DIRT Father meets DIRT GrandFather IRL – The History of DIRT Prequel

Doug and Jason Meet in real life
Doug (left) Jason (right)

July 20, 2021, in New York City near Madison Square Garden

They first met in a Zwift race almost three and half years ago. They formed the DIRT Zwift team along with Ken Nowell in 2018.  Fast forward three years, and these two finally met in the real New York City on July 20th. A two-hour breakfast meeting that only felt like 20 minutes and three years seemed almost the same way. 

DIRT Prequel Timeline

We know and love DIRT (Dads Inside Riding Trainers), the largest and most active virtual team in the world on Zwift. Here’s is a prequel of the months before DIRT’s birth as told in Zwiftpower and Strava events by Doug. It’s a peek inside the races and rides of DIRT GrandFather Doug Mastroianni and DIRT Fathers Jason Stern (‘Sterny’) and Ken Nowell (‘The Badger’) from the historical record of Doug himself.

The Founding Fathers of DIRT

Note: The following is a first-person account provided by “The DIRT GrandFather.”  Doug is an IRL Grandfather. Doug is 61, has three grandkids from his daughter and her husband, and has a son who is Jason Stern’s age.  He lives in Ohio with his wife. 

 

Jason is 31 and lives in New Jersey with his wife, 6-year-old daughter, and 4-year-old son.  Ken Nowell is 46, has an eight-year-old daughter, and lives in North Carolina with his wife.

DIRT was born out of these events and the conversations (email, text, and in-game chat) surrounding the planning and strategy of these rides.

Here is a small sampling of the many rides, races, and Zwift tours that were the evolutionary process that formed DIRT through the eyes of the DIRT Grandfather:

February 8, 2018
I first met Jason Stern in a Road to Ruins race. We raced C class. He was second, and I was third. We both got isolated. I caught up (because he let me), and then he texted me in-game to go with him at a strategic point before the finish (to drop the group). I gave my famous reply of “K” which was all I could muster. I have since used that K as my standard in-game response. It has evolved to have many meanings depending on context.
February 8, 2018
February 10, 2018
Two days after our first race, I took a chance, and private messaged Jason Stern in-game before our next race. I proposed a simple team strategy. IF and only IF we are together in the finale, I will lead out. Since I can’t sprint, this gave me something to do. Not that Jason needed it. But it took the field by surprise because it was rare to have such an alliance in those days. We had some success, but mostly we had lots of fun! I got to go out in a ball of flames (albeit dead last in the sprint) instead of a cloud of dust.
February 10, 2018
February 22, 2018
Jason was first, and I was second. Road to Ruins again.
February 22, 2018
March 8, 2018
Jason and I go one-two in London 8. I’m number 2, of course.
March 8, 2018
March 27, 2018
I was first only because Jason WKG and one of our KRT nemeses were DQ. Jason now moves to B, and I’ll be there, Zoon
March 27, 2018
April 17, 2018
London Loop. My first B race. Jason third. I finished mid-pack in 7th.
April 17, 2018
April 21, 2018
Long Tour of Watopia Pretzel. Jason and I finished together in 19th and 21st places, in two hours and 16 minutes. Our placing was and still is typical of our big event rides. We seem to find each other and ride the same tempo automatically.
April 21, 2018
April 28, 2018
Tour of Watopia Fire and Ice. I’m 7th in 1:20:45, and Jason is 14th in 1:27:20.
April 28, 2018
April 28th AGAIN!
Back to back racing! Tour of Watopia Road to Ruins. We had maybe 10 minutes before we doubled up and did Road to Ruins. Jason 4th in 47:12, and I’m 7th in 47:38. Crazy we got in the top ten after the Alpe just a few minutes ago!
April 28th AGAIN!
April 29, 2018
Tour of Watopia Big Loop. Jason and I hold hands in a top 20 finish 1:20:23 at the same time.
April 29, 2018
May 8, 2018
In my first race with Ken Nowell (‘The Badger’), Jason established himself as a top B racer by walking away from the field in 56:57 on The Greater London Flat. Ken and I finished almost dead last at 1:01:27 the same time, holding hands.
May 8, 2018
June 14, 2018
I asked Jason to get up early for some CHOP racing. It opened up a whole new world of early morning pain. One example:
June 14, 2018
June 20, 2018
The date of my first casual ride with Ken Nowell on Zwift was when Jason, Ken, and I discussed ButtBalm and commented on a parallel Xert group ride, as evidenced by the Strava title and comments.
June 20, 2018
July 2018
Jason and I kept in communication during the Seven Stages of SIS Tour de Oz as we discussed forming and naming a team.
July 2018
Alp du Zwift PR ride
July 2, 2018
The date of our first official meetup, before Zwift built meetups into the game. It is the “official” seminal ride of DIRT. We knew we wanted to form a team. We worked out the details throughout the month.
July 2, 2018

The Email That Started it All

The message I sent to Jason and Ken to coordinate a ride up ADZ (Alpe de Zwift) was the beginning of an email thread discussing creating and naming a team. Jason was really, really interested in starting a team. Ken and I were like, “whatever, dude, we are behind you 100%.”

My emails were generally on the long side during this process, including pages and pages of various team names. I came up with DIRT as a throwaway name, and Ken fleshed it out. 

I was spitballing with Dads Riding Tremendously or Tenaciously or with Testosterone. Ken pointed out the obvious: Trainers!  And that Inside fit well and had a nice ring to it! 

I wanted to shorten it to DRT, but the I in DIRT made more sense.

Here is a excerpt of the original email:
I'm not sure if you want to exclude any females with the Dad theme. True there are not as many females on Zwift. The DAD Daily Aerobic Drill has the DAD name as acronym but diverts from that in meaning. MUD no meaning other than Our Name Is MUD. Or DIRT DRT ( Dads Riding Tremendously) or Dads Rolling Thunder. Ride On! Doug Mastroianni Monroeville OH

We registered as DIRT on Zwiftpower on August 7, 2018

We are now DIRT! We started with Jason, Ken, and Doug. Then grew to maybe ten people in a week!  Our first official Zwift-blessed group ride was,

First DIRT Monday Morning Blues group ride
Monday, August 20, 2018
DIRT Monday Morning Blues
Monday Morning Blues was just the beginning There are so many DIRT-sponsored rides on Zwift now that you almost need a spreadsheet to track them. Just search DIRT in ZwiftHacks or ZwiftPower. Sure, most of the rides are USA East Coast morning times because that is our roots. With DIRT members all over the world stepping up to lead rides, there may eventually come a day when DIRT rides are 24/7.
Monday, August 20, 2018
First DIRT Monday Morning Blues group ride

So Much More Than a Virtual Team

DIRT is more than a virtual team on Zwift. It is bigger than that. It is an IRL community. The common interest in fitness, especially on a bike.  DIRT is the all-inclusive place to be for Dads and Moms (and everyone in between) looking for social and inspiring vibes we call The DIRT Effect.

 

It has grown far beyond the initial, immortal words of Sterny messaging us, “Hey, let’s make a team!” 

Stay Tuned!

If you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes peek into the birth of your DIRT family then stay tuned. There are more fun facts, irl meet-up stories, epic event stories, and member highlights to follow.

With more great insight from the wise and knowing Founding Fathers of DIRT. K?!?!

Do you love this stuff? Comment below.

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Ed [DIRT Rodeo]
Ed [DIRT Rodeo]
2 months ago

And the rest is history…we’ll at least DIRT history. Great to see how random alliances can turn into a esports community.

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[…] Note: The meetup with Cecelia was the first of two IRL DIRT meetings I did this summer. Read about the second one I had with Jason Stern here. […]

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