Cities to live in for training/racing



joroshiba

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Dec 19, 2012
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So I'm taking a year off school because I haven't been doing school work in school, I'm gonna ride and race (mostly) for a year. Which begs the question, where should I live for this year?

I want some place (ideally) where I can hit long climbs without driving, but also make a fairly flat long ride. I don't mind cold, but preferably not too much snow, and warms up during the day. Being close to good racing with mountains would be ideal too. I'm going to be picky and say not too hot as well. Lastly, an area where it isn't terribly hard to make ends meet would be ideal.

So... thoughts on where I should live for the next year?

Oh yeah, worth noting: I'm in the continental US and leaving isn't an option.
 

danfoz

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Apr 12, 2011
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NYC?

Local racing events are usually filled up so you can expect to be lining up with 100+ other racers at every race (unless you are Cat5). There's usually 2 weekend venues between Central Park and Prospect Park, and mid-week Tues eve racing at Floyd Bennet Field throughout the season. There are usually two or three longer road races each year (60+ mi) within 50 miles of the city.

There are rider friendly roads where one can do 2x20's to hearts delight with nairy a red light, well pretty close. And we typically don't see the driver angst I've heard described about on this forum, at least in 30+ years on a bike in and around NY I haven't seen it or heard of it from the riders and racers I've fraternized with (which doesn't mean it's absent, just uncommon).

Climbing is available but takes getting out of the city. Some good climbing can be reached by bike (Bear Mountain) but having a car is ideal.

The biggest problem is for 2 months of the year it's just about too hot to ride, and for another 2 months too cold or inclement.

Rent is through the roof and it costs twice as much to live here compared to most places but where else can you make $12-14/hour preparing coffee for someone? ;-)
 

sitzmark

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Jan 12, 2010
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Originally Posted by joroshiba .

I want some place (ideally) where I can hit long climbs without driving, but also make a fairly flat long ride. I don't mind cold, but preferably not too much snow, and warms up during the day. Being close to good racing with mountains would be ideal too. I'm going to be picky and say not too hot as well. Lastly, an area where it isn't terribly hard to make ends meet would be ideal.
A reasonably good description of the Golden - Boulder, CO corridor. Somewhat temperate in winter - sun shines often after snows and streets clear. Summers can be warm/hot. Boulder not inexpensive, but there's a lot of choice if you're willing to be on the outskirts - depends on what qualifies as not terribly hard to make ends meet.

Seattle and Portland are great biking "towns" but you will need to acclimate to "damp" weather. Winters are temperate (but wet) and the variety of terrain (and activities in general) is fantastic.

Some beautiful riding in Northern/Central CA. (SF, Las Gatos, Santa Clara, Santa Ynez, Sacramento, etc.) The more interior, the more heat. Making ends meet - well ... could be a challenge depending on choices made. Weather ... pretty sweet.

These are favorites of mine for cycling and living in general. You'll find racing just about everywhere.

East Coast - Northeast - you know ... when it gets cold it stays cold. :)

Mid-Atlantic to the Carolina's has rolling terrain and terrific cycling, but the farther south you go gets you humidity and heat. Spent some of my youth in Georgia and never truly acclimated to heat/humidity. I'm a CO native and cool/cold is what I like.
 

alienator

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The Boulder/Golden area is great, and so is the Tucson area. Both have easily accessible long climbs and a wide variety of ride types. I don't know what the cost of living is right now of the Front Range in Colorado, but the cost of living in Tucson is pretty easy to manage. I used to live in Tucson, and the cost of living there (rent, food, and etc) compared pretty evenly to the cost of living in Ohio, now. The big difference is that Ohio has zero appealing scenery and is pretty much a cultural vacuum. If you like beer and Mexican food, Tucson should be your destination.
 

joroshiba

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Dec 19, 2012
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If you think NYC summer is too hot to ride, that's unfortunate. I should qualify when I say too hot to ride, I'm from Austin TX originally. 95 with 50%+ humidity is terrible.

I thought about Tuscon, but for racing I didn't think there was much in terms of climbing (I'm 112lb at my leanest race weight, 117lb at present). As for mexican food, I am from texas. Beer's I'm going to have to wait a year for though. (20 years old)

I've been looking at the Boulder area but everything I can find in the area is pricey. A bit much on the snowfall from what I understand too. I don't want to take a year off school and then get stuck on a trainer for a week because roads are unsafe. It also seems like someone gets hit by a car in Boulder every other day and the whole cycling world gets to hear about it.

