Northern California Northern California

The dream city for riding

Old 04-18-16, 11:56 AM
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pope
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The dream city for riding

I'm moving to Northern California soon and need your expertise. I'm lucky to work at home and I want to find the best city/town to live with cycling options #1 priority. Ability to ride out the door and variety is key.

Sonoma County looks cool, but where exactly?
Is drunk driving an issue around Sonoma?
I've been told Livermore has options and close to Diablo.
Can't afford Silicon Valley.
I have already lived in SF.

Any help appreciated.
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Old 04-18-16, 03:18 PM
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Sacramento and points East.
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Old 04-18-16, 07:38 PM
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Lots of great hills around Livermore (Altamont Pass, etc), but it does get very hot during the summer. Same goes for Sacramento and points east.

Did you try looking at the central coast area (between San Francisco and Los Angeles)? Sonoma is nice, but the cheaper areas are somewhat isolated and the roads have a lot of truck traffic.
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Old 04-18-16, 10:27 PM
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Folsom or nearby. I am biased as I live here but it is really bike friendly with great bikes lanes in town and easy access to a fantastic bike trail and low foothills rides. The American River Bike trail system runs for something close to 30 miles from Old Sacramento to Folsom Lake. Some sub loops as well (like around Lake Natoma). The bike trail is nice but the local foothills rides are really great. Also close to Lake Tahoe (80 miles) and a reasonable drive to the Bay Area and areas like Napa and Sonoma. I have ridden a bit in the Napa and Sonoma area a bit this year and it too is fantastic.

And did I mention the airport? off topic but Sac International (SMF) is hard to beat for convenience.
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Old 04-18-16, 10:42 PM
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Folsom is great but Sonoma is amazing.
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Old 04-19-16, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Folsom is great but Sonoma is amazing.
Sonoma proper or anywhere up to Glen Ellen or Kenwood? This area seems central to the 200k loop the SRCC rides and the coastal rides. I don't mind rural roads.
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Old 04-19-16, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by igosolo View Post
Folsom or nearby. I am biased as I live here but it is really bike friendly with great bikes lanes in town and easy access to a fantastic bike trail and low foothills rides. The American River Bike trail system runs for something close to 30 miles from Old Sacramento to Folsom Lake. Some sub loops as well (like around Lake Natoma). The bike trail is nice but the local foothills rides are really great. Also close to Lake Tahoe (80 miles) and a reasonable drive to the Bay Area and areas like Napa and Sonoma. I have ridden a bit in the Napa and Sonoma area a bit this year and it too is fantastic.

And did I mention the airport? off topic but Sac International (SMF) is hard to beat for convenience.
this is interesting. What is the local climb? I will also try looking on Strava.
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Old 04-19-16, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
Lots of great hills around Livermore (Altamont Pass, etc), but it does get very hot during the summer. Same goes for Sacramento and points east.

Did you try looking at the central coast area (between San Francisco and Los Angeles)? Sonoma is nice, but the cheaper areas are somewhat isolated and the roads have a lot of truck traffic.
I havent' looked there. I was limiting myself to the Bay Area because I am familiar with San Francisco, but I will check out some of those areas.
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Old 04-19-16, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by pope View Post
Sonoma proper or anywhere up to Glen Ellen or Kenwood? This area seems central to the 200k loop the SRCC rides and the coastal rides. I don't mind rural roads.
Towards the coast and Bodega Bay. Here are two rides from January that were amazing.

