#TheDIRTeffect: definition: the positive benefit actualized as a result of joining DIRT Zwift Team

A few months ago, the term The DIRT Effect started popping up on our Facebook page. We started noticing all of these positive benefits that were happening for our members. We were seeing screen shots of race results and wins, new FTP (Functional Threshold Power) increases, and members posting stories of dramatic weight loss. There were before and after shots and encouraging comments. There were even posts about the positive mental health benefits from being part of our crew. I knew that we were seeing something unexpected. When we started this, we just wanted a Zwift team so we could pretend to be pros pedaling bikes in guests rooms and garages. We never imagined that our members would start making positive changes in their lives that would ripple through their careers, health and families.

This week, I reached out to some of the people that I know that have seen these positive benefits and got them to tell me about how they experienced #TheDIRTeffect.

Brian Carver is our Race Director and is front and center in our community. He’s a strong enough rider to go for the win in B Races but chooses to race for his friends. He says “The DIRT effect for me is as much about the mentality as any physical progress. Like everyone, I’m riding more, losing weight, gaining watts, upgrading, etc. DIRT is responsible for that, but the community has changed my entire outlook on cycling. I’ve participated in team sports for my entire life, and finding DIRT has allowed me to be a team player in cycling as well, which was entirely a solo affair before. I now derive more enjoyment out of my teammate’s achievements than I do my own, and the thought that my own efforts can contribute in some small way to other people’s happiness is a huge motivator to work hard and better myself. DIRT is so much more than a loosely affiliated bunch of folks playing a video game together. I feel as close to these people–most of whom I will realistically never meet in the flesh–as any with whom I’ve shared a locker room or team bus. The DIRT effect is adding to my extended family.”

We love you Brian! Thanks for sharing your story of #TheDIRTeffect

Brian Carver getting ALL the love from his awesome kids!

Jason Mutchler, an armed forces veteran that was awarded The Purple Heart Medal for a severe combat related injury shared his DIRT Effect story as well. “ I’m Jason Mutchler. I joined DIRT in November of 2018 after I found Zwift in June of the same year. For me, the DIRTeffect hit me two-fold. It’s the carrot and the tailwind. Sure I have FTP increases and whatnot, but the community promotes growth as a team. When I work for a purpose outside my own interests, my output is magnified by the quality of riders with [DIRT] behind their name! This is great all by itself, but this carrot is also supportive when it’s caught or not. I have struggled as I try to squeeze every ability out of myself as I try to race as an A rider. I hit walls, crack, blow-up, hit podiums, and crack again….everything with the support of DIRT holding me up and pushing me on until I catch my breath, and attack once more!  DIRTeffect = Brotherhood.” 

Jason’s story has always been an inspiration to me. Thanks for taking the time to share this!

Jason lives on base in Minot, ND where the weather is beautiful as long as you’re inside

Tim Busick has a great DIRT Effect story. Tim has a huge motor and was carrying a few extra pounds and was not in peak condition when he joined our first Morning Grind Fondo race series. He raced that series as a Cat C rider and took the win for the series and now is racing as a high level Cat B rider. “For me the DIRT Effect is one of Personal Accountability. I know exercise is good for me but prior to DIRT I struggled with exercising consistently. I would start up for a few months, get in shape and then family, work and goofing off would get in the way. I started back up on Zwift in November last year and joined DIRT soon after. I have never exercised as consistently as I have over the last 5 months. Knowing that my DIRT Buddies will be racing the next day is all the motivation I need to get up and get going. DIRT Drag Racing and Super Secret Velodrome sessions keep it fun. Seeing myself and team members improve is addicting. Knowing that I have hundreds of DIRT Brothers who are dealing with the same challenges I am (and some significantly more than anything I have ever dealt with) makes me Personally Accountable.” Well said, Tim! I think many of us can relate!

Tim Busick (front) with Jason Stern in the Indoor Specialist Studio

For me, I could go on for way too long about The DIRT Effect but I will try to keep this short and sweet. The DIRT Effect is rekindling my creativity. For the first time in probably 20 years, I am writing (stuff like this), learning how to make flyers, and learning how to edit video. I have made friends all over the world. And I have seen real life race results. Last year, thanks to a massive leap in fitness, I won my first mountain bike races. After I stepped off the podium of my first win, I got on the phone to call my wife and a flood of emotions poured out. I will never forget that moment. I am not motivated enough to stay the course on my own. I am extroverted and social and every morning when I wake up for a DIRT event, I can’t wait to log on and start chatting it up with the boys on discord. Once my heart rate is over 100 BPM, I forget I am on a stationary bike. Zwift fools my brain and it feels exactly like a real group ride. The difference is, if I get dropped, I’m not 20 miles from home. If I blow it in a race, there were no entrance fees or elaborate family scheduling and travel necessary to make it to the start line so I can laugh it off. I no longer feel the same level of anxiety any more when I do an IRL race because I practice racing on Zwift every week. And that is my DIRT Effect.

It’s a very cool feeling standing on the top step!

Thanks for taking the time to read and I’ll see you in Watopia. RIDE ON!

Ken “The Badger” Nowell

[email protected]


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  1. mgardiner

    Man, these are all so good and so motivating. Ken, yours especially. Running MGF, and now IS, social media with Matt Brandt has been a ridiculously fun creative outlet that I don’t get in my job as a CPA (number crunching is fun in it’s own right!). I look forward to every day I get on the bike, no matter how much of a whooping I’m in for. As for outdoor racing, triathlons still give me some good nervous energy, but TT racing is a breeze after learning to punish myself on Zwift day after day.

    I’ve been racing Zwift for nearly 2 years now, but my enjoyment of the platform has skyrocketed since my path crossed with DIRT through building MGF. Cannot believe all that has happened since November 2018. Let’s keep growing and pushing!

  2. shawnskee22

    Brother such a great post!

    I wanted to share mine… but it is very … very … lengthy. Luckily I already started writing it out and it should appear soon. I can also get behind you regarding creativity. Cycling has long been my “creative” outlet as well as the emotional and physical outlet I need to ground myself. For the past 5 years none of that existed as I dealt with the challenges of being a new father. It wasn’t until I found DIRT that I was able to do it consistently like Busick mentioned. This community is always positive, always encouraging and always willing to help. The friendships we have created are also incredible, i’ll never forget the times you have randomly called me just to check in and say “hey brother it’s all good”.

    We have incredible stuff happening. It’s addictive to be a part of such a strong supportive group.


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