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Messages - John Nettles

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Routes / Re: Period to begin Great Divide Mountain Bike Road
« on: February 07, 2016, 04:14:17 pm »
Welcome to the ACA Forums.

I assume you are going north to south.  September 1st is a little late, especially if you are wanting optimal weather AND to go slow.  This is a good journal and a good summary of when to go:

You do not mention your speed or how slow is "ride slowly" but 90 days is more than enough (60 is typical).  Please note you do stand a chance of snow at the higher elevations since you are starting late so be prepared for waiting it out and/or rerouting to a lower elevation.  If you want to ride slowly I would start at least a month earlier.

Best wishes, John

Routes / Re: Options for crossing the plains from New Roads, LA to Taos, NM
« on: February 05, 2016, 09:49:36 am »
If you are interested in the New Orleans to Navasota and/or Brackettsville route discussed on your other posts, that is pretty easy and very flat.  It does get remote and has few services in places but nothing drastic.  If you feel you want that route, I can send you cue sheets and/or GPS waypoints.

Unlike litespeed, I have found Louisiana easy to ride in.  The routes I have used have been 95% NON ACA routes but the drivers were always nice.  In fact, when leaving NO and heading north toward Baton Rouge (west side of river), we kept waving the drivers around us as they would be happy to just sit behind us until it was REALLY clear.  Interestingly, the further north we got, the worse it got.  By the time we were back in Oklahoma, we had our "normal" impatient, slightly aggressive drivers.  All 4 of us on that tour agreed with that view.

I personally would not try to deal with going through the Dallas/FT Worth metroplex.  As always, in May, follow the local's lead in dealing with severe storms & a tornado.  The weather stations can make a gentle spring rain sound like Noah's Flood is coming.  If a tornado is around, they make it sound like you are better off just to kill yourself and get it over with as you are surely going to die in the tornado.  If the sky gets greenish however, take cover as hail is coming very soon.

If you take a "northern" route, the route between Mayhill, NM and Las Cruces is nice but does have a 8,600' pass which will be quite cool in May.  You might be able to camp at White Sands NM but you will have to push the bike off the road a ways.

If you take the "southern" route, I highly suggest you break off at Marathon and do the Big Bend area and then ride along the Rio Grande up to Presidio.  Note, there are a couple of very steep hills and you will need to keep an eye on supplies, especially water, but there are tons of Border Patrol trucks buzzing around so you can always request water from them.

Hope you enjoy your trip!  John

Routes / Re: Katy Trail riding conditions?
« on: January 23, 2016, 09:12:23 pm »
You might be OK.  The trail is compacted limestone screenings, AKA chat.  While the trail is packed for 99% of the time, you will come across occasional short stretches of a soft spot or such but you should be able to see them before you hit them.  I did a tour with 33mm tires and was fine with a moderate load.  I noticed that my speed was about 75% of my overall average and that I felt like I had worked about 25% extra.  If you are trying to maintain 16mph, you may have your work cut out for you due to the increased rolling resistance.


Routes / Re: Miami to St Augustine - Florida Connector or Atlantic Coast?
« on: January 21, 2016, 10:38:38 am »
Mr. Nettles is not required  :) .  John is fine.

You are not allowed to cross Lake Pontchartrain on a bicycle via the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (bridge going north & south) nor I-10 in Louisiana.  I personally would not use or recommend US-11 to cross the lake.  That leaves US-90.  When I rode it a couple of years ago it was not bad at all.  Due to the hurricane, a lot of the bridges and some roads were totally rebuilt.  Traffic was quiet but it was acceptable and it had 3+ foot shoulders if I remember correctly.  According to last years Louisiana Dept. of Transportation, US-90 had about 3,500 vehicles per day (AADT) east of the US-11/US-90 intersection.  Between there and to I-510, the traffic increased to about 6,200 AADT.  From there US-90 traffic very quickly but you turn off onto 1km later so it does not matter.  One word of caution is to NOT ride at night in this area as it is a bit economically depressed and did not appear to be the best of neighborhoods. 

I would also encourage you to not enter New Orleans on a Saturday or Sunday if possible as you may have more traffic as people take their boats and such to go fishing, etc.

Coming into New Orleans from the east is via the northside of New Orleans along the south side of Lake Pontchartrain.  On that trip there were three of us and no one had any issues with it.  The traffic west of New Orleans is heavier but uses a paved bike trail to get you out of the worst of it.  On a separate trip from New Orleans to Tulsa, OK, we did the portion from New Orleans to New Roads and it was fine.  Since you indicate you have extensive experience with city riding, I doubt you will have an issue with the route.

