In the current issue of Dirt Rag (on sale now) you’ll find a ground-breaking interview with Reverend Bob Seals of CoolTool, Kleen Kanteen and Retrotec fame. This multi-faceted artist, activist, frame builder, race promoter and team owner, if not agitator, ran his whole operation out of his ranch just outside of Chico, California.
Seals was first interviewed in Dirt Rag #38 in July 1994 by Fernando Avallone and we strongly suggest you find and read that original interview, there’s too much there to miss. We also suggest you read the new interview by the same author in Issue #178 if you haven’t yet. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting select outtakes that didn’t make it to print. Most of these unimaginable stories are being told for the first time right here.Tweet
Our previous “Blast” dipped into Dirt Rag’s black/white reader art archives and featured a selection of monochrome masterpieces. This edition is a horse of a different color. We’ve put together a slide show of reader art that’s subtitled: In Living Color. Thanks again to all of the talented readers who’ve sent us their artwork over the years. We appreciate your creations, and enjoy sharing them with the world.Tweet
Since the very beginning, Dirt Rag has offered artistic types a welcoming space to showcase their creative talents. In addition to professional artists, whose works have graced magazine covers and illustrated feature stories, a number of regular readers have scored 15 minutes of fame via art appearing within the pages of Dirt Rag.
For a number of years, we regularly ran a half-page collage aptly named: Reader Art. While I’m sure folks were stoked to see their works in print, running five or six pieces on a half-page layout didn’t always do justice to the art.
The Dirt Rag blog to the rescue! I’ve decided to devote a series of “Blast From The Past” posts to showcasing some of my favorite Reader Art pieces. To honor Dirt Rag’s monochrome roots, I’m starting with some classic black-and-white artwork from days gone by.Tweet
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.Tweet
Thirty years after its debut, the famed race is scheduled to return this fall with racing of all types.Tweet
This 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).Tweet
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.Tweet
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.Tweet
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.
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?Tweet
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.Tweet
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.Tweet
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
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
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
"Missy said she wanted a picture of me with one of the MANY Schwinn cruisers that were parked everywhere. I struck a Missy pose for the photo without thinking about it on account of being such a fangirl. She said ‘Oh, I see what you’re doing there.’ I was actually so insanely embarrassed for being called on it that I aggressively feigned ignorance."
Anna Schwinn, author of the exclusive Missy Giove interview in Issue #171 is a bit of a bike industry legend herself. She grew up with two parents heavily involved in the industry and as a result she had a social connection to Giove via her parents having been friends with John Parker (original Yeti Cycles founder) and Jeff Ringle (Ringle components). In the mid-nineties her parents were starting up Waterford Precision Cycles and both Parker and Ringle were primary sponsors of Giove as she began her career.
There were family vacations where the Schwinn’s went and hung out with them, according to Anna. Parker’s daughter used to hang out with Giove. From talking to John, they bunked together when Missy came to Durango in 1990 for the World Championships and his daughter was never the same after that experience.
Anna’s parents were fans too. “My dad remembers seeing Giove barrel down a course ‘balls out’ on a bare front rim after a flat— he still gushes about how fucking amazing it was,” she said. “Mom tells me that she had to defend her support of my fan-girl-ism to people in the industry. Mom had matching Gonzo gloves actually, and made sure to scoop up the Missy gear for me when she would be out west for tradeshows.
“I had a ‘What would Missy do?’ moment when I entered the bike industry, actually. I knew I would stick out like crazy as a loud, tall, chick engineer with a recognizable last name. I figured the best way to play it was to be very solid on what I was about, not to apologize for it, and to rock what I did as hard as I possibly could. That frame of mind has been invaluable to me.”
During the course of Anna Schwinn’s visit to Missy’s home the two discovered that through their early connections that they knew a lot of the same people growing up so throughout the weekend Missy kept turning the conversation to try and interview Anna right back. “But that’s what she does,” Anna said. “She is always trying to drag everyone else into the picture.”
Giove: How interesting is it for you being someone creating something that so many people have fun on?
Schwinn: Oh, It’s the coolest thing in the world.
G: Or making their living on, you know like messengers, people who use your tools to actually be able to eat.
S: It’s super cool. Bikes make people happy, they serve all sorts of awesome purposes, like as a mode for working, creating endorphins, or transportation. I’m bad at being interviewed also…
S: I completely lucked out. In product design, generally, there are a lot of products that you try to inject with emotion. You’re trying to get people to have an emotional connection with, like, a blender. It’s part of selling it. But at the end of the day it’s a blender, or a toaster. It’s kind of a shallow aspect of product development.
G: Well I don’t look at it like that…
S: Well it’s not like that with bikes.
G: That’s what I’m saying. It’s not like a piece of toast; you’re creating a whole kind of life.
S: You’ll read stuff about people getting on your product and having it help them recuperate from war or as a meditative device or that people go on tours with it or where it becomes like an appendage instead of just some product. To be able to affect people, to have people ride your stuff every day. It’s so cool. They love it every day and you make their lives better. That’s probably why I’m doing bikes and not anything else, because bikes should be something that does that. They get people excited about living, about the environment, about their communities, because you experience your world in a completely different way when you do it on a bike.
