On weekend mornings in Las Vegas, you can usually find me cycling Highway 159 from the west side of town to the intersection of Highway 160. This out-and-back bike ride covers about 30 miles, heading straight through the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. With its incredible scenery, wide shoulders and excellent blend of terrain, this ride is the perfect way to start my weekend.
You don’t have to fly to Las Vegas to find a great place to cycle, but biking in a new area is a fine experience for any cyclist. If you’ve been riding for awhile, your local trail or route might feel a little stale over time. Traveling to a new area can spice up your routine and renew your appreciation for the beauty of the outdoors.
RELATED: Indoor Cycling Probably Won’t Make You Fit. Here’s Why.
When choosing a riding destination, here are some things to consider.
The most enjoyable part of riding in a new environment is taking in the unfamiliar scenery. With so many beautiful places across America, driving by in a car often isn’t enough. Take your bike to popular local trails to see something you wouldn’t be able to see at home.
If you live in a flat coastal area such as Florida, traveling to an area like Boulder, Colorado gives you the chance to tackle tougher terrain. If you already live in a hilly area, travel to flatter ground to get more mileage from your rides without the rigors of mountain climbing.
When I travel, I look up friends, business partners or even local cycling groups. Riding with someone from a new area is a great way to get the inside scoop on the best places to ride and how to stay safe while you’re on the trail. The next time you take your bike to a new area, don’t be a stranger.
RELATED: NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson’s Unusual Training Regimen
What makes you want to ride in one area rather than another? Riding to beat a previous time on a familiar course can start to feel unfulfilling if you don’t shake it up now and then. When you go somewhere new, give yourself new goals to achieve—such as riding a certain distance to a scenic view.
Perhaps you’ve spent the past few weeks trapped in a New England winter—spinning your wheels on an indoor trainer and thinking wistfully about getting back on the road. The environment makes a big difference when selecting a new spot to ride. If you’re stuck inside, head to a warmer climate. If you live on the plains, head to higher elevation for a greater challenge.
6. Local Shops
I’ve never met a cyclist who didn’t like to eat and look at shiny new bikes. If you ride in a new area, check out the locale’s popular restaurants to fuel up after your ride, and once you’re full, spend some time drooling over your next bike. You might even make a new friend for tomorrow’s ride.
All of that said, here are some of my favorite places to ride.
1. Pacific Coast Highway
If you want to see America from north to south, this is a great way to do it. Stretching from Canada to Mexico, this trail takes about 40 days to complete, but you don’t have to do it all at once. This helpful guide provides more information on traveling the PCH.
2. Garden of the Gods
If you don’t have a month to spend on the PCH, try something a little shorter in Colorado Springs. This area has three trails, ranging from 2.5 to 5.2 miles, bringing cyclists near beautiful landmarks like Gateway Rock.
3. Florida Legacy Trail
Located in Sarasota County and winding through Oscar Scherer State Park, this trail is a great southeast destination for cyclists who want to escape the bustle of the city while enjoying unique nature and wildlife.
Cyclists willing to head north of the border can enjoy the beautiful trails of Nova Scotia. If you like a little zest with your travel, you can even take a winery tour on your bike. Travelers willing to dig a little deeper can enjoy some beautiful areas off the beaten path as well.
5. Hawaii IRONMAN Course: Captain Cook Loop
If you crave a challenge and are willing to cross an ocean to get it, look no further. This 100+-mile ride offers beautiful, exotic scenery and all the distance and terrain you need to test your limits.
RELATED: How to Choose a Bike for Conditioning Workouts