Biking: Mount Davis Challenge thrills riders

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Matt Waller said it was “easily one of the best road race courses” he has ridden.

Stephanie Swan said the long climbs reminded her of the ones she has made out west.

They were referring to the third annual Mount Davis Challenge bike race, the USA Cycling-sanctioned event from Confluence up and over the highest point (3,213 feet) in Pennsylvania.

The total climb on the 40-mile roller-coaster course is nearly 5,000 feet.

Waller, 21, of Berks County, an engineering student at Penn State, won the Aug. 3 race — and the King of the Mountain title — with a time of 1:55:55. He rides for Team Skyline.

Swan, 39, of Wilkinsburg, a researcher for the Cline Financial Group in Sharpsburg, was the fastest woman — and Queen of the Mountain — with a time of 2:12:24. She set a course record for women.

They were among 147 cyclists, including 12 women, from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, West Virginia, Virginia, Indiana, Texas and California who encountered rain twice during the race.

“The course was very hard, but very fun,” Waller said. “There were long steady climbs, short punchy climbs and fast descents.

“Coming back down to the finish, we were going over 50 mph — and it was wet.”

Swan said the roads “were in excellent shape,” thanks to scheduled road maintenance, including pothole patching, that PennDOT completed the week before the race.

“The scenery was beautiful, with minimal auto traffic, and the [motorists] we encountered were very cooperative with us,” Swan said. “The climbs were more prolonged than what I was used to in and around Pittsburgh.

“The descents were fast and fun, allowing riders to reach speeds over 55 mph.”

Swan, a member of the Rare Disease Cycling Team, (http://rarediseasecycling.org/about/) competes in regional and national races to raise money and awareness about genetic diseases that “often manifest in children with premature mortality and/or disability and collectively represent a substantial health care burden.”

The Mount Davis Challenge, hosted by the Confluence Tourism Association, was organized by veteran cyclist Jim Sota of Rockwood.

Information: www.visitconfluence.info/mtdavischallenge; Results: https://www.usacycling.org/results/?permit=2014-132.

Upcoming rides

• Tour des Trees, a fundraiser for Tree Pittsburgh, offers two rides on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 16.

Each ride will begin and end at the Golden Triangle Bike Rental, 600 First Ave., Downtown, which will be offering a 15 percent discount on rental bikes.

Ecologists, foresters and Tree Tender volunteers will lead a 5-mile Family Ride and a20-mile ride. Each rider will receive a commemorative T-shirt.

The registration fee is $20 for adults; $10 for children 17 and younger.

All family riders will receive an interactive route map to allow children to track their stops with stickers and earn a prize.

Information: www.treepittsburgh.org; 412-362-6360.

• The Fourth Annual Pittsburgh Major Taylor Cycling Club’s Three State Tour, two self-supported scenic road rides to and from Ohio and West Virginia, will be Aug. 17.

The routes will be marked and cue sheets will be available.

The 85-mile ride will depart at 7 a.m. from Golden Triangle Bike Rental. Free parking will be available at the Second Avenue lot next to the Allegheny County Jail. The 62-mile ride will leave at 8 a.m. from 5800 Grand Ave., Neville Township, (the I-79 underpass near King’s restaurant) and join the 85-mile group.

Proceeds from the $22 registration fee will help finance trips for youths to ride the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Towpath to Washington, D.C.

Information: http://www.pmtcc.com/join/3-state-tour/.

PTAG work day

Beginning at 9 a.m. Sunday, the Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group (www.ptagtrails.org) will start its biggest workday of the year in Boyce Park.

Jim Kapp, PTAG’s co-steward for the park, said a wooden bridge will be replaced, water runoff and drainage work will be done and trail signs will be installed.

He said participants should bring water to carry, wear sturdy shoes and gloves, apply bug spray and bring a flat-edged shovel. Other tools will be provided.

Meet at 9 a.m. at the soccer field pavilion, where there will be a tool-safety demonstration.

Kapp said Dad’s Pub and Grub in Monroeville will provide food and beverages for lunch at 1 p.m.

Information: www.ptagtrails.org.

Veteran bicyclist Pat McCloskey writes about the bike trail work that members of PTAG and Pittsburgh Off-Road Cyclists have done in Allegheny County parks at http://chroniclesofmccloskey.com/2014/08/06/culture-creates-commerce/.

Larry Walsh writes about recreational bicycling for the Post-Gazette.


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