Chilly Hilly 2012: Bainbridge Island’s Biggest Bike Ride Turns 40

Posted by on February 9, 2012 at 10:40 am

Cascade Bicycle Club (CBC) kicks off the 40th anniversary of the Chilly Hilly on Bainbridge Island on February 26, 2012. Always on a Sunday, and often with glimpses of sun, the Chilly Hilly is a 33-mile tour of the Island’s frequently uphill (2,675 feet of climbing, to be precise) and ever winding roads through forest, farmland, and residential neighborhoods. The tour ends in downtown Winslow with hot chili served up by the Bainbridge-based Squeaky Wheels Bicycling Club.

Named “One of Four Classic Rides” in the nation by Bicycling Magazine, the Chilly Hilly is a brisk and challenging season starter that draws riders from as close as Bainbridge and Seattle to as far away as British Columbia, New York, and even France.

Event organizer Dave Douglas of CBC told me about 70 percent of riders ferry over from Seattle, with the other 30 percent coming from this side of the water. The event’s biggest turnout to date was in 2010 with over 6,000 riders enjoying a gloriously sunny day. Although Douglas said that the last ten years or so have been pretty good weatherwise, last year was a bit of a washout, with cold rain and wind and about half of the previous year’s number turning out to ride. (See our followup story and photo gallery of the 2012 Chilly Hilly ride.)

Chilly Hilly 2012

Whether you’re ferrying over, crossing Agate Pass Bridge, or just rolling out of bed and hopping on your bike on the Island, the ride officially starts at the top of the ferry off-ramp on Winslow Way at 8 a.m and ends at 3 p.m. Rates vary depending on age and whether you ride the ferry.

This CBC fundraiser also benefits several Island nonprofits. Some of the proceeds go to the BI Rope Skippers, who sell food along the route at Battle Point Park; BI Youth Services and Helpline House, who provide roadside volunteers; American Legion Hall, who offer free baked goods and cider; and several other local groups.

Chilly Hilly ferry riders 2010.About the Chilly Hilly, Douglas said, “It’s a hard ride, and we’re always amazed at how many people come out for it.” He added that as a host for the event “the community of Bainbridge Island is very welcoming—drivers slow down and are really cool about it. It also showcases the Island really well.”

It’s not too late to do a bit of Chilly Hilly training. Cascade Bicycle Club offers an extensive Free Daily Rides program that can help you get ready. Learn more at

Register for the Chilly Hilly 2012 at

View the Chilly Hilly 2012 Route Map.

Correction made 2/9/12 5:10 p.m.: Squeaky Wheels receives no proceeds from the Chilly Hilly other than the money it raises selling chili.


Images courtesy of Gene Bisbee and Cascade Bicycle Club.

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Categorized | Biking, Outside

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