From a mad moment on a Whatsapp group chat to 24hours later buying the domain! This is the story behind The Dirt Fund Project and their exceptional vision to help privateer racers in the Enduro World Series or World Cup Downhill reach their goals!
We got in touch with Daniel O’Shea and wanted to know more behind this awesome idea.
Here is what he had to say.
LET US START WITH WHO IS IT FROM THE DIRT FUND PROJECT THAT WE ARE CHATTING WITH?
It’s Daniel O’Shea, Irishman here – I have lived for years in Stirling in Scotland and that’s where I really got into mountain biking.
SO LET'S DIVE RIGHT IN, WHAT IS THE DIRT FUND PROJECT?
The idea of the project is to raise cash from the mountain bike community and brands to support the UK and Irish privateers who race in the Enduro World Series or UCI World Cup Downhill. We want to give these privateers a meaningful amount of cash, which we figure is £1000. This is an amount we feel each rider can put to great use for kit, accommodation, race entry, fuel etc.
WHO IS BEHIND THE DIRT FUND PROJECT?
There is 9 of us behind the project(Louise, Dan, Murray, Kenny, Mike, Ned, David, Angus and myself), all mates who met one way or another through mountain biking. Whether that is through bumping into someone in a bike shop and being mates since, to meeting on the Tran Wales, or tour de mount blanc or meeting on a trail. Its just goes like that with mountain biking I think the community is so chilled and welcoming you must make mates everywhere.
I FULLY AGREE, BUT WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM?
So the idea literally happened over a couple of minutes on a group chat. Murray shared Ben Cathro’s video from Maribor (VIDEO BELOW), when I watched it I just thought, what a legend helping out privateers when he couldn’t race himself. One second later I said to the group, we could set something up and help privateers, and it was like instantaneous. everyone came back, yes, yes, I’m in, yes, count me in. And that was it. If there had been a delay in the response this would not have got off the ground.
YOU ONLY SET THIS UP IN 2020, HOW HAS THE RESPONSE BEEN?
Ya November time in 2020 we kicked this off, after that group chat we literally went online bough the domain name, and website host and put in like £100 each to start the ball rolling. And that was that we were committed, this was going to happen one way or another. From there we immediately got great feedback and Lance at Cloud CoverIT was one of the first to jump on board and say “love it, ill throw a lump of cash in”, which got us to where we needed to be to help the first privateer. From there we have had unreal support from the MTB community, especially in hard times, this hasn’t been and easy year for anyone and here we are asking people to put their hand in their pocket for someone they don’t even know, and for a fund they know nothing about. The trust has been inspiring, and we want to keep that trust, that is why we are being as transparent as we are with everyone we come across and try to stay full connected.
SO FAR YOU HAVE SUPPORTED 3 RIDERS, HAVE YOU GOT ANY MORE IN THE PIPELINE? // HAVE YOU GOT A TARGET NUMBER OF RIDERS TO SUPPORT?
Ya this is evolving. Listen we started this with the idea of helping one, at most two riders for the 2021 season, we were thinking wow, can you imagine raising £2000 and handing that out how cool would that be. What happened as you know by now is we got to the first pay out pretty quickly and it was such a cool thing to chat with Calum and hand over the cash, that we got a bit excited and were determined to support two riders. Then you know that was a bit slower and we were chatting and we were like ok there are always choices, slow down or speed up, generally speed up is a good solution. So we agreed there and then to support five riders even though cash was slow coming in, we said screw it we will figure it out one way or another. Five Riders, one from each country in the UK and Ireland.
- Calum receiving his pay out -
SO WHAT IS THE CITERIA YOU ARE LOOKING FOR IN YOUR RIDERS?
The min criteria are, be from UK or Ireland, and race in Enduro World Series or UCI World Cup Downhill, why those, its the ones we mostly watch and that’s the truth of it. That’s it. We have so many applications, I think right now there is 20 on the list looking for funding and every single one deserves funding, the talent we have here in the UK and Ireland is outstanding. We are trying to pick one from each county, get a balance between male and female (granted we aren’t making a great job of that so far – but we will do better), and get balance of EWS and Downhill.
