Chilly Hilly 2018

There are certain days of the year people look forward to every single year. Christmas, birthdays, 4th of July, and REI dividend day are just a few of the these. There is also the last Sunday in February!

What happens then you ask? The Cascade Bike Club’s Chilly Hilly!  Continue reading “Chilly Hilly 2018”

The 2017 cycling story in photos

Folks, we have all heard of writers block. This is when people who get paid to write books or magazine articles get stuck, They can stare at a piece of paper (showing my age here) or a computer screen for hours and nothing gets written.

Well there is also bloggers block, or so I’ve decided. It’s when you love to blog, and want to blog, but you are damned if you can come up with a decent post. So, in an effort to kick-start my creative juices I decided to cheat a bit! Continue reading “The 2017 cycling story in photos”

Any one can ride in the summer!

Yep, today was the last Sunday of February! In Seattle, that means it is time for the Chilly Hilly! I have written about this many times, but for those who are new, this a 33 mile ride around Bainbridge Island, rain or shine!


Add to the miles, 2300 feet of climbing, and it is a great early season ride! Continue reading “Any one can ride in the summer!”

It’s that time of year again!

I am different from other cyclists that I know.

First off, I only have one bike. Others think the correct number of bikes should be N + 1 (N of course equaling the number of bikes you have now, so you always need another (who says you will NEVER use algebra?))

Secondly, I never set an annual mileage goal. I know I will ride whenever I can, including commuting to and from work, regular exercise rides, as well as some longer more adventurous ones. At the end of the year I will add up the miles and see what I did.

The one almost constant, though, is I do ride the Chilly Hilly every year!  Continue reading “It’s that time of year again!”

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… Continue reading “Do NOT make the ferry crew mad!”

Bikers and Drivers

I don’t know how things are where you live, but around here bikers deal with drivers who aren’t entirely partial to cyclist.  In fact, there are some drivers of cars who adamantly despise bikes and feel they have no place on the road at all!  I have a friend like that who tells me, “Aside from being a bike rider and the fact you went to WSU, I like you!”

My first introduction to people like this came in high school. I was cruising down a road near where i lived. I looked behind me to see a pick up, with a baseball bat stuck out the passenger, window coming up on me fast! I put it the bike in the ditch fast, only to have to listen to the driver and passenger laugh as they drove by.

Since then, i have had fast food soft drinks thrown at me, people flipping me off and cussing at me, and drivers passing me telling me to “GET THE F OFF THE ROAD!”

Now, as a cyclist, it would be easy for my to blame the jerks in the cars! I mean come on, we can’t be in the wrong! Here we are being healthy, saving gas, reducing the obesity in America and generally halo wearing, spandex clad. 2 wheeled angels!

Ah, but then, I watch those I call (and forgive the language) “Biker Pricks” or BPs for short. BPs give the rest of us a bad name. In my first organized ride. I saw a pack come up to a stop sign, where 5 cars were in line. The front car had waited its turn, and started to turn right as this pack of BPs flew up on his right. There is no way he could’ve seen them! He must’ve seen motion at the last-minute, and stopped in time. But I am telling you, had there been an accident, I would’ve been a witness for the car.

Even the Chilly Hilly yesterday had its share of BPs. In my experience, the drivers of Bainbridge Island are very tolerant about 5000 bikers taking over their roads. They pass carefully, and do their best to make everyone safe.

Well we were climbing a hill in a pack. A call of “CAR BACK” came up. Telling us there was a car coming up and passing us. One of the faster riders caught the pack, saw the car coming, but said “I am NOT going to go this slow, I have to get around this!” He pulled out in front of the car and made him wait while he inched past the group.

My own personal theory is that there are bad drivers and bad cyclists, and in many cases they are the same people! I will admit I do not stop on the bike at every stop sign. I also, while driving a car, regularly get mad at people in the fast lane that won’t move to the right. Overall, though, I think I am a pretty courteous driver/cyclist.

