Riding and living in Salt Lake City...need advice from locals
I'm planning on moving to the Salt Lake City area next year and was hoping to talk to some folks who live out there. I'm trying to gather information on where to live.
Just some backround on me first. I'm primarily a road rider but enjoy moderate to challenging mountain biking too. I am married without children. Have two dogs and will need a fenced yard. I want to live close to a park to let the dogs run. We want to be as close to BCC/LCC as possible because our first love is sliding down snow covered mountains with sticks on our feet.
But, I want to be in a good area that I can ride my bike to work; ride from the house on training rides and meet up with a good club to ride with on the weekends and summer nights. We are don't practice any formal religion and don't want to. We want to live in a diverse neighborhood. I am looking for work as a systems administrator so commuting will factor into the equation.
I have a few questions to post:
1) Where in the SLC area do you live and why?
2) Could you recommend a good bike club in the area?
3) How is the riding out there? Are there bike paths or mainly road rides?
4) Are the rides either mountain climbs or flat valley riding?
5) Do you have to drive far out of city to ride?
6) Do you like living in the Salt Lake area?
7) Are you a transplant or a native?
Thanks so much in advance for you responces. Please be as frank as possible. We haven't commited 100% to the idea yet and we're looking for as much input from locals as possible before we move.
Sean, Utah is a great place to ride, very wide streets, friendly drivers and great mountains (good for skiing too!) to climb.
I'll try to answer to the best of my adbilities.
1) I live about 20 miles south of SLC, in Highland UT. I would love to live in the downtown area, but have a great job close to home.
2) The Bonneville Bicycle Touring Club (bbtc.net) is the only one that i have spent time with. Afew of the bike shops in SLC also have there own smaller clubs.
3) A few bike paths, but i stay away from them. Road riding is fine, i put on 5000+ miles this year without any incidents.
4) Both, your choice. Alot of hills to go after if thats what your into.
5) Not really, i know alot of the bbtc.net club rides start in the city, and head outwards. SLC is actualy a very small city, as we are stuck between the lake, and mountains, not much room for development, so your never going to be stuck in suburbia.
6) I would rather live in downtown SLC then my current residence of Highland UT. Downtown has a much better vibe, and more things to do and see.
7) Transplant, not by choice, but i have thought about moving to the down town area once i have some money to do so.
SLC is very bike friendly, and amazingly wide streets. Its a great place to ride. The main reason i would move there would be to live car-free. The bus and light rail system would get me anywhere i need to go, off the bike. Even the local resorts.
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.
I've lived in Granger (too far West of the mountains for my taste, but out of the Downtown area), South Salt Lake (a little seedy in areas, but has decent rentals. Is close to both I-80 and I-15), and Orem (too far South of the mountains but very rural and conducive to biking).
I only lived there for about two years total broken up over time.
If I went again, I'd look around the Eastern portion of Cottonwood Heights or Sandy. This will put you within seconds of the Cottonwood Canyons.
Unfortunately I was not into biking as I am now so I can't comment. All I did was snowboard and bang an occaisional nail.
The religon will not get in the way. Mormons are the nicest people you'll meet as long as you're not too crazy.
On Sundays, you can ride your bike down the middle of the biggest street there and not have any worries. Just don't expect many bike shops (or any other shops for that matter) to be open.