Driving through local neighborhoods looking at the lights and decorations on houses has long been a favorite holiday tradition. But one local organization thinks there's a way to make the ritual even better.
On Thursday, Bike Bakersfield will host its annual Holiday Lights Ride, where bicyclists will travel through the Haggin Oaks neighborhood to admire the lights and holiday displays. With the energy of exercising and nothing obscuring your view, seeing the lights on a bike is a more immersive experience, said Natalie Barrett, an employee of Bike Bakersfield.
"When you're on a bike, you're going slower, so you notice more things," Barrett said. "It's just funner. You get your endorphins going, you're outside. It's a more all-encompassing activity than passively sitting in a car."
Riders will meet at the Kaiser Permanente lot on Ming Avenue before traveling together to the Haggin Oaks neighborhood, well known for its extravagant displays.
"That neighborhood is beautiful, and they love their Christmas lights," Barrett said. Haggin Oaks "has phenomenal lights."
But the decorations won't just be on the houses. Cyclists also take the opportunity to adorn their bikes with lights, garland and more.
"We get a lot of people who light up the spokes of their bikes so when the wheels spin they make big circles of light," she said. "We often have people wearing lights ... There are no rules. Just light up whatever you can, wherever you can."
Bike Bakersfield hosts bike rides regularly but this one is probably the biggest, Barrett said. Any given full moon ride, for example, gets around 80 to 100 riders, while the holiday ride gets around 200, she said.
"It is one of the favorites of all the bike rides we do," Barrett said. "It's one of the most widely attended ones, and it's just a blast."
The ride is a great one for bicyclists of any age or ability, said Barrett, who, like others, is planning to bring her kids. The ride regularly gets a wide range of people, from small children to seniors. And for casual cyclists, there's no need to train, she said.
"It's a way to get involved in your community and meet so many people," she said. Because it's the holidays "there's huge camaraderie. Everyone's thrilled, everyone's friendly."