Editor’s note: “At the Helm” was a project we undertook earlier this year as part of our 25th Anniversary celebration. Four bikes, four companies, four founders. Much like Dirt Rag’s own history, each of these founders has seen rough times, but the ship still sails with a firm hand on the wheel. The stories you’ll read in the next few weeks aren’t just about the bikes, but also the history and the men behind them.
Mike Sinyard has had his far share of controversial moments, including the latest dust-up about Specialized’s overzealous pursuit of a trademark defense. We get into that and review the spiritual successor of the original Stumpjumper in the form of a Stumpjumper Expert Carbon HT World Cup.
Liteville isn’t a brand you see much of on this side of the pond. A sister company to German component maker Syntace, Liteville makes just three understated models, which, when examined closely, display some of the finest design and engineering in the industry.
Rather than complaining about what wasn’t on the market, Liteville was formed to create bikes its founders wanted to ride, but weren’t available and the 601 is an obvious example, with a whopping 190mm of rear travel, adjustable geometry, and a full range of gearing capable of going up as well as down.
The 601 attracts very little attention on the trail because its flat black, ball-peened finish hides enough features to fill the rest of this page. Some highlights: super smart cable routing, model specific Syntace chain guide and a rear derailleur rock guard. Liteville designed specific aluminum tubing for each size and model, and the amount of shaping is nothing short of impressive. The 601 looks like the bicycle equivalent of an assault rifle; all business, and in the right hands, very dangerous.Tweet Print
By Karl Rosengarth
Fire up the trusty Dirt Rag time machine, Sherman. This time we’re going back for a peek at the origins of the Subscription Guy.
Back in the late ‘90s I was in charge of Dirt Rag subscriptions, and was given the opportunity to create a house advertising campaign. I’ll have to admit that running a subscription advertisement inside the very magazine to which you hoped to attract subscribers seemed like preaching to the converted. After stroking my beard for an extended period, I decided that the ads should enhance the personal bond between Dirt Rag and our subscribers. I wanted to emphasize our personalized service and customer-first ethos. After all, didn’t have a subscription department. We had a subscription person—me. At that time, you called the 800, and I entered your subscription, booked your renewal, changed your mailing address, or took your merchandise order.
The only thing that my one-man subscription department needed was name. I dub thee—Subscription Guy! Read the full storyTweet Print
By Karl Rosengarth
As I dove deep into the stack of archives from my most recent excursion in the Dirt Rag Time Machine, a thought occurred to me. Wouldn’t it be fun to play a little trivia quiz game?
Sure it would!
I even came up with a name for my game: Hüsker Dü? Rag. (I hope the makers of the original game have a sense of humor.)
Here’s how it goes… Below I’ve posted a series of pics from the Dirt Rag archives, along with clues, and a question about each item. Your challenge is to post your answer(s) in the comments below. You’re allowed one answer per question. I’ll let you know if you’ve answered correctly or not. Here we go!
Back in the day, folks took bike limbo seriously. Perhaps a little too seriously, from the looks of that bloody shin. Can you name the “very popular in the ‘90s” mountain bike festival at which this action shot was taken?
I pity the fool that doesn’t read Dirt Rag! Can you name the artist of this fine drawing? (hint: appeared as full-page art in 1996).
The following illustration by John Hinderliter came from a column that appeared several times over the years. The column revealed the “true” meaning behind riders’ words. Can you name the title of the column?
What the hell are these people doing, and where are they doing it?
I love this action shot of Chris Cosby (Dirt Rag’s former Ad Guy) Johnny Surfing on Bradley Woehl’s Bicycle Trader cargo bike at the 1997 Anaheim Interbike show. Can you name the fine, upstanding motel where these shenanigans went down (hint: it’s shown in the background)?
In the early ‘90s we had fun during deadlines, cutting and pasting tiny drawings in the “white space” that was left over at the end of articles and in the page margins. It’s interesting to note the all of the “margin art” came from the same art contributor. Can you name the artist?
That’s it for the first installment of Hüsker Dü? Rag. Is there a prize for answering correctly? Why yes—the glory of victory! Not to mention our eternal gratitude for being a Dirt Rag fanboy or fangirl.
Please forgive the condition of some of the above items. Time travel is rough on paper.
I’ve got more archival goodies up my sleeve future posts, so don’t be a stranger.Tweet Print
Issue #171 isn’t the first time Missy Giove has graced our pages. Check out these two interviews we pulled from the archives.
