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Best cycling city in USA?

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Best cycling city in USA?

Old 12-01-19, 11:12 PM
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RupertCornelius
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Best cycling city in USA?

It's a common theme in many sports - skiing, running, rock climbing, etc that people seek out the best cities to live in to have the best places nearby, but I haven't seen the similar sorts of threads for cycling.

Where in the US has the best road cycling? I'd think maybe somewhere in California, where you get year-round rideable weather, not too hot summers but also no snow or cold in winter, along with ability to get up into mountains. Various places in the Rockies would be good for summer, but snowed in in the winter. Doesn't seem like anything east of the Mississippi would even be a contender, but maybe somewhere in North Carolina, Tennessee or Kentucky has the climate and topology, if it also had a local scene and safe roads.

So all things considered - year-round weather, terrain, roads, traffic, group rides, etc, where has the best cycling?
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Old 12-01-19, 11:22 PM
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No snow? Some of the best riding is on snow surfaces. Every season has a bike type. The types of biking and types of riding preferences are too broad although it makes for a good long winded discussion thread 😃
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Old 12-02-19, 12:02 AM
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Much as it pains me to say, probably the San Diego area. Well established cycling infrastructure (bike lanes everywhere,) lots of clubs, plenty of annual events, weather is tough to beat.

I just detest driving there.
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Old 12-02-19, 01:09 AM
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Fort Collins, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Portland are a few that often come up at the top. I do believe right now that Fort Collins is the hot one on several of these ridiculous lists. From what I have heard, Copenhagen blows all of these away, but I've never ridden there, so can't say, myself.
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Old 12-02-19, 03:12 AM
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define "city." <50k? <100k? <500k? <1mil? san diego is so 80's...try austin, santa rosa, los alamos, sedona, bend, boise, slc, provo, las cruces, tucson,
paso robles, slo, reno, kanab, st. george, silver city, portland instead. apparently california gives too much free stuff away but prety sure it's not lighting or deep dish carbon wheels.

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Old 12-02-19, 08:36 AM
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Recreation or Commuting

For recreation I would say Sacramento.

32 mile american river bike trail and 40 mile folsom canal trail 10 mile sacramento river trail.

You can easily so a century without hearing traffic let alone riding with it.

Also dry riding weather from Mar to Nov.
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Old 12-02-19, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Much as it pains me to say, probably the San Diego area. Well established cycling infrastructure (bike lanes everywhere,) lots of clubs, plenty of annual events, weather is tough to beat.

I just detest driving there.
I think that San Diego is surprisingly un-cycling friendly for the amount of riders it has. This includes miles of bike lanes and general road conditions. Within the county, North County is significantly better with easier access to open country roads and climbing.

I will agree that the amount of clubs, events and weather are indeed pretty tough to beat. In regards to the events, the number of USAC sanctioned races has dropped from 5-6 a few years ago to just 1 now. But that problem also extends to SCNCA/NCNCA and the nation at large. USAC needs to do a better job of fostering participation, and we need another lance-like GC rider to garner interest on a bigger scale.

My vote def. goes to Santa Barbara for the record. I spent 10 weeks there interning in college (~2009) and had a hard time staying in the lab enough... Great riding all around and drivers that seemed to be more tolerant towards it. San Diego is quite conservative in comparison, politically and culturally and I've felt generally safer on the road the farther north in the state I've been. College was Humboldt State U, also awesome but just so remote, and rain.
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Old 12-02-19, 11:04 AM
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I think the best comparison list would be the LABs list. Cities of all sizes area rated. You can decide if their ratings are good or bad but they are suppose to be consistent. https://bikeleague.org/bfa/awards#community

bpcyclist is right about Copenhagen. I have biked there and there is not a city on the list that comes close.

