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Messages - John Nettles

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Routes / Re: South of Buffalo
« on: March 28, 2022, 08:52:38 am »
I am not local nor familiar with the area.  For what it is worth, the Strava heat map shows cyclist use US-62/South Park Ave. north out of Hamburg all the way to Buffalo.  Once in Buffalo, continue on South Park Ave. as US-62 turns right then you can look at Google Maps bicycle mode to see where the bike paths are to the Peace Bridge. 

The speed limit on US-62 seems to be 45mph or less and has a shoulder south of Lackawanna where then a bike lane seems to appear. 

Tailwinds, John

Gear Talk / Re: Suspension seat post
« on: March 25, 2022, 09:43:16 am »
I have used the Thudbuster ST and liked it.  However, it was heavy so I only use it on a mostly gravel tour. 

I will seriously consider getting one of the newer versions when they come out as they are a lot lighter and I think I only need 20mm or 35mm of travel as the 50mm was not bottomed out very often at all. I am torn between the 20mm for full time use as it will take the buzz out of chip seal roads but the 35mm would be better for gravel roads.

Another option is the Red Shift Sports seatposts but I know the ThudBusters have pretty good reliability. 

Tailwinds, John

Routes / Re: El Paso bypass
« on: March 25, 2022, 08:01:35 am »
Sort of hard to know unless you live locally as I doubt more than a few non-locals have ridden both routes and kept track of the differences.  My guess is that the bypass would be faster but not by much, i.e. maybe less than 30 minutes overall.  Any time savings based on not having to stop at lights would be off set by the extra miles.  However, there may be more places you might stop at and sight see, buy supplies, etc. along the main route so I guess that could change the equation.  My suggestion is to ride an extra hour or two earlier.

General Discussion / Re: Di2 on Supported Southern Tier trip
« on: March 25, 2022, 07:55:43 am »
I don't agree that any of those would "mean the end of your dream ride" and I am not clear on what a simpler choice  you are suggesting.

My recommendation:  Keep it simple.  You can ride any bike across the USA - it doesn't have the latest high end components to have an enjoyable and successful ride.  Things may go wrong with complex components which may mean the end of your dream ride.   For example:
a) Your bike falls over and bends a rotor on your disc brakes;
Not a huge deal.  First off it isn't a frequent problem and second you can pull off the caliper on that wheel and tie it out of the way and ride with one brake until you get to where you can get another disc.Or just remove the rotor until you can get a new one.b) Your electronic shifters fail;
My understanding is the following... Electronic shifting is actually more reliable than mechanical.  Adjustment is easier, more precise, and less frequent.  The large majority of fussing with shifting issues has to do with cable so the lack of them is a good thing.  A downside is dealing with charging.  Another is availability of parts is worse.  One interesting thing is that if a shifter is broken you can shift from the derailleur itself until you get a new shifter, at heast with the shimano setup.  Even the bike packing community is starting to use electronic and even in pretty severe conditions.  See the following link for some interesting info
c) Embedded cables within the bike frame fray and fail;
If properly done they are less likely to be a problem than external ones and if they present a pronlem external routing could be done to get going again if necessary, but I don't see a reason you'd need to.Sram AXS shifters are totally wireless so there are no cables to route, fray, etc. Granted, you do have to take the little charger along to charge the battery every few weeks but not a big deal.d) Pannier racks break;
Not likely unless poor quality and or seriously overloaded and certainly unlikely to end a dream trip.  Not sure what alternative you are suggesting here, frame mounted bags?  They can fail too.  Pretty much anything can.
You can always carry hose clamps and zip ties like I have for decades and (knock knock) have never used them for a broken rack.  I have had Ortlieb mounting parts break/come off but the Bruce Gordon and Tubus racks have been fine.e) Your GPS dies and you don't have any cell phone coverage or hard copy maps (that has happened to me!)
And that ended your dream trip?  Seems unlikely.  The OP is asking about a coast to coast trip.  I bet he'd do what I'd do and keep heading in the general direction he needed to go.  Asking directions when he could, but he'd probably never be without any paper map or downloaded map on the phone.  At the very least he'd probably have the free state map from the DOT for that state.
f) and so forth...

