While residents in Pennsylvania have the famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, to welcome the possible coming of Spring, people in Bainbridge have welcomed the end of Winter with the Chill Hilly bicycle ride for each of the last 36 years.
According to the local Cascade Bicycle Club, the 33-mile ride, which takes place each year in February, was honored by Bicycling Magazine as "One of Four Classic Rides" in the country. Bainbridge apartment renters can take on the course, which covers more than 2,600 feet of very hilly climbing amid the sometimes unpredictable Pacific Northwest weather conditions.
The route, which winds its way past a number of apartments and other buildings, actually starts for some riders on the ferry across Puget Sound to Bainbridge, and begins as soon as they get off the boat. Those living in Bainbridge apartments who don't want to start across the Sound can begin their trek at the top of the ferry off-ramp, according to the club.
After 33 miles in the cold, riders and spectators alike can warm up at the Finish Line Festival, which boasts a chili feed and other events that are a big attraction for Bainbridge apartment renters. The festival also serves as a charity fundraiser for the Sqeaky Wheels Bicycle Club.
More than 6,000 people took part in the 2010 ride. Bikers traveled from 16 different states, as well as foreign countries such as France to take part in the ride. The oldest registered competitor, according to the club, was 84 years old. The youngest was just two years old - although organizers said they probably didn't tackle the ride on their own.