WELCOME TO THE SHOWDOWN, the ultimate battle, a battle of titans, the combatants: the People's Republic of Cambridge vs. The People's Republic of Boulder.
Ok maybe it's not that epic, it more of a slightly skewed, brief, inaccurate comparison of the people's republics, but fear not dear readers it's mostly about bikes and things bike related. The winner may be the place I settle down in after my time in Israel. Anyhow on to the contest:
Round 1: Coffee on Bike Rides
Well this is an easy one, the two are both home to a litany of small, quaint and independent shops with good selections. Heck, I even found one in Longmont where the staff, and all but 1 of the 6 customers all seemed to be from Massachusetts, so both can cities can qualify for folksy charm. However, the victory here is clearly Cambridge, because when you go for a ride out of Cambridge you aren't out in hick country and it's not damn near impossible to find a coffee shop 2-3 hours into a ride. Also, there's not a Dunkin Donuts 10 minutes in every direction in Colorado, so you don't even have a back up plan. SCORE: Cambridge 1, Boulder 0
Round 2: Getting out of Town
No question here the winner is Boulder. Why? Simply because Boulder has no urban sprawl, when the city ends, the city ends, and you're immediately out in farm land or climbing up a canyon. There's no navigating out through Arlington and Lexington before you get to some sort of open space out in Concord, and then it's still kind of busy. SCORE: Cambridge 1, Boulder 1
Round 3: Road Ride Quality
Well this category can be evaluated in several ways. Is this based on road surface quality, road variety, scenic vistas or difficulty in terrain? Each area has its positives, Boulder is nice in that the canyon roads are quiet, twisty and long, additionally, the Flat land roads tend to have a mix of flat roads, rollers and small climbs, and there's a good amount of dirt roads too. But Boulder is seriously lacking in road variety, the areas surrounding the city are really just a series of large grids, you can go east-west or north-south, the flatlands are really exposed and pretty much no tree canopied roads and even the canyons only have evergreens.
(A Summer Ride in Greater Boston)
Cambridge and greater Boston is great as it is flooded with many twisty, cool, tree canopied roads, and you can basically find a new road on every ride and drift from one town to another, sprinting with friends for each town. line. After which you can easily find some ice-cream or coffee to share midway through the ride. As an added bonus, greater Boston has lots of rolling roads, but no major climbs and I hate big climbs. So the winner is Cambridge. SCORE: Cambridge 2, Boulder1.
Round 4: The Group Ride
This one is difficult, as each is so different. On the one hand, Boulder has a series of really fastestablished group rides, where attendance can be over one hundred people and Pros from both continental and European teams can show up and raise the level. Where as Cambridge seems to be more based on teams/friends riding together and having a good time rather than getting in a few hours of training. Likewise, there are organized fast rides in the Boston area and groups of friends do get together in Boulder for a casual base ride. But, I'm going to give this one to Cambridge, as I've always enjoyed riding with collegiate teams, GREENLINEVelo and generally having fun, rather than"getting in some good training." If I want some training I'll gorace Wells Ave. SCORE: Cambridge 3, Boulder 1.
Round 5: Winter Training
I think it's pretty clear which one is the winner here, I mean, it's February and I haven't had to ride the trainer yet while out here in CO. The front range has less snow, warmer temps, far less salt on the road and beautiful sunshine even in the dead of winter. Where as everyone in Cambridge is probably dying a little bit each time they jump on the trainer/rollers during the week and hoping the temperature gets over 20 degrees (F) so it's warm enough to ride on the weekend. SCORE: Cambridge 3, Boulder 2.
(A typical winter day on the Front Range)
Round 6: BikeSocial
Well, this kind of has some sub categories, which would be your personal cycling social network and then off the bike events. And this one is tough, now I can't personally speak to having a large contingent of cycling friends in and around Boulder, but from the friends I do have it seems as though the social scene is pretty similar to back east. So, I''ll move to the second half of the category off the bike events. Of course back east there are a bunch of fundraisers, team parties, talks, all of which involve beer, and from what I can tell it is pretty similar here in Boulder, with the exception that the local pro riders that attend events are much faster and internationally known. So that being the case, I'll begrudgingly have to give this one to Boulder because, "I met a Garmin-Transitions" rider is far more impressive than "I met a Mountain Khakis rider." SCORE: Cambridge 3, Boulder 3
Round 7: Urban Stuff
You know, concerts, art galleries, bars, street performers, urban stuff. This round goes to Cambridge pretty easily, I don't have to explain myself. SCORE: Cambridge 4, Boulder 3
Round 8: Bike Shops and Local Bike Companies
Each town, and surrounding area has a litany of shops of large, small, and boutique shops. So I guess that's a draw, but each area is home to a large variety of advocacy groups, frame builders and large scale distributors. But, because the Cambridge/Boston area has such a high frequency of local frame builders, like Seven, IF, Geekhouse, Budd Bikeworks, and more I'll give this one to Cambridge. SCORE: Cambridge 5, Boulder 3
Round 9: Off the Bike Exercise
Basically this round covers all the cool off bike things, like running, skiing, hiking, swimming, other neat outdoorsy adventures that occur without bikes. New England is great because of the oceans, and beaches, offering sea kayaking, sailing and more, and still is home to my beloved lakes and mountains in Maine and New Hampshire where you can hike, swim and enjoy the outdoors. But Boulder and Colorado as a whole take the win here, because it has mountains, some lakes, rafting, hiking all that good stuff, but it wins because the Skiing/Snowboarding is just on another level when compared to New England. SCORE: Cambridge 5, Boulder 4
The Winner: Cambridge
By a score of 5 to 4 Cambridge is the winner by a small margin over Boulder. But, obviously this is only a glance, and I sure haven't covered a lot of important topics about the lifestyle, the racing and probably the most important factor: CAN I GET A JOB?
Until next time.....