Bike Ride Profile | Bodega Tomales Rollers near | Times and Records | Strava
Bike Ride Profile | Rainy Ride Along the Russian near | Times and Records | Strava
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Old 04-20-16, 10:21 AM
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Sacramento area, hands down.
Here are a few of my favorite routes around Sacramento, Placerville and Auburn to give you a taste. Placerville rides are courtesy of my good friend Dan M
https://ridewithgps.com/trips/1717098
https://ridewithgps.com/trips/1064145
https://ridewithgps.com/trips/2896961
https://ridewithgps.com/trips/1064143
https://ridewithgps.com/trips/172419
https://ridewithgps.com/trips/1064137
https://ridewithgps.com/trips/161120
https://ridewithgps.com/trips/125679
https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8314208
https://ridewithgps.com/trips/3193371
https://ridewithgps.com/trips/5900939
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/1090650
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/1097150
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Old 04-20-16, 12:23 PM
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Which city is Mt. Diablo technically in? Pick that
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Old 04-20-16, 02:09 PM
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Pripyat, Ukraine, will be very car free for years to come.
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Old 04-21-16, 08:26 AM
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These are incredible. Thank you. Perfect distance and plenty of elevation change options.
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Old 05-06-16, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by pope View Post
I havent' looked there. I was limiting myself to the Bay Area because I am familiar with San Francisco, but I will check out some of those areas.
I'd pick Livermore, besides it's striking distance to pretty much any East Bay area ride you want, including Mt. Diablo, it's close to Bart...45 min ride to the city, bikes welcome. Perfect compromise location - just be sure your living quarters have air conditioning.

I would never give up commute access to Oakland & SF.
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Old 05-09-16, 06:30 PM
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I grew up in Livermore and visited regularly until recently when my parents passed away. I still ride out that way sometimes.

It's a great place for riding, provided you can put up with heat in the summer. If you want flat, you can do flat rides on pretty roads for miles and miles. If you want gentle climbing, you can do that. If you want epic climbing, you can do that. You can easily do short rides, long rides, easy rides, killer rides, and anything in between. And you can do them all from your front door. As a serious bonus, Livermore Cyclery is perhaps the single best LBS in the Bay Area, and they speak Classic & Vintage (especially the owner, Steve Howard). And it has been family-run for 40 years now.

About the heat - it can get really, really hot (like 105 degrees hot), and any sane person stays inside when it does that. But such days are not the norm - summer usually has highs in the 95-100 range. Believe it or not, that is bearable if you stay hydrated and put on your sunscreen. But even on the hottest of hot days, two things make it okay: (1) it almost always cools off at night so that morning rides can be magical; and (2) it is not humid. The two are very much related. I would rather deal with 95 and dry than 80 or 85 and humid.

Winters you know about; think SF but more subject to foggy/slightly drizzly stuff and a few degrees cooler. As a practical matter, the only weather-related limits on riding are winter rain (varies by the year, of course) and summer heat. That still leaves parts or all of at least 325 days a year for riding, and that is probabaly conservative.

I live in Berkeley now, and riding from there is also darn good. The downside from a riding standpoint is that almost any ride from your front door will feature at least one serious climb - not so great if you are in the mood for a flat ride. The upside from a riding standpoint is that the weather never gets as hot as Livermore or Sacramento or even Sonoma - it's a tad warmer than SF most of the time. Berkeley also has some incredible places to eat (Livermore is pretty good, too, but not quite up to Berkeley standards). A major downside is that housing costs in Berkeley are stupid-expensive. I don't know what the Livermore housing/rent market is like now, but my guess is that it, too, is expensive but not as crazy-high as SF, Berkeley, or even Oakland.

On another front, you will see more Bernie Sanders for President sings and bumper stickers in Berkeley than you are likely to see in any five states not named "California" combined. Whether that is a good thing or bad thing I leave to you to decide, but it tells you something about Berkeley. Take that for what you thinks it's worth.
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Old 05-09-16, 07:09 PM
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I agree with Livermore or Pleasanton, especially Livermore. Lots of great rides, Mines Rd. iron horse trail to Mt. Diablo. Altamont pass, morgan territory, plus all the great roads and trails. Close to the ocean, close to the foothills. center of all the best riding areas. Lots within one hour and many right out the front door. Summer heat doesn't bother me much, i just head out earlier or later
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Old 05-09-16, 07:50 PM
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Walnut Creek restaurants are as good as Berkeley's.
Mount Diablo is all the variety you need.
BART
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Old 05-09-16, 11:09 PM
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The riding in Sonoma County is great but the great riding roads are just so terrible in terms of road quality. If you can get past the bone-jarring it's a superb place to ride.

