Pittsburgh’s hilly streets won’t be alive with the sound of music on Saturday. What you’ll hear is the panting and grunting of hundreds of cyclists participating in the annual Dirty Dozen Bike Ride.
This is the 32nd annual running of the contest in which cyclists tackle 13 of the steepest hills in the city on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. There are cash prizes for men and women, but I imagine most cyclists take part for the bragging rights.
The ride is organized by Danny Chew, the 52-year-old former Race Across America winner. Danny, his brother Tom and their friend Bob Gottlieb originated the idea of challenging the biggest climbs in the city and would scan topographical maps to look for good candidates. The steeper the better.
Chew told NPR last year:
“Sometimes, it was funny, we’d go out there, it would just be a pair of steps, it wasn’t a road at all, and so you couldn’t do it. We’d be delighted if we found a new super steep hill, and we said, ‘Yeah, put that on the Dirty Dozen.’”
The ride entails a 50-mile loop around the city. The miles between the hills are neutral, and Chew waits for everyone to arrive at the bottom of the climb before blowing a whistle to signal the race to the top.
The two exceptions to the neutral riding rule occur before the third and between the last two hills when Chew blows the whistle early.
The 3 fastest men and women finishers on all the hills will be awarded cash prizes of $100, $50, and $25.
Although the event was limited to about 20 or so mountain goats in the early years, it has grown to more than 300 cyclists annually. There are enough cyclists so that they can get lost riding between the hills, which adds to the chaos.
The Dirty Dozen Bike Ride starts at the Bud Harris Cycling Track, a paved half-mile track on Washington Boulevard. Pre-registration ended on Thanksgiving Day, but event day registration is available at the track from 8 to 10 a.m. on Saturday.
All details about the Dirty Dozen Bike Ride can be found at the Danny Chew web page.