How To Use Ride With GPS For A Holiday Lights Bike Ride

Stephanie standing with her bike lite up in bike lights on the Fairfield Iowa Town Square

Written by Stephanie

Founder and Creator of Trailwind Adventures. Stephanie currently lives in Fairfield, Iowa with her two cats.

December 20, 2021

Deck the Bike with Boughs of Lights…FA LA LA LA LA LA

My favorite ride of the season is this week here in my town. It’s our Holiday Lights ride. It’s only our second year doing this. After riding and becoming friends with the bike shop owner in town, I made a suggestion to him last year that we should do a lights ride. This was inspired by my time living in Des Moines. Every year in Beaverdale, the neighborhood I used to live in, they would have a holiday lights ride. I love taking part in it and missed it after moving to Fairfield. I thought why not recreate that same thing here. So I threw the idea out there and it was well received. After getting the go ahead I went out in search of the best lights in town. It was a bit of a task and a bit time-consuming but I loved doing it. 

This year though I got smarter. I decided to use the Ride With GPS app to help me mark all the places around town that had lights. I did this by starting a ride and using the tools section to mark the POIs. I would drive around town with the app going in my car and when I found a house with lights I would hit it with a POI marker. That way when I went home to review where I was in my car in town I could get a good overview of the areas that were the best lit. This would later help me indicate how and where I would map our route for the ride.

Screenshot of Ride With GPS with Point of Interest mapped out.
Screenshot of Ride With GPS with Point of Interest mapped out.

Above are screenshots of how I went about mapping out where there were Christmas lights.

Below is the final result of my lights hunt. As you can see we could have done multiple routes but wanted to keep it short for the youngsters to join in on the fun ride.

I want to clarify if you are going to do this method to do it with someone else in the car helping you mark the POIs so you can be fully engaged while driving or pull over or stop to mark the POIs for that GPS location. We don’t need any more distracted driving as there already is.

With that out of the way, if you are wanting to start your own holiday lights ride in your town. I say create an event and share it around through social media, word of mouth, and any other marketing ideas you can think of. It all starts with someone organizing the ride and getting a route planned out.

Arch of Christmas Lights with Stephanie standing with her bike
Tunnel of White Christmas Lights with Stephanie standing with her bike
Stephanie standing with her bike lite up in bike lights on the Fairfield Iowa Town Square

Here are my go to things to take on my holiday lights ride:

01. Hot Hands

If you’re in a colder climate put these in your gloves to keep your hands warm. There is nothing worse than having frozen hands.

02. Something To Go Over Your Ears

I wear a headband or a skull cap that goes under my helmet. They are slim so they fit nicely under your helmet without the struggle of a bulky hat or headband. 

03. Neck Gaiter

Keep your neck warm from that cold air. My favorite neck gaiter is from Smartwool. Wool is king in keeping you nice and toasty for sure. 

04. Lights To Decorate The Bike

I mean it’s a holiday lights ride after all. Brightz and Activ Life are my go to lights to decorate my bike. Not too expensive and makes the bike look super festive. These are the lights I am using on my bike in the picture above.

05. Front Headlight & Flashing Rear Light

These should be required by all participants for their safety and the safety of others on the ride. Be Safe Be Seen.

One of my favorite headlights is the Light & Motion headlight. I have had this one for over 5 years and still love it. A bit expensive but work the investment in my opinion.

If you are looking for a cheap but nice rear bike light. The BLITZU rear light is one I have used in the past and works pretty decently at night. I still own this light as a backup option to my more expensive lights.

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