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January 04, 2006

Fargo X 13 in Pittsburg

Every March, in Los Angeles, bicyclists, young and old, sane and mad, gather for a most unusual and challenging event.

It is simply known as the Fargo Street Climb, and is quite the spectacle.

5 years ago I attended my first event, and was awed not only by the street itself, but by the guts of the people who dared to try to climb it, and full of admiration for those, including an 8 yr. old boy, who made it to the top.

The view from the top is spectacular to say the least.

This street must be seen to be believed. it is one of the steepest streets you will ever encounter, at a 32% grade.

There is no better person to tell the story of this spot, and this event, than the original record holder for most climbs in one day, Dave Wyman.

His record was surpassed in 2004, but that's not the end of the story...

In 2005, he returned and, briefly, held the record once again before the man who topped him the year before, Sean Bartilet, topped him yet again.

This amazing man wrote an update that is linked to at the start of the original piece.

LA WHEELMEN report of the 2005 event.

Look at the pictures, read the 3 storys in the proper order, and then ask yourself this question:

Am I crazy enough to try this?

One of these days I may answer yes to that question, who knows? :-D

Bicycle Kitchen's Todd Munson tells of HIS experience tackling Fargo here ( the year is not mentioned )

Now.... ask yourself :

Can I do THAT in a race up 13 hills of various grades, including one of 37%?

Let's go visit Pittsburg, PA.

Moustafa Ayad, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, wrote a November story about the upcoming 23rd annual event known as The Dirty Dozen:

Stephen Cummings has no good reason for riding his bicycle 50 miles up and down the 13 steepest hills in Pittsburgh, turning his legs into angel hair pasta and his lungs into deflated balloons.

Racing up cobblestoned slopes, catching what he calls a winter cough --what normal people refer to as bronchitis or pneumonia -- and challenging his heart to race up a hill in Beechview with a grade that is 37 feet per 100 feet of run is an exercise in humility.

Or the first signs of dementia for the 25-year-old bike messenger from Bloomfield.

Sounds like dementia to me! ;-D

But despite the obvious pitfalls of testing the body's limits in a sustained bout up and down the city's steepest grades, Mr. Cummings and an expected 40 riders with a disregard for pain, and perhaps a disdain for Bengay, are going to participate in 23rd annual Dirty Dozen bike race today up and over 13 of Pittsburgh's confounding inclines.

"Why go ride 150 miles? I guess you could say that's too far," said Mr. Cummings, who beat out 30 odd riders last year to win the race on his second attempt. "People know the race isn't sanctioned by the racing body, so it doesn't count toward anything except bragging rights."

The folks in Los Angeles get a pretty commemerative patch the 1st time they make a successful climb, fer cryin' out loud. ;-D

So what is this crazy race all about?

The race, which was started by brothers Danny and Tom Chew in 1983, has evolved into a litmus test for athletes and a urban challenge among avid bikers across the country and the region.

The 50-mile gauntlet of gears challenges bikers through a baker's dozen of hills -- the steepest being that 37 percent grade on Canton Avenue in Beechview -- and is strictly a race up and down the slopes not in between them. The winner receives points for completing each hill according to how he or she places on that particular leg. The first five climbers of each hill receive points -- first place climbers receive five points -- and the closest to a perfect score of 65 by the end of the race wins.

No one has ever received a perfect score.

The 1st person who does should get a freakin' Medal if ya ask me. ;-D

Who's bright idea was this contest?

Danny Chew, who is a legend in biking circles for twice winning the transcontinental Race Across America, completing the race in eight days and seven hours with only three hours of sleep a night, calls the race a chance to see Pittsburgh's scenic hills.

Mr. Chew has won the Dirty Dozen -- named after the movie and television series because it sounds better than the Dirty Thirteen -- nine times and knows every nook and cranny of the hills and how to approach the climbs.

Figures. ;-D

The ride doesn't take into account the hills and slopes that come in between the 13 prominent rises. It also doesn't factor in tangibles such as cobble-stone roads and potholes that seem to adorn Pittsburgh streets this time of year like Christmas tree decorations.

Cobblestones? Potholes? Are these people NUTS?

"I don't give out prizes," said Mr. Chew. "If you win, you get the prestige of being the best hill climber in Pittsburgh."

Oh, Happy Day! ( Hee, Hee! )

And while prestige and bragging rights may push some of these intense bikers to scour the city for its steepest inclines and most demanding rises, some just choose to view the race as what it seems -- crazy.

Damn Straight! ;-D

I'm with one guy who had this to say: "My idea of a nice ride is finding the best 13 hills to go downhill."

STORY = Bicyclists to Tackle 13 of City's Tallest Hills: Dirty Dozen's only Prize -- Bragging Rights.

January 4, 2006 in Cycling News Network | Permalink


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