|A while back one of our new members, Old Nassau, posted a question in our Forum looking for recommendations on the best retirement biking towns. He was looking not just for bike paths, but also for nearby road bicycling opportunities - rail2trail, dedicated bike trails (paved or dirt), and scenic roads with little traffic. We thought it was such a great question that we used the Topretirements "Search" feature (on the top of the Home page) to see what our reviewers say about biking in the more than 300 city reviews on this site. The answer was, they said a lot! This article will provide a run-down of 15 great biking towns, using that information as well as additional resources such as "Outside" Magazine (see additional links below).|
What kind of biking do you like to do?
In researching this article one of the first things we realized is that almost everyone has different ideas about biking. To avoid confusion it's important to try to identify just what kind of biking a town might have to offer. So for this article we tried to classify towns by type. Some towns offer more than one type of biking, which we tried to note. In our opinion, these are the major types of biking towns:
- Around town biking and commuting. These towns are for people who like to get around town by bike rather than car. Here bike commuting might be good, or bikes are great for just getting around in general.
- Recreational bike trails including rail-to-trail. Some cities and towns have done a great job of incorporating bike trails into their parks or other facilities. These trails would probably used more for recreation rather than functional transportation. A lot of other areas were smart enough to reclaim abandoned railroad right of ways and convert these flat, interesting routes into interesting (and long!) bike trails. We also include in this category towns that are fortunate to be near good, quiet roads with interesting scenery.
- Mountain biking. Not everybody that enjoys mountain biking is a 20-something, witness the passion of baby boomer 1, outgoing George W. Bush, for the sport. Many towns have built up reputations for mountain biking and often have special races and festivals. Naturally enough, towns in the mountains are almost always big mountain bike areas, but plenty of other types of places are big on the sport too.
One other category worth mentioning is biking within active adult communities. Some of these developments boast biking trails or are adjacent to great biking venues. One caution about living in a development, or in fact any neighborhood - check it out on a bike before you buy. If the only access to the rest of the world is across a big highway, heavy traffic, or enormous hill or other obstacle, you might want to reconsider! See the Topretirements article on "Real estate tours by bike"
Great places for around town biking and commuting.
Key West, Florida. Key West is a bike kind of town - a car is not required in Key West. The most popular bikes are cruisers with big fat tires and seats, built for jumping curbs and bringing home the groceries.The most interesting longer rides are around the southeast side of the island along the water.
Fort Collins, Colorado Money Magazine's "Best Small City", Fort Collins is famous for its 4,300 acres of green space, 25 miles of in-town trails, and 143 miles of bike lanes. Less expensive than Boulder, but in some people's minds, just as great.
Madison Wisconsin Madison, built around 2 gorgeous lakes, also boasts a 30-mile web of paved trails that are lit, snowplowed, and biked year-round.
Portland, Oregon The City of Roses is exceedingly bike-friendly with almost 270 miles of street lanes and paths, set-off with nonskid paint. Not only does it have miles of really well-used bike lanes, it now has bike-oriented businesses springing up along those routes. Businesses like apartment houses, office buildings, bars, and more. There are also top-notch parks with trails; mountain and road biking are close. See this article about "Bike-Friendly Businesses in Portland". Of course you can also drive a short distance and enjoy top-notch mountain or road biking.
Recreational bike trails
Charlevoix, Michigan We love this boating destination on Lake Michigan, famous for many things including its 26 mile lake and woods rail-to-trail known as the Bike Path.
Chico, California Chico has many parks and trails in town. It is adjacent to the Sierra Nevada, so it's tops for any kind of biking.
Eugene, Oregon As you might expect, the home of Nike is really nuts about biking, running, trails, and parks. Just outside of town is every kind of biking as well.
Provincetown, Mass Provincetown is pretty small and a car isn't much use on its narrow streets with limited parking. You can cruise around town on your bike, but the best biking is through the National Seashore trails just outside town. You go up and down through the dunes that sometimes remind you of a lunar landscape, only to emerge at the Atlantic Ocean. Cape Cod's rail to trail through the center of the Cape is a thoroughly great trail as well.
Columbia Missouri Another college town (University of Missouri and others), Columbia is a Money Magazine Best Town with bike paths and bike-friendly ambiance
Boise City, Idaho Mountain biking in and near Boise is exceptional. The Boise River Greenbelt is a 25-mile riverfront pathway, and there are plenty of other great parks as well.
Chicago Illinois Chicago is of course a huge city, but biking is possible and enjoyable most of the year. A 18 mile trail system winds through parks along the waterfront, and another goes all the way to the Mississippi River and back (537 miles!)
Portland Maine Portland has just completed a nice trail system, much of which goes along the water. Fanning out in all directions from this very green town are nice roads for long and scenic bike roads.
Boulder Colorado For many cyclists, Boulder is a biking dream. City parks and trails flourish in a town that celebrates being green and athletic. Mountain biking begins within the city limits.
Colorado Springs Yet another Colorado town for biking. How about biking up Pike's Peak?
Burlington VT Home to the University of Vermont and on the shores of beautiful Lake Champlain, Burlington is close to a famous mountain bike trail called "The International". Big-time mountain bikers train and race here.
For Further Reference
Rail to Trails National Map
Bicycling Magazine's "Top 50 Biking-Friendly Cities"
Bicyling Lifestyle Towns at BestPlacesinUSA.com