What and when?

Next Willy Nilly: v15 - Sunday, February ??, 2023

The Willy Nilly is an individual and free-form version of an annual season-opening bicycling spin that happens on beautifully weird Vashon Island.

PLEASE NOTE: We urge everyone who rides their bike, whether on Willy Nilly day or any other, to know and follow all relevant COVID-19 safety requirements and recommendations.

Willy Nilly Basics

> Registration/fees: None (for the record: this is not a ride that is in any way intended to be organized for, or by, anyone...it should be considered solely as, um, performance art...yeah, that's it...)
> "Ride your ride": Willy Nilly riders choose their ride details...start time, route, distance, pace...lycra, wool, or denim...maybe some road, gravel, or single track (there are trails on Vashon)...
> Typical start: Outside (south side) of Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle
> Typical finish: Beveridge Place Pub (we believe in post-ride re-hydration)
> BPP to Fauntleroy dock: map
> One of many Vashon routes (a "standard"): map

Scroll down to view hastily-scribed blurb posts about past Willy Nillys...

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Willy Nilly Gear

> Willy Nilly t-shirts (100% of price mark-up goes to kids' cancer): view/purchase

Willy Nilly History

In January 2009 a handful of cycling friends (or drinking colleagues, 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. To each their 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. Shazam.

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v1: 2009: Risk = reward

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...

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.