Lot of good, simple bikes out there that will get you across the USA.  The one you'll see the most often is the Surly Long Haul Trucker.   People rave about its reliability and comfort.   You don't have to go high end to have a great ride.
I agree that there is nothing wrong with simple.  I am not a fan of the LHT myself, but I did ride an older (1990) bike with downtube shifters and all on my last coast to coast tour.  I rode an old hard tail MTB with thumb shifters(again 1990) on another mixed surface tour.  I wouldn't advise anyone against riding newer tech though and might choose it myself.
I can imagine myself possibly choosing a bike with electronic shifting if in the OP's shoes.  Remember that he is going on a long (Southern Tier) van supported tour.  I definitely wouldn't choose a touring bike.  I am not saying someone else shouldn't, but I wouldn't.  I rode the ST on a old 1990 Cannondale Crit race bike skinny tires and all when I did it and I wasn't van supported, but was packing very light (camping and cooking with 14#).  It would be fun to be on a sporty bike a race bike with lower gearing or a gravel bike with fairly skinny tires would suit me.  I might go fatter on the tires than last time.  I started out on 23mm and put on 25mm when they were worn out.  The 23mm were already on the bike so I decided to wear them out first.  By the time I got to Texas I found the buzz pretty bad on that state's chipseal.  The 25s were a little better.  I think I might consider 28mm tubeless if starting from scratch with setting up a new bike for that ride, just to have a cushier ride as the roads were pretty rough a lot of the way.

Routes / Re: Katy Trail (Connections to/from St. Louis/KCMO)
« on: March 24, 2022, 10:07:54 pm »
If I were doing what you are doing, I would fly into MCI and take the trail from Kansas City to St. Louis.  Then hop on Amtrak in St. Louis to return to KC and ride back to MCI.  Amtrak has roll-on service between the two cities.  Additionally, you will be going slightly downhill overall.  Plus STL is a bit more of an exciting destination than KC.  If it is easier to fly into STL, then you can do the reverse.  Or maybe the departure time of one direction of Amtrak is better than the other.  Of course, it may be cheaper to get a rental car on one or both of the legs to/from home or even drive your car to one end and take the train to the other.

Anyway, I have some draft routes (researched but not ridden) and I can send you the GPX files. 

The KC portion has too many turns to give a summary here other than to say from the end of the Rock Island Trail to downtown KC, MO then up to MCI.  From Machens, the route I have takes county roads to Afton via Clark Bridge and then the bike paths into St. Louis to the Arch.  From there, you are on your own for the ~1.5 miles to the Amtrak station.

If you want the files, send me a private message.

Also, you should be aware that the Katy Trail can be very humid in the summertime.  It is not an especially pleasant ride when the temp and humidity are the same.   

Tailwinds, John

General Discussion / Re: Warm Showers
« on: March 22, 2022, 10:31:41 pm »
....I've also moved to Be Welcome [ ] which is another hosting site that is HUGE in Europe and growing rapidly in the USA.
Can you narrow it down so you only show that you host cyclists?  Without trying to sound rude, we only want to host cyclists so don't want to sign up and then have to continually refuse non-cyclists.

Thanks, John

Midwest / Re: IOWA
« on: March 22, 2022, 05:20:47 pm »
...I want to bike thru the state of IOWA.
Why did you pick Iowa?  While I am not putting Iowa down, a lot of international visitors go elsewhere so I am just curious.
Tailwinds, John

Midwest / Re: IOWA
« on: March 22, 2022, 05:17:22 pm »
Camping is not as common in the USA as in Europe and unfortunately there is no single website that has all the campgrounds. 

You can check out Google Maps, RV Life Campground Reviews, iOverlander (not as many showers), RV Parky, and for campgrounds.  Additionally, you can always ask at a small town or rural church or fire station and they sometimes will help you.  Bigger cities tend to not help as I guess it has to do with insurance. 

Please note that camping on private or public lands without permission is illegal in the USA.  However, most Iowans are quite friendly and if you ask, they will almost surely let you camp, especially since you are from another country  :) .

Tailwinds, John

Now that is a brilliant idea.  Only downside is you lose some of the "discovery". 

General Discussion / Re: Camping along the Southern Tier
« on: March 22, 2022, 08:59:42 am »
Welcome to the ACA Forums!  I hope you are having a great tour.

Honestly, Google Maps is probably the best though they show too much, i.e. they don't distinguish between an RV campground which may or may not accept tents; a Forest Service Campground which may or may not have showers; a YMCA which probably does not have camping, etc.  However, with a little use, you sort of get the hang of what to ignore and then only have to call the place to verify they accept tents, or beg them to. 
Other places I use are RV Life's Campground Reviews, iOverlander (more for non-commercial CGs), RV Parky, and finally .  Also, do not forget to ask at the local Fire Station or a church (most metro churches won't do it for insurance purposes) but you may or may not get a shower. 

