be partially due to today's litigious society we live in.

All in all, I would say if you handled the TransAm without difficultly, you should most likely be able to handle the NT.  After all, you have crossed the country before so give yourself some credit :).

Routes / Re: NT vs NT+Lakes
« on: December 26, 2011, 12:08:36 am »
I have done both routes.  I did the short Lakes route via Manitowoc/Ludington ferry.  To me, the factors are: the amount of time you have, time of year/temperature (Lakes is cooler), whether you have a passport (required now), etc.  Both have similar terrain, i.e. hilly in Wisconsin and flat in the rest.  Ontario had some hills as you dipped down to the valley to cross a river but was otherwise flat.

I would also say that while you have similar terrain, the traditional NT has more of it, i.e. longer farming sections, as it is just a longer route.

You might also consider the brand new "Detroit Alternative" to the UGRR if you want to do Michigan but don't want to pay for the passport ($110+).

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Southern Tier to NYC
« on: December 22, 2011, 08:20:45 pm »
You questions are a bit vague, i.e. are you leaving San Diego, Safford, or Las Cruces in early September?  How far east on US-60/US-380 are you talking?  What kind of mileage due you do/are you capable of per day.  Are you camping, motels, cooking, cafés, etc.??   Do you ride every day or take days off every other day?

If you are leaving San Diego about September 1st and do typical mileage, you will end up in Las Cruces about September 17th.  It will be very hot in places, i.e. the AVERAGE high temp for Phoenix is 102 on September 10th.  Once you gain altitude it cools off pretty quickly, i.e. Silver City's average on Sept 17th is the mid/upper 80s.  Still warm but not near as bad as 100+.  Getting from there to Tulsa via Alamogordo, Roswell, Clovis, Amarillo, Route 66 (loosely), to Tulsa is about 860 based on a route I developed a few years ago thinking about a similar trip.  That would put you into Tulsa about October 1st.  Assuming you connect up in Girard, KS on the TransAm and stay on until the Blue Ridge Parkway, you are adding approximately 1,500 miles or 27 days.  To get to NYC, add 400 miles or 8 days which is arriving in early to mid-November.  If you are comfortable with the weather, that is quite doable.

You should note that between Roswell and Portales, NM there is not too much other than a conv store.  If you are camping and willing to eat cold food for a few days (assuming you are eating out), again it is doable.  There are services between Las Cruces and Roswell fairly evenly spaced, and from Clovis eastward.  This is based on camping not motels.  Once you get to Oklahoma, even motels will be doable but you may have to ride short or long days which could alter the dates/times above.

If you can give as much detailed info as possibly, the community could help you better.

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