I have tons of experience taking part in organized running events, but I have never taken part in an organized biking event until now with the Chilly Hilly ride on Bainbridge Island.
We took the light rail from our neighborhood to Pioneer Square and rode a few blocks to the ferry terminal. We got there just in time for a boat that was just about to load. I had never been part of such a large crowd of bicycles.
Although the Chilly Hilly can be treated as a race most people, like ourselves, treat it as a well supported leisurely ride. And, for the most part, it was. But a serious of harsh storms descending on us definitely took some of the leisureliness out of it. Even with that harsh weather, we had a blast with help from sun breaks, views of Seattle from across the sound, and great company.
We treated the course so leisurely, we didn’t even cross the finish line. About half a mile from the finish, we veered off to the house of a local friend to partake in freshly made crepes and minestrone soup. While hot food (famed eponymous chili) awaited us at the finish line, we opted for our own private celebration with friends.
While we definitely encountered the chilly aspect of the event’s namesake, I was actually relieved that the hills weren’t as bad as I had feared. The next day I felt fine. I think this has to do with two things:
- My daily commute which is loaded with serious Seattle hills
- The incredibly low gears on my Surly, which were partly the reason I favored it over other lighter bikes.
It’s a good thing we took the event as casually as we did and aren’t worse for wear. I did this event against the advice of my coach. I’m running the Way Too Cool 50K the following weekend. She wanted to make sure I didn’t exert myself. Thankfully, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
We had a lot of fun on this ride and have a lot more organized and non-organized rides planned for this year. My only advice would be that the organizers need to include more markers and signage. Thankfully they include a map in the race packet, but it seems like signage would be fairly easy to place at the course’s intersections.
A minor quibble. Clearly not a deal breaker since we will be doing the Inaugural Emerald City Bike Ride this year. It will be the first ride of its kind going through the bulk of the city of Seattle, with part of the course on the new 520 bridge. I’m looking forward to it!