Friday, July 13, 2012

dirt quest

Another spring has passed, as has another Dirt Rag Dirt Fest. This year marks the third Dirt Fest at Raystown, and the fifth overall. Spanning nearly two decades, Dirt Fest remains an event that few can really grasp or understand without attending. Dirt Fest is an event originally conceptualized in 1990 by a the fine folks at Dirt Rag Publishing. At the time, Dirt Rag was an an up-and-coming mountain bike magazine published in Pittsburgh, trying to communal fun on the mountain bike. 

Ranger Gwinn, Evan G., and Friends of Raystown Mr. Ron Rabena get ready for the tape cutting and four years of arguments, agreements, handshakes, and head shakes. 
The event started as an informal weekend away in the woods at Camp Soles, Rockwood, PA. as both a celebration of the mountain bicycle and a camping weekend with new friends. After two years at Camp Soles, Dirt Rag put the event on hold as the focus on journalism took center stage.  As the sport of mountain bicycling grew, so did the magazine, industry, and mountain bicycle trails. 
Evening of May 9th 2009, when the Allegrippis became infamous
In 2009, word of the grand opening of the Allegrippis Trails spread on the mountain bicycle internet forums. So much so, that on the day of the ribbon cutting more than 400 folks showed up ready to ride.  One of the parties in attendance was Dirt Rag publishing, whom took notice of this newly developed venue.  With the underlying goal of Dirt Fest as an event that "promotes the mountain bicycling community" and focuses on bringing new riders into that community, the Allegrippis Trails and Raystown Lake appeared to serve as the perfect venue for an event such as this. 
Man with a plan at the Grand Opening.
After the Grand Opening, Dirt Rag's publisher-in-chief Maurice Tierney contacted Evan Gross of Rothrock Outfitters and Raystown Mountain Bicycling Association, for information on the event and how things went. After a few different conversations about the culture of the sport, the new trail system, and the goal of Dirt Fest to bring riders together, it seemed a natural partnership. In the winter of 2010, the first Dirt Fest to occur in nearly two decades was tentatively planned for that May. 
Expo Central at 2012 Dirt Rag Dirt Fest.
Photo:Rob Sharer
Fast forward two years, and we have an event drawing over two thousand people from thirty-five states, four countries, and hundreds of bicycle clubs. The benefit to the community cannot only be seen in the hotels and restaurants, but with the growing pedal-friendly community riding around the towns and back roads of the greater Raystown region. 

Rebecca Rusch and the women's only clinics a huge success at Dirt Fest 2012
Photo: Rob Sharer
Prep night with Raystown Mountain Bicycling Association Members and friends. Atop the houseboat HQ.
Photo: Rob Sharer