This past Sunday, I had the privilege of riding part of the Chilly Hilly with Kevin Connors and his two sons, Sean and Kealan.
As Hilly as ever, this year's edition was not as Chilly as I have come to expect from previous editions.
Kevin and Kealan were riding the tandem (background), and Sean was premiering his black, red, and white Redline Conquest (pictured in foreground, to the right), a beast that will carry him on his first solo STP this year.
Sean and Kealan have got the fundamentals down. Rule 1: it's all about the snacks. Here, Kevin and Kealan stop for a quick dip into the cheese nips. Later, though, would come the real treats. The wonderful people of Bainbridge Island actually put up little roadside stands offering sweets and snacks. Apparently, folks who have been doing CH for awhile have mapped out the houses that offer the best cookies, brownies, and pie.
You know, it's been said that the best of the pro climbers ride their bikes like kids. That may account for the fact that, as I was riding behind Sean, I inexplicably felt I was watching a video clip of a Gilberto Simoni or Marco Pantani dancing on the pedals. On the other hand, if, 10 years from now, I were to pick up a copy of Velo News and read that Sean Connors has signed his first pro contract, the only surprise would be that I would have learned to read. Kevin, keep an eye on Sean. I think there's natural talent there.
But the best part of the Chilly Hilly, for me, was all the encouragement I got. "Great job!", "Keep it up!", "I can't believe you're doing this, you're so young!!" (Sean is under the mistaken impression that these comments were directed at him. Yeah, dream on, Sean!) Seriously, one guy actually took pictures of Sean and Kealan so he could show his own kids. I had to take Kevin aside and give him the talk about Not Letting Your Own Kids Become Someone Else's Kids' Role Models.
For full-size photos, look at my online web album