Relocating; looking for a good commuting/road riding area
I know this has been asked plenty of times before, and I've searched for and scoured lots of threads, but it can't hurt to get fresh opinions.
Living in north Jersey hasn't been too bad for my born-again cycling habit, but I'm young, unattached, not particularly fond of my current job, and for what I shell out to live in this "luxurious" area (my recently renewed lease skyrocketed me into the $1000+/mo club), I could easily enjoy a better quality of life elsewhere. I'd also like to ditch my car, or at least not be completely chained to it like I am now.
So I've polished the resume, started researching, and I'm not going to stop until my ass is relocated and sitting on a commuter bike. If I'm going to move, I'm going to make it worth my while. Naive, sure, but I'll regret not trying.
I know there's no single place that matches all my criteria, but this is what I'm looking for, roughly in order of preference:
- A decent technical job market. I'm a junior software developer/engineer, and my plan is contingent on securing work.
- Comfortable bike commuting. Shoulders and bike lanes, easily avoidable highways, clean air. I'm not a fan of rain or sticky east coast summers, but cold weather is fine as long as it's not painfully harsh.
- Minimal urban/suburban sprawl.
- A good cycling community. LBSs, friendly group rides, minimal snob-factor, activism, that sort of thing.
- A cyclist-aware population. Drivers who aren't completely dumbfounded by the presence of an oncoming bike. Neighbors who won't assume I'm a gay nutcase for wearing lycra and riding on the road. Employers who won't associate an avid off-hours cycling habit with being an unprofessional slacker.
- Easily accessible 50-100mi road rides. I want to be able to walk out my door and just go.
- A good graduate school nearby where I can take some computer science master's classes.
- Public transit for times when the bike isn't enough.
- Pretty ladies. :D
Right now I'm leaning towards the Denver area, but I've never been out there, and I don't know how all the nearby sub-cities differ (Boulder, Longmont, Fort Collins, etc.) I do have one family member about two hours away, and a thoroughly-baked college acquaintance in Boulder, which I suppose is better than no contacts at all.
California (San Diego or the SF Bay area) is in the running too. I've never been there either, but supposedly it's a biking utopia. The climate sounds pleasant, if a little monotonous. No contacts there whatsoever.
Maybe Portland, but the rain might get to me.
I can't take time off to scout out all these places without alerting The Man to my intentions, so I'm relying on recommendations. If all goes well, I'll decide on a location, line up some interviews, take the "short vacation to visit my dying grandfather," and hope something works out.