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Pittsburgh and Cleveland Square Off Again ... In Biking?

Pittsburgh versus Cleveland: The initial thought is the Steelers versus the Browns or the Carnegie Museum versus the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but one group wants you to think biking.

The two cities will square off for the title of “Rustbelt Champion” as a mini-competition within the National Bike Challenge.

How will the winner be determined? By registering more riders and logging more miles than the opponent.

The free and friendly competition encourages all people to get out and ride, no matter their age or reason – whether as daily commuters, weekend warriors or somewhere in between. Smartphone users can even download a free app to directly track and log trips for the National Bike Challenge.

BikePGH Program Director Lou Fineberg said last year actually was the first time the competition was localized, and the year before that there was a local challenge called the Car-Free Calculator.

Fineberg said competition drives and engages people.

“It’s just really good to see people in the region coming together," he said. "You know, we’re a big sports town, and usually it’s us watching sports, but there is an opportunity for all of us to really participate and be part of it.”

The cities are grouped by population, and the only city that is remotely close to the size of Pittsburgh was Milwaukee, which also finished in the top 40. Though Pittsburgh beat Cleveland by a wide margin last year, Fineberg said this year things look to be a lot closer.

“This is all the sort of preseason stuff," he said. "You know, you can imagine when the Steelers are in the preseason, it gives you some idea of maybe what the season is going to look like, but usually not, so we really don’t know what to expect this year. But cities like Lincoln, Nebraska and Madison, Wisconsin have a strong showing."

Pittsburghers can participate as individuals or teams and see how they stack up against others in the Pittsburgh region, as well as nationally. Last year, Pittsburgh registered 1,067 riders and logged more than 350,000 miles.