Urban Velo

City Report – Milwaukee

City: Milwaukee, WI

Nickname: Brew City, Cream City, or City of Festivals.

Claim to Fame:
Beer and Brats, Pabst, Miller High Life, Harley Davidson and the Calatrava designed art museum.

History in 100 Words (or less): Milwaukee is a blue collar city made from blood, sweat and beers. Milwaukee was first settled by Europeans at the turn of the 19th century, originally formed by three towns called Juneautown, Kilbourntown, and Walker’s Point separated by the Milwaukee River. In 1846, all three cities grew to such an extent that they merged to form Milwaukee. German immigrants made the population boom in the mid-1800s, and the influence remains to this day. Milwaukee is famous for its cream colored brick buildings that were made in the Menomonee River valley.

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City Report – Antwerp

City: Antwerp, Belgium

Nickname: Koekenstad

Claim to Fame: Antwerp is the second largest city in Belgium behind Brussels. Eighty percent of the world’s diamonds come through Antwerp, where they are bought and sold between dealers from around the world. According to some, the fashion industry in Antwerp ranks with those of Milan and Paris.

History in 100 Words (or less): Local lore holds that Antigoon was an unfriendly giant who lived near the Schelde river. His job was to collect a fee from people who wanted to cross. You can’t pay the fee? Antigoon would cut off your hand and throw it in the river. Brabo was a brave young soul who found this act unacceptable. He gave Antigoon some of his own medicine before killing him. Brabo lopped off the hand of the mean giant and threw it into the river. From it grew the current city of Antwerp. The name, “Antwerpen” is actually a Dutch phrase that translates to “hand throwing.”

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City Report – Washington DC

Washington DC
By Michelle Cleveland

Photos by Kevin Dillard – www.demoncats.com

City: Washington, DC

Nickname: DC, the Nation’s Capitol, Dead City

Claim to Fame: You’ve got Obama’s House, a bunch of suits walking around Capitol Hill, Ben’s Chili Bowl, cherry blossoms, mumbo sauces, and of course chicken and waffles.

History in 100 Words or Less: The US capital was originally located in Philadelphia. But in 1790, a new location between Maryland and Virginia along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers was chosen by George Washington and DC was officially established as the nation’s capital. The city was designed by a Frenchman to appear reminiscent of Paris. Most of the city burnt to the ground during the War of 1812. In 1963, MLK, Jr., gave his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” at the Lincoln Memorial as part of the March on Washington.

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 12.19.31 AMRandom Fact: When John Denver was playing a two-week gig in 1970 at a venue long gone called The Cellar Door in DC, two fellow musicians told him about song they were working on while driving through winding roads of Maryland. When Denver heard what was to become “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” he just had to have it, even though it was meant for Johnny Cash. Now, Denver’s iconic folk song is a symbol of mountains and West Virginia, even though it started here in DC.

City’s Terrain: Mostly a flat city, DC does seem full of one-way streets, diagonal nightmares, and lots of traffic downtown. The small neighborhoods of DC stemming out from downtown are very bikeable, especially on side streets. The city has seen a good amount of bike infrastructure in the past few years, with a beautiful long cycletrack down Pennsylvania Ave., and two additional separated cycletracks downtown. The area east of the River, the Anacostia neighborhoods, have close to zero bike infrastructure and are extremely hilly.

Weather Forecast: We get beautiful springtime and fall weather, perfect for bike riding with Cherry blossoms and fall leaves in Rock Creek Park. But DC feels like a southern city in the summertime with high humidity and grueling heat. The winters are fairly mild and we typically only get a few good snowfalls a year (except for this winter which was record breaking cold).

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 12.21.02 AMTop Shop(s): DC has so many bike shops and they each offer mechanics and shop owners with different personalities so it’s hard to choose. My personal favorite shop is the Bike Rack because of their laid back and friendly vibe. I’ve always had good service at Revolution Cycles in Georgetown. And the guys and gals that work at CycleLife, Capitol Hill Bikes, CityBikes, and Bicycle Space are all stellar folks.

