Winter Willy Nilly
February 22, 2009
A common northwest outdoor activity maxim: "If you don't go, you won't know!"
A handful of moderately inspired Willy Nilly riders decided to heed this maxim for 2009 and it paid off with ideal February riding conditions. The slightly damp Vashon scenery was mostly green from what I can remember, the hills were aplenty (particularly in relation to most of our fitness levels this time of year), and some decided to extend the ride into some funky side-routes. Add to this an easy ferry experience, no registration fees, no "herds" of riders to contend with, and a quick duck into the aptly chosen Red Bicycle in the village for some malty liquid carbs and french fries to fortify us before the final leg...already Jonesing for next year...
[Disclosure: we did benefit from a secret weapon. GH, a UW meteorology professor, provided a personal - and uncannily accurate - forecast for Vashon. The caveat: Greg's well-earned bicycle nickname is "Sandbagger". He would happily ride into a typhoon, and wouldn't hesitate to lure us in with him. Would he have knowingly led us into a Wet Willy? We'll never know.]
A special thanks to Manny who, while unable to ride due to a residual headcold, was awaiting us at our finish line (Beverage Place Pub) with a pitcher of his namesake brew.
Also, honorable mention is due PW, who showed up at the Beverage on time but fell victim to chaotic communications.
True to the spirit of Willy Nilly, we benefited from the few surprises that spiced up our day.
What and when?
10th Annual Willy Nilly: February 25, 2018
Same day, different island: If you like the idea of dragging your winter insulation-padded arse out for a ritualistic early-season bike ride, but prefer to dodge herds, registration, fees, and rules, then...
Join us for a happily unorganized season-opening spin on Vashon Island, WA
> Registration/fees: None
> "Ride your Ride": Start time is just a guide, select your route/distance, your pace, your style...road cyclists, gravellistas, mountain bikers (there are trails on Vashon)...
> Bring your own group or join one...
> Start: Outside (south side) of Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle
> Finish: Inside of Beveridge Place Pub (we recommend post-ride hydration)
> Popular ride departure: 9:00 am from Beveridge to catch 9:30 am ferry
> Fauntleroy/Vashon ferry departure time options: 7:50 am, 8:25 am, 9:30 am, 10:20 am...
> Beveridge to Fauntleroy dock: map
> One of many Vashon routes (a "standard"): map
> Food & hot/cold beverages: Provisions can be found during the ride on Vashon at any of our favorite stops along the "standard" loop route: Burton Coffee Stand, Snapdragon Bakery & Cafe, Cafe Luna, The Hardware Store, or the Red Bicycle
> On-island bike repairs: Vashon Bikes right on the main loop route in Burton, and Spider Ski & Sports in downtown Vashon
Scroll down to view hastily scribed blurb-posts about previous Willy Nilly rides
History of Willy Nilly
In January 2009 a handful of cycling friends (or drinking colleaguess, depending on your perspective) were discussing options for a wintery group road bike ride to kick off a new season. None of us were game for the iconic Chilly Hilly on Bainbridge Island. While the Chilly Hilly does an amazing job of inspiring thousands of riders to register and ride the beautiful designated route, this kind of ride just wasn't our cup of tea. Two each his/her own, right? We decided to ride a more personalized and free-form ride on the same day as the Chilly Hilly, in solidarity with the herd to the north of us, and thus the present-day Willy Nilly was born.
The name "Willy Nilly" was originally a nickname for a one-time ride that happened on Vashon Island in February, 1993 following the first inauguration of President William "Willy" Clinton. During the 2009 discussion referenced above, someone (let's call him "Brad") related the story of participating in the 1993 ride. We loved the name. We loved riding on Vashon. Willy Nilly rhyming with Chilly Hilly seemed an obvious sign of encouragement. Boom.
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