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Retiring and Cycling in Pacific North West

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Road Cycling It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. -- Ernest Hemingway

Retiring and Cycling in Pacific North West

Old 09-06-21, 01:39 PM
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raria
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Retiring and Cycling in Pacific North West

Hi,

The wife and I are considering retiring to the pacific north west. Some place which has good cycling and good to retire.

Good cycling doesn't just mean good road cycling but some good paved trails we can plug in and ride for an hour or two. I don't mind riding packed dirt but nothing that requires suspension.
Good to retire means some place vibrant to live (we are in our 50's), ideally a college town or a sea side town.

Does anything fit the bill?
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Old 09-06-21, 04:22 PM
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Portland or it’s suburbs, either side of the river. If you’re a tax-minimizer type you can live in Washington and shop in Oregon. Semi-Decent cultural activities, good (enough) food, relatively mild weather for now (assuming rain is OK with you!) absolutely gorgeous scenery, easy transportation options from a nice airport to SEA, SFO, LAX. Good riding both in town, the outskirts, and further afield.

My father retired to Camas, and setting political discussions aside, it was a great spot for a nice mix of outdoor and urban activity. Lots of my younger (30-45) friends up there are bike fanatics.
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Old 09-06-21, 04:58 PM
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That's a pretty broad area with a lot of geographic and cultural diversity. Since I live in Seattle and would like to stay in the region after retiring I have thought about a lot of options but they all have their pluses and minuses.

Bellingham region is pretty cool and a college town. Downside being that it has grown a lot and is more crowded with all that entails. Vibrant cycling community.

Eastern slopes of the Cascades in Washington namely Methow Valley and Leavenworth area. Both get inundated with tourists especially in summer. Methow is cheaper but more remote especially in winter when the highway is closed. Lots of biking especially on forest service roads.

Puget Sound islands. Lots of choices from very hard to get to (private boat) or ferry serviced ones. I have friends who have lived on several of them and they all have their selling points. More remote ones like in the San Juans are harder to get on and off because of limited ferry capacity but also are quieter most of the year. Vashon, Bainbridge and Whidbey all have nice road riding and reasonable things to do with good access to the major metro areas.

Port Townsend is a cool town, some decent road riding and access to the Olympic mountains.

Most of the coastal town in Washington seem pretty isolated and touristy in a bad way. Lots of rain and limited roads means traffic if you are riding on the road.

In Oregon I'd certainly put Sisters/Bend at the top of the list but so have many other, hence they are growing and prices reflect that. Lots of riding both paved and unpaved plus other outdoor activities.

I like the Ashland area, nice warm weather, lots of roads, small college, Shakespeare festival but you are isolated from major metro areas and prices are pretty high for housing.

Norcal across the border from Ashland in a town like Mt. Shasta has a ton of riding, maybe the best as far as road riding that I've seen in the region but your aren't near any big colleges or major metro areas.

I don't know a ton about Idaho but Sand Point is a nice area with lots of forest service land and a great ski hill nearby. Prices don't seem insane compared to the rest of the region. McCall is nice for winter sports and I assume gravel riding, traffic on the paved roads seems pretty heavy the times we've been there and the proximity to Boise seems to have pushed housing costs up a bit.

The region's population as a whole is growing at a fast rate, places that were out "in the country" when I was growing are now essentially suburbs for the metro area. I'm not a huge fan of riding bikes on busy roads and unfortunately it seems like it gets busier every year in the entire region. I don't currently own a gravel bike but assume that if I'm going to ride regularly post retirement that It will be a requirement.
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Old 09-07-21, 12:26 AM
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Bellingham WA came to mind reading your OP.
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Old 09-09-21, 09:17 AM
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My brother retired and moved to Ashland Oregon and he loves it . He and his wife do a lot of hiking and he does cycling. Evidently there is some nice areas to do both. He said it was bit hot in the summer and recently smoke from the fires. They have a trailer and head to the coast to get relief . He sent pictures and it looks beautiful up there , but sealed bearings, fenders, and rain gear would be wise.
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Old 09-09-21, 09:39 AM
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We lived in western Washington for 30 years. My wife was born there. We have lived in Colorado for the past 13 years. Everybody will warn you about rain, but the thing that was hard about w. Washington for us wasn't rain, it was the lack of light. Short days in winter and many days with cloudy skies. We are solar powered folks and have thrived in the 300 days/year of sun we get here.

