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.


Click here to sign up for reminders about upcoming Willy Nilly rides

v5: 2013: "Nice" and balmy Willy Nilly

Summer Willy Nilly
August 24, 2013

Q: "How was the blind date you met last night?" A: "Nice".

In my experience today's generally understood meaning of this answer is either "meh", or perhaps even "something less than great, but don't ask me to provide details".

This year's Willy Nilly was better than "nice". It was a bike ride on Vashon Island in the summertime, and by any measure a stunningly lovely ride. It just lacked...meteorological character.

This year it was suggested that we roll with the Willy Nilly not only on a different island than the Chilly Hilly is held, but also on a summer day that is six months opposite of the iconic season opening ride. And that's what we did, with the following results:

  • Somewhat surprisingly, a smaller crew showed this year for a mild-weathered late-summer ride versus the number that have turned up at previous bone-chilling Willy Nilly rides
  • Camaraderie was not quite as hearty as when we share weather-induced pain and suffering
  • The Bloody Marys, Caesars (Marys made w/Clamato), and Admirals (Caesars made w/gin) at the Hardware Store were as delicious as ever 
  • The image shown here of participants taking a mid-ride spin on exercise contraptions might have been easier on the eyes had the riders been covering their lycra with the layers of chilly-weather covering that is typically required during a February Willy Nilly...just sayin'.