A frozen hell

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Results & Pics

The results

  1. Mark Tressler (#37), 1st overall
  2. Mike Tressler (#30), 1st fixed
  3. Stik B Ill(#24), 2nd overall
  4. Rob Lochner (#09), 2nd fixed
  5. Eric McKeegan (#34)
  6. Justin Steiner (#08)
  7. Jonathan Kersting (#01)
  8. Brian Bard (#17), fixed
  9. (tie) Chris Beech (#03)
  10. (tie) Justin Flagg (#10)
  11. (tie) Carol Clemens (#33), 1st womens, extra credit for bringing food and paying me $5 (and making a balloon animal)
  12. Rob Wolfe (#13)
  13. Alex Darrov (#19)
  14. Jake Milofsky (#02), singlespeed
  15. Brad Q. (#06), fixed
  16. Dave Lake (#18)
  17. Jerry Montesano (#07), extra credit for doing the Frick park section twice
  18. (tie) Jon Pratt (#20), riding for fun
  19. (tie) Elizabeth Klemens (#21), 2nd womens, riding for fun
  20. (tie) Larry Rambo (#12), riding for fun
  21. (tie) Mitch Rambo (#14), riding for fun
  22. (tie) Ed Hall (#15), riding for fun
  23. (tie) Ty Holmes (#16), riding for fun
  24. Chris Mastramico (#05), mechanical at start
  25. Bob Turanchik (#04), mechanical at start
  26. (DNF) Ted King-Smith (#11), went to get us some food instead
  27. (DNF) Steve Kurpiewski (#69), went to get us some food instead

Color Commentary

For me the day started at 8:30 am when I left the Southside to mark the course. 4 hours later–half an hour after registration was supposed to open, thanks to Chris from Thick for keeping things organized–I showed up at Thick to a crowd of about fifteen. People trickled in bringing the total count to 27.

D.O.R.C.The ride started with a neutral ride up to the support car (borrowed from my friend Erin) in case people wanted to drop anything off and then a mini-critical mass neutral ride to the start of the jail trail. The Le Mans start was delayed for some mechanicals until Chris and Bob graciously encouraged everyone to start while they finished fixing a flat. So the crowd was off. After cramming my spare 26″ tube on his 29er, Chris and Bob started, though they were already 15 minutes behind.

Starting down the trailI changed and drove the gear and my homemade vegan blueberry pie to the end at Caitlin and Catherine’s house. There house was immaculate which made me nervous: were they ready for dirty bikers? We made some signs telling everyone to lock up in the back, take their shoes off, towel off their muddy asses, and put their wet gear on a tarp.

WinnersThe leaders showed up around 2:30, about an hour and fifteen minutes after the start. Mark and Mike Tressler were first. Impressive since Mark was riding platforms with sneakers and Mike was on a super-low geared fixie (a hard-core fixie, he was only running 1 brake). For me this cements the bad-ass-edness they established in the Pittsburgh-Roubaix. Stik came in third. Stik also chose an interesting bike, picking an old Schwin workhorse instead of his normal 29″ singlespeed. Next Ted and Steve showed up; they were on ill equipped bikes (cyclocross with not-nearly-wide-enough tires and a bald-tired utility mountain bike) so skipped the gnarly Frick sections to come see me and then pick-up some chips from the co-op.

Super (creepy) steeler fan steveA few minutes later Rob (#2 fixed), Eric McKeegan, and Justin Steiner showed up. Apparently they, along with the first three, were part of a 6-man break that got an early lead on the jail trail. Justin was leading out of the trail until he flatted at the bottom of a down hill before the start of Schenley.

Over the next 15 minutes the peloton filtered in, followed by the riders doing it for the fun rather than as a race. Some riders decided the day–low 30’s, frozen ground, snow–was too nice to not spend it riding and turned around to head back to Frick. Everyone else went inside.

