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Anyone done the Chilly Hilly?

Old 01-06-19, 09:23 PM
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NoWhammies
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Anyone done the Chilly Hilly?

Thinking about doing the Chilly Hilly, but looking for input/reviews/comments before signing up. Thanks.
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Old 01-06-19, 09:43 PM
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It is the only big Cascade ride I enjoy. Definitely hilly, sometimes cold and wet but often blessed with relatively nice weather. There is a really lovely patch of skunk cabbage off in one corner of the route. If the full ride is too much there are a couple places where you can skip a loop or head back to the ferry.
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Old 01-07-19, 03:22 AM
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I assume you know what late Feb weather is typically like in the PacNW so should be no surprises there. I’ve done the ride in absolutely miserable barely-above-freezing very wet conditions to mid-50s sunshine so it’s luck of the draw. It’s VERY hilly with a few steep slogs but no big deal if you’ve trained a bit over the winter and there are bailout options if you want to short-circuit the route and reduce the miles. Very festive with good organization, plenty of stops, and a lot of support from the locals.

i don’t do the ride anymore because I’ve been spooked by seeing too many bad accidents and a few near misses myself. When the ferry disgorges you’re in a lot of traffic (many struggling or inexperienced), typically on narrow wet roads with high-speed descents, with PO’ed car drivers trying to cut through the herd. But I’m probably just getting old....I did the ride six times or so over a decade and had fun. But you need to be comfortable riding in traffic.

My favorite Cascade ride is RSVP.

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Old 01-07-19, 11:26 AM
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Good info folks. Thanks. Both of you have highlighted the reason for my post. 1) the level of danger from inexperienced riders and 2) the weather.

I've seen photos of the bikes on the ferry and there seems to be A LOT of people who do the ride. It's capped at 5,000 and by all accounts the ride sells out. I'd like to give it a go, but I'm concerned about riding in barely-above-freezing very wet conditions. Definitely not a fan of that. Toss in some people who haven't been on a bike in who knows when, and that's a recipe for disaster.

I'm on with fence with this one, as much as I enjoy Cascade club rides.
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Old 01-07-19, 11:10 PM
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I didn't feel in any danger from other cyclists. Most drivers were very polite but one lost his ****.

I also didn't feel any danger from the weather during the ride, I was on 28s at the time. However the ferry runs on schedule, you don't just automatically get a ride or even shelter when you're finished. 35F and raining isn't terrible when you're working up a hill, but when you're standing outside for half an hour waiting for the boat... As a roadie, it's very hard to have dry clothes ready at the finish. Mylar blanket really didn't add much warmth with freezing rain landing on it, and felt clammy and nasty.

You could get good weather though.
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Old 01-07-19, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by NoWhammies View Post
Good info folks. Thanks. Both of you have highlighted the reason for my post. 1) the level of danger from inexperienced riders and 2) the weather.

I've seen photos of the bikes on the ferry and there seems to be A LOT of people who do the ride. It's capped at 5,000 and by all accounts the ride sells out. I'd like to give it a go, but I'm concerned about riding in barely-above-freezing very wet conditions. Definitely not a fan of that. Toss in some people who haven't been on a bike in who knows when, and that's a recipe for disaster.

I'm on with fence with this one, as much as I enjoy Cascade club rides.
If you can handle a 20 mile ride on the Burke-Gilman when it’s wet and cold, you can handle Chilly Hilly. As for the crowds, if you are a fast rider, hit the front off the ferry and you’ll avoid the crush. If you are a slow rider, then hold back and let the crowds thin out. It all works out within five miles or so.

Besides, those skunk cabbages are the brightest signs of a Northwest Spring that one could hope for. :-)
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Old 01-10-19, 10:00 PM
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I haven't done it yet but am signed up for my first one and looking forward to it.
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Old 01-11-19, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by fastfour View Post
I haven't done it yet but am signed up for my first one and looking forward to it.
Same!
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Old 01-11-19, 01:54 PM
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I did it last year. It was sunny & 50 degrees. We were a group of about 8 & caught the last ferry over, did the ride on reasonably empty roads, then hit a bar by the ferry dock for an hour or 2 until we were good & toasty. It was a blast. I'm going to do it again this year.
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Old 01-12-19, 06:25 PM
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I've done it several times, always in decent weather. If it were really cold and rainy, I'd just call the ride fee a donation and ride my rollers at home. If you're fast, as said above, get there early, get to the front of the ferry, and then go like the devil for the first few miles, then sit up and wait for a nice group to go by. I've gone around twice when I've had luck with that approach. The 2nd lap is pretty lonely. Which is a 3rd approach: get off the ferry and go have a cuppa while the riders vanish.

