Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wheels of Hope, Disappointment, Despair

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wheels of Hope, Disappointment, Despair

Article excerpt

Not many things can persuade me to be at a T stop before 9 a.m. on an overcast Sunday, wearing tights and holding a bicycle.

Fortunately, Pedal Pittsburgh is one of them.

Pedal Pittsburgh, held May 16, is a splendid annual event that draws cyclists of all ages to fan out through the city's neighborhoods and bend their rims in the many scenic potholes and storm drains.

Usually, I ride on rail-trails. Biking up and down hills with SUVs clipping my knees strikes me as slightly less fun than crossing the Fort Pitt Bridge at rush hour on a pogo stick.

Pedal Pittsburgh is a rare chance for cyclists to achieve safety in numbers, so I like to seize the opportunity. And this year, I got to take the trolley, too.

Which is why I was on the platform, enduring curious looks. I don't know who invented cycling garb, but it was someone far more concerned with aerodynamics than with, say, not looking like a color- blind goober.

Padded bike tights combine all the exposure of simply painting latex over your naked lower body with the comfort feature of having a sofa cushion stuffed down your pants.

And then, of course, you have the helmet. This is a vital safety feature. I know a little something about brain injury, and if I had to wear a toilet bowl covered in brown flocked wallpaper on my head to prevent it, I would.

That said, a bike helmet is only moderately less dorky. There is no one who looks fetching in a bike helmet, for the same reason there is no one who looks fetching in a truss.

There was hardly anyone on the trolley to see me in my comical cycling ensemble, minimizing the threat to the South Hills, and at Station Square, I found Pedal Pittsburgh HQ. Soon I had an official T-shirt, a number pinned on my back and the wind in my helmet as I launched across the lots and onto the back streets of the South Side, my hair already molding itself into a bizarre sculpture.

I opted for the 15-mile route, popular with very small children and those recovering from major surgery. There were also routes covering 25, 35, 50 and 60 miles, but these rides started much earlier. If you can be all dorked out, in town and on your bicycle at 7 a. …

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