You’ve most likely heard of the Dirt Fund Project by now. If you haven’t, it is, without a doubt, one of the feel-good mountain biking stories of the year!
Emerald MTB contributor Stephen McEvoy had a chat with Dan about a bit of everything.
1: Dan tell us a bit about yourself, would you be a ‘ride when I can mountain biker’ or one that makes sure you get a couple of spins in each week?
Well, I’m a 40-something-year-old dude who’s obsessed with mountain biking, especially enduro and downhill. Love to take part in events, tinker with bikes, and make shit happen to help others. I live here on the Wild Atlantic Way in Galway City, so some travel is required to get to trails with elevation, but it’s all good. Ride wise, I’m a bit in-between I suppose, in my head, I want to be riding all the time, but I defo try to get out during the week and at the weekend.
2: How did you get into mountain biking and are you riding long yourself? And was it for fitness or getting out with a few people to socialise?
Mountain biking any way regularly started for me about 7- 8 years ago, before that, I was on the road. Then it was just one of my mates, Murray, kept asking me to take part in some enduros and give them a go, so sooner or later I said ya why not and quickly frightened the life out of myself at the Dunkeld Enduro (which is in Scotland, I was living over there at the time). Mountain biking was mostly for fun, but getting fitter defo is a cool thing about it.
3: You were inspired by a video of Ben Cathro helping out some privateers at a race last year. Did you ever see your idea capturing people’s attention so much?
You know this idea kicked off after watching that vid, and then a quick WhatsApp group message and we just got started, we quickly got to a grand to hand out due to us all putting cash in ourselves and some help from a fellow mountain biker Lance Gauld at Cloud Cover IT up in Scotland.
We thought that was it, lets help one rider and call it a day. But the second we spoke to Calum McBain and told him he was getting a payout, and seeing how much it meant to him, well, then we knew we had to continue and figure this thing out.
The cash is out there, the privateers are out there, the talent in MTB in UK/Ireland is unreal. We just need to have this place to collect the cash together and collectively support some riders.
4: You have been offered some nice gear to raffle off over the year, how does it feel when riders and companies are willing to give you their pieces?
Oh, it’s bloody amazing! The support we have had is phenomenal, to date we have paid out 5000GBP/Euro and we plan at least another 1000 if not 2000 cash to be paid out in the coming months. It can only happen with the support of the MTB cycling community, pro riders, and cool companies willing to get involved. When someone just gets what we’re doing it’s so cool.
It’s a bit hard to understand for some because we are not a business, this is a project. That’s hard for some to process, because they are thinking, ‘Hold on what’s in it for these guys? Why aren’t they trying to make money out of this, are they making money out of this?’ Well. we’re not, and we don’t want to. This is about helping others, pure and simple. What do we get out of it - shit tons of feel-good factor, shit tons of cool interactions with cool people and companies, the knowledge that we’re making a difference to such dedicated riders - and that’s worth more than anything.
5:You have a great group of people working with you here in Ireland and in Britain, do you find The DirtFundProject works better because of that?
That’s a certainty, the group of dirtbag mates behind the project come from all walks of life, with MTB’ing being the common factor. And they love the sport, whether that’s riding, tinkering with bikes, photographing bikes and riders, whatever, we all love it! With so many different backgrounds we have a range of viewpoints on how to make this work, and so far it’s going really well.
6: You have got to meet some of the people that the project has helped, how does it feel when you see these racers out on the trails knowing that an idea you had has helped with their dreams?
It’s pure class man, pure class. It’s so exciting to follow, although also quite hard, neither the EWS nor the UCI WC timing systems live tracking are exactly easy to use state of the art yet and Red Bull TV doesn’t show the juniors on WC Weekends, which is annoying. But I’m sure all that will get better with time. But, you know, on Instagram you can keep track of most of the stuff going on around race weekend. Meeting the guys and gals we have helped is cool, everyone’s so chilled and just loves MTB.
7: What would The DirtFundProject like to achieve going forward?
So hard to answer on one hand with certainty, and so easy to answer with 1000 options! But one thing is for sure, we want to continue. We want to get more brands and pros behind this project. We want to get the support we need to continue running the Dirtfund project. But in essence, we want to provide the support that UK/Irish privateer EWS and WCDH racers need to compete at the highest level globally.
To do that 1000 cash payouts alone isn’t going to cut it. They need more, but also more than just cash, they need information, knowhow, coaching, mentoring… the list goes on. It’s tough, and it can be a lonely sport, and it makes no sense to me for each of these youngsters to be relearning the way each time, when we should be able to provide a road map, resources, contacts, etc. to help them reach their full potential and succeed.
8: With the sport of mountain biking becoming less of a minority sport and being more mainstream, do you think there does need to be more support for the sport?
There sure does. I think Cycling Ireland and British Cycling need to up their game for Enduro and WCDH. I think more needs to be done in Ireland with regards to trails; trail building, access to trails. And it needs to be all above board. Riders can’t be feeling like criminals for building some trails of the quality they need to be able to compete on the world stage.
9: You recently got to race at the 2nduro in Ballyhoura, how did you find it? You had a mechanical in the morning, did you feel any pressure on you to get it fixed as it was a team event. And are you going to do any more races this year?
The 2Nduro was sick. So well organised. Kudos needs to go to all the folk who put time and effort into those trails, the organising of the event, the marshals, and the leprechaun at the top of stage 1. Well done all, such a fun event - we defo need more 2Enduro type events.
Yeah, that bloody Bottom Bracket. Went out to the shed in the morning to get the bike, and the bloody thing was seized, well bearing was shot on the right-hand side. Usually, I do a full strip-down and rebuild of my bike late in the year for which I’d been gathering parts. So I had a new BB ready to go in. The pressure was on though as I hadn’t planned for that job. I didn’t want to be late for Daithi my teammate. Anyways, it was all grand in the end.
Yep will be at Carrick in early Sept which I’m looking forward to. It’s a great place to ride. It would be so great to get the EWS back there in the coming years.
10: If money was no object, what bike would you have in the morning?
The million-dollar question. You know I love my Propain Tyee and have it dialled in over the last 6 months to how I like it. But, if there was cash to burn, I’d probably go for an e-bike like the new Privateer E-161, or the Nukeproof MegaWatt also looks so sick. Think as a second bike E is the way to go.
Most Recent Dirt Fund Supported Riders
The Dirt Fund Project is a non-profit organisation entirely funded by donations, raffle ticket and merchandise sales. You can add your support to the project by buying a ticket to one of the frequent raffles, purchasing and modeling some of the merchandise offered on the website or by donating an amount of your choosing - from as little as the price of a cup of coffee up to the cost of a new frame.