By Karen Price
Danny Chew's idea of fun isn't the same as most peoples'.
most people wouldn't consider walking up Canton Avenue in Beechview fun.
steepest road is only one-tenth of a mile long, but its 37 percent grade
means that for every 100 feet there is a 37-foot elevation gain.
It is also cobblestone.
Chew and other like-minded -- some might say masochistic -- cyclists will
race up not just Canton Avenue but 13 of Pittsburgh's steepest hills in the
annual Dirty Dozen bike race.
a fun hill," Chew, 45, said of Canton Avenue. "People who make it
stand at the top and cheer for the people that are trying to make it. It's
quite a spectacle on that hill."
This year is
the 25th anniversary of the race, which will begin at 10 a.m. at the
Washington Boulevard bike oval.
Dirty Dozen was in 1983 after Chew, his brother Tom and their friend Bob
Gottlieb decided to design a race showcasing the city's steepest hills. Using
topographic maps, they scouted the Pittsburgh streets until they found 13
mini-mountains guaranteed to burn both lungs and limbs.
participated in the first race, and only the three founders finished.
Chew said the race had its biggest turnout ever, with 125 riders, including
about 90-100 racers finished the 50-mile course, on which there is no racing
between hills, only up. The race takes roughly six hours to complete.
finishers, Chew believes only 75 or so made it up every hill, and only 16
scored points, which are earned by finishing in the top five on each hill. A
perfect score is 65 points.
31, finished second last year with 38 points, one fewer than three-time
defending champion Steve Cummings.
people are happy just to finish," Stubna said of the race. "I'd like
to go for the overall win. If you want to do that you have to be able to
consistently score points. It's so competitive that you have to be able to
score in the top five on every hill."
grew up in Carnegie, recently moved to Philadelphia and urged friends there
to start a similar race.
annual Philadelphia Dirty Dozen, a 40-mile, 13-hill race, was held on Nov. 3.
The final hill was the famous Manayunk Wall, but Stubna, who won the race,
said that even that isn't as difficult as the toughest hills in Pittsburgh's
definitely has some harder hills than The Wall," Stubna said.
there's no such thing as a hill too steep to ride.
cyclist has crossed the country eight times on his bike, winning the Race
Across America twice and never finishing lower than fourth. He once rode to
Iowa in four days, competed in and won a 24-hour race, then rode back to
His goal is
to ride 1 million miles in his lifetime.
He's just 300
miles short of hitting his 1 millionth kilometer, and figures he should reach
1 million miles at the age of 70.
advice to Dirty Dozen rookies is to pace oneself.
That, and to
spread out on Canton Avenue in the very likely event of a crash.
hill gets about half the people the first time up," Chew said.
"People don't take it seriously enough. Once they crash or don't make it
once or twice, then they take it more seriously. But some people try three
and four times and don't make it and give up. The hill just defeats
Karen Price can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7980.