The hills keep coming, trying to sap the strength from your legs.
They aren’t particularly big, but they are everywhere, just waiting to remind you how much you let yourself go over the winter.
Chilly Hilly is Feb. 28 on Bainbridge Island, and for the past 44 years it’s served as the unofficial kick-off to cycling season.
At 33 miles, you don’t need to be in great shape to finish this ride, but it’s hilly enough that you’ll wish you were.
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Starting and finishing in Winslow or with a ferry ride from Seattle, the ride is one of the Northwest’s most famous and most popular despite the risk of rain and cold. In 2010 more than 6,000 people participated. Last year saw a strong turnout too thanks to warm weather.
Chilly Hilly ($40-45 entry fee) is an ideal ride for shaking of the winter rust and start working toward your 2016 riding goals. Most of the people I talked to during last year’s ride where working toward something bigger.
“We are going to be doing the Seattle to Portland bike ride so this really is the start of that training process,” Tacoma’s Darnell Commodore said at the midway rest stop. “We’ve been riding before this, but this is the first longer ride.”
July’s 200-mile STP might be the most popular ride to train for, but there are many rides worth training for this season. Here are few:
April 17: Daffodil Classic
Either the 40- or 60-mile loop through the Orting Valley makes for a nice second test of the season. Or get really serious and do both. The Daffodil Classic turned 40 last year and is the South Sound’s oldest bike ride. As is tradition, finishers are served strawberry shortcake. twbc.org
June 4: Flying Wheels
Starting with Chilly Hilly, Cascade Bicycle Club has a hearty schedule of cycling events every year. Flying Wheels is another that draws large crowds. Starting from Marymoor Park in Redmond, routes of 23, 45, 67 and 100 miles visit Duvall, Monroe, Snohomish and the surrounding farmland. cascade.org
June 26: Two-County Double Metric
Capital Bicycle Club’s annual ride has six route options ranging from 11-127 miles and is a favorite final long training ride for many attempting the STP. capitalbicycleclub.org
June 26: Tour de Pierce
With routes of 12-50 miles, Tour de Pierce is a family-first ride that visits rural roads and the Foothills Trails in the eastern part of the county. co.pierce.wa.us
July 16-17: Seattle to Portland
It’s 200 miles and the most famous ride in the Northwest. Registration opened Feb. 9, and all 10,000 spots are expected to quickly sell out. Don’t make this your first organized ride. Use other rides to get comfortable riding in large groups while practicing proper riding etiquette. cascade.org
July 28: RAMROD
Looking for something tougher than the traditional bike rides? Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day is not for novice cyclists. Participants climb 10,000 feet over 150 miles and must manage quick mountain descents. Harder still is getting in. A lottery for one of the 800 spots is held in March. redmondcyclingclub.org
Aug. 6-8: Courage Classic
Courage Classic riders eat like kings and queens. Baked potatoes and banana splits heaped with toppings mean some riders report gaining weight even while pedaling 182 miles over three mountain passes. The ride is a fundraiser for the Child Abuse Intervention Department at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, and participants must raise at least $500. multicare.org/home/courage-classic
Aug. 7: Ride the Hurricane
Arguably the toughest climb in the Northwest is from Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge. It’s 36 miles round trip but climbs nearly a vertical mile. It’s a bucket list ride for hardcore cyclists, and Ride the Hurricane allows them to do it with the road closed to vehicles. portangeles.org
Aug. 13-14: Obliteride
Obliteride has multiple route options ranging from long and hilly to flate and family friendly. The ride raises money for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and participants must commit to raise $500-$1,000 depending on the distance they ride (10-165 miles). The two-day, 165-mile ride includes an overnight stay in Tacoma. obliteride.org
Aug. 29: High Pass Challenge
A race against the clock, if you can pedal from Packwood to Windy Ridge in less than 3 hours, 30 minutes you’ll earn a finisher medal with a gold ribbon. The ribbon is silver for less than 4:30 and bronze for less than seven hours. But this isn’t the finish line. You still must return to Packwood to collect your prize. The entire trip climbs 7,500 feet over 114 miles. cascade.org
Sept. 10: Passport To Pain
The most challenging way to tour Vashon and Maury Islands, Passport to Pain lives up to its name. What type of person pays to ride 82 miles packed with 10,000 feet of elevation? Well, organizers call the route “The Idiot.” Want something a little tamer? There’s the 56-mile “Weasel” route or the 34-mile “Weenie.” passport2pain.org
Sept. 27: Kitsap Color Classic
It doesn’t have the history of the Chilly Hilly, but it has the hills and sometimes it also has the chills. This 25-year-old ride has come to mark the end of the organized riding season. cascade.org