Bikes have every right to be on the road, but with a little common sense and teamwork, we can make it easier on vehicles. I have one route where the shoulder narrows a lot. If I see a semi coming behind me, i will pull into a driveway till he passes. It adds minutes to my ride, but its safer for everyone.

What it comes down to is there are some good reasons why drivers get mad at us, but we have good reasons to get mad at drivers as well. The cars do have the advantage of size and speed though. I always remember my dad telling me that “Cemeteries are full of tombstones with the inscription ‘He had the right-away!'”

I’m just lucky that, so far, the people who throw softdrinks have terrible aim! Can’t we all just get along?

I Love it When Ride Comes Together

Around here, (Seattle area, Washington State) 4-5000 riders start watching the forecasts about a week before Cascade Bicycle Clubs Chilly Hilly.  We all know its going to be cold, its February for Bikes Sake!  However, repeat riders know just how bad it can be….

Friday we had a huge storm come through, high winds, heavy rain, biking woulda sucked big time.  To me this was a closer near miss than the giant meteor that skimmed us a week or so ago.  Then yesterday was gorgeous and almost warm, but the day before weather does me no go at all!

I woke up today at 545 AM (Got VERY lucky as the alarm I set did not go off.) I made a quick Starbucks run and I was happy to see it was no rain, I was NOT happy to see it was blowing pretty hard.

I made it to the Seattle waterfront, scored free parking and headed for the holding area of the ferrys.  I was far from the first one there! But I was there in plenty of time to make the 7:55 ferry.


Its fun running walking around waiting for the ferry.  You get a chance to walk around looking at all the bikes.  I can tell you, I was WAY down at the bottom of the pecking list in the bike comparison.  There were bikes cost more than I my loan qualification amount!  I’d have to put both my kids up as collateral!  Luckily I love my bike, so no envy, but its fun to look.

Aside from spendy, you find different bikes waiting in the holding pen.  Sometimes, ones like this are most different.


At least this one has pedals!  This year I found something I had NEVER seen before!  I have no idea why someone would want this one, and it CAN’T be easy up hill, and it would be kinda scary going downhill, but each to his own!


Well after about a very cold and breezy half hour, our ride showed up!


It was time tp take over the boat.  As you can see the cardeck is covered in bikes, but some people were NOT smart enough to keep the bikes away from the emergency equipment.  Those bikes were moved by the crew, and some people were still looking for their bikes when the ferry landed.  I wonder if they went overboard?


and the upper decks were taken over by riders!


Now I’d like to digress for a second, did you notice how all the bikes are laying down?  Well look at this:


Notice the one bike in the middle, that’s mine, a simple kickstand keeps my bike off the ground!  Not sure why more don’t use them.

When we got to the other side, the sun was trying to come out, and it was NICE!  The only time we had headwinds was when the route took us to the water (we were on an island after all).  I hit this route hard! I have been working out hard this year, putting the miles under my butt and it helped!  I cut 30 minutes off my best time!  And that included:

Stopping to take a picture like a tourist:

Frog Rock Bainbridge
Frog Rock Bainbridge

I also helped a dad fix the gears (translate that to I held the bike while he worked on it) on his tandem

All Ages ride this one
All Ages ride this one

After that, it was go like the wind!  I did stop for a cookie and brownie at the food stop halfway, I needed it before the Mother Bear of a climb, Baker Hill Road! (Ok its also a charity for the Bainbridge Island Rope Skippers, now THEY are in shape!)  I didn’t hammer up it, but I did pass more than passed me!  And I hit 37 MPH on the way down!

The first time I rode this was 1999, and I walked the bike up most of the hills,  At the end I was done!  It was not a pretty sight!

This time I ended feeling like I could do another 20 miles, and looked like this!


More importantly, I finally get to wear the commemorative jersey!  I bought it when I registered, but superstition prevents me from wearing it till I finish the ride! (Sill? Yes, but it’s what I do!)


This is a classic ride!  It’s the only one I do EVERY year, it is ridden by all ages!


