Dirt Rag Magazine

#tbt: Show us your tattoo


Shawn Brooks

With acres upon acres of cool bikes and gadgets on display at the annual Interbike trade show, it’s tough to get noticed. Exhibitors battle to attract the roving hordes to their booths. Most employ tried and true tactics: booze, booth babes and boatloads of booty (as in pirates’ booty, a.k.a. swag).

Dirt Rag has always been know for rolling its own. In 1996 our booth buzz scheme was a “Show Us Your Tattoo” promotion. We invited ink-bearing attendees to stop by our booth and have their body art documented via color Polaroid snapshots, which we posted on the back wall of our booth.

Dirt Rag Issue #55 featured a full-page black-and-white collage of our favorite 20 tattoos from the show. While rummaging through the Dirt Rag “hardocpy” archives, I stumbled upon the original tattoo Polaroids.

Eureka! This gold mine needed to be shared—in living color.

So without further ado, I give your “Our Favorite Tattoos” from Interbike 1996.

Click here to see the gallery.

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A brief history of the Dirt Rag Office Dogs


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Canine co-habitation has long been a part of the casual atmosphere that prevails at Dirt Rag headquarters. From rides to relaxation, they are a constant companion. Some are gone, some are still with us, but they all warm our heart – and our toes under our desk.

With the assistance of the respective poochies’ partners, I offer this tribute to the four-legged denizens of Dirt Rag, past and present.

Meet them here.

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25th Anniversary: 25 years of dirt to dish


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dr-anniversary-logo copyThis year is a major milestone for Dirt Rag. We’re celebrating 25 years of printing the magazine. The ‘Rag has gone from being hand-stapled in Maurice and Elaine Tierney’s basement for East Coast consumption in 1989 to where we are today in 2014: enjoying rapid circulation growth and distribution across the globe.

As part of the celebration our next issue will feature special content that’s sure to become a collector’s item. One feature story, written by Gary Boulanger, is an inside look at the history of Dirt Rag with an inside view of how it all began and how we got to where we are. As part of that, I’d like to share a few extra stories over the next few weeks that came out of Gary’s research. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them as much as I do and will look forward to reading this special feature when it arrives on newsstands April 1 or in your mailbox even sooner if you’re a subscriber (hint, hint).

Read about some of Dirt Rag’s not-so-illustrious moments here.

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Blast from the Past: The Original Dirt Fest


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The first edition of Dirt Rag’s Dirt Fest took place in 1991 at Camp Soles, a YMCA youth camp located in the Laurel Highlands, just east of Pittsburgh. For me, that era represents a magical time, marked by glorious tribal gatherings known as mountain bike festivals.

In fact, I’d learned about Dirt Fest from some friends that I met at the legendary Jim Thorpe Mountain Bike Weekend. I attended the first Dirt Fest as a “civilian.” A few months after the event, I became friends with the Dirt Rag crew by showing up at their weekly rides in Pittsburgh, and about a year later I landed my first job at the magazine.

Compared to Dirt Fest’s current incarnation, the original event was decidedly chill. There was no vendor expo bristling with the bleeding edge of bicycle technology. Demo rides amounted to swapping bikes with a newfound friend. I seem to remember a bonfire, and somebody playing a guitar—a far cry from The Earthtones jamming for a circus tent full of free-beer-lubricated mountain bikers.

Read more and see photos from the original Dirt Fest.

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Throwback Thursday: Artistic Interpretations of The Old Coot


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Over the course of an amazing 19-year run, Bill Boles stepped into a nearby phone booth seven times per year, and emerged toting yet another installment of The Old Coot. Starting with Dirt Rag #15 and running through issue #153, The Old Coot dispensed a potent blend of riding tips, mechanical tricks, and practical New Englander wisdom—in a unique, homespun style.

Contributing a legacy of 139 columns was not only a mind-boggling demonstration of journalistic superpowers, but it was also a boon for artists. All of those columns would need illustrations, after all.

Over the years, Dirt Rag has been graced with a dazzling array of artists’ interpretations of the Coot. I thought it would be fun to recap the artistic history of the Old Coot, and share some of my favorite Coot artwork.

Click here to see our favorites.

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Blast from the past – Origin of the Specialty Files


In its present format, The Specialty Files is a recurring print column in Dirt Rag that is written by Jeff Archer, and features a vintage bike from his collection at the Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology in Statesville, N.C.

However, the earliest installments of The Specialty Files featured serendipitous discoveries that Maurice spied while jaunting cross-country, during the heyday of the Dirt Rag World Tour. Maurice leaned on Jeff to help provide background details on the unearthed rigs.

The Specialty Files first appeared in Dirt Rag issue #104, which was published on Nov. 15, 2003. It featured Dan Smith’s sweet 1987 Cannondale SM600, with its unique 24/26-inch mismatched wheels.

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Dan is a Pittsburgh homeboy that was a regular fixture on the infamous Dirt Rag Thursday night ride back in the early 1990s. Some years ago Dan and his mountain biking wife Sara relocated to Salt Lake City.

As I re-read the original story, my mind got to thinking about that old bike. Did Dan still have it? Was it running? Did he hit any sweet jumps on it?

Click here to find out.

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Bicycles on Snow: Iditabike 1988


I just stumbled across this amazing documentary originally shot for the Discovery Channel about the second-ever Iditabike race across Alaska—210 miles of frozen toes and ruddy cheeks. Produced by Mark Forman, it won the Interbike Film Festival in 1994.

The technology (and fashion!) sure has changed over the last 25 years. I can’t wait to see what bikes we’ll be riding 25 years from now.

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Trailer: The Rider and the Wolf


Crested Butte in 1980 still echoed with the hammers of miners, not the rumble of knobby tires on singletrack. But that was about to change as a young blue-eyed man named Mike Rust wrenched madly, transforming old Schwinn cruiser bikes into some of Colorado’s first mountain bikes. When the Californians like Gary Fisher and Joe Breeze arrived to test their fancy new bikes on CB’s storied terrain, Rust was ready and spun his way uphill into the ranks of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. Like fresh raw singletrack, Rust cut a path through Colorado’s early days of mountain biking in a swirl of dust mixing innovation, independence, irreverence and a band of Irish brothers into America’s true wild west.

Then he dissappeared without a trace.

The mystery of Rust’s life and disappearance is chronicled in the new film The Rider and the Wolf, from Grit & Thistle films.

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Throwback Thursday: The origins of Dirt Rag’s ‘Subscriptions Guy’


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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 story

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