52 Project (Week 47) - Pittsburgh's Dirty Dozen

Several years ago, probably about five, my dad successfully completed the Dirty Dozen.  By successfully I mean he made it to the end and completed every hill except for Canton Ave.  The following year I joined the fun and completed 9 out of the 13 hills, and at that point I knew I would much rather photograph the event than suffer as a participant.

Since then I have taken Jonah and my camera to witness and document the suffering of the men and women that attempt to conquer some of Pittsburgh's steepest paved / cobbled hills, and in the case of Canton Ave., the steepest in North America and debatably the world.  Normally I take very little to document the action since I want to be mobile, getting in and out of the car, and staying out of the way of falling cyclist.  The typical kit is my Canon 5D MkII and my 70-200 f/2.8, and this kit is made for events like this with quick moving objects.  I also bring a monopod, batteries, and CF Cards.  Along for the ride this year was also my Fujifilm X-E2 and I had the 14mm and 35mm with me.  I brought the extra body just to get a few wide angle shots of the action or the scene before the action.

The day was fabulous, Jonah had a great time taking his own photos and watching the riders, and I was able to get enough images from the hills we visited to have a nice batch for resale.  This year we visited hill #4 (High), hill #5 (Logan), hill #7 (Suffolk), and hill #9 (Canton).  The link to my images is located below.

The event is insane and has spawned some imitations in Philadelphia, PA and Wheeling, WV that I know of.  People come from all over to ride or should I say attempt the route, which is approximately 50 miles in length.  Some of the images I have sold are being shipped as far away as Idaho, Boston, Baltimore, Cleveland, Columbus, and of course locally here in Pittsburgh.

To stay true to my 52 Week Project the image below was taken with a Fujifilm camera.  This is Canton Ave., which is located in the Dormont neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  The grade of this particular hill is 37% and has to be cobbled because the asphalt would slide off during application.  Every year there is carnage on this hill.  If your momentum stalls or stops the rider either collapses to the side or in some rare cases fall over backwards.  It is difficult to walk down the hill, forget riding up it!

If you live in or around Pittsburgh this is a must see event and is one of the things that make our city great!  So plan on spending the Saturday after Thanksgiving on your bicycle or watching the Dirty Dozen, not shopping.

Dirty Dozen Official Website: http://www.dannychew.com/dd

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