The problem with Berkeley is that it's...Berkeley. Yuck.

For my money, anywhere in the 680/24 corridor is great: Walnut Creek, Danville, Alamo, Lafayette, Orinda, etc. The downside is the summer heat but it's cooler than Livermore to be sure. The upside is Diablo.
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Old 05-10-16, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
Walnut Creek restaurants are as good as Berkeley's.
No.
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Old 05-10-16, 10:28 PM
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I like the suggestion of Sac and everywhere east. I love riding up there but the summer heat could be brutal.

SF East Bay near Walnut Creek is nice since you have East Bay hills and Diablo.

Sonoma county would be ideal for all year riding. If it gets too hot, head to the coast.
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Old 06-15-16, 07:14 PM
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Are all these rides on roads with wide shoulders?
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Old 07-28-16, 11:23 PM
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It has to be Folsom. Let's do the pros and cons:
1. Beautiful city, away from all hustles of a megacity. It has amazing bike routes. I lived in Folsom for about 5 yrs and I can reach old Sacramento about 34 miles away and only 0.5 of those miles are not on a bike trail.
2. Foothills climbs. My favorite route was around the Folsom lake which has about 5000ft climb over a 50 mile route. And it is crazy scenic. If you love climbing there are plenty of options nearby for your comfort level.
3. City traffic is not crazy and drivers are usually very careful about bikers.
4. Best school district in Sacramento, if you have kids.
5. Real estate is costly if you consider Sacramento, but 50-65% cheaper than Bay area.
6. nearby to other interesting routes in Napa, Tahoe even mount Diablo.

Cons:
1. Job prospect is not good (which made me move to bay area).
2. Too rural if you are a city folk.

I still have my house there and hoping for an early retirement back to Folsom.
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Old 07-28-16, 11:37 PM
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Forgot to mention that Folsom has the best cycling club Cycle Folsom. They have a beginners, intermediate and an advanced group. They organize a set of training rides every quarter which is hard to match. Great and enthusiastic group of people in that club.
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Old 07-29-16, 06:52 AM
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Wow, this is a tough one. I agree with everything that has been said before in this thread. All of these areas have much to recommend them, individually.

Sonoma -- you could base yourself in Healdsburg, which is in the heart of the Sonoma wine country. The rides out of Cazadero, where the Cazadero Hwy connects to either Ft. Ross Road/Kings Ridge Road are amazing! Picture yourself dropping down towards the Pacific Ocean and being able to ride Coast Highway (HWY 1) back towards Jenner, where the Russian River and the Pacific Ocean meet, and heading back home via HWY 116. Sublime riding, my friend. It does not get any better. (Disclaimer: somebody, above, mentioned the bad surfaces on the backroads--not HWY 1 or HWY 116; unfortunately, this is true. Just be alert, especially on descents and watch out for those cattle grates on the HWY1 descents!).

San Francisco East Bay (Pleasanton, Livermore, San Ramon) - Tons of fantastic riding here too, with Mt. Diablo, Morgan Territory, Mines Road, Mt. Hamilton, Redwood Road--and my personal favorite: Palomares Canyon Rd, which is a little gem of a ride. You would never tire of these rides--ever.

Sacramento/Folsom - Yet more amazing riding. I have to say that the town of Folsom is probably the most bike-friendly I've ever known. There are bike lanes and dedicated trails throughout that area. Folsom is a wonderful gateway to the Sierra foothills and mountains (just have to watch out for the crazy drivers on those narrow, mountain roads! Some of them--I'm convinced--are actually gunning for cyclists).

Enjoy!

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Old 08-13-16, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by rfmarotti View Post
No.
100% This.

But WC has very very very good restaurants for a suburb.

But keeping it real. I never go to Berkeley to eat anymore. I just stay in Oakland. Oakland beats Berkeley.
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