Best US cycling training location?

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

Moderator: Moderator Team

Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2005 7:56 am

by flipflopper


Anyone have any ideas on the best spot in the continental US for cycling training? Factors:

-Decently dry/mild winter
-Decent cycling + cycling support community (local races, good massage therapists, coaches, etc)
-Good mountain climbs nearby
-And if possible, at altitude

I can't really find any place that satisfies all these criteria. Being located in California would be ideal, maybe like Sausalito, Berkely, or in San Diego area.... but these areas are obviously all at sea level.

I'd prefer being up high. But when I look at Boulder, CO, or Tahoe, CA, both these places are getting about a foot a month of snow in the winter! So I'm trying to find a decent town in southern california (i.e. santa monica area, big bear lake area, mt. palomar area) but I haven't really found anything so far. I've never biked in any of these places before, so if anyone knows a great spot please enlighten me, thanks :)


Lake Arrowhead, CA. Looks legit? Any thoughts?

I also like the idea of Boulder, just wondering how icy is gets there.

by Weenie

User avatar
Posts: 477
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 2:11 pm
Location: Tucson, AZ

by AGW

Don't know your alt criteria, but we're at ~2600' ASL, give or take depending on where you are in the city. We meet all the other criteria.


User avatar
Posts: 8608
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2007 10:32 pm
Location: Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California

by prendrefeu


Lake Arrowhead & Big Bear: the short answer is 'look elsewhere'
While it is possible to ride there, it isn't pleasant.
Lake Arrowhead is rather small, the roads have high traffic (especially in the winter), and there isn't too much climbing. You're basically AT elevation... and that's it.

Big Bear is the same, only a step-down from Lake Arrowhead as it's more of a low-end ski town in the winter. There won't be snow on the main roads, but plenty of snow around and with that comes a lot of traffic from people trying to head up to the area to see snow for the first time in their lives or get some time on the slopes. With that you'll also get people who have no idea how to drive normally, much less how to drive on a mountain road, even less how to drive without being distracted at snow (that they've never seen before, not their fault), and even far less an ability to drive on snow/ice should there be any patches on the road. It really is bad. Again, you'll basically be AT elevation without too much climbing involved. Going around the lake is fun... very short rollers, it's pretty, but nothing great.

Neither town offers much in terms of support for athletes.

If you drop off the 'altitude' factor, WestLA would be very ideal. Plenty of climbing here, Santa Monica Mountains are easily accessible through to Ventura County, coastal riding for recovery days, etc:. It's very easy to get in a 100mi, 15k'+ climbing ride whenever you want, just string a bunch of climbs together.

However it is much more expensive to spend time here than you would find in Tucson.
Exp001 || Other projects in the works.

Posts: 1384
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:07 pm
Location: The Lone Star State

by FIJIGabe

I don't think what you're looking for really exists, other than maybe Hawaii (although I'm not sure about their cycling community).

Next best thing I can think of is somewhere like Austin, which has hilly areas west of town, one of the best cycling communities in the US and great winter weather. Keep in mind that for a while, Radioshack (pre-Leopard) based their early season training there. Bontrager U23/Bissell is also based out of Austin.
Madone 9
Madone 5

Madone 4, Cobia. I own a lot of Treks.

Posts: 48
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:54 am

by RichieE46

Agree with prendrefeu. LA area beaches have a nice blend for training. Plenty of climbs and a nice flat ride on PCH along the beach.

However, personally I would stay away from the "snake" /mulholland hwy. A lot of motorcyclists trying to push their limits in that section.

Sent from my GT-I9505 using Tapatalk

User avatar
Posts: 2014
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:03 pm
Location: San Francisco Peninsula

by jmilliron

Peninsula of the San Francisco Bay Area is fantastic for everything except elevation. Mild and fairly dry winter. Huge community with races in driving distance pretty much every weekend. Loads of amazing climbs and roads without sketchy traffic.
2013 Wilier Cento1 SR || 2009 Ridley Crossbow || 2011 Yeti AS-R 5 Carbon

User avatar
Posts: 2693
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:04 am
Location: Mississippi

by btompkins0112

I would consider the Carolina's also. I have ridden up there and the terrain is pretty spectacular. You can check out Big George's Hotel Domestique in Greenville.

Posts: 1170
Joined: Sun May 16, 2010 7:28 pm

by kulivontot

Come to Tucson.
Weather's nice 9-10 months out of the year, rent's cheap, and you can get out of the town for a low-traffic ride in about 10 minutes. There's Mount Lemmon for elevation training, and the shootout for one of the most legit group rides around. Plenty of mountain biking trails as well, and a pretty well-established cycling community.

Posts: 1491
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:54 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

by Dalai

kulivontot wrote:Come to Tucson.

Tucson has great riding nearby! But is the question about finding somewhere for a season training or somewhere to live and train. I passed through Tucson middle of September and it was still HOT!

Posts: 1423
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 9:28 pm

by boots2000

I have been asking myself this same question.
Decided that I must give up on elevation (in winter in USA).
How do you feel about Hawaii?
The big Island is nice- the Lailua side is dry in the winter.
Climbs go right up from town. The hillside is littlered with 1200-1500 foot climbs, you can also keep climbing up to 4200
feet (but the last 3000 feet is steep), other climbs south of town, good long ride options north toward Waimea. Also can climb the volcano (35 miles away)-goes up to 9000 feet paved.
Pretty dry in winter- if it rains it is usually 2:30 and predictable. Temps between 75-85 year around.

User avatar
Posts: 240
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 12:36 pm
Location: The Netherlands

by trychle

To me Hawaii has always been one of the places on earth where I would really like to ride.

Ever since I saw a video of ... wait for it ....

Ryder Hesjedal trying to climb the highest road (forgot the name) as quick as possible at 6 in the morning.

Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2005 7:56 am

by flipflopper

prendrefeu, thanks for the heads up on lake arrowhead / big bear. I was hoping it was a hidden gem but doesnt seem so.

I am in this with someone else so compromises need to be made. I personally would go for Boulder but it is just too cold for my buddy. Hawaii or east coast are not options, Tucson just doesn't have the cultural factor we're looking for as well (I've done some winter training camps there before - I know it's got some decent riding) so we're pretty much down to California, I think. And I'll have to give up on the altitude factor.

Any specific spots? (I.e. saying LA or Bay Area is way to huge, i mean specific neighborhoods / sateillite towns). I know from living in other big cities it can make a difference - I don't want to spend 45 minutes biking to get out of the city every day.

jmilliron, What are some specific cool cities in the bay area that would be cool to live in, both as far as riding and cool cities?

Two places that come to mind just from word of mouth:

Solvang is a popular one, although looking for a bigger city. How are santa barbara / oxnard / ventura / etc?

Berkely sounds good? Or what would be the prime spots in the bay area?

Either way, Must be a location able to do several thousand feet of climbing in a day on a variety of routes.

Thanks guys

by Weenie

Posts: 441
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:23 am

by bombertodd

I always liked the Pasadena, Altadena, Sierra Madre area. Highway 2 and 39 nearby give some tough options for climbing.

I live near Big Bear/Lake Arrowhead now and have a cabin in Big Bear. It is an awesome place to ride in the summer. In the winter the roads are little sketchy with the snow. Lake Arrowhead/Crestline area has a ton of good steep climbs. But year around it isn't great. Not much racing up there either.

If you're interested in So Cal check out to see which areas have racing that you'd be interested in.

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Last post