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Dirty Dozen bike race pits riders against vertical climbs

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Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, 11:18 p.m.
 

Brothers Tom and Danny Chew drew upon the Steel City's legacy for toughness and its hilly terrain when they established their monster of a bike race, the Dirty Dozen, in 1983.

Organizers say the race, with vertical climbs, has a way of “chewing you up and spitting you out, real quick.”

The late fall race has grown from five entrants that first year to about 300 riders.

“You think, ‘How hard could that be? ... Oh, they're being more dramatic than necessary,' ” says racing veteran Andy Bailie, 30, of Atlanta. “This is just brutal. ... But I'm still having fun.”

Challenges include Rialto Street in Troy Hill, Sycamore Street in Mt. Washington, Canton Avenue in Beechview and Berryhill Road in Fox Chapel.

“It was a tough-guy race for a while,” said Ron Lutz, one of the organizers who has completed seven Dirty Dozens.

With a 37 percent grade, Canton Avenue takes down many riders in crashes on its slippery cobblestones.

This was the fourth competition for William Westover of North Braddock, a former bike messenger.

“To come out here and do something that's kind of ridiculous and either root each other on or heckle each other ... it's just kind of a good way to end the season,” he said.

James Knox is a Trib Total Media photographer. Reach him at jknox@tribweb.com.

Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Jill Betters, 29 of Philadelphia (second from left) cheers on riders in the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013 on Canton Avenue during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. The Beechview roadway is the country's steepest at a 37% grade.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Jill Betters, 29 of Philadelphia (second from left) cheers on riders in the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013 on Canton Avenue during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. The Beechview roadway is the country's steepest at a 37% grade.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - The pack leaders attack the muddy cobblestones on Canton Avenue during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. The Beechview roadway is the country's steepest at a 37% grade.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The pack leaders attack the muddy cobblestones on Canton Avenue during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. The Beechview roadway is the country's steepest at a 37% grade.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Phillip Staunton, 42 of Harrisburg gets a congratulatory kiss from his wife, Sarabeth Staunton, 43, after he conquered Canton Avenue during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. The Beechview roadway is the country's steepest at a 37% grade.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Phillip Staunton, 42 of Harrisburg gets a congratulatory kiss from his wife, Sarabeth Staunton, 43, after he conquered  Canton Avenue during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. The Beechview roadway is the country's steepest at a 37% grade.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - A rider struggles to ride to the top of Riatlo Street in the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>A rider struggles to ride to the top of Riatlo Street in the  2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Multiple riders crash on the muddy cobblestones on Canton Avenue during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. The Beechview roadway is the country's steepest at a 37% grade.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Multiple riders crash on the muddy cobblestones on Canton Avenue during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. The Beechview roadway is the country's steepest at a 37% grade.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - A rider gets a little help from the crowd of onlookers as he struggles to make it up Canton Avenue during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. The Beechview roadway is the country's steepest at a 37% grade.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>A rider gets a little help from the crowd of onlookers as he struggles to make it up Canton Avenue during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. The Beechview roadway is the country's steepest at a 37% grade.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Riders participating in the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013, make their way up Sycamore Street in Mount Washington.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Riders participating in the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013, make their way up Sycamore Street in Mount Washington.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Danny Chew, organizer of the Pittsburgh Dirty Dozen bicycle race, rides with the peleton to get to the top of Sharps Hill in Sharpsburg during the race, Saturday. The Dirty Dozen is a race that consists of the 12 steepest hills in Pittsburgh, where racers are timed just on the uphill sections of the course.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Danny Chew, organizer of the Pittsburgh Dirty Dozen bicycle race, rides with the peleton to get to the top of Sharps Hill in Sharpsburg during the race, Saturday. The Dirty Dozen is a race that consists of the 12 steepest hills in Pittsburgh, where racers are timed just on the uphill sections of the course.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Danny Chew, organizer of the Pittsburgh Dirty Dozen bicycle race, rides with the peleton to get to the top of Sharps Hill in Sharpsburg during the race, Saturday. The Dirty Dozen is a race that consists of the 12 steepest hills in Pittsburgh, where racers are timed just on the uphill sections of the course.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Danny Chew, organizer of the Pittsburgh Dirty Dozen bicycle race, rides with the peleton to get to the top of Sharps Hill in Sharpsburg during the race, Saturday. The Dirty Dozen is a race that consists of the 12 steepest hills in Pittsburgh, where racers are timed just on the uphill sections of the course.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Jim Logan, 54 of Shaler wears a Disney-themed rearview mirror in the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. Logan had just conquered Riatlo Street.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Jim Logan, 54 of Shaler wears a Disney-themed rearview mirror  in the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. Logan had just conquered Riatlo Street.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Riders participating in the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race ready for the start November 30, 2013 at the Bud Harris Cycling Track in Highland Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review</em></div>Riders participating in the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race ready for the start November 30, 2013 at the Bud Harris Cycling Track in Highland Park.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Heavy favorite and eventual winner of the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race Steve Cummings leads the charge up Sycamore Street on Mount Washington November 30, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review</em></div>Heavy favorite and eventual winner of the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race Steve Cummings leads the charge up Sycamore Street on Mount Washington November 30, 2013.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Riders with the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race cross the Highland Park bridge on a cold and wintery November 30, 2013 for the Gran Depart of the 31st iteration of the hil-climb challange.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review</em></div>Riders with the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race cross the Highland Park bridge on a cold and wintery November 30, 2013 for the Gran Depart of the 31st iteration of the hil-climb challange.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - A rider prepares to hit the muddy cobblestones on Canton Avenue during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. The Beechview roadway in the country's steepest at a 37% grade. The grade rises almost four feet in height every ten feet of its 630 foot length. That's a rise in evevation of over 230 feet in less than half a city block. And to add to the difficulty the surface is slippery mud and weed covered Belgian cobbles.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review</em></div>A rider prepares to hit the muddy cobblestones on Canton Avenue during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. The Beechview roadway in the country's steepest at a 37% grade. The grade rises almost four feet in height every ten feet of its 630 foot length. That's a rise in evevation of over 230 feet in less than half a city block. And to add to the difficulty the surface is slippery mud and weed covered Belgian cobbles.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Riders in the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race get multiple attempts to reach the top of Canton Avenue in Beechview November 30, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review</em></div>Riders in the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race get multiple attempts to reach the top of Canton Avenue in Beechview November 30, 2013.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Colin Sander from Mount Lebanon screams as he climbs Canton Avenue during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. The short street in Beechview is steepest in the US at a 37% grade and is one of the dozen hills riders attempt to climb all over Pittsburgh during the grueling endurance climb race every fall.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review</em></div>Colin Sander from Mount Lebanon screams as he climbs Canton Avenue during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013. The short street in Beechview is steepest in the US at a 37% grade and is one of the dozen hills riders attempt to climb all over Pittsburgh during the grueling endurance climb race every fall.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Danny Chew, organizer of the Dirty Dozen bike race leans on Glenn Pawlak from Big Bang Bikes as he waits for the start November 30, 2013 at the Bud Harris Cycling Track in Highland Park. The race has been hitting 12-13 of Pittsburgh's toughest hills in the one-day race since Chew and his brother Tom started it in 1983.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review</em></div>Danny Chew, organizer of the Dirty Dozen bike race leans on Glenn Pawlak from Big Bang Bikes as he waits for the start November 30, 2013 at the Bud Harris Cycling Track in Highland Park. The race has been hitting 12-13 of Pittsburgh's toughest hills in the one-day race since Chew and his brother Tom started it in 1983.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - A rider has to walk up the steep grade of Ravine Street and Sharps Hill in Sharpsburg during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review</em></div>A rider has to walk up the steep grade of Ravine Street and Sharps Hill in Sharpsburg during the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race November 30, 2013.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Heavy favorite and eventual winner of the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race Steve Cummings chats with fellow racers as he waits for the start November 30, 2013 at the Bud Harris Cycling Track in Highland Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review</em></div>Heavy favorite and eventual winner of the 2013 Dirty Dozen bike race Steve Cummings chats with fellow racers as he waits for the start November 30, 2013 at the Bud Harris Cycling Track in Highland Park.
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