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  1. #1
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    Best location for bay area cycilng: San Francisco vs others?

    A while ago I spent a few weeks cycling out of Livermore and it was awesome. Out in country roads in 2 miles, go up Mt. Diablo to the north or Mt Hamilton to the south. I am now planning on moving to California, but Livermore isn't a place I could live permanently, I need something more urban, which has led to my conundrum.

    SF: I have found some totally sick apartments downtown SF (SOMA area) that I would love to live in. Thing is, looking at people's ride routes, the thing 90% of people do is head north. It is 24 miles through the city, over the bridge, and through sausalito until I actually hit the climb going up to Mt. Tam. I love climbing, and doing 48 miles roundtrip to get to a long climb everyday I think would get tedious fast. Not to mention a lot of the roads out there have a lot of traffic.

    Mountain View & Berkeley: I've found places here that'd be alright to live in, but obviously as far as a living situation it isn't going to compare to SF. But it seems the riding out of these places is going to be way way better.

    I've checked out a lot of other places, i.e. walnut creek, but walnut creek just isn't going to fulfill me. Palo Alto seems nice but I'm looking for a nice apartment/condo to live in, and Palo Alto just seems to have houses and student housing.

    So three questions for people who have lived here for a while:

    -How do you make do for rides if you live in SF? I could see it being great for weekend warriors. But for everyday long distance riding it seems untenable.

    -Secondly, if you lived in i.e. mountain view or berkely and also SF, how much better did you find the riding?

    -Lastly, any recommendation for an area I've missed that'd be great to base myself out of?

  2. #2
    Idealistic Troublemaker bjorke's Avatar
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    You can have anything, but you can't have everything

    Live in Mill Valley or thereabouts, take the bus when you feel lazy. Or live in SF and take the bus when you feel lazy. Me, I mix commutes to SF using either all-bike or mostly hybrid bus/train from both the South Bay (not very urban) or Sonoma County (likewise) but ymmv. I like Sonoma especially, lots of hills everywhere (actually the road to the house has a 22% grade), but then I can productively use the transit time with a wifi pak and a laptop.
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  3. #3
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    In the end, it sounds like you're going to have to balance between where you want to be living and the best place for cycling. Most of us don't really have the ability to do everyday long distance riding. Work intrudes, life intrudes. Some lucky ones do have that ability.

    If you want a place to live that will compare to living in SF, you need to live in SF. If you want a place to compare to the long distance riding in hills from your front door that you can get living in Livermore, well, you're going to have to live in someplace like Livermore. There are places on the peninsula that could arguably compare to Livermore in terms of long distance riding (for variety of hilly long routes, I think Livermore is the best), but none of them would compare to living in SF. Mill Valley? If you need urban, that sure ain't it.

    I've got friends who live in Berkeley/Kensington who like doing a lot of long distance riding, but the weekend warrior type. Even then, a lot of the time, they are driving or BARTing on the weekend to other places, because variety is the spice of life, and they want more than what they can do out of their front doors in Berkeley/Kensington.

    If Walnut Creek isn't going to fulfill you, if Berkeley isn't going to compare to SF, then you've got to live in a place that isn't going to fulfill you as far as everyday rides out your door. Or, as sedated said, you can have anything, but you can't have everything.

  4. #4
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    Where will you be working?.....you might think about using a commute from home to work for daily riding and pick your abode based on a nice commute route
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  5. #5
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    I live in SF (Potrero). If I just want a quick ride (hour or so) I just stay in the city (maybe just loop around the neighborhood, out to GG, etc). If I want something more I'll either bike over & up Mt. Tam or I'll drive to Diablo. Just my 2cents but I'd rather live in the city and head to Diablo for long rides than live in Walnut Creek. I run a lot too and I can run/ride year long in the city but summer in Walnut Creek/etc. is too hot for me.

  6. #6
    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    If you live in SoMa, you are in easy distance of one of several BART stations, which opens up a big range of options, especially in the East Bay. You can take your bike on BART (just not on the lead car of a train and not on escalators).

