Yesterday, Feb. 22, was the “official opener” of cycling season in Seattle. That means two things: Cascade Bicycle Club’s annual Chilly Hilly 30 mile group ride around Bainbridge Island, and the cheaper, funner alternative ride: .83’s F—ing Hills Race (FHR).
The FHR is always held on the same day, on the same course and at the same time as the Chilly Hilly. In contrast to Cascade’s paid entry fees and manned rest stops, the FHR is free to enter (but you have to pay for your own ferry boat ticket, 9 bucks) and is fully self supported and features copious amounts of beer, liquor and other things that are legal here in Washington State, but still federally blacklisted. There are also prizes and priceless shenanigans.
After riding my first FHR a couple of years ago, I decided that this ride was more fun, and cheaper.
And they feed you at the end of the ride.
On the Cascade ride, you have to buy your own bowl of chili at the finish line.
Instead of bib numbers, the .83 riders attach small pirate flags to themselves, each other, and small children.
This year’s FHR began as all FHR’s do. Riders gathered on the Seattle waterfront, signed up for the “registration,” and promptly began sipping on cans of Rainier beer and pulling from flasks that were being passed around the group.
At 8 AM.
Once we arrived at the ferry terminal, the Washington State Ferry workers did a good job of segregating the Cascade riders from the .83 riders. They actually loaded us onto opposite sides of the boat. The weather was an unseasonably warm 50 or so American degrees. Perfect for sipping booze and riding bikes.
I won’t bore you with the details of what equates to riding around in a giant circle, but I will say that the FHR involved an “unofficial rest stop” at a farm along the route, featuring libations and a plant that’s legal to posses in some states but not all. From there, a small group of riders took a scenic detour through the forest where more libations were consumed, shit was talked, stories of skanky Tinder encounters were told and bikes were ridden.
I skipped over the .83 finish line, and headed back to the ferry dock in hopes to catch an early boat back to the city cuz I had shit to do that afternoon. But no luck. With all the riders and “support cars,” ferry boats were quickly filling up.
Luckily, I was loaded onto a boat with a bunch of other FHR riders where, and I quote, “everyone’s drinking fireball and other irresponsible liquor.”
I need to ride with these people more often.