Friday Group Ride #374

Friday Group Ride #374

I love where I live, both generally and specifically. New England, its twisting roadways, dense greenery, and historical charm, is a great place to ride a bike. And the little house I share with my wife and two boys is more or less perfect, perched most of the way down a dead end road on the back of a big park. It’s quiet, but also close to the city. I can ride a road bike or a mountain bike straight out the end of my driveway and be into good pedaling within 10-15 minutes. In the grand lottery of location, location, location, we’ve won. It was luck. I am lucky.

None of that keeps me from thinking of living elsewhere.

My grandparents lived in a little bungalow on the side of a hill in mid-Wales, sprawling green fields dotted with sheep, narrow lanes hemmed by hedges that rise and dip through more and more beautiful greeness. I could live there. I would wheel my way north to Snowdonia. I would quaff the scent of cow shit on the breeze and smile and push on. I could be happy there. The mountain biking is absolutely insane.

I could think about Northern California, too. I hesitate to even type words here, because Patrick talks and writes about his home so well. Norcal has the climate and the beauty, too.

This week’s Group Ride asks, where would you relocate, if you had to relocate? I mean, to live, not just to visit. I could see visiting Alpe d’Huez, but I’d hate to have to go over the top of that towering mound every day just to get an espresso or piece of fresh fish. There are a lot of great places to visit, but…where would you live?

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  1. Scott D Gilbert

    I’m already in a great cycling place…San Diego. I’m 15 minutes from the velodrome to race Friday nights.I have the choice of hilly or flat rides depending on which way I ride at the bottom of the driveway. Coastal rides, mountain rides. Coffee stops and brewery stops.

  2. Dylan

    Once I get out of grad school I’m considering Colorado or Montana for the mountains and the cycling, but I would love to end up back in Vermont. I miss those back roads in the fall.

    @Andrew Where in SE MN? I’m currently in Minneapolis. The riding is great, but everything is so flat.

    1. Andrew

      Rochester. Flat?!?! Guy, you need to come down this way. Gravel is where it’s at here. The Mississipi bluffs area from Red Wing south to Iowa is incredible. The Soring Valley area where the Almanzo is. The Lanesboro area is super hilly. Most of those places you’ll get 8000 ft plus climbing over 100 miles. Just riding before work yesterday, right around here, I got 2000 in 32 miles.

  3. cash

    I live in northern Colorado. When I moved here from Las Vegas 12 years ago, I quickly decided I would never leave. Everything was to my liking … excellent road biking, superb mountain biking, hiking trails, etc etc. It was to my mind a paradise and I couldn’t fathom every leaving. Now, I’ve concluded I would leave in a heartbeat given the right opportunity. And if I was moving here now, I wouldn’t because I couldn’t afford to live in my own house in my own city. I know I sound like Gran Torino, but an influx of population, people, and petulance has turned this place into an also ran. The trails are still great but crowded. The road cycling is still good, but for the traffic.

    Where would I go …. I don’t know. San Diego. Seattle. Portland. PNW. My dream … to own a coffee shop in Cannon Beach. Cliche, sure. But that place speaks to me soul.

  4. Ron Reed

    I’d like to live on the southern coast of Brittany. I love the culture, and the terrain is rolling and beautiful. The green Maryland countryside is quite lovely as well. The stretch of Oregon from Eugene west to the sea is a great place to ride, on or off road.

  5. Hoshie99

    I like LA, but at this stage of my life, could be very happy in San Luis Obispo (Central Coast of CA) or Bend, Oregon. Both places I have been and enjoy. I am also partial to parts of NorCal, but more where Patrick lives and less the Bay Area.

    Vancouver is great, but I’d worry about the rain doing me in.

    For Andrew who wrote Southeastern MN, I frequently travel to Minneapolis, considered doing the Almanzo this year towards your locale, and can definitely see the appeal.

  6. Michael

    County Wicklow, an hour’s train ride or drive south of Dublin. We lived in WIcklow town for a year a couple of years ago and I loved the riding – endless range of small roads. We are moving back to Ireland next week for another year, but will be in Dublin city this time. I am less looking forward to having to ride through half an hour of city before I get to the nice riding. Still, it will be a good place to be, and I can commute by bike to work. We live in a great town now, with trails beginning three blocks from the house, and good road riding too. I realized the other day that my mountain bike has never been in or on a car in its 4 years of existence. So, a need for better riding is not going to drive me to leave.

  7. Bear

    I am an expat Brit and have lived in CO, ID and now SC. Loved CO and ID, but, i hate SC! Too hot, too humid, too many pickup trucks passing too close; coupled with a general dislike for cyclists it is not a nice place to be. My choices for a move would either be back to CO (Fort Collins looks good, and more affordable than Denver or Boulder), or back home to the NE of England. There were a couple of stages of the 2014 Tour in Yorkshire, and that is where I would go.

    1. Cash

      Fort Collins may be more affordable then Boulder but it’s still expensive. And crowded. I’ve lived in FTC for 12 years. It’s not the choice city it used to be.

  8. Arnie

    I live in eastern Pennsylvania. I can ride from my house and be on great roads in fewer than 10 minutes. Plenty of hills, quiet country roads, good coffee shops. Don’t want to move anywhere.

  9. MikeL

    I love where I live in SE Wyoming but I could easily pack up and move to southern Utah.
    Not necessarily for the riding, which is great , but because I am at peace when I am down there.

    1. Harry

      Yep. I don’t live there and I like where I do live (W. MA. – great riding); but there’s something about Southern Utah. I’ve visited many times and I too am at peace there.

  10. Pat O'Brien

    I have been retired for 13 years. I could live anywhere with a more or less comparable cost of living of my current address. I have looked, but no cigar. I live in Cochise County. Come on down and ride your ass off.