G: I agree. It’s true.
S: It completely recontextualizes your whole life and your relationship to your community and your friends. It’s pretty much the coolest and I’m super lucky and fortunate that I get to do it.
G: That’s awesome. The other thing is that I know you are an avid—that you totally take the bus everywhere.
S. Well, in the winter…I am worried about hitting my head again, soon.
G: Yeah, I mean, that’s great. I’m talking about, yeah, in the wintertime. That’s like a whole other thing.
S: Well, I don’t have a car. Someone crashed into my car, totaled it a few years ago. But you don’t really need a car. It takes a little bit of extra work, depending on where you are, but if you live somewhere with awesome public transportation—but yeah, I mean, I like the bus. You interact with so many people that you would never interact with otherwise.
S: It’s like back when I used to sell plasma for school supplies.
G: Because of your bike. You don’t want to stay on two wheels in an icy winter.
S: Yeah, I’m not going to bike if I’m not comfortable. It was terrifying after my head injury to not be able to do arithmetic or read a map. My brain is what allows me to do what I like to do and it wasn’t working. The idea that I could lose all that; there was nothing more terrifying. I was like, "I’m not going to be able to go back to work, I can’t earn a living. I have product out there that people like but I want to do more."
G: That’s not a fun part about it, but I don’t want to, and this is something but I don’t want to dwell on it, but it’s been a big part of my history, injuries. You know what, there are lots of people who don’t have a hundredth of the physical, of what my body has been through, but they slip going across the road and they suffer the same thing. You can’t live your life avoiding that kind of thing.
S: Yeah. Nothing pisses off a neurologist more than telling them straight up when they say, "Stop drinking beer" that, "No, that’s probably not going to happen." Or, "Stop riding your bike," it’s like, "No, that’s not going to happen either." I’m not going to tell them that I’m not living how I actually live.
G: And what you’re doing is perfect because it’s good to be able to recognize that, okay, I still want to be able to do this because I’m going to do it. But not doing it, like now, I downhill and I downhill like a maniac still but when my wrist is broken I’m not going to downhill. I’m putting myself at more risk as I said before, I would probably go downhill with a broken wrist, but this way I’m still able to downhill but I’m not compensating so I don’t have a crash that’s more likely to happen because I have this injury. I just try to zero out that risk factor. Just like you’re not going to bike right now because you could wreck your head.
S: And I get a lot of shit for it.
G: You’re just being realistic.
S: I get a lot of shit for it, for not riding, amongst some people. I’m like, "I’m going to take a couple months off" and they’re awful about it. I think it takes a lot of self-security to say, "I could go do this but I’m uncomfortable with it and screw you if you think I’m a wuss about it. Wait until you hit your head and start slurring." When I started slurring speech, shit, that was bad.
G: I want to talk about how incredible it is that you’re a designer in a field that is really, really dominated by boys who may think they know better. Your shit that you make is so dope. It’s totally got your, it’s your signature stuff, it’s just great. Riding is art, and what you do is create some pretty incredible art.
S: Bike art.
G: That’s pretty awesome. How do you like the fact that you’re in…
S: Pretty shit?
G: Yeah, as much, it’s functional and it’s really pretty.
S: If pretty gets people stoked on something and emotionally attached to it, if it is something better, if pretty is, like, nectar, to get people on, like, doing something that makes their lives better, then, well, you want to get people on bikes in any way you can.
G: I love all the art aspect in any industry but I love the art aspect in, you know, your designs, I just think it’s so cool.
S: Man, that’s so cool. Like with All-City, I love All-City when you pay attention to beautiful details all over the bike then you draw attention to those details. Details ask questions, like, "Why is this the way it is?" I also don’t like symmetry in what I design. I like asymmetry because if you make something asymmetrical, people have to figure out why it was done that way. It gives people something to obsess about later. It makes people want to understand more about their bikes.
Also, if they grab it in a certain way or work on it in a certain way and it becomes a pleasurable experience because, for example, the top tube cable routing is on the inside of the frame so when you shoulder it to go up to your apartment because that’s how you live, that’s what you interact with everything every day… and it makes you more excited about that bike…
G: I understand completely… you don’t want your dreadlocks stuck in there for sure.
S: It’s cool. Anytime you can get people excited about bikes, it almost feels like it’s manipulative but I feel like it is manipulation for a good cause.
G: Yeah, definitely. Like with a lot of the downhill stuff I do, I push or carry my bike, so it’s push or carry…
S: And there are a lot of things you could catch a dreadlock in.
Schwinn, a self-proclaimed professional bike nerd, is currently lead engineer for Civia Cycles, Whisky Parts, Foundry Cycles and All-City Cycles. “Carbon and steel are my jam design materials,” she proclaims. “I love bikes and I love that I get to work to get other people to love bikes. I love that I get to work on the variety of products that I do. I work my butt off, but it’s awesome. I have my bike shop and Park Tool stand in my living room. Bikes rule everything around me. It’s a good life.”
