Outdoors

Recreational cycling season gets rolling Sunday with Chilly Hilly

If the forecast for Sunday is correct, the state’s oldest bicycle ride won’t live up to its name.

Well, not all of it, at least.

The National Weather Service predicts temperatures as high as 51 degrees on Bainbridge Island, meaning the 43rd Chilly Hilly won’t be chilly.

It will, however, be hilly.

The 33-mile ride starting from Seattle (participants ferry over to the island), and Winslow on the island, is packed with small hills totaling 2,675 feet of climbing.

The hills have traditionally warmed up cyclists on cold February days while the event generally warms them up for the riding season.

Traditionally the first organized ride of the year, Chilly Hilly sometimes draws more than 6,000 cyclists when the weather is pleasant.

There is no rider limit, and the starting line is open until 10:30 a.m. (registration is $30 in Winslow or $40 in Seattle). But even if you can’t make it, there are plenty of other events worth considering for your 2015 riding season:

SATURDAY-MARCH 1: SEATTLE BICYCLE EXPO

The Seattle Bicycle Expo is a party for bike lovers. Watch stunt rider Ryan Leech, listen to a presentation from pro cyclist Bob Roll, view classic bikes and ride an indoor track. The event features 150 exhibitors and a bike valet. Tickets are $10 for adults and free for children 17 and younger. seattlebikeshow.com

SATURDAY: KIDICAL MASS

Kidical Mass Tacoma is in its third year and is led by local cycling advocate Matt Newport. The rides are short, geared for families with small kids and often include ice cream. Or, in the case of Saturday’s ride, doughnuts. The ride goes from Legendary Donuts, 2602 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, to Wright Park and back. Check the Kidical Mass Tacoma blog for other rides in 2015. kidicalmasstacoma.blogspot.com

APRIL 19: DAFFODIL CLASSIC

The South Sound’s oldest bicycle ride turns 40 this year. It starts in Orting and uses the Foothills Trail for part of the ride, offering routes ranging from 30 miles (or less) on the trail to up to 100 miles on roads visiting Buckley and Eatonville. The ride is known for strawberry shortcake at the finish line. twbc.org

MAY: BIKE MONTH

May is recognized nationwide as bike month, and Pierce and Thurston counties load the calendars with bike-themed events. The Tacoma Bike Swap is May 2 at the University of Puget Sound and CycloFemme (a global Mother’s Day ride) is May 10. Other events are in the works. downtownonthego.com, piercetrips.com, intercitytransit.com

JUNE 7: PENINSULA METRIC

The Tacoma Wheelmen’s Bicycle Club offers a hilly course to challenge participants on rides ranging from 31-100 miles. Riders can choose to start in Tacoma or Southworth and take a leisurely pace, or enter the Gran Fondo and earn an official time for their ride. twbc.org

JUNE 28: TWO-COUNTY DOUBLE METRIC

The showcase ride of the Capital Bicycle Club visits Lewis and Thurston counties on roads with light traffic. The routes range from 32-125 miles. And the club website says “you won’t believe the food.” capitalbicycleclub.org

JUNE 28: TOUR DE PIERCE

This community ride starts in Puyallup and visits the eastern part of the county. The ride offers 30- and 50-mile routes and is welcoming to novice riders. Organizers had not set the date by this publication’s deadline. piercecountywa.org/parks

JULY 11-12: Seattle to Portland

If you want to ride in the Northwest’s most famous (and largest) bike ride, you better register soon. Sign-ups started Feb. 10 and the event traditionally sells out all 10,000 spots rather quickly. The ride is long (200 miles), but not particularly hilly. Make sure safety etiquette is part of your training regime, as the streets will be crowded all weekend. cascade.org

JULY 19: FOOD TRUCK FESTIVAL RIDE

For those who prefer a bicycle built for two, the Evergreen Tandem Bicycle Club offers several rides across Washington throughout the year. It’s second Food Truck Festival Ride is in Tacoma. Don’t have a tandem bike? The group welcomes those riding on what it calls “half bikes.” meetup.com/EvergreenTandemClub

TBA: TOUR DE KITSAP

Typically the last weekend of July, the West Sound Cycling Club hasn’t announced the date of this year’s ride. This 22-year-old event tours Kitsap County and has plenty of rolling hills. Routes have traditionally ranged from 34-100 miles. westsoundcycling.com

JULY 30: RAMROD

One of the toughest rides in the Northwest, Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day is not for novice cyclists. Riders start and finish in Enumclaw and ride a course that loops around the mountain, visiting Eatonville, Ashford and Packwood along the way. The ride is 168 miles and climbs 10,000 vertical feet. redmondcyclingclub.org

AUG. 1-3: COURAGE CLASSIC

Courage Classic is a fundraiser for the Child Abuse Intervention Department at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital, and is famous for feeding riders like royalty with banana splits and baked potatoes to go along with traditional fare. But you’ll have to work for it. Riders must raise $750 for the cause, then pedal 182 miles over three mountain passes (almost 11,000 feet of climbing). multicare.org/home/courage-classic

AUG. 2: RIDE THE HURRICANE

The ride from Port Angeles up nearly a vertical mile to Hurricane Ridge is widely regarded as the toughest bicycle climb in Washington. This ride gives cyclists a chance to take on this challenge on a road closed to motor vehicles. portangeles.org

AUG. 8-9: OBLITERIDE

Over its first two years, Obliteride has raised more than $4 million for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Participants must commit to raise $1,000-$1,975 depending on the distance they ride (25, 50, 65, 85, 100 or 150 miles). The two-day, 150 mile ride includes an overnight at the University of Puget Sound. The event has a reputation for pampering its riders with an abundance of food and music. Concerts at the first two Obliterides included Michael Franti and Spearhead, the Paperboys and local participants from the NBC reality TV show “The Voice.” obliteride.org

AUG. 31: HIGH PASS CHALLENGE

Climb from Packwood to Windy Ridge at Mount St. Helens during a 114-mile ride that climbs 7,500 feet. A shorter option (61 miles) is also available. Medals are awarded at the finish line based on how quickly cyclists finish the ride. cascade.org

TBA: PASSPORT TO PAIN

Passport to Pain has quickly earned a reputation as one of the South Sound’s toughest bike rides. Cyclists are given a passport booklet at the start and then venture out in an attempt to climb every hill on Vashon Island. They get a stamp for each hill they climb, and they’ll climb more than 10,000 feet if they bag them all. The more stamps they get, the more entries they get in the post-ride prize giveaway. passport2pain.org

SEPT. 27: KITSAP COLOR CLASSIC

Just as Chilly Hilly marks the start of the organized riding season, the Kitsap Color Classic is usually the last ride of the season. Turnout isn’t nearly as high for the 24-year-old ride. It, too, has its share of hills, so you can see just how fit you got during the season. cascade.org

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