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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v6: 2014: Ah, back to chilly no-frilly late winter conditions...

Willy Nilly
February 23, 2014

This year the Willy Nilly returned to it's original format. That is to say, on the same date as that of a well-established season-opening herd of cyclists on a different island near Seattle. 

In the spirit of Willy Nilly there were two waves of riders on their own schedules, doing their own route, each riding their ride on a day of perfectly reasonable weather (there's no such thing as an ugly day on Vashon). 

"And the ferry ramp Strava king of the mountain is..."
The first wave, which I'll refer to as the Strava-tistas (see one blogger's commentary), took an earlier ferry and surely established all kinds of performance records that no one had heretofore been motivated to attempt. Remnants of this wave stuck around the Beveridge Place long enough post-ride to welcome the second wave and share some malty/hoppy deliciousness and Willy Nilly camaraderie...

Wave two riders, more inspired to "stroll" than "perform", nevertheless accomplished an artistically-oriented achievement for posterity by collaborating with the bartender of The Hardware Store to identify and test the perfect final component of a beverage masterpiece that had been in development for more than five years: The Admiral (a Bloody Caesar made with gin versus vodka). A feat of genius by the bartender was performed by adding rolled anchovies to the already heavily-laden garnish stick.

So yeah, we had a lovely ride with comfortably crisp weather that was mostly dry....that is, until we departed The Hardware Store for a dash to the ferry dock, at which time we were blessed with just enough rain that we were able to feel as if we were intrepid Belgian Spring Classics riders deserving of many finish line beers.