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Local Cycling Resources

Know the Terrain

Pittsburgh geography creates some unique challenges for finding good bike routes for outdoor training. The city lies in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, so no matter where you ride you’re going to encounter terrain ranging from moderately to comically hilly. Of course, this is also an advantage – if you’re used to riding here there are very few races that will challenge you.

A good rule of thumb is that for every hour you ride, expect 1,000 feet of climbing. And if you are used to more flat terrain, you can expect your average for local rides to be about 2mph slower than your flat-terrain pace. Experienced, high-end cyclists will average 18mph on longer rides, while it’s not uncommon for newcomers to average 13-14mph.

Another challenge are the rivers. Pittsburgh is split into several regions based on the location of the rivers, so group rides offered in a different region may not be the best option for training.

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Cycling Groups

While the Pittsburgh Triathlon Club does host occasional group rides and events such as our Annual Fourth of July North Park-to-Moraine round trip, you will find a broader range of cycling opportunities and expertise by connecting with a local bike group.  Here are some of our local favorites:

  • Bike PGH! With a focus on Advocacy, Education, and Community, Bike Pittsburgh is transforming our streets and communities into vibrant, healthy places by making them safe and accessible for people to bike and walk.  They also have a GREAT calendar of local bike events and group rides at http://bikepgh.org/calendar.
     

  • Western Pennsylvania Wheelmen: Founded in 1969, the WPW is one of the largest bicycle clubs in Pennsylvania. They provide an assortment of weekly rides, as well as several special rides throughout the year.
     

  • Pittsburgh Major Taylor Cycling Club: Ongoing and special events dedicated to bringing the joy and health benefits of recreational cycling to Pittsburgh’s inner city urban neighborhoods.
     

  • Premier Bicycle Club of Western Pennsylvania: Founded in 2016, offers weekly rides and special events.
     

  • Mt. Lebanon Cycling & Caffeine Club: "Mostly old guys in tight pants," but try to keep up!
     

  • Pittsburgh Randonneurs: An offshoot of the WPW, randonneuring is a type of organized long distance bicycle riding, with rides typically covering between 100 km and 1200 kilometres (60-750 miles).

Sample Rides

 

The routes below are popular with PTC members. Routes are organized based on region. Members typically post to the PTC Facebook group when they are organizing a weekend ride. These are typically Saturday mornings, but watch the group for specifics about planned pace or route deviations.

There is a book that lists riding routes out of Pittsburgh. It’s out of print so some routes may be out of date but if you can snag a copy it might spur some ideas.

Rides from the North Hills

 

Most rides leave from North Park. One easy option is to do circles of the lake loop. It’s a 5-mile circuit, and though there is traffic, the loop does not involve any cross streets as long as you are traveling clockwise. It’s got hills but it’s manageable, which makes it a good spot for even beginner cyclists. Keep your head up though – it can be crowded!

Additional routes from North Park:

  • Visit the Alpacas (option 1). An out-and-back that you can shorten into a 2 hour ride if you turn around at the alpaca farm.

  • Visit the Alpacas (option 2). A slightly different route that hits most of the same markers. Note that both alpaca routes get more hilly the further you get away from start.

  • The Cement Plant ride  – This route is 112mi but since it’s out-and-back you can make it as long as you like. Bonus Elk farm and alpaca farm! The actual cement plant is on a one-mile 7% hill that’s pretty tough.

  • North Park to Moraine – you can get from North Park all the way to Moraine State Park without too much trouble (although the start of route 528 can be challenging). This makes for a pretty good bike-swim-bike combo.
     

Rides out of Cranberry and farther north:

  • 50 mi Cranberry loop – Brought to you by Heather Slater: I start/end in Cranberry… from Crazy Mocha parking lot for pre-ride caffeine with post-ride Simply Yogurt and Champs Pizza right next door… could just as easily start/end at Sewickley Crazy Mocha

  • Farm Fresh Ice Cream! – Brought to you by Heather Slater: This one starts at the same location, but the little out and back at mile 41-42 leads to a farm that sells fresh homemade ice cream

  • Slippery Rock area ride – Brought to you by Kelly Collier: Nice country roads with decent climbs.  But be careful, we did get pulled over by a cop for not completely stopping at a stop sign.  In the middle of nowhere.

Routes from Downtown/inside the city

  • Washington Blvd Oval and Highland Park Loop – Brought to you by Kelly Collier: some basic bike riding spots to know- the Bud Harris Cycling Track on Washington Blvd which is a 1/2 mi oval.  Great for short intervals, testing out a new bike, or anything you need a flat controlled area for.  The 1 mi loop around the Highland Park reservoir is also a good place go if you want to focus on riding with no traffic stops or the need to come out of aero, plus it goes slightly up/down hill along the loop so you get short bursts of flying down hill and climbing.  It’s also easy to get between these two spots, if you have a need to hit them both in the same ride.

  • Loop around the Burgh – Brought to you by Kenny Drombosky: 35 mi loop starting in Squirrel Hill -> Highland Park -> Lawrenceville -> North Shore -> Point Park -> Heritage Trail -> Schenley Park -> Squirrel Hill

  • Saxonburg/Deer Creek loop – Brought to you by Sarah Quesen: 49 mi – Head out towards the 62nd street bridge. You can pick up Middle Road. In fact, Middle Road to Yellow Belt back down Saxonburg Rd is about 35ish miles and is a great training ride.