BTW, if you are not a member of LAB, you may want to consider supporting them
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Old 12-02-19, 11:08 AM
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I don't agree with the idea that you have to ride 365 days a year for a place to be good. Cross training is the spice of life.
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Old 12-02-19, 11:32 AM
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Well I don't know about the best in the world, but Folsom CA has over 50 miles of paved bike trails - many more unpaved. I moved here specifically for those trails, which I enjoy daily.
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Old 12-02-19, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by UsedToBeFaster View Post
For recreation I would say Sacramento.

32 mile american river bike trail and 40 mile folsom canal trail 10 mile sacramento river trail.

You can easily so a century without hearing traffic let alone riding with it.

Also dry riding weather from Mar to Nov.
It’s all so flat, though. You’d have to ride a couple hours each way to Folsom/Roseville or Winters/Vacaville (depending which side of town you live) to get any decent elevation in.
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Old 12-02-19, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I don't agree with the idea that you have to ride 365 days a year for a place to be good. Cross training is the spice of life.
It’s not mandatory, but it can be a factor. Nobody’s saying they want to ride in Phoenix or LA, even though they’re dry, because the car is king there. But a million miles of bike paths will get a lot less use in a city where you get your trouser and socks wet every time you ride.
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Old 12-02-19, 12:49 PM
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I love my hometown of Sacramento, but it's very flat and frying pan hot in the summer. I would have to say Santa Rosa: cooler than Sacramento, less crowded than SF-Oak, easy access to climbing or the coast, great options for road, mtb, or gravel.
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Old 12-02-19, 02:08 PM
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How about we not talk about the obvious stuff?

Like, just describe your area perhaps?

I live in Raleigh. We've got two 30-mile each way paved rail trails. One with zero road crossings. So you could ride your bike 90min each way non-stop with no cars. Greenways are definitely a runners/dog person's world, but once out of town by a mile past the trailheads.........you're good.

Also, we've got Umstead park and Lake Crabtree. MTB and gravel heaven inside the city limits and accessible by greenway from the city proper. I'd say that's a huge draw.

I can't imagine many larger towns cities with something like Umstead/Crabtree.

They also approved some bonds recently on greenway/rail trails that would link up the Raleigh and Cary systems and finally plug a few major holes for folks looking to get certain places without taking crap roads or driving to get there.
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Old 12-02-19, 02:38 PM
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Oddly enough Merlin, Oregon gets a nod from me. Low population, mild weather, and single-lane paved logging roads that go for hundreds/thousands of miles into the hills.
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Old 12-02-19, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
Oddly enough Merlin, Oregon gets a nod from me. Low population, mild weather, and single-lane paved logging roads that go for hundreds/thousands of miles into the hills.
Yes, but you do have to keep eyes peeled for those log trucks barreling down the hill...
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Old 12-02-19, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
Yes, but you do have to keep eyes peeled for those log trucks barreling down the hill...
And the meth labs/illegal marijuana grows.

Aside from the life-threatening aspects, Merlin is tops
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Old 12-02-19, 04:19 PM
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I think cities are jumping off points to better cycling venues. If I am ever in a financial position to retire fully, I am moving to a small town in the Eastern Sierra. There is enough varied recreational activities and hundreds of miles of forest roads, mountain paved roads and single tracks to never get bored.
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Old 12-02-19, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
And the meth labs/illegal marijuana grows.

Aside from the life-threatening aspects, Merlin is tops
And squatches, which can be aggressive during mating season.
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Old 12-02-19, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by RupertCornelius View Post
It's a common theme in many sports - skiing, running, rock climbing, etc that people seek out the best cities to live in to have the best places nearby, but I haven't seen the similar sorts of threads for cycling.

Where in the US has the best road cycling? I'd think maybe somewhere in California, where you get year-round rideable weather, not too hot summers but also no snow or cold in winter, along with ability to get up into mountains. Various places in the Rockies would be good for summer, but snowed in in the winter. Doesn't seem like anything east of the Mississippi would even be a contender, but maybe somewhere in North Carolina, Tennessee or Kentucky has the climate and topology, if it also had a local scene and safe roads.

