>Last time, we went over Ann Arbor, MI, and Ithaca, NY. In this post, we’ll review Monterey, CA and Colorado Springs, CO. I lived in Monterey while attending grad school during my first year in the Navy (2002-2003), and I lived in Colorado Springs for 3 months in 2009 while doing an internship at Carmichael Training Systems.
Swimming – 4.5/5. Indoor 25yd swimming, including a master’s group, is available at the Monterey Sports Center. With it’s large, clean weight room, multiple basketball courts, and huge pool that’s always open, the MSC is the nicest public recreation facility I’ve seen. Also, the pool has a kick-ass waterslide. If you want to go open water swimming, you can hop in the Monterey Bay or do an ocean swim anywhere along the extensive coastline. The only “downcheck” here is that there are no outdoor 50m pool options.
Biking – 4/5. One of the great strengths of Monterey is the weather. During the winter, it’s 65 and sunny every day. During the summer, it’s 75 and sunny every day. Although things do heat up as you head inland and away from the cooling effects of the ocean. This means that the outdoor riding season is year-round. If you’re going for a short ride, or want somewhere to do shorter intervals, 17-mile drive is a great option. There is a dedicated bike lane, and it just goes along the spectacular schoreline of Asilomar, Spanish Bay, and Pebble Beach. If you’re looking to go further, there is a bike path that will take you out of town to the north, or you can take just about any road east or south and you will find some good riding. The only real downside here is that there are a lot of tourists in the area, so drivers are sometimes paying more attention to the scenery than they are to the road.
Running – 5/5. Several great options here. You can run on the bike path along the Monterey Bay, run in the sand on the beaches, or run along 17-mile drive. There is a good mix of terrain. This is about as good as it gets, although it’d be nice if there were more dirt trails.
Overall -4/5. The location itself is great for training, and the only reason it doesn’t get 5/5 is the general feel of the town. It’s a town dominated by retirees, tourists, and the military (Monterey has both the Naval Postgraduate School and the Defense Language Institute). As such, there is not much of an endurance sports “culture” in the area, and you’ll be doing the vast majority of your training solo. But if you don’t mind flying solo all the time, or if you show up with a training group, then the weather and terrain of Monterey combine to offer excellent training opportunities.
Colorado Springs, CO –
Swimming – 3/5. YMCA, and a masters group at Cheyenne Mountain Aquatic Center are good options. There is also a masters group that trains at the Olympic Training Center, but I don’t know the details about that. Nothing too exciting, but there are plenty of serviceable options.
Biking – 4.5/5. Gold Camp is great for hill repeats, and if you go to the east or south, there are endless miles of gentle rollers with good pavement and courteous drivers. Also, Garden of the Gods is a great place for shorter workouts. If you want to really destroy your legs, go do some power intervals up to the Cave of the Winds. It can get cold in the winter, but there isn’t much snow accumulation, so you can still get outdoors on most days if you have adequte cold weather gear.
Running – 4.5/5. Good training along the Sante Fe trail, which is long enough for your longest runs, although it’s just an out-and-back and not a loop. There are also great trails up in the mountains. I’d recommend avoiding “The Incline”, which sounds pretty fun, but it’s so steep and the steps are so far apart that running up is all but impossible on the top half.
Overall – 4.5/5. There are some great athletes at the Olympic Training Center, but overall the triathlon “scene” is not very big in Colorado Springs. There are, however, a decent number of cyclists and runners, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find people to train with. Also, the high elevation (6000 ft) gives your red blood cell count a nice little boost. Although swimming there kind of feels like swimming with a pillow over your face. It took me about 2 months before I really felt comfortable at that elevation.
Next time, we’ll look at Clermont, FL and Tucson, AZ.