If you already live in an area with about the same amount of light (or if you aren't solar powered), then this won't be an issue for you.
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Old 09-09-21, 09:58 AM
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Keep in mind that Western Oregon has a Rainy Season and a Dry Season. A bit different in the East (colder in the winter).

The dry season is coming to a close and the rainy season is fast approaching. Temperatures are temperate enough to allow year around riding, but it certainly changes in the winter.

We may be entering into a phase when we will have to deal with summer smoke. Of course, much of the rest of the country also got our smoke.

Eugene is the biggest "College Town", but the night life is far more sleepy than Portland. But, far less traffic.
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Old 09-09-21, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by randallr View Post
We lived in western Washington for 30 years. My wife was born there. We have lived in Colorado for the past 13 years. Everybody will warn you about rain, but the thing that was hard about w. Washington for us wasn't rain, it was the lack of light. Short days in winter and many days with cloudy skies. We are solar powered folks and have thrived in the 300 days/year of sun we get here.

If you already live in an area with about the same amount of light (or if you aren't solar powered), then this won't be an issue for you.
I have friends and relatives who live in Wash. I visited a friend and one day it was raining slightly, and his kids just got on their bikes and rode to school in their t shirts. I guess you get used to it. Some other friends moved from the SF bay area and said they hated the dark and dreariness of the weather for a couple of years, then got used to that also. I've got to say, when I visit in the Spring and Summer, it's absolutely awesome up there.
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Old 09-09-21, 10:40 AM
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Bend came to mind. And while probably not considered the PNW, Missoula, MT. Nice college city. Trails along the river and one that extends 40+ paved miles to Hamilton and has nice views of the Bitterroot range. A short drive to the Clinton area will put you on fabulous Rock Creek Road through Lolo National Forest along a famous trout fishing creek. Turn to dirt, but its an easy ride. Lots of other nature opportunities not that far away. Biggest hurdles are probably housing costs and, of course, winters.
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Old 09-09-21, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Jack Tone View Post
I have friends and relatives who live in Wash. I visited a friend and one day it was raining slightly, and his kids just got on their bikes and rode to school in their t shirts. I guess you get used to it. Some other friends moved from the SF bay area and said they hated the dark and dreariness of the weather for a couple of years, then got used to that also. I've got to say, when I visit in the Spring and Summer, it's absolutely awesome up there.
Yeah, W. Washington is really beautiful. I used to do backcountry skiing on Hurricane Ridge - awesome. We met on Rainier - awesome.
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Old 09-18-21, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
We may be entering into a phase when we will have to deal with summer smoke. Of course, much of the rest of the country also got our smoke.
This seems to be the new normal for about the last five years. Willamette Valley summers are starting to become an endurance test. As such, we are keeping our eyes on the coast to move to in the next year or two. Newport, Waldport, Florence, Tillamook, maybe even Astoria (far north) or Coos Bay (far south).

Very happy for the rain this weekend, man do we need it!
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Old 09-22-21, 12:34 AM
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I'm a little late to the party, but I'll throw this out there as another option ... Pullman, WA and Moscow, ID. Smaller in size than you might want, though the two universities (WSU & U of I) make it feel larger and bring in some vibrancy. I often thought it would be a good place to retire when I lived there, though I recognize it might not be the right fit for a lot of people looking for a more metropolitan feel.

Paved rail-to-trail extending from Pullman ~20 miles to Troy passing through Moscow. I think it was planned to be extended further, but hadn't happened when I moved away in 2013. Good road routes around with relatively little traffic, especially during the summer months when most of the students are back in Seattle, Boise, or whatever small towns they come from. There are a number of options for out-and-back rides or loops of various distances. In the winter, it can be cold and snowy though the snow didn't usually hang around for all that long and you could always drive down to Lewiston or the Snake River at the bottom of Wawawai Grade for about 10 degree warmer temps (and usually wet rather than icy roads) if needed.

If you want something similar but in bigger cities with better access (I-90 and Spokane's airport) you can also look to Spokane and Coeur d'Alene a couple of hours to the north. I think they also have a paved trail connecting the two cities and plenty of riding options as well.
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