How DIRT Dads Get It Done

How DIRT Dads Get It Done

ON June 16, 2019 by Zwift

Why do you Zwift? Is it the weather? The lack of traffic and other hazards? Or perhaps you appreciate the structure of a solid training plan. Then again, it could be that you’ve built friendships with Zwifters, and enjoy riding together–we are a social platform after all.

There are many reasons Zwifters do what they do. But perhaps the most common reason is that indoor riding is efficient. Time-crunched athletes appreciate Zwift’s ability to pack a great workout into a tight schedule. No need for cold-weather gear, miles of riding to find decent roads, or schedule-juggling to find riding buddies. Just hop on when you can, do your thing, and hit the shower.

One team of Zwifters embodies this “efficiency ethos” more than most, and this Father’s Day we wanted to learn what they’re all about. Meet Team DIRT: Dads Inside Riding Trainers.

Founded in September 2018 by Jason Stern, Ken Nowell, and Doug Mastroianni, the team’s Facebook group quickly grew to over 2,000 members. Many DIRT riders participate in Zwift races, but the majority don’t race–they joined the team for the sense of camaraderie.

DIRT founder Jason Stern

We asked the DIRT squad one question: “How do you balance fatherhood with bike training/racing?” One common answer involved waking up early to get the training done before the kids are awake. But other themes emerged as well, like including your children in rides, finding ways to make the Zwift experience fun for everyone, and carving out dedicated family time.


“Zwift allows me, and all of us, to find our training time in the spaces that aren’t taken up by kids/family/career. For me, that means riding first thing in the morning before/while my wife gets the kids ready for school, then coming home from work and being able to prioritize family.” ~Martin Heintzelman

“I get up early to get my ride in before the family is up. If they wake up while I’m biking its a 50/50 (more like 90/10) split if I stop or not. Typically I will not stop unless I am needed. Zwift offers me the opportunity to be home and able to stop if needed. Why do I not stop? Simply stated I bike early so that after work is non-negotiable family time. I have bike time, and I have family time. From the photo you can see that the two will overlap and as he sees me on the bike in the morning, he wants to go on rides to the park and around town.” ~ Rob Bozovich

“My two oldest daughters riding in our garage. We have three adopted daughters and are also foster parents to many more who are all welcomed to ride in the “Bike Garage” when the weather is cold. We have four stations set up and Zwift’s minor accounts are very useful in our household.

My balance has gotten miles better now that indoor riding is fun and more efficient with Zwift. In Wisconsin, winter is more than half the year. The time to get my cold gear on, clean the bike up from the salt and water, the hour-long shower to thaw out, it all made riding take up more of my life. I wasn’t willing to give up that much family time to ride, so I backed off quite a bit when we were over three kids, eventually eight kids at some point.

I race in the cat two field, which means I have to be in great shape to hang with the 1/2 races. The turbo has focused my training AND allows me to be home and be present with the kids, or include them when they want. When they were younger, I could screen share the ride to the family room TV and they would be yelling from the other room.

The balance has been much better with Zwift, and has been giving my kids the ability to join in a way that makes life fun and healthy for them.” ~ Daniel Lawrence

“I find time when I can. Family comes first, but bikes come alive when the family goes to bed.” ~ T.J. Stone

“After 25 years off the bike, I joined Zwift late January 2019. Joined DIRT shortly after and found a bunch of dads riding, getting healthy and having fun all while being a dad and husband. DIRT is its own little family and I see the support for riding and training along with personal support too. DIRT’s early morning rides help me get the riding done early so I can be present and happy for all family events for the day. Outdoor rides with my boys on weekends are a blast too. This makes me feel young again!” ~ Erik Dickes

“My rides normally start around 4:00 am. Gotta get done before the family is up and moving. Works out great with the DIRT family. The motivation is amazing. Met so many awesome dads that share the same lifestyle and goals. Physically drained and mentally refreshed. The rest of the time is focused on the family. Kids see that staying fit is part of a well-rounded life.” ~ Ed Zook

“We try to combine some 20-30km outdoor rides with e-bike and trailer with me following on the road bike. When we find a good playground we stop and play with the kids. Then, in the evening and especially in winter, some roller training combined with Zwift.” ~Herr Chiflamica

“Zwift has opened so many doors to help me maintain the balance of being a father and being a competitive cat 1 cyclist. Being able to train before daylight opens huge opportunities. It allows you so much more time in the day to fit training around your daily life or job and responsibilities. Racing at the pro level domestically takes hours of training and before Zwift I sacrificed family time for bike time. Now I no longer have to make that choice! So thankful for the Zwift training platform and the community built around it!” ~ Timmy Bauer

“…Zwift allows me to get up and ride at 5 am so I can be focused on being a dad while the family is awake.” ~Matt Thoman

“Intervals on intervals on intervals… no junk miles!! So I can spend more time with the girls than time in the saddle. I like to get up in the 5 am hour, a couple of hours before the family wakes up to get the looooooong ones in!” ~ Aaron Cox

The DIRT team isn’t just made up of dads. Everyone is welcome, and some members don’t have kids. The team includes a good number of mothers (MIRTS?) as well.

“This is a picture of us on vacation with our kids at New Year’s. We brought our trainer and bikes and hopped on while the kids watched movies. Balance.” ~Natalie Broadnax

“While it’s still a little tough to balance work training and a whole family without getting the ‘You work all the time and if you’re not working you are on your bike’ card, Zwift and DIRT have made it a lot easier to put in training in between everything.” ~Ivan Hernandez

“Nothing beats outside but Zwift helps keep me spinning after bedtime and during naps!” ~Matt Plappert

“While my kids are a little young to ride outside with me, they like to cheer me on when I’m on Zwift. My daughter loves it when I go ‘underwater to the volcano’ and says hi to the dolphins every time. My son is a little too rambunctious and likes to get dangerously close to the rear wheel.

Zwift and DIRT helped me shift my entire life schedule around for the better. I was always a night owl who slept in as late as possible without being late for work. This made waking up with the kids a very hard task. I got into Zwift on TdZ this year, and found DIRT through seeing the tag everywhere. From there, the race addiction started and I was getting up at 5:00 am to race with the DIRT teams. With FTP increases, teamwork, and just having a great time, I’m now up early with the kids on days I don’t ride, which my wife LOVES as it allows her to sleep in a bit more often. Those sleep in days earn “dad points” to be able to go for nice long outdoor rides on weekends, as well. Win/win!” ~Casey Ferguson