So all things considered - year-round weather, terrain, roads, traffic, group rides, etc, where has the best cycling?
Let me understand "road cycling" - you mean riding proper road bike with the intent of racing road races? Then look were the US pro riders live and ride. If you looking for a bike friendly place to ride any bike ... I'll give big ups to my town - Minneapolis! https://www.ourstreetsmpls.org/minne...city_in_the_us

For reference, I ride a bike whenever I can on travel, and I travel around the US frequently. Chicago is good, DC is OK, San Diego was good, Houston sucked ... to name a few that stand out. Also, I've bike-tour France, and our best cities are crap in comparison.

I live just west of Minneapolis (9 miles by the Cedar Trail), in Hopkins, there are 5 regional trails that are less then a mile from my garage. This give you 10 to 15 miles on any one of the trails without sharing with motor vehicles; and connects you to a network of trails that can take you all sorts of amazing places - you could route a car-free century route.

I'm not understanding the snow issue? We have great year-round bike community here. The city plows dedicated bike routes before most streets. There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad bike gear.

Lastly, tell me, where else in the US do you have a bike freeway? Three lanes (Eastbound bike, Westbound bike, and foot traffic); connects the western suburbs right to downtown, Target Field, and bike friendly train connections to MSP and MOA.

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Old 12-02-19, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
How about we not talk about the obvious stuff?

Like, just describe your area perhaps?

I live in Raleigh. We've got two 30-mile each way paved rail trails. One with zero road crossings. So you could ride your bike 90min each way non-stop with no cars. Greenways are definitely a runners/dog person's world, but once out of town by a mile past the trailheads.........you're good.

Also, we've got Umstead park and Lake Crabtree. MTB and gravel heaven inside the city limits and accessible by greenway from the city proper. I'd say that's a huge draw.

I can't imagine many larger towns cities with something like Umstead/Crabtree.

They also approved some bonds recently on greenway/rail trails that would link up the Raleigh and Cary systems and finally plug a few major holes for folks looking to get certain places without taking crap roads or driving to get there.
Raining. It's been raining since I've lived here.
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Old 12-02-19, 05:42 PM
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I've done a couple hub-and-spoke bike tours in Bend, OR. Nice there. Town is a bit odd, mostly populated by young well-to-do athletic types. Good biking roads, lots of bikes on them. People there paddleboard, kayak, rock climb, road bike and/or MTB, ski Alpine and XC. Only thing is, property values have jumped up a lot there in the past few years. 10 years ago was the time. Good weather, not that hot in summer for being in eastern Oregon. High. The whole place is built on a lava flow. One mostly has to drill to put in fence posts.
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Old 12-02-19, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Much as it pains me to say, probably the San Diego area. Well established cycling infrastructure (bike lanes everywhere,) lots of clubs, plenty of annual events, weather is tough to beat.

I just detest driving there.
East county. Out Alpine, Julian, Palomar, Mesa Grande, Boulevard, Kitchen Creek, La Posta, Sunrise Hwy, Hwy 79 between I-8 and Julian, Old Hwy 80 and Hwy 94, are all incredible rides with very little traffic.
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Old 12-02-19, 06:43 PM
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^sssshhhh....
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Old 12-02-19, 07:03 PM
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Surprisingly...where I used to live (La Crosse, WI) was absolutely amazing for road cycling. By 'road cycling', I mean riding a bike on a road that is shared with cars.

Wisconsin paves almost all roads to support the dairy industry. The far western part of the state is super unpopulated, so that means lots of completely empty rural roads. There are also Cat 3 and 4 climbs all over the place (usually 1-2 miles, with 400-600 ft. elevation gain, averaging 6-11%), so plenty of opportunities for nice climbs and zippy descents. If the two cars every 10 miles are still too much, there's a bunch of gravel across the river in Minnesota...it's really dead over there. Drivers are mostly cool, as long as the farmers can get around.

Cons: Limited cell service (you're on your own, champ!), no actual mountains/long climbs, Winter (people do ride in the winter, but road cycling dies out), not much to do in town.
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