Weekend Wheeling in Pittsburgh

The Dirty Dozen
By Joe Papp
  |  Gorp.com
Page 3 of 4   |  

If the relatively flat profile of the Coffee Ride wasn't sufficiently challenging and the coffee left you overstimulated, try the ride known as the Dirty Dozen.

Mapped out in 1983 by brothers Dan and Tom Chew, this course includes the 13 hardest hills located within a ten-kilometer (six-mile) radius of downtown Pittsburgh. Keep in mind that with grades as steep as 37 percent, low gearing is necessary. In addition, due to the total distance — 90 kilometers (56 miles) — and a complicated route, a detailed city map may be of assistance, and even with that, you should plan to be on the bike for at least four hours.

The Ride

From the Washington Boulevard Bike Oval, turn left onto Butler Street and cross the Highland Park Bridge, turning right into Aspinwall on Old Freeport Road. Make a left onto climb #1: Center Avenue.

Continue the climb up Guyasuta Road before turning left on Buckingham. Then turn left on Hunt Road. Go to Maurers Lane to Kittanning Pike, then Canal Street, and, finally, Clay Street. Turn right on 6th Street in Etna to climb #2: Ravine Street and Sharps Hill Road.

At the top, follow Dorseyville Road to a left down Browns Hill Road, across Saxonburg Boulevard, and up climb #3: Berryhill Road.

At the top, turn left on Middle Road and descend to State Route 8, where you bear left. Follow Butler Street in Etna to a right on climb #4: High Street to Seavey Road.

Next, make a left on Evergreen Road, and then turn right for a short section on Ohio Street, which you follow to #5: Logan Street in Millvale.

At the top, make a left onto Pittview Street, then go down and back up on climb #6: Rialto Street.

At the top, turn left on Lowrie Street to Troy Hill Road, then right on Madison AvenueEast Street, and left under 279N up climb #7: Suffolk Street, continuing up Hazelton and Burgess Streets.

Go left on Perrysville Avenue and descend to the north side. Make a right on Federal Street and pedal around Allegheny Center Mall and across the 6th Street Bridge. Follow Market Street to the Boulevard of the Allies before making a right onto the Smithfield Street Bridge. Cross the Monongahela River, past Station Square on the right, and turn left on Carson Street. Bear right under the train bridge and turn right to climb #8: East Sycamore Street.

Follow Sycamore to a right onto the cobblestones of Wyoming Avenue, then left on Grandview. Take a breather and enjoy the incredible view of Pittsburgh's skyline. At the traffic light, turn left on Merrimac Street, which becomes Woodruff, and plunge down the backside of Mount Washington.

At the bottom, turn left on Saw Mill Run Boulevard and make a right on Crane Avenue. A formidable hill in its own right, Crane is, unfortunately, not one of the official thirteen. After descending Crane, turn left on Banksville Road, then left on Coast Street to climb #9: Canton Avenue. At 37 percent, cobbled Canton is brutal, and at least half of the riders usually fail to summit the climb.

Retrace your pedal strokes back down to Banksville, turn left, and then turn left again on Wenzell Avenue. After a few hundred meters, make a left on climb #10: Boustead Street.

At the top, catch your breath before going right on Pauline Avenue and then left onto West Liberty Avenue. Enter the Liberty Tunnels and enjoy the 50 mph tailwind! Immediately upon exiting the tubes, turn right on the P. J. McArdle Roadway, then right on 10th Street. Climb a little bump, bear to the right, then power up on climb #11: Welsh Way.

Retrace your path, turn right to Sarah Street, then scoot to Jane Street via 17th. Make a right on South 20th Street to climb #12a: Berry and Holt Streets (these streets are not on most maps). Take a left up climb #12b: Eleanor Street. At the top, throw yourself onto the sidewalk and be comforted in knowing only one more climb remains!

Go right on Arlington Avenue, left on Sprint StreetMountain Avenue, then Wagner Road, and finally turn left on Becks Run Road — a gradual descent on which you can spin your weary legs. At the bottom, turn right back onto Carson Street, which joins State Route 837, and make the long trek to the Glenwood Bridge. Cross the Monongahela River again onto 2nd Avenue and pedal through the Hazelwood business district to climb #13a: Flowers Avenue (right), continuing left on climb #13b: Tesla Street.

You're done!

To get back to your car, go right on Harlem Street, right on Hazelwood Avenue, and left on Murray Avenue into the heart of Squirrel Hill.

To pedal all the way back to the bike track, follow Murray to Forbes (right) to Beechwood (left) to Fifth (right) to Washington Boulevard (left).

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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