Chilly Hilly Ride, Seattle, 27 February 2005

Today we had ten Coker riders for the Chilly Hilly Bicycle Classic that takes place on Bainbridge Island annually. The riders were

Tom Blackwood
John Childs
Abram Clark
Bruce Dawson
Steve DeKoekkoek
Irene Genelin
Greg Harper
Jack Hughes
Tom Jackson
Jeff Sloan

We tried to figure out how to contact Jack Hughes, the local Chilly Hilly pro, as we were organizing the ride but weren’t able to. I just met him randomly and luckily at the entrance gate.

This is about a 33 mile loop with 2675 or so feet of elevation gain and with a 23 mile option. The sissies, myself and two others I won’t name, took the 23 mile option. The other 7 riders went the full 33 miles. This was a fun ride on a lovely afternoon. It was a gas to crank up hills on a unicycle and pass bicyclists that were walking their bikes up and some that were riding. We got lots of positive feedback from the bicyclists who we thanked and conversely gave the “where’s your other wheel” questions the verbal abuse that they deserved.

I had to walk up about one third of the distance of one of the steeper hills. Other than that it was crank city for me. In another fun instance Tom Blackwood, whose sig line is “tailgate at your own risk” wiped out with me cleverly trailing him by 18" so he got to take me out. I had that coming. JC circled and came back just to see if he would do it again. Very vulture-like of him. The folks who took photos will hopefully post them here soon.

This is the biggest Coker herd we have ever had. We had nine for International Harper Day which will be Sunday, 28 August this year for an Iron Horse Trail ride on my 53rd birthday. To bad Pete was pooped from his record breaking antics because he would have been a nice addition to the group.

Way to go my fleet-footed friends! That sounds like yet another epic ride with Spring weather to boot!

Re: Chilly Hilly Ride, Seattle, 27 February 2005

The big story today wasn’t the sissies, it was Abram. The first time he laid eyes on a Coker was when he borrowed JC’s back-up less than a week ago. After basically one 20-miler practice ride, he knocked out 33 miles today against some VERY strenuous hills, and kept pace with the vets throughout. It’s also worth noting that the ride started and finished at the same ferry terminal, so all the 2675 elevation gain was matched with equal descents.

I make no apologies. Harper, along with basically everyone else on the internet, has been warned.

I didn’t take a ton of shots today, but I’ve posted the ones I did get here in the Misc Seattle Riders gallery:

What a ride! I’m seriously sore…can’t imagine how the non-sissies are feeling right now. Note to self: get out and TRAIN next year.

Wow, way to go Big Wheelers!

I’m going to find a way to run a ‘poor cousin’ version of your ride some time… for all the 29’ers I can scare up…humm, now, lets see, I know of three 29’er riders here in town so far…:wink:

Bainbridge Island is in a funny gravity zone. The first 1/2 of the ride is predominanty South and West and wasn’t too bad, except for a huge hill right before the 14 mile rest stop. But Northbound, every grade, no matter how slight, had much more gravity. :roll_eyes:

There was the occasional “other wheel” or “circus” comment but the overwhelming mood was that of encouragement. Having 10 riders was an impressive show. Shortly after the start we broke into a fast group and moderate group and regrouped at about 6 miles then at the 14 mile rest stop. After that it was the super human group and the not-quite-as-super human group.

Abram not only cleaned the course, he rode home from downtown too!

I tried 170’s because of lack of pre-conditioning. They were nice for slow uphill grinds but I found them too bouncy for faster cruising. I also had some soreness below the knees, don’t know whether that was from repetition or the larger cranks. Back to 150’s and better conditioning for next big ride.

Googling found a couple stories: Jack Hughes got his pic in the PI story.

chilly hilly.jpg

All my pics are pretty redundant to those already submitted except this fine group shot of nine unicyclists and ten unicycles. Harper was behind the camera.


Most photos turn out better with me not in them.

There was a new record set for the number of riders in the Chilly Hilly this year. Over 5000 attended. Of those, ten were unicyclists. We represented 0.2% of the total cycling population for this event.

10 cokers is impressive, but 0.2% doesn’t do much for me. :slight_smile: I guess we’re still a minority and will be for a while.

Sounds like a fun ride. It would be a blast to ride with ten cokers. Unfortunately, Washington is a long way from Pennsylvania.

Stuck in the east,


Yeah that was a fun ride.

And that’s a nice photo Steve. Would you mind posting the original?

BTW John, when you’re feeling motivated to make that 36" B.C. wheel, I’ll ride over there and drop off your Coker.

I’m worried that I may never get it back now. You seem to have taken a liking to it. :slight_smile:

That’s impressive that you did the whole 33 mile ride plus the ride back to the UW just a few days after first riding a Coker. Us old guys can’t do stuff like that any more.

The Chilly Hilly was fun this year. An amazing showing of unicycle power.

