I grew up in the mountains of Wyoming, where it snowed and rained and there were terrible winds. Where you had to start your car 10 minutes in advance just to get it warm enough to drive. A place where a warm winter day might get above zero—if you were lucky. By the time I was in my twenties I knew I needed to find a place, as Jimmy would say, with little latitudes. So I strapped a snow shovel to the front of my Jeep and drove south until someone asked me what it was. I landed here in Las Vegas and have been in love with it ever since.
That is, except when the temperatures first drop out of the hundreds. For some reason, when Las Vegas starts to cool down, I get a little homesick. I actually miss those majestic mountains that were the home of my youth. It’s happened every year of my more than 25 here in Las Vegas, and it is something I have yet to really comprehend. The good news is it only lasts about a week and then I remember that cool days in Las Vegas means it’s time to get that bike out of the garage and get it ready to ride.
So as our temps dip below triple digits, the trails are calling, but if you haven’t ridden in a while there are a few maintenance issues you should first deal with before you take that dusty bike out for a spin. If it’s been quite a while since you’ve ridden, I suggest taking your bike into your local bike shop for a tune up. These professionals will help make sure it’s ready to ride and won’t break down, leaving you stranded in the middle of your favorite trail. If it’s only been a couple of months since you’ve ridden, there are a few things you can do yourself:
Check the air pressure of your tires. Rising and lowering temperatures can reduce tire pressure even after only a couple of weeks or days of sitting in the garage.
Clean and lubricate your chain. A dirty chain can cause skipping and can even prevent your bike from shifting properly. While tools are available to clean your chain, a toothbrush or cloth usually works just as well. Use a degreaser, like dishwashing soap, and make sure not to get too much water in the area where the pedals connect to the bike’s frame. Grease is necessary in that area to keep the pedals working properly. Once your chain is clean be sure to coat it with a lubricant specifically designed for such a purpose. You can find one of these at your local bike shop. Be sure to tell them the type of trails you ride as different terrain requires different lubricants.
Check your brakes. The worst thing you can do is get on a trail and find that your brakes won’t stop your bike. If your brakes are loose, take the bike to your local bike shop and have the professionals tighten them.
Now that your bike is ready to go, here are a couple of my favorite trails:
Wetlands Park Trail
Located at the north end of the parking lot, this 6.3-mile cement and asphalt trail is open only to walking, running, and biking. The trail is not typically crowded, making it one of the best trails for families. Additionally, when the trail starts to leave the park—at the large bridge—you can simply turn and head back if you don’t want to leave the park. The first part of the trail makes its way through trees and plants, offering a great view of one of the Wetland’s ponds. There is a seating area near the pond, offering an ideal place to see the animals that make the pond home.
The Amargosa trail snakes its way behind and between many different communities, using land that would otherwise be left vacant. The trail passes a couple of small parks and is well landscaped, which keeps the trail cooler than other trails. It also has lights in several areas. Unlike many of the Green Valley trails, this trail is actually divided into several sections requiring you to travel on some streets to make the connections. +
Paul W. Papa is a bike enthusiast and the author of Best Bike Rides Las Vegas and Mountain Biking Las Vegas and Southern Nevada. When not out on the trails, he can be found at www.paulwpapa.com.