Eric & Anna-lenaI had been worried there wouldn’t be enough food since everyone opted to give me $5. We started off with Caitlin’s chili, Catherine’s dip, Jake’s cheese, Rob’s tequila (well some people consider it food) and my pie. But the cavalry arrived: Ted and Steve with chips and dip, Eric (formerly known as Busted Shoulder Eric) with quina protein surprise, Anna Lena and Sarah with lasagna (which was gone before I got any) and muffins, Sarah with pesto rolls, Rachel with toasted bread and everyone else who brought things I forgot.

Raise your weapons to the sky, oh mighty warriorsAlthough Pabst donated four 30 packs (thanks Pabst!), there was a bit of worry about beer. We got some more breathing room when Rob’s roommate Min showed up with Rob’s flat of Bud pounders. He bought them by mistake and didn’t want them. No one else wanted it either, so we used it for a new game: competitive beer holding. I won’t cover all the rules since Rob had a good description on his blog, but suffice to say it’s the kind of game you only play when drinking, but once you play… well, it might end up as a post alleycat ritual.Rachel shows fatigue on her way to victory

After the pbr ran out, we moved on to the bud, but by that time the party was winding down. We had already gone past the nominal 7pm end time, and there was some talk of heading to Ryan’s for karaoke. Casey and I were both exhausted so we went back to her house where we watched the first half of Unforgiven before I fell asleep on the sofa.


Stick's teeth... something is wrongThanks to everyone who raced. Special thanks to Caitlin & Catherine for offering up her apartment, Chris from Thick for holding down the start. Caitlin got a a special “00” pink-backed organizer spokecard (the same one as me) and Chris and Catherine both got “!!” red-backed honorable mention spokecards for their work. Well, actually Chris left right away to ride his bike more, so I’ve still got the spokecard at my house, but I’ll drop it off someday soon. Congratulations to the other winners (and now proud owners of special spokecards): Mark, Mike, Stik, Rob, Carol, and Liz.

If you liked the race, or are kicking yourself for missing it, don’t worry: Justin had the idea of a warm-weather follow-up with an outside party. Watch this space!

Other links

Send me more: dave@pghalleycat.com

The Summary

NOTE: starting location has changed! It’s now at Thick Bikes (62 S. 15th St.)… a whole 2 blocks from the old start

A cold, muddy, frozen hell. It’s a fixed course, continuous (no checkpoints) race that will cover open roads, fireroads, and some singletrack. Mountain bike, cyclocross skills, and/or the willingness to walk certain sections recommended. Followed by post race potluck… sponsored by pabst!
Sunday, January 27th
Race: registration at noon, 1pm start
Potluck: 2p until 7pm
Race: Thick Bikes, 62 S. 15th St, Southside
Potluck: 542 celeron st #2–upstairs
How much
Race: $5 or free if you bring something for the potluck
Potluck: bring your favoritest food or drank
Nope. This one’s for the glory. Maybe I’ll make you a golden spoke card or something

Note: the potluck is non-smoking. It’s also non-muddy, so take your shoes off shake the mud off your butt before sitting down. There won’t be cats around, but cats live there, so there will be cat hair, etc. Carefu if you’re allergic.


Come out and race through the woods in January… I’m hoping for snow. Or just come to the potluck. Or do both! I’m trying to get an estimated attendance so pabst knows how much beer to give us. Please email me at dave@pghalleycat.com and let me know if you’re going to race or come to the potluck! I need to know so we can get free beer!

A flyer and the course will be up by Sunday, so you have a week to pre-ride the route. The course will also be marked on race day.


NOTE! The route has changed slightly at the end of Frick. Instead of going through the parking lot, take the 9 Mile Run Trail to the Braddock Trail. See the updated map.

Click through for the Bikely map:

A Frozen Hell 2008, map

About 14 miles, and lots of short and steep dirt climbs.

