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Pasadena vs Oakland vs Boston

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Pasadena vs Oakland vs Boston

Old 02-23-23, 09:12 PM
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Pasadena vs Oakland vs Boston

Hi all! I am super excited to be going off to grad school for the next long number of years. A very important thing to me is road racing (and of course being able to train), and I was really hoping to see if anybody has opinions on these three places? From what I have gathered so far, Pasadena is a great place for cycling, though it also has bad air quality during some parts of the year. I am also very interested in getting into track cycling, if anybody knows of that going on at any of these locations. Thanks in advance!

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Old 02-23-23, 10:51 PM
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pasadena for adjacent road, mtb and gravel options will be tough to beat. oakland doesn't suck. never sniffed boston but the navigable high point on the entire east coast is 6,600+ feet vs the rideable, nearish, navigable high point in
pasadena being approx 7,900 feet and nearish, navigable low point dropping down to sea level...you tell me.

for track, these are semi-nearby:

https://www.dignityhealthsportspark.com/velo

https://encinovelodrome.wordpress.co...ginners-guide/

you could always hit the regional forums on this site. if posts are to be believed, the boston area combines the best of the amalfi coast with a healthy dose of the alps/dolomites and sprinkling of the icefields parkway
with the traffic density of antarctica and the weather from the canary islands. your own research results may vary slightly from that.

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Old 02-24-23, 06:00 AM
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For cycling I'd pick Pasadena.
For life and living Boston. One of the greatest small cities in the country, by far. Low crime, ****-tons of young smart people, night life, arts, and it's waist deep in opportunities/networking.
This Boston-love assumes you can get student housing, otherwise the housing costs will keep you out of the fun-nice areas, or eat all your beans.
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Old 02-24-23, 09:27 AM
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I will apologize in advance for starting my response by answering a question you did not ask. I would choose the city with the best grad school that will grant you admission. The grad school and you position in the graduating class will follow you the rest of your life and open or NOT open doors for employment. Life lecture over.

I have lived in and raced all over CA. Road racing is the best and most extensive in NorCal with the Oakland location. And there is the Hellyer velodrome south of San Jose where I have raced as well as taught beginner sessions. Hellyer is a great 333 meter concrete track but not convenient to Oakland. Local racing association is the NCNCA where the racing schedule can be found. If I were choosing grad schools in NorCal, it would be Berkley or Stanford and both will have racing teams.

In the LA area, Pasadena has access to Mountains and that cycling can be excellent. I have raced there and did the climbs. Other routes are less great due to heavy traffic but there are the river trails to ride. The local racing association is SCNCA. Road racing is poor in SoCal. I train and race at Velo Sports Center indoor track. VSC is the only indoor, 250 meter, professional, indoor track in the US. This is a totally fun, fast track. However, traffic from Pasadena to VSC can be brutal. UCLA and USC are great choices for grad schools and have racing teams. I have not raced at Encino.

I cannot comment on Boston area.
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Old 02-25-23, 12:17 PM
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Thanks for the info!
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Old 02-25-23, 07:38 PM
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as maybe the only boston area currently active member, it's a good place to live and ride. of course, I think the key is first picking the best school, the riding will take care of itself. there is a velodrome up in NH, but I don't do track so I couldn't tell you the schedule or anything. I live just north of the city and generally ride west. I grew up on the southern coast of MA and there are some awesome routes down there in southern MA/RI. Obvs weather can be an issue. Best of luck!
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Old 02-25-23, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes
... Hellyer is a great 333 meter concrete track but not convenient to Oakland. Local racing association is the NCNCA where the racing schedule can be found. If I were choosing grad schools in NorCal, it would be Berkley or Stanford ...
Berkeley grad here, so obvious school bias, but i don't think you can discount the weather - too hot in soCal for some of the year, snow/rain/cold in the northeast for some of the year. norCal is pretty much rideable 90% of the time depending on the level of drough.

hellyer is only about a 30 minute ride from the new north san jose bart station; not as inconvenient from the east bay on a bike as it used to be.

and it's not a velodrome, but a 10-20 minute BART ride from oakland and a 5 mile ride up the wiggle and through golden gate park itself gets you to a 1,000m public free public cycling track. really fun for working on your form, doing super specific intervals, testing out new gear, cda/rr sensitivity testing etc etc. it is not open to cyclists 24/7/365 but plenty of days/times/seasons.