The danger is mostly slow riders dismounting to walk in the middle of the road on one of the hills. And then walking in the middle of the road. Or paper-boying. There are also folks whose bike maintenance is not so good, like the accident I came upon where the rider had mounted their brakes shoes backwards, left to right switched IOW. That was not good.
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Old 01-14-19, 03:34 PM
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I am a fast enough rider (in these kind of situations anyway) that I'd be able to hang on at the front and stay away from the back/dangerous riders. I'm more concerned about the weather. Hanging around in wet clothes while waiting for the ferry doesn't seem very attractive. Although I think I read somewhere about being able to have drop bags. Can anyone confirm this? Are you able to change in to warm clothes and out of your wet cycling gear?

Hearing how a couple of you have signed up for it already make it tempting for me to just say screw it and go for it.
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Old 01-14-19, 04:54 PM
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NoWhammies, why not carry a pannier with some dry stuff? I do that.
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Old 01-14-19, 07:25 PM
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The Cascade site shows a bag drop next to the ferry and bag pick-up at the finish line.
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Old 01-14-19, 10:02 PM
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@auberine no panniers on my roadie bike. But I'm ok leaving a drop bag.


I might hold off on signing up until I'm sure of the weather. As I have to drive down from Canada I want to be as sure as possible that the weather will be ok. Although as was mentioned if I don't make the ride, at least it's a contribution to the bike club.
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Old 01-15-19, 11:06 PM
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I don't think you'll have much certainty about the weather until half a week before the event. It could be 15F and sunny, 40F and rainy, or 60F and sunny. Those kinds of days all happen that time of year. But this is generally turning out to be a warmer and dryer winter than average.
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Old 01-15-19, 11:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I didn't feel in any danger from other cyclists. Most drivers were very polite but one lost his ****.

I also didn't feel any danger from the weather during the ride, I was on 28s at the time. However the ferry runs on schedule, you don't just automatically get a ride or even shelter when you're finished. 35F and raining isn't terrible when you're working up a hill, but when you're standing outside for half an hour waiting for the boat... As a roadie, it's very hard to have dry clothes ready at the finish. Mylar blanket really didn't add much warmth with freezing rain landing on it, and felt clammy and nasty.

You could get good weather though.
This could be the perfect place for one of those emergency space blankets. Good weather - package stays unto0uched for next year, The weather you saw - that $10 spent at REI could look like the year's best bargain.

I rode Chilly Hilly in the early '90s. Typ, not extreme PNW winter weather and I was prepared. Fun, Nothing really stood out. I liked the ferry ride (but then, I'd spent a year as a reverse commuter (working on Bainbridge Island) and knew the bike routine very well).

Ben
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Old 01-19-19, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by NoWhammies View Post
I am a fast enough rider (in these kind of situations anyway) that I'd be able to hang on at the front and stay away from the back/dangerous riders. I'm more concerned about the weather. Hanging around in wet clothes while waiting for the ferry doesn't seem very attractive. Although I think I read somewhere about being able to have drop bags. Can anyone confirm this? Are you able to change in to warm clothes and out of your wet cycling gear?

Hearing how a couple of you have signed up for it already make it tempting for me to just say screw it and go for it.
The ferry is very close to downtown Winslow. There are coffee shops and restaurants, even a winery, and the ferries run pretty much on time. No need to stand out in the rain for long. They'll let bikes on after the cars.
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Old 01-23-19, 09:16 AM
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All good points on the ride, whatever ferry you start on, be sure to start in the front after off-loading to avoid the slower/inexperienced riders. On the note of ferry times, usually the first 2 are the most packed. The remaining 2 will be relaxed and you can enjoy the ride and scenery without any pressure. A few years ago we had delayed ourselves, not intentionally since one of our buddies was late signing up day-of and we missed the 2nd ferry, but once we disembarked the 3rd ferry it felt like we were there with a small group rather than the big crowds everyone talks about. So if you have the time and since you're driving from BC, highly recommend starting on the later ferries! Granted it's a great spectacle to see a ferry loaded with just bikes but then again its the chaos you'll have to deal with unloading, during and after the ride.