Unfortunately it’s really hard to see the trails on the map. I’m going to mark the trail Sunday morning, so you can just followed that. Here’s a text description of the course which might also help:

(starting from the downtown end of the Jail Trail)

  • Travel entire length of Jail trail to Greenfield parking lot
  • Take pedestrian trail into 4-mile run and follow to Panther Hollow trail
  • At very start of trail head (under overpass and right past that strange auto garage) bear right towards gravel trail entrance
  • Go to top of hill and turn right (do NOT go straight on small trail)
  • Follow trail across open meadow and around left turn
  • Climb up small dirt hill and turn left (along ridge). Do NOT go straight at top of hill onto small trail.
  • Go up gradual climb to sharp right-hand switch-back
  • Go up short climb then turn left
  • Ride up gradual climb to small sharp climb at end. You will end up on the main fire road in Schenley
  • Follow the fire road until it forks right before the Schenley Park pool. Take the left hand turn down the gravel hill
  • Keep following the main fire road
  • It will eventually climb a short hill to a T. Go left (downhill). Do NOT go right. The right hand turn will take you to a playground near the intersection of Bartlet and Panthern Hollow Rd.
  • Follow the fire road down hill
  • Keep following the fire road. Do NOT turn left to go down the hill towards Panther Hollow lake
  • Follow the fire road up the climb towards the Schenley vistors center / coffee house. You’ll have to go around concrete barriers. Do NOT go up the stairs.
  • At the top of the dirt climb turn right onto the cobble-stone road. You’ll be at the back of the new addition to Phipps conservatory.
  • Ride up the cobbles. Careful going around the concrete barriers.
  • The road ends at Schenley Dr. Go right
  • Turn right on W. Circuit Rd.
  • Veer right onto the sidewalk and down the Steve Faloon Memorial Trail
  • Follow the dirt trail past the picnic area and to the left (parallel to W. Circuit)
  • At the end the trail turns right and dips slightly. At the end, follow the main trail to the left up a steep dirt climb w/ embedded logs. Do NOT go straight
  • At the top of the climb ride straight on the trail. Stay on the trail, ignore the turn offs
  • After awhile the trail will start to open up. Look for a left turn. Take the left turn up a small dirt/old asphalt climb to Circuit Rd. Do NOT go straight. If you go straight the trail will turn right and go down a cobbled hill to the main fire road
  • From the top of Circuit Rd. to Frick Park is an open course. You can choose whatever route you want.
  • Enter Frick Park at the small open grassy area near the corner of Beechwood Blvd and Shaw Ave.
  • You should enter on Falls Ravine Trail. Follow this down and to the right. Do NOT turn left towards the nature center building
  • Shortly after you pass the nature center, turn left onto the Nature Trail
  • Look for the single track on the right. Turn right onto the singletrack. CAUTION: you have to jump some small logs marking the edge of the Nature Trail.
  • Follow the single track downhill. There are some branching trails, so check the trail markings. CAUTION: there is a steep descent near the bottom of the trail.
  • Follow the single track downhill to the Biddle Trail
  • Turn right onto the Biddle Trail
  • Go a short distance and turn right onto the Tranquil Trail (it’s at the intersection with the Biddle Trail sign)
  • Take the Tranquil Trail to the Falls Ravine Trail
  • Turn right onto the Falls Ravine Trail
  • Turn left onto the Riverview Extension for a few feet
  • Turn left onto the Lower Riverview Trail
  • Follow the trail. Stay to the right on the Lower Riverview trail, do NOT go straight onto the Firelane Extension
  • Follow Lower Riverview to the Riverview Trail. Take a sharp left onto Riverview, do NOT go straight onto Riverview
  • Follow Riverview to the top of the hill and to the left around the gravel piles. At the end follow the main Frick Park fitness circuit
  • Turn left onto the paved path that goes behind the basketball courts and baseball field
  • Keep going straight at the end of the paved road. Go up a short grass hill towards the wooden post. The post is the start of the Iron Gate Trail.
  • Follow the main trail the entire way down to the Commercial St. Frick Park entrance (near the Irish Center). There are a few branches, so follow the marked trail. CAUTION: there’s some gnarly stuff on the trail, so be careful.
  • Go straight across the Firelane Trail. Do NOT take the Fireland Trail
  • Keep going straight to the 9 Mile Run Trail
  • Turn left onto the 9 Mile Run trail (on the elevated wooden walkway)
  • Follow the 9 Mile Run Trail. At the parking lot, do NOT go straight! Keep following the 9 Mile Run Trail to the right.
  • Follow the 9 Mile Run Trail until you come to the Braddock Trail. Take a sharp left onto the Braddock Trail
  • Follow the Braddock trail. Be careful crossing the access road in the middle, you might see your first car in awhile
  • The Braddock Trail ends at the parking lot near the intersection of Braddock and Biddle. This is the end of the Frick Park section. The course is open to the end point at 542 celeron st
  • Go to 542 celeron st #2. It’s upstairs, so lock your bike and get ready to eat. Make sure to take off your muddy shoes, you dirty bum!