Issue #33 – October 1, 1993
Issue #105 – February 15, 2004
Read the latest interview
Pick up a copy of Dirt Rag Issue #171 to read the full interview with Missy. It has shipped to subscribers and will hit newsstands on July 2. Click here to see more online extras from the story.Tweet Print
By Karl Rosengarth
Chances are you’ve never met former Dirt Rag employee Emmet B. Handy. Despite the fact that he’s never ridden a bicycle, let me assure you that Emmet is a legend among Dirt Rag staffers. For several years, Emmet played a critical role in the production of the magazine.
I figure it’s high time that the rest of the world learns the truth about this hidden hero. I recently caught up with Emmet, and we talked about the old days, and what he’s been up to lately.
Dirt Rag: When did you start working for Dirt Rag?
Emmet B. Handy: I got hired officially in February of 1998. That’s when my name first appeared on the masthead, on Issue #63. My official job title was Production Support. But before that time, I just showed up at the office during deadlines and helped out, unofficially.
Just showing up—that was the tried and true method for getting hired at Dirt Rag, back in the day.
For sure. As John Herron, another Dirt Rag alum, confessed in his Issue #100 interview: "I started as an intern. I didn’t make it to the office much, but worked hard when I did show up. I don’t think I’m the only Dirt Rag employee to have started by just showing up. It’s hard to fire someone you do not pay, and after a few months it’s hard not to pay someone who’s been there a few months." I love that quote. It pretty much sums up my situation too.
So, what exactly was your Production Support role?
You have to appreciate that, back in 1998, deadlines were a hectic time. Making sure that The Rag made it "out the door" on time involved some late nights—which were fueled by copious quantities of beer and M&M’s. That’s where I came in. I dispensed the M&M’s.
Can you elaborate a bit on the M&M’s dispensing, for the sake of those who’ve never seen you in action?
Huh? I always figured that a plastic M&M’s dispenser was a rather simple concept, but here goes: Open the latch on my back, fill me with M&M’s, close latch. You with me so far?
Yeah, go on [laughs].
Then, whenever you need a boost: you cup your left hand, position it below my right hand, and then pull down on my raised left arm with your right hand. Jackpot! A fistful of fury… a cornucopia of candy-coated chocolaty consumables.
How long did you serve as Production Support?
I held down that title through Issue #83, which was November of 2000. I stuck around for some time after that, and helped out here and there.
So what happened? To your job, I mean.
Well, the whole operation got more efficient, and deadlines settled down. Fewer late night sessions meant less demand for my services. Eventually, I got replaced by care packages filled with Momma Browne’s snickerdoodles—delivered right to the doorstep during deadlines. Nowadays I hear that deadline salvation comes in the form of banana bread, courtesy of Elizabeth Hildreth. Another reason to love the UPS driver, but no love for lil’ old Emmet.
Aw man, you know we still love you.
No worries. It was probably for the best. It turns out that my cousin had this really bomber gig with a NASCAR team, and I hooked up with them.
What to do you do for them?
What the hell you think? I dispense M&M’s.
Well… I think that about wraps it up then.
I should hope so [laughs].Tweet Print
By Karl Rosengarth
Over the years, “reader contributions” have had a major influence on Dirt Rag‘s unique flavor. I thought it would be fun to fire up the Dirt Rag Time Machine and make a trip back to the days when black-and-white reader art graced the pages of The Rag. Jump in and fasten your seat belts. If you have a spare flux capacitor, it wouldn’t hurt to pack it.
Forgive the less-than-pristine quality of some of the following items. Time travel is notoriously rough on paper.
First up, some roller-cam brakes that the old-timers should appreciate:
Next up, a bit of vintage humor, courtesy of Beth Covington (who holds the distinction of creating Dirt Rag’s first color cover on Issue #28).
Whoa, I think I spotted this dude on my last swing by Betelgeuse:
Keep an eye out for this character at the Bar at the End of the World:
Frankly, I’m not quite sure about this freak…
Comics have always been a favorite form of self-expression for Dirt Rag contributors. In addition to contributing a number of Dirt Rag covers, Pittsburgh illustrator/artist John Hinderliter contributed a series of Dirt Pilot comics. John’s humor frequently hit a little too close to home for comfort.
“Lenny The Mountain Bike” made several appearances over the years. Rubber side down…
That about does it for this trip back in time. Got some art or illustrations you’d like to share? Send ‘em to email@example.com.
Here’s wishing you a great 2013.Tweet Print