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.
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:
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.
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,
DIRT Monday Morning Blues
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!”
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.
Semi-retired as owner and director of his private Orthopedic Physical Therapy practice after over 20 years, Chris is blessed with the freedom to pursue his passion for virtual cycling and writing. On a continual quest to give back to his bike for all the rewarding experiences and relationships it has provided him, he created a non-profit. Chris is committed to helping others with his bike through its work and the pages of his site.
In the summer of 2022, he rode 3,900 miles from San Francisco to New York to support the charity he founded, TheDIRTDadFund. His “Gain Cave” resides on the North Fork of Long Island, where he lives with his beautiful wife and is proud of his two independent children.
You will read him promoting his passion on the pages of Cycling Weekly, Cycling News, road.cc, Zwift Insider, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!