Best Watering Hole(s): GBD near Dupont is my favorite bar with it’s very good “stiff punch.” American Ice Company serves its beer in mason jars and has Swachos (BBQ pork nachos). Lucky Bar is where the messengers hang out after work, so there’s always someone to talk to and they’ve got cheap beer. The Pug has got hands down the best atmosphere at a bar. And Smoke and Barrel is the best for your craft beer nerds.

Authentic Local Food: Ben’s Chili Bowl with their chili cheese fries and just about any brunch spot with their chicken and waffles. Also mumbo sauce. Not sure what it is, but you can put it on pretty much anything from fries to wings to maybe even waffles.

Must See: The Old Post Office tower. It’s thought to be a tourist attraction so it took me a few years to go up and see the view, but it’s a towering view of the city you’ll never see anywhere else. And a sunset from Meridian Hill Park in the summertime is just beautiful.

Must Ride: Definitely ride down the Pennsylvania Ave. cycletrack at night heading east, with a view of the Capitol dome right in front of you. The Anacostia Riverwalk trail across the river is tree-lined. Rock Creek Park is where roadies ride on the weekends and you feel like you’re not even in a city anymore.

Best Time to Visit: Just not the summertime, or any major holiday. Too many tourists. Come for a DC bike event to see what the city is really like, such as one of our annual alleycats (Dead City for Halloween is my favorite), DC’s Eastside Thaw polo tourney in March or a monthly DC Bike Party ride.

Need For Speed: DC’s probably always had bike messengers, and a lot of the ones we still have today have been at it for years. There’s at least half a dozen alley cats per year, hosted by local couriers or bike kids, with the number growing. One of the favorites is the Presidential Inaugural alley cat—no other city can do that. DC also hosts one epic cyclocross race each year, DCCX, on a golf course at the Old Soldiers Home, which also houses President Lincoln’s Cottage.

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 12.19.36 AMTwo Wheeled Celebrities: Older couriers like Scrooge and Bruce—everyone knows them. They’re legends. Lia who started and runs DC Bike Party somehow got 500 or so folks out on their bikes each month. And very recently, the Chocolate City Cycling crew.

Top Tourist Attraction(s): It’s DC, so of course anything that has to do with the president, Congress, and the Smithsonian. Walk along the National Mall, take your photo in front of the White House, and stand at the feet of Lincoln at his memorial.

Advocacy: The Washington Area Bicyclist Association, DC’s only bike advocacy non-profit, has been around since 1972. Over the years they have won major victories like getting the Capital Crescent Trail (an 11-mile rail trail from Georgetown to Silver Spring, MD), Beach Drive (a beautiful winding forested road in middle of the city) closed to motorists on weekends, and bike access on public transit. WABA launched an innovative workshop program, Women & Bicycles, to get more ladies on bikes. They host bike rides and social events throughout the year, monitor local trails through the Trail Rangers program, and do friendly outreach in the bike lanes with the Bike Ambassador program.

Locals Only: For those with cross bikes, Kingman Island in the Potomac is a secret and awesome spot to get some gravel and cross action in. And if you want to practice sprinting or work on your pace line skills, meet up with a group at Haines Point to do almost car-free laps. If you’re really legit, apparently there’s a superfast pace line at noon everyday called the Power Hour.

Check out www.waba.org

City Report – Pittsburgh

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The following is a new reader-submitted feature we are piloting. We crafted the first one as a model for future contributions, so share yours! Click here to submit your own.

City: Pittsburgh

Nickname: The Steel City, the Iron City, or the City of Three Rivers.

Claim to Fame: Pittsburgh is home to the six-time Superbowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s a drinking town with a sports problem, or vice versa.
adams_team

History in 100 Words (or less): Pittsburgh began as a fort during the Seven Years’ War between the French and British. The British won, and Fort Pitt became a city, which in turn became famous for the production of iron, then steel, then the development of aluminum. Pittsburgh played a significant role in the development of nuclear power, and today stands as one of the world’s foremost medical and technological centers. It’s also a big time food city, owing to an early influx of eastern European immigrants, followed by the more recent proliferation of Asian cuisine.

