It’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which means two things: people are finally awakening from their food-induced comas and it’s time for the annual Dirty Dozen ride/race. The race is celebrating its 35th year, and perhaps more importantly, it is celebrating the return of its co-founder and longtime face of the event, Danny Chew. Missing last year’s event after suffering a crash that left Chew paralyzed from the chest down, his return was an emotional one. As he was greeted by over 400 riders and volunteers, the contrast of moods between this year and last was an obvious one. Chew chatted excitedly with the riders; his trademark high-pitched ramblings could be heard around the Bud Harris Cycling Track as the event waited for its start.
The Dirty Dozen is a carnival of bikes on the streets of Pittsburgh. Riders from all over descend on the city with hopes of ascending 13 of its steepest hills. What began as a small group of friends testing each other in the winter months has turned into a full-blown cycling event that is a destination for many. Men, women, children, hand-cycles and a unicycle all took their chances against these monstrous slopes. These hills are steep and then they get steeper. By the time the riders reach Canton Avenue, the unofficial steepest hill in the world, they are well aware that these hills are no joke! Having already clawed their way up 8 rugged climbs, including what many feel to be the hardest on Suffolk Street in Pittsburgh’s Northside, the party and refreshments at the top of Canton were a welcomed sight.
Participants were greeted with clear skies and mild temperatures, likely aiding in the record attendance this year. Ian Baun went on to win his second consecutive Dirty Dozen and his third overall, and Stef Sydlik also took home her third overall win in the women’s category. While riders enjoyed the day of camaraderie and physical exhaustion, it was Chew who benefitted most. Friends and family of Chew know how much this day meant to him, to return back to his favorite day of the year. It was another milestone in what has been a long year for Chew; this past weekend was a huge lift for his mental state, remarked a relative. Chew is aware that he faces a long uphill battle, but let’s face it, long uphill battles are where Danny Chew excels.
Legendary Pittsburgh cyclist Danny Chew was injured in a bicycle accident over the weekend and his dream of reaching one million miles on a bike may be in jeopardy.
Chew, 54, is known throughout the region for his ultra-long rides and for hosting the Dirty Dozen race up the 13 steepest streets in Pittsburgh. The event, which includes the famous Canton Avenue climb up a 37 percent grade, has grown from a challenge amongst friends in the early 1980s to a huge event with police escorts and hundreds of participants.
According to Chew’s friend Cassie Schumacher, who was riding with him in Ohio at the time, he lost control of his bike and rolled into a ditch, she told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He did not lose consciousness but fractured two vertebrae and is not able to move his legs. The full extent of his injuries may not be known for several days, she said. It is still not clear what caused the accident.
Chew has twice won the Race Across America—in 1996 and 1999—and was pursuing a lifelong goal of cycling a million miles. Right now he is about 200,000 miles to go.
“I’ll just have to finish my million miles on a hand cycle,” Schumacher said he told her. “So be it.”
As a integral part of the cycling scene in the city where Bicycle Times was founded, we hope you can donate or spread the news of this terrible accident. Many Bicycle Times employees over the years have tackled the Dirty Dozen, and we hope to see Danny back on a bike soon.
From Danny’s nephew, Steven Perezluha, on the the youcaring.com fundraiser:
“Recently, my Uncle, Danny Chew, had a bad crash on a hundred mile ride. During the ride, he suddenly passed out and lost control of his body. He broke his neck and remained unconscious. Doctors informed us that he could potentially be paralyzed from the waist down. He is currently in extensive care in Ohio undergoing surgeries.
Danny lives to ride his bicycle. He does not have a 9 to 5 job, he does not have kids, nor is he married. Bicycling is his one true love. To me, my uncle is one of my best friends. With the thought of never being able to ride a bicycle again, it is important that we come together to help him recover and get back to an active life where he can hopefully use his legs again.
My Uncle is the man that got me into cycling. Without him, my life would not be the same. When I was 16, I developed a love for cycling through my Uncle. Our cross-country journey to Alaska developed us as true companions. Danny is a big inspiration to many people and myself. My Uncle has pushed me to accomplishing my biggest goals and has inspired me in everything I do in life. What I’ve learned the most from my Uncle is that with dogged determination and patience, I can accomplish anything that my heart desires. Let us be patient and hope that Danny can continue to ride his bike.
All donations will go directly to Danny Chew’s accumulation of medical bills throughout his long road to recovery. Currently, we are not sure of the extent of his medical needs, but I will do my best to keep all donators updated with news on Danny’s condition.”Tweet Print
For three decades, Pittsburgh’s strongest (and craziest) riders have been racing up the steepest streets in a city where a “hill” doesn’t count unless it’s more than a 20% grade, and the steepest climbs a world-record 38%.
Can’t make it this year, or just don’t think you’re crazy enough? You can watch a live stream over at cyclingfusion.com.Tweet Print