Dirty Dozen

dirty dozenThe topography of Pittsburgh provides the city with an abundance of hills, almost as many as one can handle. Regardless of one’s chosen form of transportation, traveling in this city usually involves a hill or two. For those choosing to ride a bicycle, there is the potential for a leg burning, mind-boggling ride—either by choice or necessity.

The Dirty Dozen is a Pittsburgh ride that has more than a hill or two. In fact it has thirteen. The Dirty Dozen was created in 1983 by Danny Chew, Tom Chew and Bob Gottlieb to showcase Pittsburgh’s steepest and toughest hills in one ride, never getting more than 10 kilometers away from the center of the city. There is a race to the top of each hill, with neutral stages between each ascent. With all the riding from one hill to another, the event adds up to a vertically challenging 50-mile excursion. Under Danny Chew’s leadership, the event is still in full swing, and getting bigger every year.

One Pittsburgh’s most famous cyclists, Danny Chew has his eye on the prize when it comes to cycling. After twice winning the Race Across America (RAAM) Danny set a personal goal of riding one million miles in his lifetime. He is on track, with roughly 638,000 miles under his belt.

Attendance in 2008 was great, with 156 people lining up at the start of the Dirty Dozen. A majority of the riders did the deed, and can now happily say that they made it to the finish. Pittsburgh’s generation Y is doing their part to keep the city’s cycling scene alive.

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In the men’s division Steve Cummings became the first racer to win five consecutive Dirty Dozens. Second place went to Colin Sandberg, with Chis Mayhew snagging the third spot. A total of 12 women showed up and we rode together for the first couple of hills, but a few had to peel off for one reason or another. Six women completed all 13 hills—amazing! We women are not much different than men, we’re just prettier. The top 3 women: 1. Patty Buerkle, 2. Whitney Severino, 3. Carol Clemens. There was bonus for the top three women this time around—cash prizes: 1. $150, 2. $100, and 3. $50. That’s a good deal for a race that only costs five dollars.

There were many different types of folks that turned out for this event. Everything from the gentlemen on a recumbent to the race addicts—and a little something in between, such as my impressive 60-year old parents completing 7 of the hills and enjoying it the whole time. I got to spend the Thanksgiving holiday riding with them because the ride is held annually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

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The Dirty Dozen is an event for anyone who enjoys a challenging Saturday afternoon of riding. One aspect of the ride that may be a surprise to the newcomer is descending the hills. There is a lot of descending, and it is sometimes harder then the ascending. The ride also is easier on the proper bike. Running lower gears and taking off a little weight goes along way as well. The Dirty Dozen is a great event that is worth tying (at least once) and a fun way to burn off some of the Thanksgiving calories.

[Ed Notes: Story by Carol Clemens. Photos by Glenn Acker. Click on thumbs below to enlarge. The 2009 Dirty Dozen is scheduled for Saturday, November 28th at 10:00 a.m. with registration starting at 8:00 a.m. at the Washington Boulevard oval. Registration fee is $15 and this year you get a commemorative T-shirt.]

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