What and when?

13th Annual Willy Nilly ride: Cancelled due to COVID-19

The Willy Nilly is an individual and free-form version of an annual season-opening bicycling spin that normally happens during the last Sunday of February, on Vashon Island, WA

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 (this is definitely not an organized ride; this is a ride that some of us do sometimes)
> "Ride your ride": We spontaneously select our routes/distances, ride paces...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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v7: 2015: Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay...

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 - largely opted to ride the same route ("Beveridge Place to Fauntleroy Dock" plus "Vashon Standard Loop"). 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 - 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 ensued 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.