Move to Billings, MT- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Move to Billings, MT

    So thereís an opportunity for me to move to Billings, MT and I am curious what the scene is like. Are trails close to town? Is the city cycling friendly? Iíve done some google searches and I see it is listed as a top 50 cycling town, but I want some hoses opinions. For reference Iím coming from Northern Arizona (Flagstaff). I can be on single track from 1/2 mile from my garage. Plus I have Sedona 45-minutes away for winter riding. Iíd like to stay, but my job is only stable for another 5-years and Iím not close to retiring.
    Last edited by jdcatnau; 1 Week Ago at 11:53 AM.

  2. #2
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    Caveat- I live in Helena and havenít ridden in Billings. But I have friends from there, so Iíve heard a bit. I think youíll be disappointed coming from Flagstaff. Billings has some decent local trails on the rimrock above town, some good rides in the region that are relatively undiscovered, and there are excellent big mountain rides within 1-2 hours drive. I wouldnít say itís a hotspot, but more that they do well with what they have. Thereís a decent bike shop in Billings.

    Billings isnít a mountain town. Itís a railroad and agricultural town, and has a very midwestern feel. Downtown has come a long way in the last decade, and there are some decent breweries and restaurants. But Red Lodge isnít too far away, nor is Sheridan, WY.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    Caveat- I live in Helena and havenít ridden in Billings. But I have friends from there, so Iíve heard a bit. I think youíll be disappointed coming from Flagstaff. Billings has some decent local trails on the rimrock above town, some good rides in the region that are relatively undiscovered, and there are excellent big mountain rides within 1-2 hours drive. I wouldnít say itís a hotspot, but more that they do well with what they have. Thereís a decent bike shop in Billings.

    Billings isnít a mountain town. Itís a railroad and agricultural town, and has a very midwestern feel. Downtown has come a long way in the last decade, and there are some decent breweries and restaurants. But Red Lodge isnít too far away, nor is Sheridan, WY.
    Thanks

  4. #4
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    My spouse is from Billings and we live in Helena. Evasive hit it on the head. The Rimrocks have some fun rides right above town, but it's worth driving down to Red Lodge for better mountain biking.

    I wouldn't call Billings a town that embraces cycling, but it's not anti-cyclist either.
    2013 Salsa Horsethief 2 (ironically, bike was stolen)
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  5. #5
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    Move to Billings, MT

    So doing some research on the city (I know itís small 100k residents). Is the crime really that bad? Iím trying to figure out why Billings has 3x the amount of registered sex offenders than Flagstaff. At first I thought it could be the university but NAU has about 23k to MSUís 16k.

    Just realized thatís a satellite campus, not the main campus. Makes it even more boggling to me.

  6. #6
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    Billings has more poverty and homelessness than most other places in Montana. It also got hit pretty hard by meth a decade ago and problems still linger.

    That being said, there's lots of nice neighborhoods and it isn't a bad or dangerous place by any means. It's the biggest city in the state and comes the closest to having big city problems. But Billings is not crime-infested by any means.
    2013 Salsa Horsethief 2 (ironically, bike was stolen)
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  7. #7
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    Just wanted to add on that Billings probably has the longest riding season in all of Montana. It is typically warmer throughout the winter and gets less snow.

    The riding is okay. Probably nowhere close to what you have in Flag. Iíve got a friend that lives there and Iíve done some fun long, techy XC rides there. He rides year-round, whereas in Bozeman, where I live, we continue to set all-time records for extreme cold and heavy snowfall.

  8. #8
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    The thing about living in Montana is that your scale for taking a drive changes drastically. What used to be a long drive will seem like a short jaunt in no time. Helena/Bozeman/Big Sky are all within a few hours. Great riding to be had without question.

  9. #9
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    I've only driven through Billings on my way to work so no comment about it.

    But I really enjoy Butte. I think the CDT is underrated, it has so much amazing riding. From buff to flow to climbing to steep chunk Rocky goodness.

    We spent just shy of a week there last summer riding and exploring, downtown is interesting, I understand there's some folks down on the luck, homeless etc, but everyone seemed quite friendly.

  10. #10
    rth009
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    As someone who lived in Billings for 8 years for a good job, but moved back to Missoula to return to a more progressive community with a live music scene that has more than aging hair metal acts and pop country, and also to live in the mountains rather than 50 miles away, I would agree with the above posts. Billings is not a dangerous place, most people are nice, and there is a good mountain bike club that has built some sweet trails on the rims west of town and also at Acton BLM area, which is about a 25 minute drive from downtown. The trails on the west end of town are excellent, but limited in amount. And I think some of the west end trails that I was riding 5-10 years ago have been closed as land ownership changed hands. But the Acton trails are being developed and expanded and the riding there is great. You can also access singletrack from near the university and ride west or east across the rims. I met a lot of great people in Billings and it has come along way in the last 15 years, but its quite a bit different from Flagstaff. Weather is warm for Montana. Lots of sunshine all year round. If you're in to gravel, options are limitless. Mountain biking is limited in the Beartooths (closest mtn range) due to wilderness, but those peaks are huge and wild. There are some rides in the beartooths, but only really from July-October due to snow. You'll need a fatbike if you want to ride all year round.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdcatnau View Post
    Iíd like to stay, but my job is only stable for another 5-years and Iím not close to retiring.
    Having been to Flag/Sedona a few times, I would hold out for another few years and see if something else pops up. Billings may have it's strong points but the MTB riding is not up to par with what you're used to. I don't know where that top 50 rating comes from.

  12. #12
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    I appreciate everyoneís comments. Flag is going through changes. Logging has been going on Mt. Elden which has damaged a lot of the trails on the mountain and for whatever reason the FS is not as proactive at replacing the trail as Sedona is at building trails even though they are in the same National Forest. The university is gobbling up land to expand which has made traffic almost impossible as they want 30k students on campus. The town just doesnít have the roads to support tourist and such a large influx of students in the year. Not to mention everything is expensive here (House, property tax, gas, tax on beverages and food and all around sales tax). City is trying to support $15/hr minimum wage is raising the cost of everything.

    I guess thereís no perfect place. Iíll just have to wait to see if I get an offer and what the dollar amount is. Thanks again.

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