I've been looking at the Western Slope, specifically Grand Junction. 13 inches of snow a year, good climbs (more snow up there), good flats, avg high of 43 in the winter. I'll take a look at Golden as well.
 

daveryanwyoming

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A lot of good options listed above. I'd suggest checking out the local bike racing organizations and their calendars at least for the current season for any place that makes your short list.

Weather, terrain and roads are great in many of the places mentioned especially:

- Front range/Boulder area
- NorCal - Bay Area
- Tucson and the SouthWest
- SoCal

Weather not so great but awesome year round riding and racing scenes in
- Portland/Bend
- Seattle

Many good options for year round training in all of those places and more. But definitely check out the race scene as well. Both NorCal, SoCal, Portland, Seattle and even the front range of Colorado have good velodromes which opens up additional racing and training opportunities and all of those places have regular weeknight race series one or a few nights per week in season. I don't know the scene in the desert SouthWest but I wouldn't be surprised if it's similar in terms of frequent opportunities to race.

Anyway, think big picture and figure out where you'd like to spend a year and I'm sure you'll land somewhere awesome.

Keep us posted on your year of training and racing, sounds like a fun journey,
-Dave
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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Originally Posted by daveryanwyoming .

A lot of good options listed above. I'd suggest checking out the local bike racing organizations and their calendars at least for the current season for any place that makes your short list.

Weather, terrain and roads are great in many of the places mentioned especially:

- Front range/Boulder area
- NorCal - Bay Area
- Tucson and the SouthWest
- SoCal

Weather not so great but awesome year round riding and racing scenes in
- Portland/Bend
- Seattle

Many good options for year round training in all of those places and more. But definitely check out the race scene as well. Both NorCal, SoCal, Portland, Seattle and even the front range of Colorado have good velodromes which opens up additional racing and training opportunities and all of those places have regular weeknight race series one or a few nights per week in season. I don't know the scene in the desert SouthWest but I wouldn't be surprised if it's similar in terms of frequent opportunities to race.

Anyway, think big picture and figure out where you'd like to spend a year and I'm sure you'll land somewhere awesome.

Keep us posted on your year of training and racing, sounds like a fun journey,
-Dave
The Bay Area is great for riding but Sacramento and places a little further east would be more affordable for a slacker than can't even manage time to do school work at school. Pretty much everywhere close to water in the Bay Area is stupid expensive and the places that aren't you might want to wear Kevlar and stay indoors at night.
 

CAMPYBOB

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Sep 12, 2005
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"...the Bay Area is stupid expensive and the places that aren't you might want to wear Kevlar and stay indoors at night."

This. Why cities?

Of course, almost any place is an improvement over Rochester. Not too hot? No such thing! OK...Arizona, SoCal, NewMex and a lot of your old home state are out. The humidity will keep you out of the Gulf also, I'm guessing.

Colorado is very nice, but as mentioned most of it has gotten pretty pricey. NorCal would be one of my picks if I were young and bumming around on a bike again. Floriduh would also make my short list if it weren't for your hill requirement...maybe Georgia? The Carolinas? Way better winters than Rochester, but probably still too hot n the summers?

The Midwest is a nice balance, but the local race scenes really vary from slim pickings to very good. Living costs are generally low and part time jobs are easy to come by. Driving to races will be a necessity in most cases.
 

sitzmark

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Jan 12, 2010
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Originally Posted by joroshiba .

I've been looking at the Western Slope, specifically Grand Junction. 13 inches of snow a year, good climbs (more snow up there), good flats, avg high of 43 in the winter. I'll take a look at Golden as well.
Can get pretty hot in summer on the WS, but without a lot of humidity. Not as much employment opportunity as front range. Some spectacular riding in the area, including southeast around Montrose, Gunnison, etc.