One thing to remember about US news reporting is that good news never sells so you typically only hear about the bad news.  Try reading a few journals over on CrazyGuyonaBike to see the various aspects of each route.

Best, John

Routes / Re: Miami to St Augustine - Florida Connector or Atlantic Coast?
« on: January 20, 2016, 11:37:24 am »
Is there a specific reason for not choosing the Florida Connector / Atlantic Coast route? You mention quite a few trails - better for biking? Nicer towns for overnight/camping? I can see the Atlantic Coast being very busy and congested in places. I don't mind cycling in traffic (I'm from Amsterdam and used to cycling in utter chaos) but I definitely don't want to be dumb about it and choose the best route possible.

Maybe cycling from Miami to Fort Meyers over land would give me a nice tour of the Everglades and also a little less miles? Would that be advisable?

I have 35 years of loaded touring experience and tens of thousands of miles.  With that you learn what you like.  Also, as I have said, I have already done the Florida Connector (FC) and parts of the Atlantic Coast (AC).  For the route listed above (which I did a few years ago), I did not want to overlap too much of the same routes I had previously done (except for the Keys which I enjoy).  I strive to balance services with lack of traffic.  The above route definitely is less on traffic than the AC and since I didn't want to go all the way to Jacksonville just to head west, I looked for a place to break off the FC.  However, from Panama City on, the route has equal or much more traffic than the ST, especially around the major metro areas. After a day or two past New Orleans, the traffic drops significantly.

Anyway, I had read a few journals on CrazyGuyonaBike that went along the coast and a few that did the ST.  While the ST seems to be a a fine route, I personally enjoy beaches so thought I would hig the coast and if I did not like it, I could break off and head to the ST.  Plus I wanted to see New Orleans.  Finally, I hate to double-back, i.e. New Roads, LA to New Orleans back to New Roads, so I just researched a route going from New Orleans to Bracketville.  As indicated before, there are numerous locations you can break off of either route and go to the other if that suits your needs.

I have ridden the route between Key West and Galveston but due to a family emergency of one of my touring partners, the ride ended there.  I have driven the route between Galveston & Bracketville howevere and it appears fine for touring.  Depending on your needs/desire (prefer Austin or San Antonio, going to Mexico/south, want to do a more "perimeter tour", etc.), there are a couple of options I have mapped out and/or ridden.  Just email me privately and we can discuss further.

Please note that you will need to do slight more hotels on my route compared to the ST due to development and a LOT of campgrounds do not allow tents.  Also, the costs are higher since you are in a high demand area.  I am blessed financially so that did not concern me but wanted to let you understand the ST is definitely cheaper.

Regarding the Everglades.  I rode between Naples and Miami way back in '87.  While OK, I would not do again if I could do another route and to me, if you have time and money, the Keys then ferry over to Fort Myers (or even Marco Island if you want more land miles) is MUCH more scenic and interesting.  I didn't even see one alligator  :( so maybe that is why I prefer the Keys.  Look at Google's streetview of the various portions of the section between Miami & Naples versus the Keys (especially southern Keys) and determine what best fits your needs/wants.

As a side note, you will have difficulty in places stealth camping in Florida and the Gulf Coast in general due to the swampy/tropical topography and/or development.  However, there are more WarmShowers available.

Finally, if/when you contact me privately, please note I travel sporadically about 3-4 months a year so if I don't answer right away that is why but will upon my return as I go through the 10,000 emails that have piled up.


Routes / Re: Miami to St Augustine - Florida Connector or Atlantic Coast?
« on: January 18, 2016, 11:51:14 am »
I have done the Connector, parts of the AC, and my own routes.  If I did it again and left Miami, I would head to Key West, ferry over to Fort Myers Beach, north on the Connector to Brooke Road (east of Fort Mead), north using back roads to Lake Alfred, west to the Teco/Van Fleet Trail, north to Bushnell (larger town for supplies), west to the Florida Trail in Nobleton, and north Bronson.

From there, you can continue north to High Springs and intersect the ST there OR you could go east along the coast to as far west as Surfside Beach, TX if you prefer beach and a lot for services (and a lot more traffic).  I have done both but since I love beaches, I prefer the coastal route.  If you do this, you could also head north and reconnect to the ST in several places (near St. Marks, Grayton Beach, Pensacola, etc.).

