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

v7: 2015: Zip-a-deedoo-dah, zip-a-dee-a...

Winter Willy Nilly
February 22, 2015

...my oh my what a bluebird on my shoulder kind of day - for a hardly chilly but indisputably hilly ride on Vashon Island.

While anyone is free to "ride their ride", Willy Nilly cyclists of varied fitness levels mostly hung together this year

This year the turnout of riders - representing a wide range of fitness levels - all opted to ride the same route ("Beveridge Place to Fauntleroy Dock" plus "Vashon Standard Loop"), in one group.  Two riders opted to start/finish their Willy Nilly from northeast Seattle. The weather was conducive to lots of stopping to smell the flowers (figuratively and literally...cherry and dogwood blossoms were exploding in some areas...in Feb??).

Out on the roads of Vashon we crossed paths with several other groups of cyclists who had a similar idea of getting out on the "same day, different island" for a peaceful and soul-nourishing spin. One of them was pedaling a recumbent. I ardently wished that person - who was clearly riding his ride - was part of our Willy Nilly crew. A perfect candidate for the open position of Willy Nilly mascot.

Per usual we paused at the Burton Coffee Stand for a quick jolt of delish coffee...the pause turned into an ad-hoc lounge session in the patio area, where we were greeted by some feisty tulips getting an early start in the surrounding flower beds.

Burton Coffee Stand

From Burton we rode north on Vashon Highway, then swung east onto SW Quartermaster Dr. and worked our way over to one last notable climb up SW 204th St and Ridge Rd SW before our next stop at the Snapdragon Bakery & Cafe.

The always-friendly locals running the Snapdragon offered us an array of exquisite baked goods, which stunned some of us into indecision. Eventually we all partook in the incomparable mid-ride pairing of a Snapdragon baked treat with a pint of Lucille IPA. More lounging ensured before our last short sugar/beer-fueled burst of energy carried us to the Vashon ferry dock.

Snapdragon Bakery & Cafe

Last stop, per usual: West Seattle's Beveridge Place Pub, where our final stage of rehydration was accomplished...each of us found and quaffed a particular malty beverage that suited our individual needs. "Ride your ride" can evidently be applied to any aspect of this day.