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Thread: Norfolk, VA?

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    Senior Member Jake_M's Avatar
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    Norfolk, VA?

    I am interviewing for a job which would require a move from Portland, OR to Norfolk, VA.

    Anyone from Norfolk? Live in Norfolk? I'm a car-free cyclist and recreational road cyclist. I don't compete, yet, but would like to next year wherever I am. The job looks like it's near Eastern Virginia Medical School, but I don't know anything about the area, the city, or anything at all really.

    I may be counting my eggs before they hatch, but if they ask if I want to move to Norfolk, I'd like to be able to answer. What's the cycling like? Any nice long, hilly rides with low car traffic, or is that too much to hope for? Thanks, in advance.

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    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    You've got to go quite a ways inland in VA to find anything approaching "hilly." I haven't ridden in Norfolk, but I've been in other coastal areas such as Williamsburg that are really, really flat. I think I'd die of boredom if I lived there
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    Senior Member va_cyclist's Avatar
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    You can cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and ride on the Eastern Shore area. It's not hilly, but it's scenic, and you may find lighter traffic there than the Norfolk/Hampton Roads area. Otherwise, head west to Williamsburg, or keep going west to Charlottesville if it's hills you're after.

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    If you are car-free, you will have trouble getting around in Norfolk. It's not bicycle-friendly, except around ODU. It would be quite a drastic change from Portland.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jake_M View Post
    I am interviewing for a job which would require a move from Portland, OR to Norfolk, VA.

    Anyone from Norfolk? Live in Norfolk? I'm a car-free cyclist and recreational road cyclist. I don't compete, yet, but would like to next year wherever I am. The job looks like it's near Eastern Virginia Medical School, but I don't know anything about the area, the city, or anything at all really.

    I may be counting my eggs before they hatch, but if they ask if I want to move to Norfolk, I'd like to be able to answer. What's the cycling like? Any nice long, hilly rides with low car traffic, or is that too much to hope for? Thanks, in advance.

    Jake,
    I've lived in the Hampton Roads area for the past 18years. The cycling is very very flat but there are group rides from all of the bike shops with some having multiple rides that cover the full spectrum of skill sets. There rides for the more experienced and fit riders are the Conte's +Fat Frogs A & A+ groups, At the opposite end of the spectrum are the really relaxed noone gets dropped rides; Performance, All About Bikes coffee rides & Fat frogs C groups. These are just the rides I have experience with, there are still plenty of other good shops that have rides that I've never been on so cannot say what they are like. The best part is most of the groups I've mentioned are done in Chesapeake and Pungo where there is little car traffic and the residents are pretty used to sharing the roads with bikers. Unfortunately for hills you are either going to have to travel to williamsburg or do loops over some of the bridges/overpasses. I used to have a good little loop in Norfolk that I'll share if you need.

    I'll be in this area until July when I retire from the military so if you need any info or have any more questions just shoot me a PM..

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    you can get some cycling done in norfolk, but it's overall not very friendly to a non-car owner. i get along fine without my car there (i got to school there and typically leave my car at home) but norfolk is not a city that has everything in it, so people tend to need to get out of it from time to time.

    next, norfolk sucks. crime is high, and most of it is dirty nasty. sure there are nice areas, just like any other, but you're never far from a gas station getting robbed. i've had the wheel stolen off my bike at night, and that didn't surprise anyone. the roads are typically not great for bikes either, and the sidewalks are TERRIBLE. it is a livable city and i enjoy my life there, but if you want to stay car-less, i would take an opportunity to get to a different city.

    on top of all that, the ride from norfolk to eastern state medical is LONG. i've never done that specific drive, but they're not that close together.

    but if you do come to check it out or something shoot me a PM and i'll show you around.

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    Senior Member HFTB's Avatar
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    i wouldn't do it, coming from Portland

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    Quote Originally Posted by KasbeKZ View Post
    you can get some cycling done in norfolk, but it's overall not very friendly to a non-car owner. i get along fine without my car there (i got to school there and typically leave my car at home) but norfolk is not a city that has everything in it, so people tend to need to get out of it from time to time. .
    True...