Random Fact: Mr. Rogers is from Pittsburgh. His neighborhood is a fictitious amalgamation of Pittsburgh neighborhoods, but the show featured a who’s who of Pittsburgh citizens, including regular appearances by storied jazz musician Joe Negri as Handyman Negri.

City’s Terrain: Pittsburgh is hilly with narrow streets and lots of bridges. As part of the Rust Belt, road maintenance takes a backseat to other public interests, but bike lanes continue to pop up as the economy continues to rely more on the education, technology and medical fields. As a relatively small city, Pittsburgh is very “bikeable” as long as you’re either young, strong, or you stick to the bike lanes and the bike paths which are flat and run along the rivers.

Weather Forecast: Pittsburgh sees the best and worst of all four seasons, but the climate is generally pretty mild. Expect snow and ice in the winter, and hot, humid summers, but it’s seldom as extreme as the conditions in cities like Minneapolis or Tucson.

Top Shop(s): Hands down, the most famous shop in Pittsburgh is Kraynick’s. The top two shops for urban cyclists are Thick Bikes and Iron City Bikes. But Pittsburgh has more than a dozen individual shops, several of which have numerous locations, such as Trek of Pittsburgh.

Best Watering Hole(s): In this writer’s opinion, Kelly’s Bar & Lounge is the finest dive bar in Pittsburgh, but we would be remiss to overlook Over The Bar Bicycle Café, which now has two locations. D’s Six Pax & Dogz, a hotdog shop located right next to the mountain bike trails of Frick Park, is a beer lover’s dream. Also, the Church Brew Works is a stunning repurposing of an old church that now serves craft beer that’s brewed on site.
Primanti_Menu_2008apr v2a outside right.indd

Authentic Local Food: It’s hard to talk about Pittsburgh without mentioning Primanti Bros., home to the greasiest, messiest, most delicious sandwich in America. You don’t get fries with it, you get fries on it. As well as cole slaw and cheese. French fries and provolone cheese are common toppings for salads in Pittsburgh, and if you order a fried fish sandwich, be prepared for the filet to extend way beyond the bun.

Best Coffee Shop(s): Pittsburgh has numerous high-quality coffee shops, but the most notable is Tazza d’Oro, who sponsors weekly group rides dubbed Team Caffeine and Team Decaf. There are also several local coffee roasters, including Prestogeorge in the Strip District.

Must See: The Pittsburgh skyline is beautiful, and the city plays host to a number of cultural attractions including the Andy Warhol Museum and it’s many professional sports complexes. There’s also a bicycle museum just a stone’s throw from the casino.

Must Ride: If you only have an hour or two, you’ll want to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s most famous bike path, locally known as The Jail Trail. It runs from downtown to Oakland, where you’ll climb out of Panther Hollow up to the University of Pittsburgh. Stop and eat some fries at The Dirty O, then head into the East End, or back down and across the river to the Southside for drinks.

Best Time to Visit: The spring and fall are beautiful, but nobody loves fireworks like the residents of Pittsburgh, so come on July 4th and party outside with the locals.
ddcanton4

Need For Speed: Pittsburgh has a rich history of bike racing, including the infamous Dirty Dozen hillclimb race. There are regular crits during the summer, and more mountain bike races than you can shake a stick at, as well as cross races and alleycats. Pittsburgh also has a storied BMX history.

Two Wheeled Celebrities: Pittsburgh’s most notable bike celebrity is known as the Bumper Bike guy. He has several bikes, each with an automobile bumper lashed to the handlebars, making for an unusual but unforgettable sight.

Top Tourist Attraction(s): Sports, sports, sports, sports, sports. The Carnegie Museums are world class, including the aforementioned Andy Warhol Museum. The city hosts numerous gallery crawls, a large annual arts festival, a regatta, and countless theatrical, musical and other cultural events.

Advocacy: Pittsburgh’s advocacy organization, BikePGH has been named the national advocacy organization of the year. With strong support and equally strong leadership, the local non-profit has made big changes in a city that’s deeply rooted in car culture. To date there are nearly 60 miles of bike lanes, and they’re still gaining momentum.

Locals Only: The city has three rivers, and their shores are an excellent place to congregate on warm summer nights. Locals can show you secret party spots, rope swings and more.

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