You might include Morrison, Evergreen and 'Lakewood" in your search on the front range. Morrison and Evergreen have grown exponentially, but some of the older sections of town should have more reasonable rents. Lakewood, is densely populated and just SE of Golden. At the other end (north) you might check out Longmont - quickly expanding and probably good employment options. Both Lakewood and Longmont are "suburban sprawl" and not the same environment as Boulder, Golden. Old town Morrison and Evergreen are Boulder-like ... topography only ... not even same planet regarding nightlife and activities.
 

danfoz

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Apr 12, 2011
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Originally Posted by joroshiba .

If you think NYC summer is too hot to ride, that's unfortunate. I should qualify when I say too hot to ride, I'm from Austin TX originally. 95 with 50%+ humidity is terrible.
We had two recent weeks of 90-95 with high humidity which peaked out at 97. Brutal! Most of the summer is a bearable mid-80's but a humid 95 is a humid 95 no matter where one has planted.
 

joroshiba

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Dec 19, 2012
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Originally Posted by sitzmark .


Can get pretty hot in summer on the WS, but without a lot of humidity. Not as much employment opportunity as front range. Some spectacular riding in the area, including southeast around Montrose, Gunnison, etc.
Yeah, but unlike Texas it is 60 degrees in the morning! Dry heat and altitude means it cools down. I was in Grand Junction recently and the riding or both road and mountain was fantastic.

Boulder I was thinking was out simply because the climate data I found states that they get 85" of snow per year. Ft. Collins based on some rudimentary research looks good (google searches, strava segments). In the NorCal area: Santa Rosa? Still pricey, not as much as right on the bay though (in areas where I shouldn't wear kevlar around the clock) but looks like I could find a room to rent for a reasonable price, and I've ridden out there before pretty awesome riding, tons of paved roads (lots of them are rough, but that doesn't bother me much). Wouldn't have to worry about snow. Asheville, NC could be an option as well. Bend I've been to once before, it was pretty awesome even though I wasn't riding at the time (ski trip). I'll look into that as well.

As far as nightlife goes, I could care less. I didn't do school in school because I would skip class to ride whenever the roads were clear enough/warm enough. Although good nightlife does provide the odd hours employment opportunities I desire so I can ride during the day. That said, so does opening a coffee shop at 5am, or restocking shelves at a big box store overnight. Employment is a serious consideration though. I'll likely end up trying to find jobs in multiple cities and moving wherever the opportunity presents itself.

So far the list is (no particular order): Grand Junction, Santa Rosa, Ft. Collins, Asheville, Santa Fe, Durango, Bend. One thing is for certain, my family will want to visit me a whole lot more than when I was in Rochester.
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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Originally Posted by joroshiba ....So far the list is (no particular order): Grand Junction, Santa Rosa, Ft. Collins, Asheville, Santa Fe, Durango, Bend. One thing is for certain, my family will want to visit me a whole lot more than when I was in Rochester.
Good list, you might want to add Walnut Creek California, Dublin or other places near but not in the top rent district of NorCal. You'd be right at the base of Mt Diablo with an hour plus continuous climb plus plenty of options heading back towards the Berkeley Hills and flats extending in several directions including out through Morgan Territories and the Livermore Dublin area to other great climbs including Mt. Hamilton or routes over Altimont Pass, Corral Hollow and more. Add to that a very full racing calendar and great weather and it's hard to beat.

But realistically it's hard to go wrong with any of the places on your list.

-Dave
 

CAMPYBOB

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The riding around Asheville is awesome. It has the terrain you seek and the racing scene on the seaboard is pretty good.. It sounds like you won't be hanging around any one place too long. Good for you! Travel as much as you can while you are young and enjoy the road.

The Charlotte area is also fantastic for riding. Charlotte, itself, not so much. Kevlar and a CCW piece syndrome again. Better secondary and tertiary road system than the Ashville area.
 

joroshiba

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Dec 19, 2012
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Originally Posted by CAMPYBOB .

The riding around Asheville is awesome. It has the terrain you seek and the racing scene on the seaboard is pretty good.. It sounds like you won't be hanging around any one place too long. Good for you! Travel as much as you can while you are young and enjoy the road.

The Charlotte area is also fantastic for riding. Charlotte, itself, not so much. Kevlar and a CCW piece syndrome again. Better secondary and tertiary road system than the Ashville area.
I won't hit all those places, I'll get a job and settle in for a year. Traveling isn't ideal for training, and this really is about trying to become the best I can become in a year (mostly) dedicated to getting fit. This past year was my first of real training and I went from bottom of the barrel Cat 3 to now halfway to a 2 upgrade. At peak this past season 20 min power was 4.8 w/kg, so part of this whole experience is taking the time to train and eat properly without screwing over school for me and see if I have the genetics and drive it takes to eventually "make it."


