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.