I love it when a ride comes together and I do even better than I could have hoped!  Its going to be a good year!  Next month, the McClinchy Mile!

Do as I say NOT as I Do

My dad used to say this to me ALL the time when I was a kid. Then I remember Mr. Guglamo my Jr High Shop teacher saying the same thing while using a table saw. Just seemed unfair to me!And Yet, here I stand telling you the same thing. “Whatever do you mean Tony?” I can hear you thinking (Ok maybe what I heard was a collective “Huh?” but I thought I’d embellish a bit.

Well, the day after tomorrow is the Chilly Hilly, the first big bike ride of the year. It’s only 33 miles, but it’s 33 cold miles up some pretty good inclines. So what I tell people doing this ride for the first time is to take a break from training the week before, get a lot of rest Friday and Saturday night, and get hydrated with water and/or Gatorade. Yeah that’s what I TELL people to do…

What am I going to do? Well this week I trained hard, a 40 on Sunday and an inside ride or stairs every night except Wednesday. Ok first rule broken.

Tonight is Friday so I will be hanging out at home and relaxing at home right?


Well, no. The WSU coach Mike Leach is in town, and the diehard Cougs will be there to hear him speak, eat, and (shocking I know!) have a beer or two!

Mike Leach
Mike Leach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


OK tomorrow is Saturday! The day before I will model the correct behavior, right? Well, no, we have a wine and sushi outing planned with two of our best friends. Alexandra Nicole has there offering party and we can’t miss that.


Bottom line, I am doing everything wrong prior to the ride. HOWEVER, I have one firm rule. If I paid for it, I am going. If I am dehydrated, or even a bit hungover, its my own damn fault. It will be a Suck it Up morning, and I will be in line for the ferry at 730 AM Sunday!

I only do this, though, because I know this route and I know I can do 33 miles in my sleep if I have too. If it was a longer ride, HELL no!

Either way though, do as I SAY, NOT as I do!

How NOT to get Lost on an Organized Ride

With the Chilly Hilly in 3 days, I wanted to share a personal story for new riders to help them with their first organized ride!

Many years ago, I decided it was time to up my game a little. I had done the Chilly Hilly, 33 miles of cold and hills a couple of times, and I was starting to feel cocky!

I looked around, and found the Salmon Run, a now defunct ride held by the Cascade Bicycle Club. It had a 60 mile route throughout the city, which went by the Ballard Locks, where you could see the salmon in the fish ladders heading upstream (hence the name).

In every ride they provide turn by turn directions, and I had those. In the Chilly Hilly, however, all I ever did was follow those in front of me. Easy. This ride though turned out to be a longer course with fewer people… Meaning that soon I had no one in front of me.

No worries, I had directions, and had worked in Seattle for years, how hard could it be! (I said that same thing once when I tried to replace a kitchen sink….famous last words). Also remember, these rides tend to use lesser travel, lessor known roads whenever possible. I thought I was doing well until i read on the directions “Lincoln Park will be on your right.” I was at Lincoln Park, but it was on the left… Luckily at that point I saw a pack of riders with numbers heading the opposite direction and I jumped on their back wheels and they got me on track.

I was mad about the lack of markings! I almost called to complain, but let it go. The next year, at the Chilly Hilly I heard people explaining to a newbie to follow the “Dan Henry’s” “What’s a Dan Henry” he asked. (I’m glad or I would’ve had to ask.)

Well turns out, almost all rides use Dan Henry’s, named for the man who first came up with them, to mark the routes. They are markings spray painted strategically along the route to tell riders whether to turn right, left or straight.

Generic Dan Henrey's
Generic Dan Henrey

I had been looking at street signs, not looking down! I was going to ride it agin the following year to see what I had missed, but they didn’t hold it again To make it even easier, most rides customize the markings so you know its for the ride you are on. Here is one for the Seattle-to-Portland.

Left turn ahead on the STP
Left turn ahead on the STP

So when you ride, look around you, but keep an eye on the ground for directions!