For many Bainbridge Islanders and Pacific Northwesterners, cycling isn’t just a wonderful way to exercise and enjoy our beautiful PNW scenery, it’s a way of life and an environmentally friendly source of transportation—regardless of the weather or your cycling ability.
Join Cascade.org and Bainbridge Island for the 50th Annual Chilly Hilly 33-mile (2,173 feet of climbing) bike ride around scenic Bainbridge Island. The route begins with an early morning ferry ride from Seattle, or you can join directly on Bainbridge Island.
The event takes place on Sunday, February 27, 2022. Start lines: Seattle Colman Dock Ferry Terminal with a picturesque ferry ride across Puget Sound (official ferry times: 7:55, 8:55, and 9:35 a.m.) or you can begin on Bainbridge Island at the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center, located at 370 Brien Avenue SE.
Chilly Hilly registration fees raise funds to assist in making Washington a great place for bike riders of all ages, some of the programs include Let’s Go, the Major Taylor Project and Cascade.org’s statewide advocacy. In addition, the registration fees assist Cascade.org in giving back to the communities and organizations that thrive here.
BI Rope Skippers – Will provide snacks, fruit and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the Battle Point Park mid-point stop.
At the Finish Line, the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center will be serving hot chili for $7.00 as a fundraiser for local charities, you can prepay when you register, or on the day of the event.
Pack a bag with fresh, dry clothes so you can hang out after the ride and enjoy the post-event festivities! A bag drop will be available at the Bainbridge Island Ferry Terminal, and all bags will be driven to the finish line outside the Senior Center on Brien Drive. For complete Chilly Hilly details, click here.
Conquering Disability and Chilly Hilly
Tom Ahearne, a long-time islander and prominent attorney, was paralyzed from the waist down in a snowboarding accident. A few years after his accident, Tom’s two sons and two of their BHS soccer teammates signed up their families to participate in the Northwest Passage Ragnar relay race (Tom noted humorously that the boys didn’t bother to ask their families first). Friend and Wilkes Elementary school teacher, Beth Mass “strongly encouraged” Tom to get a tricycle handcycle so he could “run” the race. Through the encouragement of family and friends, the discovery of handcycling gave Tom the outlet he needed to remain physically and mentally fit.
When Chilly Hilly was rescheduled for August of last year, the change in season allowed Tom to participate, when he otherwise thought he couldn’t. As he explained, the damp, wet and mossy roadways on Bainbridge Island in February can make it difficult for the handcycle to perform properly. Most of the weight on the tricycle handcycle sits on the two back wheels, while the front wheel, which is the drive wheel connected to the chain that the hand pedals power, has very little weight on it. This weight distribution (or lack thereof), gives the drive wheel less traction on the road surface, causing the tricycle to slip and spin when going up wet hills. However, the month of August doesn’t present the same roadway conditions, giving Tom the opportunity to make the 33-mile ride for the first time. As he told Paul Tolmé of Cascade Bicycle Club, “My physical therapist pushed me to sign up and I’m very happy that I did it. Everyone was very encouraging and friendly.”
Knowing that the weather and road conditions might inhibit Tom’s ability to ride next month, he’s put a plan together. “To get a good sense of what’s too wet and what’s too steep for rainy season roads, I’ve been triking around these past couple weeks when my daughter is at the house (so she can rescue me if I get stuck with the front wheel just spinning without traction uphill),” Tom explained. “Once I get a better feel for the wetness/steepness factors, I’ll bribe my daughter to tail me in the car as I try the steeper hills on the Chilly Hilly route when they’re wet. I’ll also (when all dry) do the entire route to see how much moss is on the uphill shady roads/shoulders…even slightly moist moss makes that front wheel have zero traction on even slight inclines.” He’s hoping his experimentation and data collection on the rainy season hills will tell him if the ride will be physically possible this year. You can read more about Tom and paralympic racing and recreational riding here. To get an idea of the challenges riding a handcycle, check out this video of Tom in last year’s Chilly Hilly ride as he passes Frog Rock – Video Tom Ahearne Chilly Hilly 2021
How It All Began
It was 1972, and a few riders from the Bainbridge Bicycle Club decided it would be fun to challenge our chilly late winter weather with a bike race and tour around Bainbridge Island. The route they outlined ran repeatedly from sea level up to 300 feet and back again, totaling 2,700 feet of elevation change, thus the hilly part. In its humble beginnings, it was called Chilly Hilly 100, because the route was comprised of four 25-mile laps around the island, over the years the route was altered a bit, to the 33 miles we have today. It started small with a few dozen riders, and by 1975, when the Cascade Bicycle Club took over organizing the event, it had grown just a bit to seventy-five riders. However, by the 1980s participation was on the rise, and by the 1990s, participation had reached over 5,000 riders, earning the title of “One of Four Classic Rides” by Bicycling Magazine and becoming one of the most famous bike tours in the nation. Riders over the years have endured rain, snow, sleet, and once in a while, sunny and warm weather. They come from far and wide, travelling from more than twenty U.S. States and Canada.
Vaccination & testing policy
Proof of either is required at this event:
- (1) full vaccination against COVID-19 or
- (2) a negative COVID-19 test result, 72 hours or less before the event may also be presented.
- See the latest policy on our vaccination policy page.
*Images and route map provided by Cascade Bicycle Club and Tom Ahearne