The Dirty Dozen... continued.
It’s also cobbled and appears like a brick wall with a street sign garnishing it, begging the question, “Are you fucking kidding me?” Twelve more of such treats lie in wait. The ride is led by one of its founding fathers, Danny Chew. Chew rides a lot, so much so that mid-ride he announced the completion of his millionth kilometer. Which, so he says, is equivalent to twenty five times around the circumference of the Earth. He still has fifteen more of such circumnavigations before making his lifetime goal of one million miles, but that is another story. For this race there is no license, no insurance, no permits and the only support given typically consists of Little Debbie Oatmeal pies, cola and various neon green beverages. Of course there is no sponsorship, no cause, and no prizes; just pain. In spite of these facts, over 395 people have challenged the Dirty Dozen in the past twenty-five years, spurred on in search of pain, personal glory and big time bragging rights. Not to be out-done, I contested the Dirty Dozen for my third time, maybe seeking some glory of my own but wound up as I do every year, fighting just to survive.
This year’s ride featured 131 people, a record turnout, even more than last year which featured unseasonably warm conditions. Not so this November morning with temperatures below freezing and bone-chilling moisture. The caravan rolled out shortly after 10am in search of the first hill that shoots up and out of the nearby town of Aspinwall. The ride between hills is mild, but there is neutral start at the base, just Danny cemoniously blowing his whistle to announce the sprint. Being somewhat fresh and having some fore-knowledge of the kick-off, I found some position in the lead group and struck the hill with gusto, motoring up the grade at a high cadence on the way to eleventh place, one place out of the points. Lungs burning from the sudden inhalation of so much freezing air, I began to doubt my ability to score at all. After a somewhat leisurely paced ride to the next hill, I felt my lungs recovering as we began our next climb, the appropriately named Ravine St. Long, yet not too hard, Ravine crested, like many local hills, at a graveyard. The next climb takes most contestants by surprise, as after a steep descent the ride makes a sharp turn into a wall of pavement, catching many still in their high gears where they flounder and topple over.
Winding out of Millvale from behind Mr. Small’s theater, Logan St. goes from steep to ridiculous in a series of switch-