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Bikes. Parts. Chaos.

Hello Surly Readers,


We have a special treat on the blog today. Just back from the UK’s famed Dorset Dirt Dash, Longtime Surly Ringmaster Pintz Guzzld sits down for a quick Q&A with Matt Tag, a new set of hands helping out at The Official Intergalactic Surly Regional HQ. If you’re wondering how a couple bike nerds whiled away their time in South West England, loosen your cummerbund and have a little sit-down.


A Message From Pintz

Surly field-activation engaged. It has been a while since we have been out in the wild connecting with friends of Surly. A trip over to the UK to participate in a Surly-sponsored ride was just the medicine we needed. Having ridden in many events over the years, I have to say the Dorset Dirt Dash ranks high on my list. It checks all the boxes: remote riding, scenic views, mixed terrain, camping and pub stops. It even starts and finishes at a pub. Since this was my second time attending the event, I thought it would be good to get a newbie’s perspective of the event. Matt Tag, who is new to Surly, joined me on the trip to get a firsthand experience of an overnight Surly event. 


Three loaded bikes parked along wooden fence outside pub


The Interview 

Pintz: There were multiple official and unofficial pub stops on the DDD route. After two days of riding with friends of Surly, what do you think the ideal PPM (pubs per mile) is for a Surly event? 


Matt: There are several factors that influence the proper number of pubs per mile. One must consider the weather, terrain, distance, and temperature. I believe there is a mathematical formula for this. In reality, the proper number of pub stops per mile depends on how many pubs you have per mile! I think we did pretty well with 1 every 10 miles or so.  


People gathered outside pub, sitting on tables and grassy, bikes parked

Pintz: On a related note, what do you think is the ideal PPP (pints per pub)? 


Matt: Two- without question....ok, maybe three. 

Cyclists sitting at outdoor pub table having a pint and posing for photo


Pintz: Can you tell us a little about the route? Any highlights or favorite sections you enjoyed the most? 


Matt: The route was stellar. My favorite part of the entire experience was the variety we had along the way. We hit some smaller roads through villages and small towns. There were a lot of gravel and farm roads as well. Rounding out each day was a healthy dose of singletrack. The variety and the views are what made it memorable for me.   


I’d say my favorite part was along the Dorset coast riding the gravel roads with views of the ocean over my shoulder. 


Lone cyclist riding loaded bike up very muddy forest trail

Pintz: How about your rig and gear? Do you feel like the bike was the right choice for the event? Anything you would switch up with bike or gear if you did it again? 


Matt: I did the event on a Surly Ogre. I’d say it performed really well for the type of mixed-surface riding we did. The larger tire volume kept me comfortable and confident over the variety of surface,s and the storage options for my gear worked out really well. I’d probably do it the same way again.  


If I could change anything, it would be the borrowed saddle! 



Pintz: We had some locals of the Swanage area ride with us as tour guides. I know you are a history guy. Any tidbits of the area you picked up from the locals you would like to share? 


Matt: I am quite the history buff as a former history teacher. Riding by ancient hill forts, castle ruins, and getting to know the local history from locals while riding was a ton of fun. While there was not one standout experience in terms of history, it was the constant exposure to it that was so much fun for me. 


I’d say the detour to the dinosaur footprints was pretty cool.  


Three cyclist with arms up standing on rock slab with dinosaur prints


Pintz: Have you ever juggled hot coals with friends? Is it dangerous? 


Matt: I’d say this was a highlight of the trip for many. Nothing better than sitting around a fire and having Paul sling a hot coal your way. Dangerous? That depends on the pints per mile question you asked earlier! 




We added a couple days to our trip after the Dorset Dirt Dash so we could reconnect with some of our Surly dealers in the UK, including:



Two cyclists riding up rocky trail along grassy hills

Pintz: You ever Ghost Grapple? Would you recommend it to a friend? 


Matt: I may never be as good a grappler of ghosts as you, Paul, but I think I held my own. I’d say the elevator where I grappled didn’t give me enough room to really put that ghost in its place. 

I don’t think you can grapple a ghost without a smile on your face — it’s absolutely recommended. 

Surly Ghost Grappler loaded for bikepacking on hill overlooking contryside

Pintz: I heard a rumor that you celebrated the Jubilee with the Queen. Do you have any proof? 


Matt: It was really nice of the queen to come out and meet us on our travels knowing she had such a busy weekend ahead of her. I feel really honored. 


Matt in bike shop with arm around cutout of the Queen

Pintz: Did you spend any time in a jail cell on our trip? 


Matt: No comment. Joking aside, it was great fun to visit the Bikemonger who operates their business out of an 19th-century police station/jail. 

Matt in storage room stacked with bike boxes and bike parts

Pintz: Any common themes you noticed during our Surly dealers stops? 


Matt: I’d say there were a surprising number of broken toilets or toilets that had a “combination” to make them function. Twist this while pulling that. One shop had a “toilet fork” (yes, an actual fork) to get the mechanism to work. 


Shady toilet with British flag above tank, screen printed face and 'Spike' in center

Pintz: What about Surly Bikes seemed to resonate with dealers? 

Matt: I believe it revolves around mutual alignment to what Surly stands for. Surly makes serious steel bikes for people who do not take themselves too seriously. There is a lot to Surly: great utility, superb durability, and incredible versatility. It’s everything you need and nothing you don’t. 


Surly Ghost Grappler with rear rack and custom dog carrier/basket mounted

Well, that sounds like he made the best of his first Surly Bikes tour. Special thanks to our tour guide Duncan Kennedy of Ison Distribution who coordinated our schedule and drove us around the UK on the wrong side of the road.


Below is a sampling of “Make it Your Own” Surly bikes that showed up at the Dorset Dirt Dash. 

White Surly Midnight Special decked out with bikepacking bags/gear

Surly Krampus parked and set-up with bikepacking bags

Surly Bridge Club with front pannier bags, seatpack, three water bottles and pump

Surly Ogre set up for bikepacking with bags and rear rack/pannier set-up

Surly Ogre full loaded, parked in front of two other loaded bikes outside pub

Surly Midnight Special with knobby tires, seatpack, frame bag, and big handlebar bag

Gray Surly mountain bike with front rack and Porter House bag, frame bag, and seat pack

Surly Wednesday loaded to the max with bikepacking bags and gear parked in front of other loaded bikes

Yellow Surly Karate Monkey with handlebar bag, frame bag, seatpack, and gear mounted on fork blades

Purple Surly Krampus parked outside pub with bikepacking bags in front of other loaded bikes

Person holding up black Surly mountain bike with three big water bottles, seatpack, frame bag, outside pub


If you've made it this far and are intrigued, may we suggest you check out the event's website. Hell, they even have a splendid event coming right up called the Dunoon Dirt Dash this fall if you want to jump in. Check out the event's recap video below for some flavor.