It was called the City Bike Hike and the 9-mile trek from the Civic Arena to and from Schenley Park lived up to its name.
An estimated 700 bicyclists, led by a city police motorcycle unit, made their way from the arena Aug. 10, 1969 to the Boulevard of the Allies and then started the long climb up to Camp Lawrence just below the Schenley Oval. After pedaling up to and past Mercy Hospital, they crested at Craft Avenue, enjoyed a downhill run past Isaly’s and across Bates Street and then climbed up to and across the Charles Anderson Bridge into the park.
Adults and children 12 and older enjoyed a picnic, free music and prizes, then returned to the arena. Members of the Bike Club of American Youth Hostels helped with the ride.
A quarter-century passed before the first Pedal Pittsburgh ride was organized by the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh to showcase the city.
Bike Pittsburgh now is the host of the rain-or-shine ride — it’s not a race — and Aug. 24 will offer an anticipated 3,000 participants their choice of three fully-marked courses:
• The Breathe Project Family Ride — An all ages beginner-friendly 5- to 2-mile ride that begins at Southside Riverfront Park along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail segment of the Great Allegheny Passage, takes a break at the Golden Triangle Bike Rental and returns to the park.
• The Intermediate 25 Mile Highmark City Tour — This ride uses “lower traffic streets” to sightsee on the South Side, Downtown, North Side, Strip District, Bloomfield, East Liberty, Highland Park, Larimer, Point Breeze, Squirrel Hill, Oakland and Uptown.
According to the Bike Pittsburgh website, participants should “expect a few mild hills. With rest stops placed strategically throughout this route, even inexperienced riders can enjoy this ride at their own pace.”
• The PJ Dick, Trumbull and Lindy Paving Metric Century Ride — This 62-mile ride for more experienced riders who wish to challenge themselves includes “an epic climb up to Mount Washington. This ride will test your climbing [ability] and reward riders with some of the best views of Pittsburgh.”
Whole Foods will provide gourmet snacks at the full-service rest stops on each ride.
Bike Pittsburgh said the rides, part of a 17-day Bike Fest celebration, are designed to “expose people of all ages and fitness levels to the neighborhoods, parks, bridges, and geography that make our region so unique.
“[The rides] showcase Pittsburgh as a safe, bicycle-friendly city, and encourages people to get out and get healthy. The event brings together athletes, families, community leaders, outdoor enthusiasts and advocates for bicycle transportation. It promotes a form of lifelong recreation that is good for the body and the environment.”
REI will host a Finish Line Festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. which offers music, food trucks, a cycling expo, a free photo booth, rest rooms and bike parking. Don’t forget to bring a lock, preferably a U-shaped one.
The registration fee is $35 for members of Bike Pittsburgh, $40 for non-members and $15 for children 17 and younger. Children 17 and younger must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. Helmets are required.
All registered riders and volunteers get a free PedalPGH T-shirt and are entered to win a CAAD 8 2300 bicycle valued at $850 that was donated by ProBikes.
Bike Pittsburgh said it will use the registration fees “to continue to transform our streets and communities into vibrant, healthy places by making them safe and accessible for everyone to bike and walk.”
Information: www.PedalPGH.org; www.bike-pgh.org.
Larry Walsh writes about recreational bicycling for the Post-Gazette.