By Doug Kish, MA
Since 1983 bicyclists have met in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to ride some of the steepest hills in the United States. Originally organized by Dan Chew, Tom Chew and Bob Gottlieb, the Dirty Dozen bike ride started as five friends attempting the impossible. This annual bicycle competition is a 50-mile ride that incorporates 13 of the steepest hills in Pittsburgh. Included in the route is Canton Avenue. At about 200 hundred feet long with a 37-percent grade, it is officially the steepest public street in the United States. This historic thoroughfare is one of many on the route that is too steep for a sidewalk and has steps for pedestrian use.
More than 1,400 riders of all ages have participated in the event since its inception. The youngest competitor to date was 11 years old. To be an official finisher, you must ride up every hill without stopping or crashing. You must have continuous forward motion up the hill, although you can weave back and forth as long as you are continuing to go up. As soon as you start to go level or back down the hill, you are disqualified. You are, however, permitted to go back down to the bottom of the hill and try again as many times as you want. Points are scored based on the number of attempts and the amount of time it takes to climb each hill. In recent years, the ride has become “easier” since several of the hills have been paved with asphalt giving riders more momentum than the original rough cobblestone or wavy blacktop.
Organizer Danny Chew is known as “The Million Mile Man” and has 700,000 well-documented miles under his belt towards his goal of a million miles. This year’s race will take place on Saturday, November 26, 2016. Organizers of the event indicate they expect more participants than ever in support of founder Danny Chew who was recently injured in a biking accident. There will be livestreaming video of the event and if you would like to experience the route, there are several youtube videos of past races.
There are numerous other holiday events scheduled in the Pittsburgh area. From November 22 through 27 you can see “A Christmas Story” the holiday favorite presented by PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh at the Benedum Center. The Pittsburgh Ballet will take over the Benedum Center on December 2 with another favorite. “The Nutcracker” will play through December 27.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Nationality Rooms will hold a free Open House celebration on December 4 from noon to 4 pm. The event will take place on the first floor in the Commons Room where committee members will sell food and unique artifacts while musicians and dancers provide entertainment. On the first and third floors in the Nationality Rooms themselves, docents dressed in native fashion will point out the details of each of the 30 rooms.
The elegant yet welcoming lobby of the Omni William Penn Hotel will offer “Afternoon Tea at the William Penn” Monday through Saturday from 12:30 to 4:00 pm during the holidays. The William Penn is celebrating 100 years in Pittsburgh and guests will enjoy fresh brews, sweets and an optional champagne toast, all within view of the towering, sparkling tree. Reservations are required for this event.
For outdoor adventure, the MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink offers skating set among trees strung with twinkling lights. This rink is larger than the Rockefeller Center rink by 67 percent and opens the day before Thanksgiving.
Dirty Dozen Bike Ride