I grew up in SLC and my Dad and other parts of my family still live there. I haven’t lived there for over 10 years, but I go back frequently for visits and still have friends there.
The cycling is, by my account, nothing less than lovely. I mean the cycling outside the city proper. I always headed for the canyons—but, I am a climber—and I loved it. If you don’t like climbing, there are plenty of other options—but in my book they are not as pretty as the mountains. Since I have been away for a while, I can’t comment on the club scene. But, when I was there a decade ago, it was already well-developed.
The city itself is less bike friendly than the other places I have lived in the U.S. (Portland, OR and Madison, WI), but I am sure that it is better than a lot of other places. SLC is famous for its wide streets, which usually give bikes enough room, even if bike lanes are lacking.
I would disagree with Joe, however, about the size. I find the city a sprawling mass—and it has grown rapidly in the last decade. The City itself is only 275,000 and compact, but we always count “the Valley,” which is about 850,000 or so. For a metro area with that population, it takes up an awful lot of space. North to South measures some 30+ miles and it is essentially full (although there is still empty space West of the city, and a few pockets on the East side). But, by East coast standards, the city may still seem small.
Joe is right, being close to Downtown (on the North end of the Valley) has a lot to recommend it. But, above all, try to stay on the East side—that way you’ll be close to the mountains no matter how far South of Downtown you are. Personally, I would set my priority on living close to my workplace. Despite improvements in the last few years, the mass-transit system leaves a lot to be desired.
As far as the political/religious climate is concerned, I would confirm Pokey’s judgment, mostly. Quite a few non-Mormons who come to the State find it stifling. But, the “counter-culture” is alive and well in SLC. Just immerse yourself in it. SLC does, after all, consistently send a Democrat to Congress, despite Utah topping the charts with its votes for Republican presidents. The saddest thing about the Mormon-Gentile separation is that it can be extreme. None of my friends growing up were Mormons, few of our family friends are Mormons, and my sister’s best-friend (a Mormon) was instructed by her Bishop to spend less time with my sister. I won’t publicly cast blame for the division, but, I don’t consider it healthy for the civic culture.
Homebrew, if your handle speaks to your hobby, you’ll not have a problem. But, if you also buy your beer at the store, get used to 3.2%--you’ll get fat before you get tipsy. Nevertheless, there are some local micro breweries which are quite recommendable.
Whether I would recommend moving there, all things considered? It depends on your priorities. For outside activities, it has many things to recommend it—Utah is simply a beautiful state. The city also offers reasonable cultural opportunities (music, theater, etc.). If, however, political issues are important to you, you may or may not jive with the conservatism.
But, as to cycling and the skiing, well…trust me, you’ll fall in love with the Wasatch Mountains.