An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chilly Hilly

What could be better on a Sunday morning – a ride on an island with 4000 of my best-friends-I-just-met, biting wind, hills, and food for sale?

This is the spectacle that is Chilly Hilly, the semi-official kick-off of the Seattle biking season for recreational riders. And after something like a 20 year hiatus, I decided to join the madness (at the cajoling of Eric – paybacks are hell, yes?).

I left my house at 7:10am, riding the 2.5 miles to Eric’s house for a carpool north to the Seattle ferry terminal. Pat (shoeless on BeginnerTriathlete) joined us as well.

We quickly got our gear together, making the (very) short ride into the queue for the boats, and where the Puget Sound stopped, a sea of cyclists started. Let the Chilly begin – waiting for the ferry turned out to be the worst part of the day… I’ll get back to you on that. We were assured that we’d all get on the ferry, so figured there was no worry. And we did manage to all get on that boat. Amazing. A merciful 15 minute wait this time.

Once on the other side, Bainbridge Island, the hills started immediately. Nothing huge or steep, either up or down, which is a good thing considering (a) the number of people that were dumped onto the local roads all at once, and (b) the disparate skills involved in that crowd.

All thoughts of cruising at even a normal ride pace were quickly abandoned, instead replaced by a self-preserving vigilance of those around me. Yes, it did eventually thin out. For a while.

Parts of the ride are already a blur. Maybe it would have been better to make more picture stops. Photos of some of the real character of the island (and the riding characters).

There was the guy who had a very large frog on a Trail-a-Bike, several single speeds (ouch), a few fixies (OUCH!), folding bikes, mountain bikes, and even one unicycle.

We bypassed the first couple seemingly-unofficial rest stops, and then stopped at the main rest stop at 18 miles. I was shocked to see that all the food there was for sale! Fortunately Clif Bar was there giving out samples of Clif Bars and Shot Blocks. I understand that these things can be money makers for groups, but $5 hot dogs? The water (the stuff from the hose, not bottles) was free at least.

We pushed on, into the winds on the shoreline, some steeper hills…

At the base of one of the largest hills, there was a group giving free shots of whiskey. No, I didn’t stop for a drink. I should have at least stopped to take a picture of that. Maybe THAT’S why those people we weaving so violently going up that hill.

But there were some nice sights along the way. 

And a very welcome final hill into “town” near the ferry dock.

We stopped in the finish area, decided that, yes, we’d go ahead and partake of the chili feed (for $8), get warm, then head down to the ferry dock in time to load up for the 1:10 ferry. We figured the less time between getting there and leaving, the less cold we’d get. Well, that kind of backfired, as we were queued up still when that 1:10 ferry weighed anchor and set sail for Seattle. D’OH! At least there was a walk-on passenger area to hide out from the wind for a while.

Another half-hour boat ride, and we were back in Seattle. A short coast to the parking lot, load up, then the drive back south to home.

By the time we were back in Puyallup, I was warm again. Finally. Just in time to get back on the bike and ride another couple miles home.

On Monday, my supervisor (who is a casual rider) asked how the ride was. My answer: Chilly and hilly. How appropriate.

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