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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v10: 2018: Hell of the North(west): An almost-spring classic

Willy Nilly
February 25, 2018

"Almost-spring classic": It's almost-spring, and one could argue that 10 years running fairly constitutes a classic.

Admittedly, the only factors that might've actually qualified as "hellish" were, um, well, there weren't any this year. Unless viewed through a wimpy privileged lens:

We did have such a large turnout of riders that the wait in line at the iconic Burton Coffee Stand (properly pulled espresso shots and dense/moist almond torte...) invoked a small degree of chillyness; we did clean the Snapdragon out of their exquisite flat bread pizza before all riders had a chance to arrive and enjoy some; one rider did break a drop-out on their bike frame; and some of us were of a fitness level more suited for riding Willy Nilly on an electric-assist bicycle (like Cancellara did not use to win two 2010 Spring Classics).

9:30a departure wave at Fauntleroy ferry dorks - er - docks (photo credit: Friendly Ferry Employee)

So for the most part there was a fairly notable difference between the aspirational Hell of the North visions that some of us had in our mental slideshows...

And reality...

Burton Coffee Stand-ing (photo credit: K. Pritchard)
Northbound climb, Ridge Road (photo credit: K. Pritchard)
Solid Brown slid satisfyingly into the Willy Nilly spirit (photo credit: D. Delfs)
Post-ride hydrators at the Beveridge Place Pub (photo discredit: WN Unorganizer)