What and when?

Next Willy Nilly: v15 - Sunday, February 26, 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.

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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v4: 2012: Just like the USPS...no, the real one without lycra shorts or blood doping...

Willy Nilly
February 26, 2012

Neither snow nor rain nor...ferry schedule mix-ups...

A dry, balmy day without unexpected glitches would not be a Willy Nilly day.

We rode our ride. Experienced new versions of chaos. With a mix of sun, rain, sleet and snow we tasted just the right amount of weather-induced suffering to feel intrepid. Some of us suffered from deciding to try to hang on to the wheels of a couple of our favorite brewers. And we enjoyed the relative peace and quiet of Vashon (though we could hear a rumbling sound coming from an island just a few miles north...perhaps a moo or two). 

One of us is exceedingly grateful that one of said brewers (hint: his name is not Lucille) pulled the entire way in a mini pace line to make the ferry...from The Hardware Store Restaurant (and bar) feed zone (bloody Mary's, bacon, potatoes) to the ferry that carried us back to West Seattle, where we finished up yet again at the Beveridge Place Pub. The barley wine festival was in full swing...

As with previous years we had two rider groups due to two different ferry departures, not by design. Oops. Willy Nilly.

Okay, so we chickened out on widely promoting this beyond immediate friends. Again. I mean, what if the herd shifts south and replaces our peaceful chaos with mayhem??