Dec 24, 2012 1:30 AM by Angela Douglas - Q2 News
BILLINGS - It's not every day you see a mob of bicycles decked out in Christmas lights rolling down the streets of Billings, but if you've paid close attention over the past 12 years, you may have noticed a trend.
"Friends from the bike shops would kind of gather and just go around checking out Christmas lights," explained Billings cyclist Don Cole.
For more than a decade, members of the bike community in Billings have been meeting during the holiday season for a little joy ride through local neighborhoods adorned with Christmas lights.
"This is a fun part of the year," explained fellow cyclist Brian Thompson. "We go up and stroll through all the luminaries and look at all the Christmas lights and then normally somebody is hosting a get together afterwards."
It may have started out as just a fun tradition among a handful of friends, but it has grown into a fundraising event for the local mountain bike club. The pre-ride gathering attracts dozens of people every year and Thompson, who happens to own Rockets restaurant, plays host.
"We raise money for our local bike group, the Billings Dirt Jerks," explained Thompson. "This is a fundraiser for our group. I think this about the fifth year we've been doing it."
Of course, you don't typically associate the holiday season with bicycles, but regardless of the weather, ‘Old Man Winter' hasn't stopped the bikes from hitting the pavement... or ice.
"I think the first year we did it, it was like 10-below and the streets were solid ice," recalled Thompson. "It was a little sketchy."
"We pick a date and if it's 15-below, we still go," Cole added. "It kind of brings out the hardcore people."
While some have been participating for more than a decade of the bike ride, others are giving it a shot for the first time.
"I'm not a big bike rider," admitted first-time Christmas Light Bike Ride participant, Sam Bergman. "But it just sounded like fun so I grabbed a bike and pumped up the tires."
Regardless of the level of your cycling dedication, event organizers insist that anyone interested is welcome to ride along.
"It's not competitive by any stretch of the imagination," assured Cole. "People are riding junk bikes or they're riding really big, fat tire bikes. They're riding any bikes they have."
"It kind of brings everybody together," said Thompson. "I think that's what the continuity is for why the tradition has been lasting so long."
And as long as people keep showing up, the ride will continue to capture the magic of the holiday season.
"It's about getting together, riding bikes and enjoying the Christmas season," Cole said simply.
Now, you will have to wait another year to join the group ride, but if you're feeling the desire to take in some of those twinkling lights - in a non-traditional way - go ahead make this adventure your own holiday tradition.