Forget the old-fashioned rest stop; take your highway break on a cyclocross track, a mountain biking trail or even a salt flat.
By Greg Barbera
Even in a great car, you simply cannot drive all day. Sometimes you just need to stretch. Which is what the Sonic is all about, right? If you stretch your imagination, along with your sense of fun and adventure, in a vehicle that rises to the challenge, the possibilities are endless.
At the five roadside hotspots below, you can get quite a bit of exercise … or just gaze at the impressive scenery while others work up a sweat. Some of these destinations might even be worth a trip on their own.
Here you’ll find 40,000 square feet of concrete fun for sidewalk surfers and gnarly street skaters. And yes, that big circular structure is a 24-foot full pipe. This public outdoor park has a little something for everyone: boxes and bowls and rails and ledges. No matter what your skill set on a skateboard, you’ll find something to grind away the travelin’ blues and get your blood pumping.
Banner Elk, NC
Three Peaks is billed as “America’s Hardest Cyclocross Race.” For the uninitiated, cyclocross features a course of varied terrain (winding trails, steep hills, sometimes pavement) with obstacles that require riders to dismount and carry their bicycles before remounting. At an elevation of close to 4,000 feet, you better make sure you’re in good cardiovascular health before you tackle this track.
The Bonneville Salt Flats
Northwestern Utah is home to the World Land Speed Record, and speeds of more than 600 miles per hour have been reached on the salt flats. Access is free and you don’t have to be a racer to drive on this landmark proving ground. Grip your Sonic’s three-spoke steering wheel, stare out the windshield at the simmering salt and daydream about your fantasy self achieving supersonic speeds. Then have some lunch and get back on the road.
This is one of the holy grails of mountain bike trails. Almost 15 miles long, it’s super technical and requires advanced skills. You’ll be stair-stepping over rocky ledges, riding single track on slick rock and skidding along on sandy sections. The last mile parallels the Colorado River, offering vistas that can only be seen from the saddle of your bike.
Colorado Springs, CO
You can see the Dome from miles away. The impressive granite structure is one of the highlights of Pikes Peak; it rises up 80 feet from canyon floor to the top, which provides a panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains. While rock climbing is prohibited, you can still get plenty of exercise. An 11-mile hiking trail loop—peppered with local fauna, Aspen trees and, if you’re lucky, big horn sheep—is the adventure of a lifetime. You’ll need a few hours to fit it into your travel schedule, but once you gaze at that spectacular rock formation you’ll undoubtedly turn to your co-pilot and say, “Let’s do this!”
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Greg Barbera of DadCentric is a dad blogger, web content creator, beer & music journalist and the singer/bass player for the punk band Chest Pains. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with his two skateboard-obsessed sons. You can follow him on twitter @gregeboy, tumblr, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram and Blogger.