Sometimes you just love your job. You get an assignment that you know is simply going to kick ass, whether it’s one you’ve had before or you just have a good feeling about it. Maybe you just know that everyone else attending will not be in anyway a bummer to be around… well except for that one guy, but hey, he’s always there so get over it. Or maybe you know the work will be manageable if not downright enjoyable and when you are done with “the work part” there will be beer, fire, comradery and cheese balls. Maybe it’s that you don’t have to “go inside”, or shower, or mind your language, or be quiet, or pretend to be anything that you ain’t for days on end. Maybe you know there are sick trails there and beautiful forests that make you question why you’d even want to go home. Yes my friends, Dirt Fest is one of those assignments that I now get to look forward to.
A partially formed allegory of something realating to our experience
Before last year’s fest I have never been to Central Pennsylvania. I didn’t know Pittsburgh was a pretty cool town. Hell, I didn’t know my shoofly pie from my scrapple! After my second year attending this wonderful get together at Raystown Lake I still don’t know squat about the local cuisine but I do know Central PA likes to ride some mountain bikes and party their faces off. And that’s what makes this event pretty special; its equal parts industry trade show/demo and full on celebration of the two wheel tribe. Every interaction, every moment being laid back and genuine. Surly, needless to say, felt right at home in this village of idiots er… I mean wonderful people and industry professionals.
Professionals like Mo. Mo and I realized we shared the same birthday... which was the day before this picture was taken. That was wierd.
Our old friend and photog extraordinaire Brad Quartuccio picked Sov and I up at the airport in Pittsburgh. Brads old Subaru was laden down already smelling like burn oil before we burdened her with even more crap after we stocked up on oddities and ends at a remote Walmart. Say what you will about Walmart but there is one thing it never lacks and that’s humanity. As we lugged our haul back to the carriage we were told we were “the most mismatched group of dudes” the shopping cart redistribution professional had ever seen… ever. Needless to say we left feeling a little more pride in ourselves and our ability to weird out some weirdos. Also this stop was crucial after not 10 minutes out the airport Sov turns to me and says, earnestly, “Hey, are we camping?”. A phrase which was then repeated ad-nauseum all weekend to my enjoyment.
By the way, we "camped" in Surly's 16 person Kifaru Teepee which all were jealous of as soon as the rain came. Even had fresh cooked food on the stove
The event was bangin the first day with all our bikes pretty much checked out all day. Some folks took some pretty long rides on our rigs, which to me is pure flattery, although I know other brands get annoyed when folks do that because they are getting fewer "turns"… but whatever, I’m just glad folks are enjoying themselves.
This was the second day after it started raining. Nobody was sending bikes out
We had a drawing on the second day of the fest for a complete Ice Cream Truck in your chosen size. Now may be a great time to mention that it rained. It rained ALL DAY. And then Sunday it rained a whole lot more. Anyhow, so in lieu of being able to send bikes out we needed to get creative on how to distribute the raffle tickets. So we tasked people with “challenges”. Activities like; find us some ice for our beer cooler, make up rap about the Ice Cream Truck (particularly painful to behold), dance a jig for our viewing pleasure for 30 seconds, but perhaps my favorite, eat last night’s corn on the cob that sat out in the rain all night… as fast as humanly possible.
This is what that looks like. Sorry you didn’t win dude, you may have deserved that bike more than anyone else
A desperate man dances a jig for a raffle ticket
Then at 4:19, give or take a minute we had a happy hour (actually more like a happy half hour) sponsored in part by a most generous donation of a barrel of black IPA from Happy Valley Brewing (Thanks again you guys, that shit was delicious!!). Then we did the raffle drawing which was won by our friend Ryland from Earl’s Bikes in Central PA. Funny thing is he is definitely a Surly convert so our hopes of bringing great joy to some underprivileged kid was swiftly shattered. Just kidding Ryland, we are happy you won. You should see this guy’s Krampus, it’s HAWT.
Ryland wins an ICT!
So after beers were drained and tears were wiped away, Aaron and I led a dozen or so nitwits out on our now second annual, “Surly Rolling Fat” ride. There is something kinda awesome about knowing you are just going to get totally filthy, soaked and not give a rat’s ass. So we pedaled out into the rain, up a steep mother jugger of hill, down a sketchy rutted out mud luge of double track and to the “Skills course”, which was basically a huge mud puddle. To my surprise (not really) this band of hardened criminals B-line it straight for said mud puddle and play in it like children for half an hour or so straight. I mean like just launching into it over and over and over again, derbying in it, just the filthiest mess I’ve ever seen. It kicked ass. We then ripped it (or more like “slipped it”) back to camp on the IMBA flow masterpiece that is Raystown trails. In Minneapolis people who ride wet trails are shot on site, so this was a rare treat for me.
The "skills course"...
Staying, uh... dry?
Over and over and over...
A derby in the pond
We have no idea who won that derby... but I'm going with all of these nutt-balls for entertaining me
So Dirty... so Wizardy!
Sunday pretty much was a wash because of the weather. So we packed up and left. Kind of a bummer as one more day of spreading our gospel, riding bikes and getting drunk would have been fun. Oh well, there is always next year… and it probably won’t rain 😉
Sov: Cheese Ball Lord
At some point shit got weird
On a more sober note I want to acknowledge that something very sad happened this weekend as well. A rider coming down that steep mother fugger of an access road I mentioned earlier struck a shuttle bus coming up the opposite direction and was pronounced dead soon thereafter. We all know cycling is dangerous and that accidents happen, but when someone checks out because of it, it’s especially hard to swallow. I didn’t know the poor guy but from just looking him up out of curiosity when I got home I saw that he seems like a dude I would have cracked a beer or gone on a ride with; a compassionate, adventuresome dude into two wheeled contraptions. Raising my mug to you Mark!
Thanks again Dirt Fest crew for a fun event and to Brad Quartuccio, our friend, anti E-bike evangelist and photog mercenary
(all photo credits to Brad Q in this except for that last shot of me and the first dirty TP photo). See y'inz next year!