I did the Chilly Hilly last year with Irene. It was colder last year. I remember trying to warm up my toes last year at one of the rest stops. It really was the Chilly Hilly last year. There were more riders this year. In fact, it was a record year for the number of riders. Last year there were about 3700 riders and this year there were over 5000. It was noticeably more crowded on the roads this year, especially on the climbs where the bikes all bunch up as some people stop to walk up the bigger hills.

I made a gallery for last year’s ride: Chilly Hilly 2004
I haven’t (or more accurately we haven’t as a group) made an organized gallery for this year yet. I made a temporary spot for my photos here. I took better photos last year.

I felt better at then end this year, but I did better on the hills last year. I ended up walking the last bit of one long steep hill that I rode up last year. And there was one short little hill that I UPDed on for no real reason other than inattention and trying to doge weaving bicyclists while trying to stay out of the oncoming lane of car traffic.

It was a surprise to see Jack Hughes waiting there in Seattle for the start of the ride. We were too disorganized to think of trying to contact Jack ahead of time to find out if he was going to do the Chilly Hilly this year. It was just luck that we met him in Seattle.

All in all it was a fun ride and even better to have 10 unicyclists along. I’m a little sore today. 33 Chilly Hilly miles seems to feel like 60 regular miles. It’s brutal on the legs. Those of you doing the Alps tour are in for some punishment with all the climbing you’ll be doing.

Last year I rode with 150’s and no trunk bag on my uni. Instead of the trunk bag I wore a backpack style hydration pack. This year I went with 140’s and the trunk bag on the uni. I wore a small 50 oz. bum bag style hydration pack for water. Having more weight on the back of the unicycle due to the trunk bag made the climbing more difficult. Normally I don’t weigh it down as much but for this ride I had extra food, my camera, extra clothes, and tools in the trunk bag. That really throws the weight distribution off for climbing and makes the uni feel sluggish while climbing. If you’re going to be doing a lot of climbing it’s better to have the weight on your back rather than on your uni. For the flats it doesn’t make much difference, but for climbing I now believe that it does.

I’ve been riding with 170’s for the Winter. I just switched back to my 140’s last week and I may go back to the 170’s again for a month or so.

It takes a while to get used to spinning the 170’s on the Coker. At first they will feel really bouncy when you spin at around 10, 11, or 12 mph. Gradually you start to get smoother and you can learn to spin them at 14 mph. If I was more of a daredevil I could try going faster with them.

Riding with the 170’s has helped my pedaling. My pedaling is now smoother and I’ve gotten a little bit faster. Since switching back to the 140’s my max speeds during normal rides have been around 16 mph. During the Chilly Hilly my max speed at the midway checkpoint was 16.1 mph and my max speed at the end was 16.3 mph. That’s a big improvement for me from before. I used to rarely go above 14.5 mph because I didn’t like the feeling at faster speeds. With the 170’s I’ve been hitting about 14.7 on my normal rides now (not really trying for max speed on those rides).

Practice with the 170’s. Learning to spin them on the Coker will make you better.

Maybe I should have kept the 170’s on for the Chilly Hilly myself. :slight_smile: Would have made the hill climbing easier. But I was curious to see how I would do with the 140’s since I did the Chilly Hilly with 150’s last year.

Nice work you guys! Jack looks so cool in that photo in the paper. Wish I could’ve joined you.


I had a really great time doing the Chilly Hilly with a whole herd of unicyclists. Meeting up with Jack Hughes was a great surprise. I also enjoyed getting to ride with Abram and Jeff Sloan, two people that I haven’t had much time to ride with. Jeff, I like how you ride with your arms behind your back. I actually tried doing this for a mile or so during the Chilly Hilly. Abram, I am really impressed with your ability to keep on riding after we got off of the ferry in Seattle. The lure of the car was calling my tired legs.

Chilly Hilly and John’s Coker

Yes, it was indeed fun, but really I’m not going to ride it much unless we do another group ride (anybody?). My commute to work hardly justifies a Coker, and I have a lot more fun on my 24 inch. Just tell me when you’ll be around and I’ll ride it over there.

The ride back was quite pleasant. I had had a break on the ferry, and it was virtually flat in comparison to bainbridge.

Riding with the 170’s has helped my pedaling. My pedaling is now smoother and I’ve gotten a little bit faster.
Practice with the 170’s. Learning to spin them on the Coker will make you better.

You have found the secret to success JC. Cheers

Another update on the Unicycle presence last Sunday. My wife just came home from work with a copy of the Bainbridge Island Review, the local island paper, that a co-worker brought in for her.

The Chilly Hilly article was Headlined “more Ups than downs”. In the middle of the article is the following:

There is also a pic with the caption “Steve DeKoekkoek mounts an enormous unicycle as the Chilly Hilly gets under way Sunday”. That is my new levitation mount.

Record numbers of both bicyclists and unicyclists.

I was riding around Moscow, Idaho today and this guy started talking about all these huge wheeled unicycles that he seen on a 33mile ride a few weeks ago.

Seems he was at Chilly Hilly.