Do NOT make the ferry crew mad!

Looking at the calendar, it’s the last Sunday of February.  For some that means thoughts of spring, others are thinking getting taxes done, and those in the northeast are getting snow.  In Seattle, for us cyclists, its time for the Chilly Hilly!

Chilly Hilly Topo map
Chilly Hilly Topo map

33 miles around Bainbridge Island, rain, shine, sleet or snow…

Last year, in what turned out to be the warmest Chilly Hilly ever, I missed this ride when Michelle and I went to Port Townsend instead.


Which in hindsight, I might add, was MUCH more fun!

Any hope of a repeat of the that weather went right out the door as I waited for the ferry.


Yep, 100s of my best friends, almost all of them in the most waterproof clothing they own. The weather dude called for rain, heavy at times, with ‘blustery’ conditions.

Editors Note: substitute blustery for BIG ASS wind and you will have it done!

As always, we wait for the ferry to pick us up in downtown.


I found out it has been a long time since I have driven to the waterfront in Seattle.  I’ve always taken the Mercer Exit and driving straight to the water.  Today, I ended up way north and had to bob and weave my way there.  As usual, though, I left early so I got there in plenty of time AND got a great parking spot.

On normal days, taking a bike on the ferry is easy, but then there are usually only 3 or 4 total


But on Chilly Hilly day, the crew has to work HARD to get everyone loaded, and the ship off on time.  Then, they have to make sure those who have never been on the ferry before get off without killing themselves.


As we left, one couple were chatting, and as I passed them I heard him say, “I wonder if the ride has started yet?” My reply was, “As soon as you leave the boat you are on the route and it has started!”  They kinda gave me a strange look, but I just kept going.

The weather was dead on.  The first half of the ride, it rained almost the entire time.  I was geared up, and ready for it, but it did make the ride tougher.  Even in bad weather, you can see there is plenty to see.


What this doesn’t show as well as I wanted is the fact that the whitecaps were coming right at me.


What that means to a rider is SERIOUS head winds.  Then, since is a ride that circles an island, later there were side winds that tried to push me over.  Kept me on my toes I tell ya!

As always, the hills were steep and the ride tough, but 2.75 hrs later I crossed the finish line and I was still smiling


One of my favorite thing about these rides is you catch snippets of conversations between other riders as we pass each other.  Today’s gems were, “I looked over and a dead armadillo busted out laughing at me…” and “I need to find a big Russian woman weightlifter to ride with…” I woulda loved to have heard the rest of those stories…

Sadly, I just missed the first boat back, so I had to wait for the next one. As soon as the boat left, the sky darkened and the clouds opened up AGAIN! As soon as the rain started I looked over and saw this guy on his bike, with a number for the ride.


He had gotten off the last boat, saw the weather, and decided he was NOT dressed for it! He waited under cover until the next boat came back and rode with us home.

When the boat arrived, the let the cars board first, a lady behind me started BOOING loudly at the crew member.  Before the crowd joined in I yelled, even louder, “Do NOT piss off the ferry crew!  They can keep you off the boat!” Luckily the rest of the cyclists laughed and the crew member nodded at me in appreciation.

Later, though, when the last car made it on the boat, the bikes started forward before they were told. The crewman got in front and stopped us.  One dumbass got in the crew members face!  Folks, the crew member of a Washington State ferry has the same power as the flight crew on a plane.  Piss him off and you aint getting on!

Worse, piss him off enough, NONE of us get on! Luckily, a member of Cascade bike club talked to the crew member and the dumbass’ friends pulled him away.  As wet and cold as some of those people were, I think he, and his fancy assed racing bike, woulda been tossed into Puget Sound.  I was going to lead the charge!

But we got on, made it home, and I was soon warm and dry and fed!

There are many many days I have looked at the weather and gone back to bed, but never has the weather kept me from riding the Chilly Hilly.  In fact, today I woke up with a cold, the first of the year. No one woulda faulted me for staying home.  Instead, I popped two Dayquil and I was out the door!

The Chilly Hilly kicks off cycling in the Northwest. I was there to help do so! Let the wheels roll!

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