The Dirty Dozen... continued.
backs finally straightening out into a paved cliff, this time featuring a bottleneck caused by some “friends” shooting video and an oncoming station wagon frozen in the moment. Riders had to thread this shoulder width needle at next to no speed without losing balance, a “foot-down” negating their climb. I was able to navigate by leaning against and then pushing off said video car and somehow regaining my balance. Suffice to say no points for me, or anyone else caught behind the traffic-snarl. I’ve been told Pig Hill got its namesake in that it was used to run pigs to slaughter back when there was a rendering facility at the base. Now just a road, but the slaughter continues! Riders took turns descending the hill and racing back in heats of about a dozen at a time, making this the most fun for spectators yet worst for those seeking points as only the top twelve in standings got to contest it. The North Side of Pittsburgh is brings Suffolk St.—nightmarish and arguably the toughest of the bunch. It secretly lies dormant from under a highway and whips around a curve into a grade like a concrete wave dwarfing all comers. If you can surmount this pitch, a longer slog awaits and once you’re about to “blow your load” as it’s been described by four time champ Stephen Cummings, it turns to a stack of cobbles. Yuck.
At this point my lungs hurt, my legs ached and my malformed cyclist arms buckled under my own weight as they typically don’t lift more than twelve ounces at a time. The ride then dipped back down to river level to head through the city, though not without a casualty as one rider’s failing brakes sent him into a guard rail in a failed evasive maneuver. Once reconnoitered, the ride swept through downtown Pittsburgh, the old messenger hunting-grounds, deserted as usual on a weekend. Soon thereafter on the south end of town comes the climb up historic Sycamore Ave. featured in the now defunct Thrift Drug Classic, where Lance Armstrong dominated on the Motorola team. Sycamore is long and tough but remarkably tame all things considered. This doesn’t mean I had anything on it, as I watched the leaders float off into the distance. The ride pauses for it’s traditional group picture on a Mt. Washington over-look before departing for hell in the neighborhood of Beechview.
The ride takes an undulating and exhausting downhill-uphill route until the group must confront Canton Ave., the steepest street in the world and one to brag to your family, friends and mail personnel about. But, as Chew him-