    Unless you are coming from Manhattan or DC or someplace like that, be prepared to be unpleasantly surprised at how little your money gets you, apartment-wise or house-wise. That is true for pretty much the entire Bay Area.
    "I'm in shape -- round is a shape." Andy Rooney

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by c0lnago View Post
    I live in SF (Potrero). If I just want a quick ride (hour or so) I just stay in the city (maybe just loop around the neighborhood, out to GG, etc). If I want something more I'll either bike over & up Mt. Tam or I'll drive to Diablo. Just my 2cents but I'd rather live in the city and head to Diablo for long rides than live in Walnut Creek. I run a lot too and I can run/ride year long in the city but summer in Walnut Creek/etc. is too hot for me.
    Well I'd rather live in WC and drive to the city, so take that!

    No, I don't care, some people prefer the urban lifestyle, but it's too crowded and loud for me. I like having space, a big yard and trees. I know WC is in the burbs, but I think most neighborhoods have character, it's not like San Ramon or some other cities with cookie cutter subdivisions. Also, I'm tilted more toward a good riding location over anything else. We chose where we wanted to live in large part due to riding (and open space) opportunities . Guess it's a lifestyle choice. Depending on where you are in SF (or any true urban location), it can be a quick escape to country roads, or it could be a nightmare.

    Edit: To the OP, have you looked at Emeryville? It's kind of an up and coming area with some affordable housing, and very close to Berkeley.
    Last edited by cthenn; 04-16-14 at 11:39 AM.

  8. #8
    It's MY mountain DiabloScott's Avatar
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    I don't understand wanting to be more than 10 miles from Diablo... but you could maybe consider south Oakland / San Leandro - near BART stations and Redwood Road which is some OK riding.
    http://diabloscott.blogspot.com/

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    RIP Sonny RaleighSport's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
    I don't understand wanting to be more than 10 miles from Diablo... but you could maybe consider south Oakland / San Leandro - near BART stations and Redwood Road which is some OK riding.
    I agree with this, whatever you do stay out of the far northbay it's terrible for riding.. stay right next to SF or Diablo and be sure to tell your friends not to ride in wine country
    "Seriously is what I want to be, so I put on spandex and show off my gear, my junk, my thing, yes my ding-a-ling."

  10. #10
    It's MY mountain DiabloScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikingshearer View Post
    , be prepared to be unpleasantly surprised at how little your money gets you, apartment-wise or house-wise. That is true for pretty much the entire Bay Area.
    A couple people in my company just transferred from our Hawaii office. I made a joke that Hawaiians move to San Francisco and say "Wow, I can't believe how cheap housing is up here."
    http://diabloscott.blogspot.com/

  11. #11
    Member ilushka's Avatar
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    this is something i've thought about before and so i can make a recommendation purely based on riding oportunities. i'd live somewhere close to foothill expressway between los altos, sunnyvale, and cupertino. you go north on foothill for los altos hills/woodside/portola valley riding. huge cycling scene up there and plenty of climbing (old la honda, page mill, west alpine). you go south to cupertino/saratoga/los gatos. plenty of riding and climbing up there too (montebello, hwy 9). and you go even further south for morgan hill, which has flatter rides.

    problem is that this area is hardcore suburbia. best night (or any in general) life would be in either downtown palo alto, downtown campbell, maybe sunnyvale, and maybe san jose (if you don't mind the ghetto). but nothing compared to SF, of course.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
    A couple people in my company just transferred from our Hawaii office. I made a joke that Hawaiians move to San Francisco and say "Wow, I can't believe how cheap housing is up here."
    They must not be looking in the city because that's not close to true.

  13. #13
    I scream for ice cream. SkyeC's Avatar
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    I'm impressed you can even begin to afford any sort of "sick" apartment in SF. Kudos to you.

    Anyhow, I never much liked the trek through SF and over the bridge so I never really go on those rides. If you want something urban, that's your only real choice. Berkeley and Oakland have downtowns but very little of that urban feel if that's what you're going for; much more spread out than SF or other dense cities like Chicago or NYC.

