Please do not move to Boulder. At the very least, check it out. You will need to drive to every fun trail head: Apex in Golden, Maryland Mountain, Floyd Hill, Nederland, Lefthand, Winter Park. It will get old, you will start to hate it. If road or gravel was your jam, sure. Valmont is a fun time. Living in Longmont would be a loooong commute to shred.
Gunbarrel or Niwot would be great. Again though, driving everywhere. You’ll learn that everyone drives to trail heads in the Denver/Golden/Boulder area.
If you can make it happen, check out Durango or Summit County. Summit winters are long and the season is sometimes mid april at one network until snow covers the ground - usually one network in Frisco or Dillon in November is rideable. But the trails and networks are amazing. Raw backcountry, tech, flow, dh only bike park style trails. I have a few friends in Frisco. Great place to ride and train! Awesome events and culture as well.
Bend, Oregon. Fun, amazing. Great gravel and mtb.
Bellingham - wet, kinda cold. Amazing trails. Hero dirt every single day.
CO Springs: great trails. Do your research on the city. Total opposite of Boulder/Denver.
If you want year round MTB than the California Central Coast is the place to be. Pricey, but you can’t beat the Santa Cruz mountains and the Monterey Bay area to ride pretty year round (70’s summer, 60’s winter).
The real Central Coast is further south, there is some great riding in and around San Luis Obispo. My oldest graduated and took a job there. Its 4 hours from Sacramento and I’m lucky to ride groad on a Tarmac with 32c tires about 3-4 times a year.
road biking: there are many quiet roads to ride and tons of gravel roads too.
rock climbing: a rock gym , many bouldering spots + Smith Rock 40min away
lakes and river for SUP and kayaking.
there’s also hiking, cross-country skiing & ski touring
The town with 100k people is large enough to have everything we need but without being too big and being stuck in a car whenever you want to do something. Airport is well connected as my job requires i travel a lot. It’s in the high desert and we don’t get a lot of rainy days unlike the west side of Cascades like Portland. Still it has 4 seasons which is something we really wanted back.
Also if it’s warm at 3600’ , i can pedal to a higher altitude 5000 -6000’ where it’s cooler. I can also pedal down to 2500 to do the reverse. We don’t get much snow in town (24-36" / year so not much shoveling ) but the ski mountain gets 462" on average.
As for the Music & arts: it’s a college + tourists town so there are festivals, a beerfest, an arts scene and many restaurants.
Out of curiosity, when we visited it seemed that there was a decent amount of sprawl going on. I think this was towards Mt Bachelor but my memory might be wrong. We found the downtown area to be really appealing and walkable but seeing the cookie cutter suburbs style homes going up made me hesitant that it’s becoming more car dependent for day to day.
Near the river downtown, you wouldn’t need a car as most things are within walking distance. Further away, you need a car and you’re 15min away from most things.
Noone can build on national forest (where we ski , hike and ride) so there’s a hard line west of town (20min from Bachelor). Empty land up to that line is being built as it’s a very good spot if you love nature activities. Oregon 2019 state law forces towns to build up to increase density/avoid urban sprawl so i see condos, apartments and townhomes sprouting.
I am from Asheville, NC, currently live in Chattanooga and am writing this message about 30 minutes outside of Boulder where I’ve been hiking/riding the last few days. I don’t claim to be an expert on CO, but from spending time out here I would certainly choose Colorado Springs over Boulder. Riding in Asheville vs Chattanooga area is pretty similar. Sounds like you know Asheville area trails so I won’t list my favorites there, but will list some in the Chattanooga area in no particular order for you to look into. Raccoon Mountain, White Oak Mountain, Enterprise South, Five Points, Tanasi Trail system, Pinhoti system (favorite sections would be Snake Creek Gap, P1/P2, Mulberry Gap trails, Fort Mountain trails, Buzzards Roost, Hundreds of miles of gravel in the National Forest. I will say Chattanooga area cost of living is much preferable and the area is hopping right now. I live in Apison and during the week mostly ride White Oak/Bauxite (~50 miles of trails) and can ride to the trailhead from my house. Good luck!
Bend, OR takes the cake. We’re considering moving there. We lived in Bham for 6 years. Do not underestimate the dreariness.
Context: we’ve spent at least a month most places on this list. Everything from NC, VA, to CO/UT/AZ to WA/OR/CA. We’ve lived at all the trailheads or very close by. We live in a motorhome full-time. @kenoll, Nothing touches Bend, especially if you dabble in a winter sport too.
A close second place for us to settle at least part of the time is the Scottsdale area. @kduwe’s response is spot-on too. SO much variety and climate variation in AZ & southern UT.
Great reason to do the following:
We also have a friend who has done it. She hasn’t stopped yet.
Just don’t make your decision on Bellingham if you don’t visit in the Oct 15 - April 15 time frame, and make sure you stay a full month. There really are nice weeks in the spring but if you have SAD, you will have superSAD in Bellingham winters.
Check out Greensboro. We have 50 miles of well groomed MTB trails, one hell of an economy (we build cool stuff here), and you wouldn’t have to move very far. If you really want to climb on trails or the road you can drive 40 min up to Hanging Rock. Great cycling community. I used to live in the Triangle and have been here 10 years. Best place to live and bike in NC.
Sounds weird because the two cities are so close but I don’t know the Winston scene that well (the trails in Greensboro are great). Hobby Park and Tanglewood are the closest MTB trails for folks who live there and Salem lake has a nice 7-8 mile gravel trail. If you have time to drive Hanging Rock state park has trails that are good for climbing, North Wilkesboro has a phenomenal network (Warrior Creek), both within an hour.
Bentonville Arkansas is truly the King of MTB in the US… best trails, and money $$$$$$ spent on trails… Affordable, Family Friendly, Family orientated , great schools, Nice people… CO is great for ALL outdoors activities thou. I love CO, but in most cases you will have to travel to some location to get started biking… In Bentonville it is all just out your driveway, grab the bike and go. Hope this helps
I live outside of Winston. In Forsyth county proper, you’ve got Hobby Park (extremely punchy old school XC), Tanglewood Park (more mellow, twisty) and Salem Lake (which has the gravel trail but also fun singletrack if you know where to look). Kernersville bike park is a good short loop that can be combined with my favorite trail in the area, Oak Ridge Town Park which is extremely tight and twisty and not for everyone.
You also have an easy drive to aforementioned trails in Greensboro or Hanging Rock as well as Lexington (Finch Park and The Ridge), Uwharrie (underrated) and Lake Norman (which is new school XC). Some fun stuff out in Statesville (Big Leaf and Signal Hill) as well.
So while we don’t have the glamour of big mountain rides or Wal-Mart money, there’s enough fun stuff nearby that you won’t get bored. And I’m not even including the trails in southern Virginia that you can get to in ~1 hour. Strong road scene too with beautiful rides close by and weekly crits from spring to late summer.
Have a look at Santa Fe, NM. Trail networks at the lower elevations are generally ridable year round. In January, you can enjoy an outdoor ride in the valley in 50 degree sunshine, or drive 15 miles up the mountain to the ski resort at 10,000 ft. Huge art scene and good foodie town too. Truly unique vibe where the desert southwest meets the Rocky Mountains. Summer weather very pleasant with monsoons bringing afternoon thunderstorms that keep things from getting too warm. On warmer days, you can ride on the mountain in the shade of the pines and aspens up to elevations of 12,000 ft.