Also, if you prefer San Antonio over Austin, I have routes that break off the ST in La Grange and reconnect in Brackettville.

Regardless, I highly suggest the coastal section between Navarre, FL and Pensacola. Check out Google Streetview along the beach here to see what I mean.

If you want to do the coastal route AND have a GPS, contact me privately and I can send you cue sheets and GPS waypoints.

Regardless which route you choose, I wish you a great trip!

I have done extensive solo touring and touring with others, both small and large groups.  I prefer traveling with 1 other who is extremely compatible then solo touring then a distant third other groups.

By compatible, I mean we tend to have the same sleep patterns; similar riding strength, endurence, and abilities; same eating preferences; same lodging preferences; and same temperament/attitude.  If possible, I also like to have similar financial resources so that if one of us wants to get a motel, that doesn't cause stress.

Even when I ride with someone, I frequently ride by myself, especially if a hilly and or windy day.  To me, those are days when you really need to set your own pace.

Remember, being solo allows you a lot of freedom.  You do not give up much by going solo.

Sure there are places that just suck due to the conditions, isolation being one of them.  But if I know when it will end (300 more miles of wheat stubble in Kansas into a headwind), I can mentally do it.  Granted, I will bitch but I can do it.

In summary, I let the route be the primary deciding factor, not who goes with me if anyone nor the isolation.

Southwest / Re: canyon de chelly, AZ
« on: January 07, 2016, 06:51:52 pm »
Just researching route for a Phoenix to Grand Junction route.  You just covered all the info about the Indian Reservation that is why I was asking about the condition. I would totally self contained and would probably just try to head out right at dawn and hope to make it off the Reservation before nightfall.

Southwest / Re: canyon de chelly, AZ
« on: January 07, 2016, 11:52:40 am »
Thanks.  My own research somewhat agrees with what you have, i.e. BIA-7 is somewhat sandy but the stretch between pavement is more like 23 miles (assuming Google satellite view is accurate).  I was hoping you had actually ridden it so you could indicate how sandy it actually was.  While you can always go a sandy road it isn't always worth it so I was trying to get firsthand experience.

Regards, John

Routes / Re: New improved route NY/CT border to Northern Maine
« on: January 06, 2016, 08:00:50 pm »

Would you say your route is better than ACA's and if so why, i.e. less traffic, more scenic, more services, etc.?

Southwest / Re: canyon de chelly, AZ
« on: January 04, 2016, 10:30:23 pm »
I was wondering which route you chose and the riding conditions of it.  Thanks, John

Routes / Re: Safety of Southern Tier near Border
« on: January 01, 2016, 05:39:42 pm »
We just got done with a western leg of the ST this past November between Phoenix and San Diego and we had zero issues with safety other than the previously reported narrow road and lots of RVs on the stretch between Blythe and Brawley.  No "immigration" issues at all.  Do note the stretch along the California border does have limited services so stock up in El Centro.  The climb out of El Centro is long but not unbearable.  Enjoy the ride!

Routes / Re: Crossing the Mississippi
« on: December 24, 2015, 05:00:38 pm »
Ahh.  Then since there are no other bridges between those in your OP, I would still call the Vicksburg Bridge Commission @ 601/636-0881 and see what they say.  Who knows, they might have converted the old bridge into a "rail trail". Again, post the response.

Also, depending on your trip's route, you can also head south to Natchez and cross on US-61.  Not overly enjoyable with 23k cars per day and no shoulder but it is doable with its 4 lanes.  Or you can head further north to Helena and cross  US49 with its 4K cars but only 2 lanes.  Of course you can cross using the ST route near New Roads, LA on the new bridge (nice) or cross at Memphis on the south-side sidewalk of US-55.  A little tricky to get to but fine.  If you go through Memphis, contact me for directions.  Of all these, I prefer Greenville, New Roads, and Memphis assuming Vicksburg is not a rail trail.

Routes / Re: Crossing the Mississippi
« on: December 24, 2015, 04:14:33 pm »
You do not indicate where you are.  The Greenville bridge is new with wide shoulders.  As of a couple of years ago, you could NOT legally cross in Vicksburg according to the Vicksburg Bridge Commission whom I asked. However, since then I have "heard" third hand you could cross on the old Bridge (just north of the interstate).  If you try crossing the Vicksburg Bridge, please post the outcome. 

Routes / Re: Southern Tier with no camping?
« on: December 22, 2015, 10:32:12 pm »
The journal link was bad and did not go through.

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