  11. Brian Ogilvie

    I find it hard to imagine relocating from western Massachusetts, but from a cycling and quality of life standpoint, I could enjoy living somewhere southeast of Paris, perhaps Rambouillet or somewhere nearby in the Chevreuse valley, on a commuter train line to Paris.

  12. Brad

    This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I was born and raised in Boulder and moved to Bend 3yrs ago looking for ‘the next Boulder’.

    In Boulder, when Californians (no disrespect, but largely fact) are paying $500/sqft for 40-50 year old run-down ranch-style homes that were previously trashed college rentals, many of us just have to get out of their way. To wit: The house my parents bought on Highway 36 7 miles north of Boulder in 1997 for 360k sold a few years ago for 1.9 million… to the top guy at the Seagate campus Longmont. To put that in perspective, my dad was able to raise a family as a mid level chemical engineer in Boulder in 1996, but now you’re probably the family of a Seagate executive to have the same experience if moving there today.

    So, Bend… Despite all the press and Outside magazine best-of nonsense, Bend can’t hold a candle to the road or MTB riding of FTC/Boulder/Golden, and it’s every bit as crowded with tourists in the summer (estimates for 2016 were 500-600,000 per month June/July/August for a town of 90,000). In many regards, Bend has been a major letdown for us and even lacking proximity to big metro area (for high paying jobs) it’s housing market is bananas. It’s a town of people that consider it a final destination and are often willing to pay anything to get here and then view everything through rose-colored glasses to justify it (sometimes I wonder if Bend would still be popular without 25 y/o hipsters taking selfies #livingthebendlife). Wife jokes it’s like having a house party at your house all summer long – tourists come and go and frankly use up and trash many of the reasons most of us moved here in the first place… and the economy revolves almost entirely around getting more and more tourists to come here so it’s a viscous cycle for those of us not making money off of them. Tragedy of the commons.

    For me, it all comes down to your baseline: mine is Boulder/Golden area, road and MTB circa 1996-2014… if you come to Boulder from San Jose today, it’s probably pure heaven and hardly expensive or crowded, same with Bend. For me, these areas are both expensive and crowded and the value propositions are sliding quickly in the wrong direction for us. We’ve thought of trying to go back to Boulder, but you really can’t step in the same river again and long-time friends and family still there are hanging onto their sanity by a thread – and it’s zero sum for them to sell unless they hit the eject button on the area completely.

    We’re contemplating a sale and another move from Bend. The markets will benefit us no doubt but our next step will have mountains and foothills bigger than Bend, hopefully on par with Boulder, a university, and lower state income taxes… and I think if you look hard enough and have flexibility there are good options for an active, healthy outdoor lifestyle, great cycling and good neighborhoods or land to raise a family that aren’t in the in-vogue states of CA/OR/CO.

    PS – for those considering Bend, it’s a great place in a lot of ways but I wish somebody had told me this before I came: don’t believe the hype about sunny mild winters (Visit Bend’s 300 days of sun metric only works if you count the most minuscule amounts of sun i.e. “Sun-Breaks”; when measured on par with Boulder for 3hrs of sun minimum for ‘sunny-day’ it shakes out to about 160 days of sun here compared to 250 for Boulder which seems right to us so far)… and if you like climby, technical road or MTB – it’s not here (see Oakridge or the CRG)… I still day-dream about fall rides up the dirt on Sunshine or Four-Mile or Lickskillet or an early morning Super Walker Ranch loop – nothing here compares.

    PPS – would love any recommendations for next place to try.

    1. Mark h

      I’ve lived in boulder and still have a house there.. and spent a few weeks in Bend.. I gotta say the mtb in bend beats boulder to death. As an avid mtb’r in Boulder it was very frustrating unless you are ok with driving. Agreed on the road riding.. I can’t really think of a better place to road ride than boulder. You can do a flat 100 mile road ride or a 100m crazy climby road ride at altitude and everything in between. I think boulder has better rock climbing …or at least more. Skiing wise boulder kindve sucks because it takes so long to get to bigger mountains.

  13. David Arnold

    Portland Oregon…racing on track or road 3-5 times a week… Sacramento CA…great training roads… American River ride and access to Bay area..Marin county etc. Great coffee…beer…food both places.

  14. Brad

    @Mark H.

    Thanks for the thoughts. I think it’s probably just horses for courses in our cases.

    I’ve found the riding in Bend to be 90% buffed-out single track with a lot of 3-5% grades and the occasional lava-rock garden. If that’s your jam, there’s probably nowhere better. I’d submit if you want more difficult terrain, you’re going to be driving here too unless you have the time and patience to navigate a lot of crowded and less challenging dirt in the process. The first month I was here, I went into what is often described as one of the best bike shops in town (they are good) to pick their brains for trails and after a few minutes the manager asked me where I was from, I said Colorado and he said, “Yeah, it’s different here – just assume a black diamond on the Bend trail maps is a blue intermediate in Colorado…”

    The trails here are well suited to SSMTB or SSCX when the dust and crowds ebb (April/May and Sept/Oct) and IMO the perfect bike is basically a hard tail 29er, maybe with a dropper post.

    Skiing-wise, Bachelor is 30-45 min from Bend when roads/traffic are good (not often last year) but has ‘uge weekend crowds and their season passes have become mortgage payments. HooDoo == Eldora (recommend)

    Bend is over-hyped but it might not get enough credit for the water sports… especially once you get up and out of town into the mountain lakes and streams (the Deschutes is cool, but it’s pretty much Spring Break Daytona all summer). Paddle board, kayak, canoe is all outstanding in Central Oregon – and the water is like glass – it’s likely to be the thing we miss most about area… strong recommend.

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