Tailwinds, John

I did the route back in Sept. Stuck to the original route without any issues. There were a few trucks on SR 78 but you know when they're coming and they give you room.
I've never had issues with semis and wish Adventure Cycling would quit making them sound like their always some huge risk.
I too did the same route about 5 years ago and while we didn't have too much issue, we were mid-week.  I talked to the convenience manager in Glamis and he said that the traffic is a lot worse on weekends.  I am not worried so much about the semis as with the weekend RVers who may not know the edges of their rig while they haul a dune buggy (or two) on a trailer while heading home after a weekend of partying. We only had a couple of close encounters on that road mid-week but I sure would not want to ride it on a weekend.

Instead of ranting at ACA, you might draw up a suggested route on RWGPS and give ACA the pertinent info as to why it is better, i.e. it has shoulders, lower traffic count, X miles difference, more/less services, etc. so ACA can make a decision as to whether it makes sense overall.  They are more than willing to listen to riders and locals and that is how the routes get a change usually. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don't but they usually do it for safety reasons and I am all for that.  Note that sometimes they reroute may not take place until the next map printing or only be shown in the Addendums page.

For instance, I proposed a few changes in my area due to the original route being on heavy traffic with no shoulders and showed them why I thought it was better.  They rerouted the route as a result. Luckily, it was about the time the route was being reprinted.

Tailwinds, John

You probably meant me, John Nettles  ;) .  Yes, PM via the ACA message board which can be accessed via "Personal Message" link which is below my name to the upper left.

Also, you should edit your post to remove your email as you will get a lot of spam otherwise. 

John Nettles

Routes / Re: Southern tier I-10
« on: March 14, 2022, 09:41:36 am »
Sorry, my mistake.  Honestly, I did not know that ACA is suggesting an alternate along I-10 between Quartzite and Phoenix area.  Regardless, my comments about sight lines etc. are still applicable for I-10. 

That said, I would suggest you stay on the original route as it is pretty nice in places.  Plus it seems to have more hotel services.

Whatever you decide, hope you have a great ride! 


Routes / Re: Southern tier I-10
« on: March 14, 2022, 09:00:37 am »
I am guessing you mean the stretch between Yuma and Gila Bend.  I would suggest you ride from Wellton (Microtel hotel) to Gila Bend as it is about 86 miles.  I-8 should be ok with these two caveats:   

First, it will be relatively safe but noisy and second, you could have flat tires due to shredded truck tires that spew thousands of little thin wires than seem to be attracted to bike tires.  Take a cotton ball or a shirt or something other than you finger and rub the inside of the tire if you can not find the cause of the flat. Since you will have good site lines, you should be OK.  Wear bright clothing, ride in the shoulder at all times, and hopefully you have a mirror to keep an eye on traffic.

Please do the community a favor and report back how it was riding on I-10 as this question is not uncommon. 

Tailwinds, John
P.S. Edit content

John & Lisa,  Welcome to the ACA Forums!

It sounds like a wonderful trip you have planned.  A couple of thoughts. First, you don't say how many miles a day you plan to average overall, if you have a deadline , i.e. must end by August 1st, and/or what towns your family and friends live in.  That can change what I am about to say as my answers are based on the "typical" 55-60 miles per day overall (including rest days).

Early May is a bit early as several passes may still closed due to snow.  Additionally, it will still be somewhat cool.  For instance, in late May, Missoula's average high is only 70* with a 5* range common.  The average low is 45*.  There is a somewhat high chance that Going to the Sun highway in Glacier National Park will still be closed and late May/early June is the season's highest chance of rain at 35%.  It sucks to ride it in the rain as not only do you miss a lot of scenery due to clouds but the descent is miserable due to the wind chill. I speak from experience.  The rest of the trip the temps would be nice.  Check out for a huge database of climate data.  If you can handle the cool weather and possible detours due to closed passes, this time is fine. If you can start later, I would suggest that. 

As far as the route goes, I can't tell if you mean you will take the Lake Erie Connector all the way to Buffalo and wing it down to Philly.  or down to Sandusky and eventually connect to the Chicago to NYC route into PA.  My guess is the former.  If the latter, I would suggest a different overall route if time permits.  It would be the TA to West Yellowstone, then the Parks, Peaks, and Prairie Route to Reliance, ND, where you break off and take a route I can get you to Milwaukee.  About 90% of the route in Wisconsin is on rail trails.  From Milwaukee, cross Lake Michigan and then head south on the North Lakes to the alternate (south) Chicago to NYC Route to Philly.  The reason is it has much more scenery and varied terrain.  You would definitely want to start at least mid-May as Yellowstone can be quite cold in June.  I rode in a wet snow on July 4 back in 80s and it was not super fun and I started in Astoria in early June. 

But if your time, dates, miles, etc. prevent that, I totally understand.  I don't think your route is bad at all, just that my proposed route is much more scenic. 

Wishing you a wonderful tour!  Tailwinds, John

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