When it comes to cycling in Washington, the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic might be the most famous ride and Cannonball (a one-day, 275-mile ride from Seattle to Spokane) might be the toughest. But a little ride known as the Chilly Hilly has something on both of them.
Chilly Hilly is first.
The ride, which starts this morning at 8, is only a 33-mile tour of Bainbridge Island, but since 1973 the Chilly Hilly has signaled the start of the recreational cycling season.
Yes, it will probably be cold, but no need to worry. The hilly takes care of the chilly. Almost 2,700 vertical feet of climbing mean you’ll probably be working too hard to get cold.
Last year’s ride drew a record 6,028 riders. Most participants register the day of the ride at the Seattle or Winslow ferry terminal. For more information on the ride visit cascade.org.
While Chilly Hilly is a good way to kick off your cycling season, find 11 more things worth doing on a bike in 2011 on Page C7. 1. Daffodil Classic
The Daffodil Classic offers extra motivation to get you to finish line – cake. Everybody who finishes the 40-, 60- or 100-mile rides through the Orting Valley on April 10 gets strawberry shortcake. The ride costs $20 – a bargain compared with most century rides – and starts at Orting Middle School. twbc.org
2. May Day Metric
If cake isn’t enough to get you riding, maybe pie will do the trick. Phil’s South Side Cyclery in Federal Way organizes the May 1 ride. The ride has three distances named after highly processed junk food: the 50-mile Ho Ho-ville, the 72-mile Twinkie Land and the 104-mile Ding Dong Station. Yes there will be Hostess snacks (as well as more healthful options) at the rest stops, but to get a slice of pie you have to finish. Registration ($20) starts in March. maydaymetric.net
3. Tour de Blast
Panoramic views of Mount St. Helens help riders keep their minds off their burning thighs as they climb 6,240 feet over 82 miles. Registration is $65, but I’d recommend registering the day of the ride, even though it will cost an extra $10. Some years, the weather can be brutal – last year was miserable – and if you haven’t prepaid you won’t feel obligated to subject yourself to the misery. tourdeblast.com
4. Tour San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands are an iconic cycling destination. Orcas Island is hilly but a good place to start if for no other reason than you won’t have to pay an additional ferry fare if you choose to ride San Juan and Lopez islands on the way back to Anacortes. Visit them in the opposite order and you’ll need an additional ticket for each trip.
5. Two County Double Metric
Start in Tumwater and pick a loop of 23, 36, 76, 105 or 126 miles. The rides travel roads in Thurston and Lewis counties. The ride is June 26 and registration is $23 if you sign up online before June 19. capitalbicycleclub.org
6. Tour the Methow Valley
The Methow Valley is most famous for its Nordic skiing, but the locals will tell you it’s also a great place to rack up some miles on a bike. For the biggest challenge try riding up 5,477-foot Washington Pass on North Cascades Highway. Winthropwashington.com
7. Race on Tuesday nights
If you ever wanted to try racing, the Tuesday Road Series at Pacific Raceways in Kent is a good place to start. It cost $15 to enter races ranging from expert to novice. Racing starts March 22. There are cash prizes for the winner. Cycle University teaches racing classes for $5 on April 5, May 3, May 31 and July 5. buduracing.com
8. Courage Classic
Courage Classic is a three-day ride over Snoqualmie, Blewitt and Stevens passes and is widely regarded as the best-supported ride in the state. Where else can you get baked potatoes and banana splits at the rest stops? Participants are required to raise at least $500 for the Rotary Endowment for the Intervention and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. Looking for a team? Tacoma’s Harmon Bike Club trains and raises funds for the Courage Classic. courageclassic.com
9. RAPSody Ride
The STP might be the Northwest’s most famous bike ride, but here’s a little secret: The RAPSody Ride (Ride Around Puget Sound) is much more challenging, and less crowded. RAPSody starts and finishes in Tacoma on Aug. 27-28, covers 170 miles and climbs 9,600 vertical feet. That’s 30 miles shorter than the STP, but three times as much uphill. rapsodybikeride.com
10. Ride Packwood
If you’re looking for a challenge, Packwood is the door to some world-class cycling terrain. Ride over White Pass to Naches and then return over Cayuse Pass for a route on par with a mountain stage of the Tour de France. Or you can head south and tour the tree-lined and lightly-traveled roads of Gifford Pinchot National Forest. destinationpackwood.com
11. Join a bike club
Joining a bicycle club is a good way to find a riding partner and get involved in bicycle advocacy. Most clubs offer group rides almost every day during the spring and summer. The South Sound’s biggest clubs are the Tacoma Wheelman Bicycle Club and Olympia’s Capital Bicycle Club. twbc.com and capitalbicycle.org
Craig Hill’s fitness column runs on Sundays in The News Tribune and The Olympian. Please submit questions and comments via craig. firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/adventureguys or twitter.com/adventureguys. Also get more fitness coverage at blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure and thenewstribune.com/fitness.