Quote: Originally Posted by daveryanwyoming .


Good list, you might want to add Walnut Creek California, Dublin or other places near but not in the top rent district of NorCal. You'd be right at the base of Mt Diablo with an hour plus continuous climb plus plenty of options heading back towards the Berkeley Hills and flats extending in several directions including out through Morgan Territories and the Livermore Dublin area to other great climbs including Mt. Hamilton or routes over Altimont Pass, Corral Hollow and more. Add to that a very full racing calendar and great weather and it's hard to beat.

But realistically it's hard to go wrong with any of the places on your list.

-Dave

Walnut Creek looks awesome, and again able to find a room to rent for a reasonable price (500-600/month). The weather in the Bay Area is pretty hard to beat, was in santa cruz, san francisco, and santa rosa a couple years ago while on vacation. Riding was awesome all around there, Santa Rosa has tons of climbs but no single massive one from what I can tell, Santa Cruz had fabulous mountain biking, and riding over the Golden Gate bridge and up Mt Tam was awesome. Most of those climbs are almost all climbable year around too, whereas in Colorado as far as I can tell lots of stuff can become unrideable seasonably. Both seem to have a great racing calendar.

I also have to consider what I'm doing for school in the future with all of this, cause I'll likely settle somewhere where I can gain residency and not go back to Rochester but still finish up school. Somehow the few people who ride there love it, but the racing scene is small to non-existant and school + training is remarkably hard if you don't love your bike trainer. for that reason, I was originally focusing on Colorado, could finish up my degree at a number of schools there and race in a great collegiate conference with a sizeable team to race/train with.
 

joroshiba

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Mechanical Engineering was my major, likely sticking with it, but not positive. I have a year to sort that one out 100%.
 

daveryanwyoming

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Originally Posted by joroshiba .

Mechanical Engineering was my major, likely sticking with it, but not positive. I have a year to sort that one out 100%.
Hmmm, UC Davis, University of Arizona, CU Boulder... all great schools with great cycling programs, yeah think about the residency thing.

-Dave
 

sitzmark

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I lived in OH (Westlake) for a while - while it wasn't so bad, I think I'd chose School of Mines in Golden. :wink:
 

alienator

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joroshiba said:
Mechanical Engineering was my major, likely sticking with it, but not positive. I have a year to sort that one out 100%.
Daveryanwyoming pointed out some schools with engineering pedigrees. Keep in mind, however, that it's difficult in most cases to establish residency quickly and can take up to a year most times. As such, you'll likely be paying out-of-state prices on credit hours. I don't know about the other universities, but the University of Arizona offers a wide range of online courses which can may be a bit cheaper. When at UA, I took a few online grad courses when the classroom versions conflicted with other classes. UA has a good mech engineering program, along with a good aerospace engineering program. They also have something very cool in their Space Sciences school. Given the climate, summer clothes are worn nearly year round, and that should be a hint as to what the female population is wearing throughout most of the school year. Don't dismiss Arizona climbs. There is that Mt. Lemmon thing that offers a 27 mile ascent, and there's also Kitt Peak, Madera Canyon, the Tucson Mountains, and many others within short range of the Old Pueblo. There are more rolling and mountainous rides there than there are flat rides. There are also hordes of bike shops, restaurants, bars, and etc in which to find work. You can find apartments for between $400-$600 easily, and bike commuting makes living there a doddle. It's easy to hook up with other cyclists in Tucson and make trips to Colorado and California (San Diego is 6'ish hours away). Having lived in Boulder, Tucson, and having spent a lot of time in the Vail/Edwards area of Colorado, the cycling deliciousness of all those areas rank closely together. I'd give Tucson the nod because of year round riding conditions. Ft Collins, IMHO, should rate serious consideration. They've an excellent university there. There's loads of flat riding to the east and mountainous nirvana to the west (including a convenient day ride to the top of Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park on Trail Ridge Rd--highest paved road in the US--and back). Ft. Collins definitely has the small town feel compared to Boulder.