    I've lived in Oakland for the past 7-8 years and love the fact I have TONS of 20-50 mile loops that can go up and down plenty of fun roads. Tunnel, Grizzly Peak, Skyline, Redwood, Pinehurst, Snake, Centennial, Claremont, South Park, Golf Course, Keller, and then it's a simple jaunt down Wildcat to hit 3 Bears, and all the fun roads out in Moraga and Orinda.

    There have probably been only half a dozen times where I've used BART or a car to get to a ride... like Hamilton or Diablo. Group rides like the Port of Oakland crit practice, House of Pain in Danville, Wrench Science, CSO, and the Berkeley Bicycle Club offer plenty of variety if you get tired of your own rides.

  14. #14
    moth -----> flame Beaker's Avatar
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    i completely agree with SkyeC. When I relocated to the bay area in 2000, my relo company representative told me that wherever you end up, you'll probably end up sacrificing something - maybe it's the commute time, maybe it's the size of house you want etc. I've found that advice to be pretty accurate. The OP should make a list of what the most important criteria are to him/her for a new location and go from there - satisfy the most important ones and deal with the rest. FWIW, I think that some of the hipper areas of Oakland would be quite a good fit - there's a lot going on in Oakland right now, and for cycling you just can't go wrong with Oakland or Berkeley. I hate riding in SF - it's such a zoo and you need to get quite a few miles under your belt before you get out anywhere nice. In the Oakland/Berkeley hills you have a lot of variety and you're only a few pedal strokes away from parkland, nice climbs and sweeping vistas.

  15. #15
    Senior Member 1speeder's Avatar
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    The rent in San Francisco has skyrocketed and now more people are looking in Oakland to rent, which the rental prices are climbing fast. I have lived in the Oakland Hills all my life and yes, it is great for road biking and also mountain biking. I wish Oakland would fix the roads, so many potholes!

  16. #16
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    Yes, if you are going to live in SF, just know that you are completely sacrificing your riding. Decide what's most important, because you will get sick of putting in dangerous garbage miles to get anywhere interesting to ride. Then again, SF is probably the only city which offers true urban big city life.

    Why do I feel like continuing to reply to this post is talking to a brick wall. Is OP still around?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1speeder View Post
    The rent in San Francisco has skyrocketed and now more people are looking in Oakland to rent, which the rental prices are climbing fast. I have lived in the Oakland Hills all my life and yes, it is great for road biking and also mountain biking. I wish Oakland would fix the roads, so many potholes!
    In some parts of the hills of Oakland, it's almost unrideable. They recently replaved Grizzly Peak, which needed it 10 years ago, but there are still many horrible roads. Berkeley is even worse...they don't care about roads and infrastructure and boring things like that, they'd rather spend money on more feel-good projects.

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    Find a place in the Marina district and its 8-10 minutes to the bridge and another 20 to Mill Valley where the climbing commences.

  19. #19
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    When I win the lottery, I'm going to get a place in Tiburon.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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    Senior Member yochris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cthenn View Post
    Yes, if you are going to live in SF, just know that you are completely sacrificing your riding. Decide what's most important, because you will get sick of putting in dangerous garbage miles to get anywhere interesting to ride.
    Sorry this is just not true. You can live in many areas of the northern or western parts of the city and be on the bridge heading into Marin in 20 minutes. Is it for everyone? Definitely not. But plenty of people happily live here and get in plenty of riding.

  21. #21
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    The 45-49 Masters National Road Champion lives in the City. Gets a fair amount of riding done and draws pictures on Strava.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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    Quote Originally Posted by RaleighSport View Post
    I agree with this, whatever you do stay out of the far northbay it's terrible for riding.. stay right next to SF or Diablo and be sure to tell your friends not to ride in wine country
    I would echo this; whatever you do, don't come up to Napa, you'll absolutely hate it.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    When I win the lottery, I'm going to get a place in Tiburon.
    When *I* win the lottery, I'm moving to Europe.

    I wonder what happened to the OP...

  24. #24
    RIP Sonny RaleighSport's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodentcloister View Post

    I wonder what happened to the OP...
    They either moved to Napa or Sonoma and have learned to keep their mouth shut?
    "Seriously is what I want to be, so I put on spandex and show off my gear, my junk, my thing, yes my ding-a-ling."

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