Pump up the tires, Chilly Hilly’s almost here

Riders roll off the ferry for last year’s round-the-island bicycling event, which was not only chilly and hilly, but also rather foggy at the start of the 33-mile ride.  - DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo
Riders roll off the ferry for last year’s round-the-island bicycling event, which was not only chilly and hilly, but also rather foggy at the start of the 33-mile ride.
— image credit: DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo

A field of some 5,000 riders will circle the island next weekend.

Bicycles will loop the island next weekend, as it’s time for the Chilly Hilly Bike Ride again on Feb. 26.

Preceding the annual event is a pasta dinner hosted by the local bike advocacy nonprofit Squeaky Wheels at the Bainbridge High School Saturday night.

Riders can load up on carbs that will provide bodies with a supply of glycogen to keep those pedals pumping over 33 miles of hill and dale around Bainbridge Island.

In 2005, the biking event, called one of the nation’s four “classic” rides by Bicycling magazine, attracted a record 4,700 riders – 27 percent more than 2004. Riders came from 19 states and ranged in age from 1½ to 90.

About 1,600 entrants had registered as of Feb. 14, a faster pace than last year. Cascade Bicycle Club, which organizes the event is expecting a turnout of about 4,500-5,000 bikers this year, depending on the weather.

The 33-mile route climbs a total of 2,700 feet over the many ups and downs. For the lower early registration fee, riders must register online by Feb. 21 or by Feb. 25 at B.I. Cycle for Bainbridge riders.

Squeaky Wheels president Dana Berg says Chilly Hilly is popular for many reasons.

Coming toward the end of winter, bicyclists are eager to get on the road. The course offers beautiful views from an island and is also long enough for a good workout.

Berg recalls a family one year by Port Madison who had brought a waffle maker out on an extension cord from the house and was making waffles for the crowd.

“I used to think, ‘I can ride Bainbridge whenever I want,’ but there’s just a great feeling about. It’s colorful and fun to watch people come off the ferry,” Berg said. “It’s the only day of the year that, if you’re a cyclist, the bikes are more important than the cars.”

A fun and festive way to fuel up for the Chilly Hilly is the Squeaky Wheels pasta dinner the night before. It starts at 5 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Bainbridge High School Commons.

A dinner of pasta with a spicy marinara sauce by Mon Elise and Chuck Beek’s special meatballs, green salad, bread, chocolate brownies and beverages will be served at 6:15 p.m.

Side By Side singing ensemble and the unicycling students of Ordway Elementary will provide entertainment. Classic bicycles will be on display, and the MacFarland family of Silverdale will talk about their recent bike trip around the world.

The program winds up at 8 p.m.

An auction will include a painting by island artist Peggy Brunton with the “Bike for Pie” theme, a three-day Mt. Baker climbing trip, a day of trail building with Bart Berg and freestyle biking lessons from Christian Berg

Event proceeds will fund the Squeaky Wheels programs.

The organization leads a ride around Winslow on May 6 and the “Bike to Work and School Day” on May 19.

This year Squeaky Wheels is also doing educational outreach events to promote road safety among all ages and distributing a walking and biking map.

Pasta dinner tickets are $20 for adults in advance from BI Cycle, Classic Cycle and Dana’s Showhouse; $10 for ages 8-18 and free for kids under 8. Families of up to five are $55.

* * * * *

Hop on

Register online for Chilly Hilly at

Cost for online registration by Feb. 21 is $22 for Seattle-originating riders (includes ferry fare) and $17 for Bainbridge riders. Bainbridge riders can get the online rate by registering Feb. 20-25 at BI Cycle in Winslow. Day-of registration is from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. at BI Cycle. The cost is $30 for Seattle riders and $25 for Bainbridge riders.

There are no bicycle-only ferries this year. Seattle riders must take one of these ferries or pay their own ferry fare: 7:55, 8:45, 9:35 or 10:40 a.m.

For a map of the Chilly Hilly route, see

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