With the El Nino pattern finally showing signs this year, I think we'll have a good day for the ride. Just as someone noted, check a few days ahead to be sure!

We'll be there no matter what weather and on the 3rd ferry!
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Old 01-23-19, 09:35 AM
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Sounds like there are some people here with good experience on the ride.

What are the rest stops like, re food wise? Or do you stop at all for fear of cooling down and getting cold? Is the ride difficult? I know it is a called a 'hilly' ride, so is it a bunch of up and down and then up again? Would you call it a suffer fest?
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Old 01-23-19, 11:44 AM
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Midway stop is great, typical fruits like bananas and energy food, cookies, pretzels, rice krispy treats and more. Nuun is there for electrolyte drink replacement plus water if you just want that. Lots of energy and cheering when coming in to the stop, local school cheerleaders yelling and jump roping. Kind of fun if you're with friends and need a bathroom break, or need some attention on your bike with a mechanic. On the colder wet rides, expect to see more stop here just to warm up. When it's nicer out, riders tend to skip this and just get to the finish for the chili and walk around town for drinks and lunch.

As for the course, it's more like rolling hills. Most are short and steep, just need to keep the momentum going to get a good start. BUT this is where as other noted on the earlier start times and chaos of inexperience or untrained riders have issues and accidents due to shifting, getting off bike in middle of hill, walking, etc. Again if you start later, you should not have any problems running into this. Definitely recommend to spin up the hills especially later in the course where fatigue can set in quickly if you haven't been riding.
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Old 01-23-19, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by NoWhammies View Post
Is the ride difficult? I know it is a called a 'hilly' ride, so is it a bunch of up and down and then up again? Would you call it a suffer fest?
A "suffer fest" is in the eye of the beholder, but it is definitely lumpy by almost anyone's standards. If you ride all winter and train hard, it will be no big deal, but if you've been at all sedentary or do most of your miles on the flats, it will get your attention. On the steepest hills, I'd guess 10% of the folks are walking, at least part. But that's the 10% who bought off way more than they could chew.

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Old 01-23-19, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
A "suffer fest" is in the eye of the beholder, but it is definitely lumpy by almost anyone's standards. If you ride all winter and train hard, it will be no big deal, but if you've been at all sedentary or do most of your miles on the flats, it will get your attention. On the steepest hills, I'd guess 10% of the folks are walking, at least part. But that's the 10% who bought off way more than they could chew.
There is one short section where most people get off and walk! Even when I was young and much stronger I always had to get off there. But otherwise, I agree with you.
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Old 01-23-19, 06:14 PM
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Sounds like a brilliant ride. I like hills. Or at least my motto is "hills make you strong" so there ya go. I haven't been totally sedentary this winter but I have only been riding a stationary bike. So I'm sure I would have a fun, yet challenging time on this route.

Thanks @markjenn for the elevation profile. Good to see. I can understand where that super steep hill is. I can be stubborn on the ride so I'd do my best to ride up that sucker. Alas, we'll see if I sign up.

@jazzyrider I'd likely try to get out on the first ferry and get ahead of the pack if I went. Coming down from the Great White North for the day/ride, I'd want to get in and get out as soon as possible. Hopefully I wouldn't be part of, or see too many, crashes.
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Old 01-24-19, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by NoWhammies View Post
Thanks @markjenn for the elevation profile. Good to see. I can understand where that super steep hill is. I can be stubborn on the ride so I'd do my best to ride up that sucker. Alas, we'll see if I sign up.
If a somewhat overweight, mid-60's hack like me can make it up the CH hills w/o walking, I'm sure you can. I just slow down and grind. It's a matter of pride!!!

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Old 01-30-19, 12:18 AM
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Good experience. Also, last time I rode it, they had great infrastructure and support; even ham radio operators providing communications.
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