What and when?

Next Willy Nilly: v17 - Sunday, February 23, 2025

The Willy Nilly is an individual and free-form version of an annual season-opening bicycling spin that happens on beautifully weird Vashon Island.


Willy Nilly Basics

> Registration/fees: None (for the record: this is not a ride that is "organized" for, or by, anyone...)
> "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)...
> Number of riders: People frequently ask about this...for Willy Nilly, "size doesn't matter"...basically the numbers are unknown, as riders start/finish in different locations, at different times...and ride different routes...plus weather factors year over year, etc...we've estimated hundreds some years, and dozens other years...
> Typical start: Outside (south side) of Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle
> Typical finish: Inside of 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 supports fighting 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 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.


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v7: 2015: Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay...

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.