Whew! Remember: the course will be marked, so it’s not as scary as it sounds! Also remember that the road portions (jail trail to schenley park, schenley park to frick park, frick park to the end) are open: you can take whatever route you want, but these aren’t neutral sections so keep riding fast.

Unless something drastic happens (a trail washes out), this is the really really final route.

You can also download the route (& a few hard to read maps) as a PDF: The route [PDF]


Do I have to follow the route on the map?
Yes, except for: the end of the jail trail to Schenley Park, the end of Schenley Park to Frick Park, and the end of Frick Park to the end of the race. Otherwise you should be on the marked trail. The only other exception is some of the minor “alternate” ways in Frick: if the trail veers off slightly to avoid a fallen tree (or sometimes instead to go up some crazy teeter-totter or something) you can take that route too. This is only for minor ones though, you can’t choose your own single track that you know meets up later.
Where are the check points?
There are no check points. Just follow the course and keep riding.
Can’t you just cheat and skip sections?
Sure, but what’s the point of that? The only prize is pride and there’s no pride in cheating. Plus someone else might see you and then when you’re not looking we’ll fill your seat-tube with lead shot and super glue your seat post in. Ha ha!
Who is the winner?
Whoever makes it to the end first. If everyone bails, it’s whoever made it the furthest.
So there aren’t any prizes, but what are winner categories?
1 & 2 overall, 1 & 2 womens, 1 & 2 fixed or singlespeed. There may also be honorable mentions. If no women race, the prizes will go to the dude who has done the most making out with other dudes. If there are no fixed or singlespeed riders… I dunno, I guess to whoever has the least gears?
Should I wear a helmet?
FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST, YES! There’s some gnarly parts in Frick.
Do I need a lock?
You’ll probably want to lock your bike at the potluck, so yes.
What kind of bike should I ride?
Up to you. It sounds like a few people are riding real gnarly cross bikes (big tires). I imagine there will be some SS mountain bikes too. You can do it on a road bike if you don’t mind carrying a lot. I rode the course on my 49×18 fixed track bike only slightly slower than on my 36×19 fixed mtb. But I think that’s because I can spin the mtb pretty fast on the flats, and I suck at descending and jumping logs, so running with the track bike wasn’t that much slower. Your mileage will vary.
What about the potluck, how do I get my food there?
Caitlin (potluck organizer) is going to set up some times to be home earlier that weekend or before the event, so you can drop them off. Email me (dave@pghalleycat.com) if you need to set up a time. I’m also borrowing a car, so if you bring your dish to the start I can transport it for you. Or you can carry it with you if you want to earn extra bad-ass points. Finally, the potluck is pretty close to the co-op, so if you promise to pick up something after the ride I won’t charge you the entry fee.
Should my dish be vegan?
It doesn’t have to be, but it would be friendlier to the vegans who show up
How late does the party go?
7 pm. Our hostesses have to clean up and rest for work on Monday. You can move the party to Dee’s
Should I bring booze?
Pabst is giving us beer, but hard liquor sure couldn’t hurt.


Thanks again to Pabst!

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