I’m seriously considering making a move to Charlotte NC next year with my family and we are starting to do our research. Coming from California and living in San Diego the past two years I have to say that I really love the riding down here and leaving it is something that is very hard to do. But, life goes on and I enjoy new adventures and getting to know new places. The move would be a step forward towards quality of life as living expenses here are just insane.
So, for those of you familiar with Charlotte, if you were primarily a road cyclist, what suburb would you make your home base? In researching a bit, I see Charlotte is pretty much a central hub and there’s seems to be plenty of open space all around.
With that said, I will be living apart from my son’s mom and will have shared custody of my son. She will no doubt be living somewhere in and around the city. I’ll have more flexibility as long as it’s not too far away from the city. Other factors that may come into play are proximity to fun/hip neighborhood with restaurants, coffee shops, etc. Walkability is huge for me right now in SD so it would be nice to have that there too, but not a deal killer. I don’t want to be a hermit in the woods, I like to be around people and community but I’m also okay with Suburbia to an extent.
All things being equal I wouldn’t mind living in Charlotte, but having space is awesome and a place with a garage may outweigh being in the city. So,
I guess, best neighborhood in the city and best neighborhood outside the city would be fair hierarchy of what I’m looking for at the moment.
For discovering rides in a new area, I have resorted to analyzing the Strava and Garmin heatmaps of the area as well as stalking/joining some Strava bike clubs in the area and seeing where everybody typically rides.
Good suggestion - looks like most of the riding is done south, then to west and east and not as much up north. It’s a good start.
I grew up in Charlotte and the road biking there is honestly not great because of the traffic and lack of bike lanes. There are a ton of group rides however and that is your best bet for safely riding within the city. Even though it looks like there is a lot of open space outside of the city there is a lot of traffic on those roads as well and usually not much of a shoulder. The bright side though is the mountain biking in Charlotte is actually really great and there are a bunch of different trail networks around. Based on what you are looking for in a neighborhood I would definitely check out South End.
I’m in Huntersville which is just north of Charlotte by 485 and 77. I can commute to downtown in 20 minutes in the morning (door to parking deck), but we also have a satellite office up here so I usually only go to Charlotte once a week. The best part about riding up here is the lakes, and just the generally less travelled roads. Huntersville is fairly busy, but not as bad. I am ~10 miles from Mountain Island Lake and Lake Norman which makes for some beautiful scenery and generally less busy roads.
There is a fast Tuesday night group ride in a ~2 mile business park loop, on Saturday I go up to Davidson for a group ride with three or four separate groups based on speed and distance. I think you can hit five group rides a week without having to drive to one, but I will say that with it getting darker earlier and being generally colder the group rides will be cancelled soon or at least lightly attended until Feb/March.
South/Southeast Charlotte is a much busier area, there is a nice long greenway now but it isn’t great for training/fast riding. Bike lanes and greenways have improved tremendously but will not compare to other major cities that aren’t in the bible belt.
Huntersville’s heatmap, downtown Charlotte is at the bottom:
One more edit:
For gravel from home I have two okay options that I can tie together. Some of the trails at Latta Nature Preserve allow bikes (and horses!) and are generally wide and easy. You could drive a side-by-side or golf cart on them, if they aren’t quite full gravel roads. Cowan’s Ford/Neck Road is just a regular gravel road with some hills that ends in another nature preserve.
If I am willing to drive north for about an hour I can hit Love Valley which has some amazing gravel riding (great event in March). I’ve been up there on a Sunday morning and saw five cars on the road in a little over three hours. https://www.lovevalleyroubaix.com/
The Southeast Gravel series is in South Carolina, but at least a couple of the races are an easy sub two hour drive from here.
I don’t live in Charlotte – I’m in the Raleigh area – but I do subscribe to weeklyrides.com which might be a good resource for you.