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Old 02-25-23, 08:26 PM
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More NorCal bias here. Tons of great road racing here, and the East Bay is so much warmer than Boston in winter, and so much cooler than Pasadena in summer.
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Old 02-25-23, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by palisader
Hi all! I am super excited to be going off to grad school for the next long number of years. I very important thing to me is road racing (and of course being able to train), and I was really hoping to see if anybody has opinions on these three places? From what I have gathered so far, Pasadena is a great place for cycling, though it also has bad air quality during some parts of the year. I am also very interested in getting into track cycling, if anybody knows of that going on at any of these locations. Thanks in advance!
First off, congratulations. If you are choosing between Cal Tech, Berkeley and Harvard/MIT, it is a nice problem to have. Many years ago, I also had that choice, and after a lot of anguish, wound up biking in the Berkeley/Oakland hills without regret. It was the hardest six [sic] years of my life, but it was worth it, and the bike kept me going. I too got scared off by the Pasedena smog, and although I originally thought Boston would be best, a visit to Berkeley changed my mind. You can ride pretty much all year around (although the snow at the moment is a bit of an impediment, it is a fluke). My one hesitation in recommending it is that fire season is now a much bigger thing than it was in the late 1980s, so there is that to consider.
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Old 02-25-23, 09:10 PM
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As a lifetime resident of the Pasadena area, I can tell you that the smog issues of the past are pretty much gone. It can get damn hot in the summer, though.

There is are a lot of racers and other fast folks in the Pasadena area, and there are high-level group road rides in the area happening 5 days/week, all year long. The racing scene is pretty strong, but I donít have experience with the other areas youíre considering, so I have no basis for comparison.

I agree 100% with the post above that recommends making your choice based on the school, rather than the bike scene.
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Old 02-25-23, 10:11 PM
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You've exactly described my situation. I'm leaning towards Cambridge for now, but will be visiting each place. As for the snow, I do happen to love winter sports as well.

My other option is Chicago. But I must admit I did not even bother asking about the cycling there. I have a feeling I won't be super fond of the city after 6 years.
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Old 02-25-23, 10:22 PM
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Re Chicago, there’s a velodrome in Northbrook, pretty far from Hyde Park though.
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Old 02-26-23, 05:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Eric F
As a lifetime resident of the Pasadena area, I can tell you that the smog issues of the past are pretty much gone. It can get damn hot in the summer, though.

There is are a lot of racers and other fast folks in the Pasadena area, and there are high-level group road rides in the area happening 5 days/week, all year long. The racing scene is pretty strong, but I don’t have experience with the other areas you’re considering, so I have no basis for comparison.

I agree 100% with the post above that recommends making your choice based on the school, rather than the bike scene.
grew up on the palos verdes peninsula across the la basin but played much too much club soccer from the age of 10-18 on weekends in the cozy environs of upland, diamond bar, clairemont, ganesha, arcadia, duarte, pasadena, azusa and the remainder of the san gabriel mountains foothill communities in the early to mid-80's. couldn't breathe deeply for 3 days after playing in the area. didn't have that issue playing in industrial torrance or even in the valley. everyone likes to bellyache about the price of gas in california and all of the environmental laws/statutes/hoops but were they not there, you wouldn't be able to see your hand in front of your face in those areas during the summer and anytime the temp climbs above 75 degrees. it isn't just pepperidge farms that remembers. you think things are bad now? it was worse in the 70's/80's. despite there being millions more people in the la basin and surrounding areas now. not saying there aren't air quality issues in the region but it was worse before. and, as always, once you rise above a few hundred feet or so on gmr, grr, the 39, the 2, big t, little t, mt baldy rd and the rest of the roads leading up into angeles national forest, it gets exponentially better.

summer does get hot. start earlier/get some lights. any of those roads mentioned just above are magical just after sunrise (and just before sunset but sunrise has less traffic). hit 'em at night with appropriate lights (esp in summer) and previous recon for some blessed and probably deserved relief.

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Old 03-02-23, 01:19 PM
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I lived in Sacramento for a long time and spent a lot of time in the Bay Area. I grew up Maine, so I've been to Boston a fair bit too. I can't see how Oakland isn't the best choice here. Oakland/SF are both amazing cities; I'd argue SF is the coolest city in the US. Beyond that, the climate in Oakland would be the best and riding/racing scene and terrain are amazing.
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Old 03-02-23, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by palisader
You've exactly described my situation. I'm leaning towards Cambridge for now, but will be visiting each place. As for the snow, I do happen to love winter sports as well.

My other option is Chicago. But I must admit I did not even bother asking about the cycling there. I have a feeling I won't be super fond of the city after 6 years.
I did spend a few years in Cambridge after Berkeley, but the UK version. Having grown up in Chicago, I think your feeling (wrt cycling at least) is correct. U of Chicago is a great university, but its location is its single biggest problem. They have the largest private police force in the country, and they gave serious consideration to merging with Stanford and moving.
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