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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    Another "Where to live?" Thread

    So, I'm 18 and living in northern Indiana. While I like the people and community in general, I hate the weather and the trails are quite lacking, as well as the number of riders/racers, especially at the CAT 1 level (on the mtb side, plenty of roadies...). I am looking to pursue a career as a bike mechanic, and/or really any job in the industry. I am also an aspiring racer, Im going to see how far I can take it. As of right now, I'm not planning on pursuing higher education, so I'm trying to decide what part of the country Id like to live in. I'm finishing up my senior year right now, so hopefully I will be moving before next winter sets in. I have been working at the LBS part time for 4 years now, so I have a decent amount of experience wrenching. Two of the most important things to consider are the number of bike shops in the area, and warm winters ( I hate the cold, but don't mind heat as much).
    I've been looking seriously at southwestern Utah, St. George area. The weather seems to be perfect as well as a decent number of bike shops in the area. Ive been to Colorado Springs and Durango on vacation, I really like the springs but it seems to be a little to cold in the winter. Durango was alright as well, I really liked the town but the trails I rode I didn't like as much as the springs. I've also been in southern New Mexico, I greatly enjoyed the Silver City area, but there doesn't seem to be any towns that are big enough to have a number of shops, maybe I haven't looked hard enough.
    So enough rambling, it basically boils down to this:

    Things I care about:
    1. Warm winters
    2. Number of shops, especially high end. Im sick of working on $200 commuter bikes that aren't taken care of 90% of the time.
    3. Trail quality, variety, etc. lots of elevation change a must.
    4. Pollution, not a fan
    5. Growing up in a small town, Im not a fan of big cities for many reasons.
    6. Elevation, for training purposes I would really like a higher altitude, not necessary, but it would be nice.
    7. Low taxes, cost of living

    Things I don't really care about:
    1. Nightlife
    2. Summer heat (to an extent)


    So, Id really appreciate any suggestions. Im planning a road trip westward in June to check things out, going to hit the Springs, Durango, St. George, Moab, Salt lake, and Missoula for the pro XCT. Any other places I should hit on the way?

    Thanks in advance!
    Giant XTC Composite 29er, SID XX World Cup fork, AC Race 29 wheels
    Giant TCR advanced with Ultegra Di2

  2. #2
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    fact of the matter is that unless you are in a really wealthy urban/suburban area where the residents buy and appreciate the high end (and oftentimes rarely REALLY use it) or if you're in an area popular with a LOT of mtb tourists, you're going to make your money working on entry level bikes.

    those high end shops are fairly uncommon compared to the average bike shop that deals mostly in inexpensive stuff.

    and if you want to compete for those highly desirable mechanics' jobs at the high end shops, you'd better invest in some bike mechanic training from UBI or similar.

    also, there are university and technical college degrees that would be useful for your desired career path. a business degree (face it, there's not a lot of opportunity for advancement in bike shops unless you own one or go corporate. a business degree would be useful). you could simply take every bike mechanics' course you can find. you could spend time learning advanced welding and building techniques if you wanted to build bikes. for that matter, if you wanted to get into bike frame design (new designs, getting into aerodynamics, suspension designs, etc), engineering would be a wise choice.

    consider Austin, TX. I know it doesn't meet a lot of your criteria, but there ARE high end shops there and it's a very vibrant place with Austin City Limits, SXSW, lots of trails, and a big university. there are no state income taxes in TX. plenty of summer heat, but winters tend to be gorgeous.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the advice. I guess my perspective of a "high end" shop may be different than many other places in the country, around here a high end shop would probably be an average shop in an area where cycling is more popular. For example, at least half of our customers buy the cheapest commuter bike they can find, ride it every day to work and the only maintenance they do is bring it in once a year (twice if we are lucky) for a tune-up. I guess its more a matter of working on bikes that are at least somewhat taken care of than working on true high end stuff, although ultimately that is what Im after.

    I am planning to take courses at UBI and/or BBI in Colorado springs at some point, just not sure where all that will fit in the schedule of the next couple years.

    Austin, I've never been anywhere in Texas, I may try to work that into the road trip!
    Giant XTC Composite 29er, SID XX World Cup fork, AC Race 29 wheels
    Giant TCR advanced with Ultegra Di2

  4. #4
    Afric Pepperbird
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    What was wrong with the many other "where to live" threads?

  5. #5
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    if you plan on working those courses into your schedule, I'd suggest prioritizing them. work your plans around some of those courses so you can advance your career.

    I might also suggest any university town in general. especially one with an outdoor rec department that rents bikes. I just finished my master's at a somewhat small university in east Texas. but the university had a mtb trail system on campus, and their campus rec department rented respectable mountain bikes. the local shop had a contract with the university to perform maintenance on all of those bikes. that gave them a pretty consistent income stream, and the shop has been working to expand into other outdoor rec products, I'm assuming, to serve the needs of the campus outdoor rec, which they've probably found somewhat lucrative.

    the shop I worked at years ago was near the Michigan State University campus. yeah, we sold a lot of cheap campus bikes that got beat on, but a lot of people who bought nicer stuff were also supported by the university in some way or another.

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