    Quote Originally Posted by KasbeKZ View Post
    the ride from norfolk to eastern state medical is LONG. i've never done that specific drive, but they're not that close together.
    EVMS is IN Norfolk so I'm not sure what your starting point is. It's about 10 minutes from Norfolk State University, Waterside, etc.

    I'm just getting started with a road bike and I haven't yet been on any of the group rides that a previous poster mentioned. Also some of the neighboring cities are more spread out and rural so although "car-free" may be somewhat of a stretch, there's plenty of riding opportunities. Heck, we're only minutes away from the NC border - I intend to hit the Outer Banks a few times this summer!

    Good luck with the offer, I hope it comes through for ya!

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    Senior Member Jake_M's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the feedback. The phone interview went great. Flying down in a few weeks to see Norfolk, interview with some other people, and get a feel for the office. We'll see how it goes.

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    Just keep in mind that bike culture in Norfolk is NOTHING like in Portland. Cars rule in Norfolk.

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    Senior Member BikeNewEngland's Avatar
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    I put together a tour in Virginia near your area based on recommended club rides. I hope to give it a go this summer some time.
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    Another view from Hampton Roads

    hey, I was born and raised in Portsmouth, which many consider the down-and-out part of Hampton Roads. I have also lived in Portland, OR for a few months. culturally, the cities are pretty far apart. since most of the population in the area is in the military, most people are not originally from there, and most don't move there simply because of the city's appeal. there isn't nearly the predominance of new-age and eco-friendly culture.

    honestly, though, other than the public transportation system in Portland being LIGHT YEARS beyond that of Hampton Roads (we'll see how the new rail system plays out), the general living and cycling experience is pretty similar. let's get one thing straight, though, there are NO hills. Zip. Nada. Maybe some bridges and overpasses, and out in VA beach there are overgrown, paved sand dunes that might pass for hills... but nothing substantial until you get near Richmond. as long as you are careful to pick good routes, though, you can get anywhere fast on a bike. i actually found it quicker to ride my bike from Portsmouth to the oceanfront than to drive a car! (plus the water is MUCH warmer than the PNW)

    yes, make sure you have a good lock if you're leaving your bike unattended, but i think that's true of Portland as well. also, i feel like the lack or small size of existing subcultures makes each group a bit tighter than in other places because there is no competition or precedent. if you're into music or biking, you're just happy to see other musicians or bikers! so if you're creative and strong, then by all means go to Norfolk and make a splash. you will reap just what you sow. if you need to have everything already created and ready for you, you might want to go elsewhere. hope this helps, good luck with your move!

    P.S. Colley Ave in Ghent is where a lot of cool folks hang out

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    misguided

    OP :

    Overall, Hampton Roads has nothing on Portland... However, many of the comments here are based on Hampton Roads as a whole.

    It is important to know that EVMS is nestled in the heart of Ghent. A very small, but very vibrant, area with tons of local businesses, 20-30 independently owned bars/restaurants and a growing but promising bike culture... all within a 5 mile area. Honestly, if you are at EVMS and living in Ghent... not even a bicycle is necessary to live.

    At the same time, very much like I imagine Portland (or any urban area) to be, Norfolk is very transient. Crime rates vary from one neighborhood to the other. Ghent/Downtown areas have relatively low crime rate (and almost non-existent violent crime rate) while other areas of Norfolk/Portsmouth/Newport News make national news for their violent crime.

    Long story short. Live and work in Ghent, you will find yourself among a large population of SF, Seattle, NYC and LA transplants in a beautiful and creative area. Other than for Wal-Mart or the occasional romp at the beach, you will never need to leave Ghent.

    Bring your bike and enjoy it with the many other Ghentonians out riding... but do plan on traveling 15-20 miles out of the city to get any long, traffic-less rides.

    Also, AltDaily is a local (Ghent/DT) web publication that supports and covers the local bike culture regularly. Take a read or say 'whats up' on Facebook. These guys will definitely have more info.

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