November 23, 2018
You’ve probably heard about Jeremiah from previous years – He’s the man who takes on the Dirty Dozen, Pittsburgh’s arguably most extreme bike race that conquers 13 of the City’s steepest hills in one day, on a Healthy Ride bike.
Check out these stories for a snapshot of the first 2 years:
90.5 WESA 2017
Pittsburgh City Paper – 2016
Every year Jeremiah impresses us with his ability to complete even farther distances and even more hills, but it’s not enough for Jeremiah. He wants to finish it. All 13 hills. All in 1 day. A perfect run. This Saturday, while many of us are home still lamenting the amount of food we ate on Thanksgiving and the insane shopping we did on Black Friday, Jeremiah will be joining the hundreds of other cyclists at the Highland Park bicycle track to take on the Dirty Dozen. We’re routing for you Jeremiah!
And so, in case this is Jeremiah’s last year taking on this insane challenge, we caught up with him again to hear more about his inspiring story that started with a weight loss journey and has taken him beyond reason to complete the most incredible of cycling feats.
Q: This is your third year participating in the Dirty Dozen on a Healthy Ride, what keeps you going?
Jeremiah: At this point it’s just me being determined to see this thing completed. I wanted to quit immediately after failing last year but at the after party at East End I talked to Danny Chew and he said “you did 9 in 2016 and 11 in 2017, at that rate you’ll finish next year. You have to do it, you have unfinished business.” Coming from Danny, I knew I had no other option but to attempt to finish the race this year on the Healthy Ride.
Q: Can you summarize your experiences from previous Dirty Dozen races and why you’re doing it again this year?
Jeremiah: I touched on this a bit in 1, but having 2 years of experience in failing is very helpful. I’ve learned that I need to be clipped into the pedals in order to make it, I’ve learned how important hydration and nutrition during the race are, and I’ve learned what kind of training leading up to the race is necessary to be successful. Now if I can just stave off those leg cramps for long enough…
Q: Remind us of your journey, how did you come to start this crazy challenge?
Jeremiah: I started riding Healthy Ride bikes during my mandatory, hour-long lunch breaks (at easily the worst place to work in the city 🙂 as part of a life change including diet and exercise. I hadn’t ridden a bike in decades and by the start of my change in diet in Feb 2015 I was 300lbs. By May 2015 when the bikes were introduced in the city I was down almost 50 lbs. I had just finished up the thesis for my Master’s (which I had been writing on my lunch breaks) and was looking to get outside more so a coworker agreed to test the bikes out with me as we had a station outside our office at 12th and Penn. I signed up for a monthly subscription of 30 minute rides and was so hooked on riding bikes again that immediately upon returning to my desk after lunch I increased my membership to 60 minute rides. I rode every day the weather permitted and would see either how far I could go or how high a hill I could climb in that 60 minutes. I rode up a couple of the Dirty Dozen hills one day and thought “I wonder if it’s possible to make it up each hill individually.” After climbing several more, along with quite a few in the North Side that rival DD hills, I realized it was possible and was just a matter of stringing them all together. That’s when I started focusing my efforts on competing in the Dirty Dozen. I competed in the 2016 Dirty Dozen only knowing 1 or 2 people among the 400+ registrants but I met so many great people during and after the ride. It was on Hill 2 in Sharpsburg that I beat Aaron Stein and Katharine Jordan, the owners of the best bike shop in the city: Kindred Cycles, to the finish line, impressing (and embarrassing) them.
Q: Do you think this is your final year?
Jeremiah: This is definitely my final year on a Healthy Ride if I complete every hill and become an official finisher (don’t put a foot down on any hill and maintain forward progress on every hill). If I don’t complete the task… we’ll see.
Q: What’s been the biggest highlight for you over the past 3 years?
Jeremiah: Without a question the biggest highlight of this entire journey has been the people I’ve met and become friends with. Pittsburgh, and the entire world, has such a great community of cyclists and I’m incredibly honored to be a part of it and to have gotten to know the people that I have.
Q: And finally, why do you love biking and Healthy Ride?
Jeremiah: I love cycling for several reasons: there is always a new challenge you can be pushing yourself for, it is exhilarating and freeing, and the community, especially among those who use Strava, is competitive and strong. I get so much joy from going out on a ride with friends and competing with them, and every other person who’s ever recorded a time on a segment, trying to take the KOM.
I love Healthy Ride because it makes cycling accessible to so many people in our city. The increased number of stations and the community initiatives to go along with the expansion are vital for the success of the residents of the city. For the same reasons I love cycling, I want everyone to have the ability to get outside on a bike and experience the world. Without Healthy Ride I likely would not have become hooked on cycling and I don’t like to imagine my life otherwise.