In the words of Troy Himself
My name is Troy Eddy, and I started Zwifting in April 2019. My first Zwift event was the DIRT XLR with Jason Mutchler as ride leader. I joined DIRT right after that.
I was fortunate enough to meet many great people on Discord in those first few months, especially during DADurday races, which led to forming DIRTy Steamers when TTT was first starting.
If you haven’t tried it, our TTT teams create a community within the larger DIRT community, and it’s a great way to get to know a good group of folks. And with that, the chance to meet some great folks in real life that you probably never would have met otherwise.
In all the meet-ups outlined below, there is one common thread. How easily the conversations start and flow even though you’re “meeting” someone for the first time. Typically, when you meet someone for the first time, there’s that awkward period of small talk where you’re getting to know each other: “The Meet & Greet.”
Every one of these meet-ups jumped right past that phase because it had already happened. We had talked to each other on Discord so much that there was already a familiarity. The was no need to go through that awkward “Meet & Greet.”
Troy’s First IRL Meet-Up
My first DIRT meet-up in July of 2019 was a result of the TTT. Erik Dickes and I were riding together quite a bit in Latte, and with that, chatting on Discord.
I was regularly traveling for work to northern MN at the time, and it turned out he was also going to be there on a fishing vacation with his boys. We set a time, and I made the drive up to the cabin where he was staying.
We had a freshly caught fish dinner and a couple of beers. I met his boys, and we spent the evening talking about everything from Zwift to family to work.
It was great to put a face with a voice, and while we don’t TTT together these days, we keep in contact periodically.
Troy’s Second IRL Meet-Up
My next meet-up happened a month later at the Ore-to-Shore Mountain Bike Race. I had done a few Sprintapaloozas that summer when I got into Zwift, and I constantly heard about this guy referred to as “Wattsberg” in the ride chat.
I think he may have topped the leaderboard at one or two as well (Editor’s note: Or more?). He and I chatted once or twice on Discord about possible TTT rides, but the timing had never worked.
Mid-June 2019, I was going through the results at a mountain bike race and was surprised to see his name. At the time, I didn’t know he was also from Michigan. Fast forward to O2S.
I stood in the start gate with a friend from lower MI and asked if he knew Chris Ostberg. He did and pointed him out to me. The race started, and I jumped on his wheel! For about 2-3 minutes. Yes, folks, he has those watts IRL too!.
I rode to a personal best that day. I finished sub-3 hours for the 48-mile race and 84/652. It may have been a PB for him too, and he beat me by over 6 minutes.
I saw him again at the finish line and introduced myself. We talked for a few minutes about the race. What went well, what parts of the course were challenging, how riding with DIRT and the intensity that comes with it had helped prep us for the race, etc.
We didn’t get a chance to speak long that day as we both had family waiting for us, but we did manage to get a great post-race photo. Plus, this meet-up led to a follow-up at Iceman 2019.
Troy’s Third IRL Meet-Up
Iceman! If you race mountain bikes in the Midwest, you’ve heard of it. Over 4,500 racers from all over make an excellent opportunity to have a beer with a fellow DIRT!
The first Saturday in November in Northern MI is tricky. It could rain. It could snow. It might be 25 degrees F at the start. Or it might be 40 degrees F. You never know. Iceman 2019 was a muddy affair, but the post-race weather conditions were decent.
I rode TTT that Fall with a couple of fellow DIRTs from lower MI, Brad Hochstettler and Carl Copenhaver. We planned to meet at Iceman. Ostberg was also going to be there.
Chris, Brad, Carl, and I texted in the week leading up to the race. We all hoped to see each other at either the Expo on Friday night or the finish line on Saturday. The finish line venue is at a campground outside Traverse City, and all-in, there’s maybe 6,000-7,000 people there (that’s a guess based on the 4,500-rider entry).
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), cell phone coverage is inadequate at best, which makes it a little hard to coordinate and find each other with all the people milling around. I was able to catch Ostberg at the award ceremony for a beer and again at the finish line watching the pros come in.
Brad, Carl, and I got together at our campsite a little later as things were winding down. Too much time celebrating, eating, drinking, and BS’ing. We forgot to get any group pictures that day, but Carl did grab a photo of Brad and me. I am hoping to see all of them again at Iceman 2021!
Troy’s Fourth IRL Meet-Up
My final DIRT meet-up in 2019 happened four days later. I had been working a lot with Tim Busick (and others) to get new riders interested in TTT onto one of the many teams that were forming.
It turned out that both Tim and I were going to be in Philadelphia for work. I reached out to Sterny about the chance to ride at the DIRT Zwift studio (it’s not very often that I get to the East Coast), but work got in the way of that happening.
Tim and I had planned to get together for dinner, but when Sterny heard that, he took it to the next level! He found a restaurant in Philly, invited a couple of other DIRT mates from out that way (Ryan Larson and Larry Parker), and made the drive over from NJ to have dinner with us.
Ryan Fulmer was able to join us as well. As with all the meet-ups to this point, the conversation easily flowed. I had talked on Discord a lot with Fulmer, Tim, and Sterny, and although I had never spoken with Ryan or Larry before, we all had a common thread: DIRT and Zwift.
We had a great dinner and talked about many topics: Zwift racing, fitness and training, family life, and I’m sure many others I’m forgetting.
Left to Right: Ryan Fulmer, me, Tim Busick, Jason Stern, Ryan Larson, Larry Parker
As with many other things, the pandemic affected a lot of plans for 2020 meet-ups. I’m looking forward to a few in 2021, though!
If you ever have a chance to make that real-life connection with a fellow DIRT and put a face to a Discord voice, make sure you take the time to do it, even if it’s for a short lunch or a cup of coffee.
You’ll be amazed at how easily you’ll fall right into conversations like you’re talking with an old friend.
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, Endurance.biz, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!