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Royale with Cheese

Proceeds are being collected by Brian Biggs


Based on 11 climbs up port royal, each worth $822.94

111 pledgers

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help push me up that hill

The Short version: I’m raising money for Sam’s Place at AIM Academy by riding my bike up Port Royal Avenue as many times as I can. You pledge whatever you can per climb ($1, $5, $25, more!) and I will go out on May 15 and put the pedal to the metal (or, cobblestone, as the case may be) and ride up Port Royal, around the Reservoir, and down Shawmont – a Strava segment I created last year and called Royale with Cheese.  This idea came about while I was recovering from a broken ankle this last winter as a way to keep myself focused on not going down a rabbit hole of cookies and beer. And I really love what Anne Rock and her team are doing at AIM. Pledge today, and then on May 15 come out and ride a lap with me, or heckle on the hill. I miss your face!

The Long version: The Schuylkill River Trail is prototypical bike path. On a typical day it’s full of couples out riding squeaky hybrids, kids on coaster-brake cruisers, pathletes laying down the miles between Valley Forge and Philly, and of course the tri-athletes hunkered down over their funny handlebars as they speed past. It’s flat, simple and easy. But as one heads west out of Manayunk, just past Shawmont Ave at the yellow gate, a crumbling cobblestone road juts up off the trail, bends around some sad old shrubs and probably some dumped furniture, and disappears up the hill. This is Port Royal Ave.

Back when I just rode bikes, before I “Rode Bikes,” I’d pass this intersection and see those cobbles and wonder what was up there. Once, I wandered up the hill a bit and around the corner, saw the climb in front of me, and just laughed. “Nobody rides that” I thought.

Fast-forward a few years to summer 2014. I’d just recently signed up for my first century ride, I was feeling ambitious, and had started exploring the areas around Roxborough and Manayunk that I’d never really noticed before. I was taking my bike out to Conshohocken one evening, tagging along behind another cyclist heading the same direction. Much to my surprise, at that yellow gate, at Port Royal Ave, he peeled off to the right, hit the cobbles, and disappeared. Needless to say, I didn’t follow. But I did dwell on my hesitancy for the rest of the ride, and when I got home back in front of a computer, I pulled up a map. Surprised, I realized that Port Royal connects to Ridge Ave at the U-Haul place, near the reservoir and the baseball fields. I’d seen that end of Port Royal dozens of times. I’d even driven down Port Royal, in a car, just to see where it went. But I’d never connected that this was that, and that stupid people actually rode their stupid bikes up that stupid hill.

Strava tells me that my first climb up Port Royal was soon afterward, in September 1, 2014. Apparently, I attempted it on a singlespeed. I know for certain that I walked part of it, because I remember making it a goal of mine for 2015 to make it up Port Royal on a singlespeed (which I did on May 25).

Now, five years later, according to Strava, I’ve climbed Port Royal 46 times. My personal record was set in May 2018, and it’s ranked 209th of 1176. Speed has never been my strong suit. I’m 53 years old and that ship has sailed. But I love the stupid climbs. Last July, in some bout of pandemic-induced inspiration, I went out and rode up Port Royal four times, using the Roxborough Reservoir and Shawmont to connect the loop. I created a Strava segment with this loop and called it “Royale with Cheese.”

Now, about this event. In December, I broke my ankle while riding an inappropriate bike on some trails along Kelly Drive. Three months off the bike. I wanted to give myself something to aim for, something to think about that would keep me from drowning my sorrows in cookies and beer. I’d talked to Keanan and Bobby about making a Port Royal race, once we can all get together and breathe on each other again, and I wondered what a Port Royal “race” would look like with just one person. I decided that this is what I would do, I’d just plan a day to ride this Royale with Cheese loop as many times as possible. Up, around, down, and repeat. And what better way to put a cherry on it than to raise money with every lap and donate it to Sam’s Place at AIM Academy. (Read about Sam Ozer and Sam’s Place here.) So on May 15, I plan to climb Port Royal. And then climb it again. And again. I know I can do five laps. I think I can do ten. Who knows?

What you do is pledge whatever you want – a dollar, five bucks, $20 – per lap. Each time I make it up that hill, you owe more money! And AIM Academy gets closer to their goal for completing Sam’s Place.

And by the way, stupidity loves company. Come on out on May 15 and ride a climb or two with me. Or hang out at one of the intersections and watch for traffic. Or bring a lawn chair and some beer and heckle to your heart’s content. The more the merrier.

And thank you.

Sponsors! We have sponsors that I'd like to thank.

Rodeo Labs sent a box of awesome stuff for the raffle.

EO Art & Design made some stickers to give away at the ride on the 15th.

Chumba USA sent a bunch of bottles and t-shirts for the raffle

Pioneers Cycling is providing water bottles for the raffle and proceeds to the cause

UnPaved of the Susquehanna Valley is giving away an entry to the ride as part of the raffle

CrossCut Dirty Metric Century is giving away an entry to the ride as part of the raffle


DateNameclimbs up port royalEarned
5/15Royale with Cheese hill-climb11$9,052

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