Get a copy
Head on over to our online store to pick up a copy of Issue #171 for yourself!Tweet
Photos by A. E. Landes, Matt Kasprzyk and Maurice Tierney.
Then and now. On the left she is showing off Gonzo, the pirahna she wore around her neck during races.
Though she’s lived high atop the World Cup circuit, Missy is now her own mechanic.
But her old Foes DH1 Mono still works and she can certainly still shred.
Life is a lot more mellow now in her home of Virginia Beach. Missy says she has given away all her bikes to people who had ridden them and fallen in love with them.
She has a few relics from the past, but not many. She says she would love to compete again.
Only the trophy case would indicate the tidy apartment Missy shares with her wife Kristen is the home of a former World Champion.
Always an animal lover, she currently tears it up with her dog Dash.
Along with Gonzo the fish, Missy used to race with the ashes of her beloved dog Ruffian tucked into her bra.
“It’s all good, and I’m happy to be here and I’m happy to have had all the experiences I have had in my life,” she said.
Get a copy
Head on over to our online store to pick up a copy of Issue #171 for yourself!Tweet
By Karl Rosengarth
If a rider hucks the gnar and nobody is there to film it, did it really happen? Thanks to folks like Bjørn Enga, that question is pretty much a moot point.
After striking a deal in 1996 with Surfer Publications to produce a show called "Bike TV" for the Outdoor Life Network, Enga formed Radical Films with business partner Christian Begin, and sallied forth in a purple bus to make history.
The business deal permitted Enga to keep the footage and use it for whatever purposes he desired. In April of 1998 Enga released "Kranked—Live to Ride", which exposed the biking community to freeriding—the likes of which, most folks had never seen before. It’s fair to say that the Kranked film series ushered in a new era in bicycle-related filmmaking.
I recently caught up with Enga via email and learned more about the man behind the lens, and what he’s been up to lately.
Name: Bjørn Enga
Occupation: Filmmaker / Kranked brand
Hometown: Granthams Landing, British Columbia
Current location: Kranked Studios, Sunshine Coast, British Columbia
Number of years mountain biking: Since 1982. Super into it since 1986 when I graduated from high school.
First mountain bike: My sisters Japanese made Asahi.
Current main bike: Kranked Viper electric-assist DH freeride rig!
Riding style: Electrified.
Favorite trail: Pressure Drop loop from my front doorstep and back, 14.5 km singletrack climb/descend in 1 hour flat.
How did you get into mountain biking?
Grew up on Fromme Road in Lynn Valley on the North Shore of Vancouver. The forest was my back yard. A huge playground to explore, and the mountain bike was the vehicle!
How did you get started in the bike industry?
Ski bum turned publishing entrepreneur (SkiFreak Radical / Bikefreak Radical / Freak Radical) to Bike TV freeride TV shows, to making the "Kranked—Live to Ride" freeride movie, and then seven other freeride movies.
What was the inspiration and motivation for your first Kranked film: "Kranked—Live to Ride"?
The inspiration and motivation in late 1996 and early 1997 to make "Kranked—Live to Ride" was essentially to show the world what "freeriding" really was. Both Christian Begin, the Director, and myself came from the ski/mountain culture of BC. We grew up with and were involved in ski and snowboard films. We were also avid mountain bikers and wanted to bring the excitement of riding to the big screen. We felt that we had something to give and were excited to give it a shot!
What role do you feel that your films played in the growth of freeriding and the gravity side of mountain biking in general?
I think it is fair to say that we were the first film to really capture and spread the awesome, exciting riding, building and scene as it was just beginning. Our goal was to spread the awareness of what was happening in BC and inspire and stoke other people to follow our lead. I would also like to think that we raised the bar a bit with our filmmaking too!
What are you up to these days?
I am growing ‘Kranked" as a brand right now so that I can create my own film budgets! I am really into kids bikes and have a campaign under way, "Every Kid Deserves a Wicked Bike". This is a marketing initiative I am trying to launch that basically encourages adults to get their kids great bikes! I have been putting together cool bikes with this in mind starting with some 20-inch hardtails! I am also really into high performance electric assist mountain bikes and am putting together amazingly fun bikes. We are launching Kranked RiDES eco tours on these this summer in Whistler to spread the awareness and spread the fun!
What’s your favorite thing about working in the bike industry?
Getting brand new bikes that every year that get radder and radder! Meeting people from all over the world that share the passion and love to ride. Being able to call wicked adventures work! Hahaaa!
Tell me something about yourself that most people would be surprised to learn.
I grew up listening to ABBA
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just a shout out to Dirt Rag! Great publication, great vibe and a great stoke!
The video clip below is from Kranked Kracked (Juniper Ridge, Kamloops, July 15, 1997). Old school is in session, with Wade Simmons and Aaron Knowles showing the class how it was done, back in the day.Tweet