- Harry receiving his pay out -
DO YOU HAVE ANY CRITIRIA FOR HOW THE FUNDING SHOULD BE SPENT?
Zero, full trust in the riders.
I SEE FROM YOUR SITE THAT YOU HAVE SOME SUPPORTERS & SPONSORS HOW ARE THEY HELPING?
Ah its been amazing how people are helping us, in so many different ways. First and foremost the MTB community dipping their hands in their pockets and donating cash. Unreal. Then brands getting behind us in one of three ways so far. Either cash, or giving us product for raffles, or offering to support the riders we pick for a pay out. If you take Jamie at Mudhugger for example, these guys have given us cash and alongside that they are supporting us with some custom products in the near future. On the other hand you have Nick at Downamics who jumped straight on board and are helping each rider we support with a days data acquisition testing to make their bikes run sweet. Chris Kavorik MTB legend from STFU hitting us up with products for the guys and products to raffle off. Then we had John at Fat Tonys hitting us up and supporting our first run of jersey to help us get the word out there when we are on the trail, of which the design was fully supported by Chris and the team at Nightfox. Then the team at the OrthTeamCenter down south donating towards the fund, then the team at Trailmaps, Dear Green Coffee, Standout Bikes, Helmetor, RRP, Bennachie Bike Bothy all hooking us up with raffle prizes so that we can do more and give the community the chance to win something back if they donate. And we always want those to be epic prizes so its cool to have such cool brands involved. But besides that type of support the pros who love what were doing saying some fantastic things about us really drives us on, we got some real hero’s of ours saying some cool things. And we had some major news recently which happened over a nice conversation with Kate at Enduro World Series allowing us to use their logo officially on our website which is so cool!
- Fergus announcing he is the 3rd rider to receive a pay out -
FORGETTING THE GLOBAL SITUATION RIGHT NOW, IF YOU COULD GET THE RIDERS TOGETHER FOR A MEET UP/ MEDIA OPPORTUNITY AND RIDE WHERE WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
For me it would have to be Scotland. I just love riding there and it’s where I met most of my MTB mates. The riding there is world class. I hope this is something we can do in the near future, I know we are all well stoked to meet up, although the lads will get bored pretty quickly I’m sure waiting for us 🙂
HOW DO YOU THINK THE RIDERS YOU’VE SUPPORTED WILL DO THIS YEAR?
I think they will rip it up, have you seen the vids of these guys, they are quick. Calum just got signed to 555Gravity Racing, what a buzz that was hearing this. And it’s unreal when we are speaking with these brands, they all know who these guys are so the UK and Irish riders are in focus for sure.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST GOAL FOR THE UPCOMING YEAR?
Support five riders is the number one goal for the 2021 race season, we have just two left to go. We will do it. After that we want to get together and form a clear focus for 2022, do we want to help more, or same amount of privateers with a bigger amount of money, do we want to move outside UK and Ireland, or stick to home grown, is there anything else we can do for privateers, we hope www.thedirtfundproject.org becomes a home for where privateers go to get information, help, tips and tricks, advice from pros etc so that will take some work to develop. We are keen for feedback to help us make the right choices in direction.
“The dirt fund project in short is a game changer for privateer athletes. Competing at the highest level in our sport costs an incredible amount of money and commitment to training etc, to be given £1000 not only goes a huge way to lessen these costs but it also gives added confidence knowing that the cycling community are behind you. I really can’t thank the Dirtfund project for their support for this season, I can’t wait to get between the tapes” – FERGUS RYAN – Insta-@fergus_ryan93
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE UK RACING SCENE?
It’s superb, the race series all over the UK and Ireland are well run, great fun and have a cool bunch of people involved in them, and the quality or tracks are phenomenal. And most importantly the racing talent is there – we hope the project inspires more people to help privateers in more ways whatever that is. These privateers put their heart and soul into this.
HOW DO RIDERS GO ABOUT GETTING IN TOUCH AND FINDING OUT IF THEY QUALIFY?
So to apply just go to the website and fill in the form, tell us as much as you can about you and why you should get a pay out, definitely tell us where you are from, what races you have done and plan to do. Once you meet the minimum criteria you qualify to be considered. If you’re picked, don’t worry you will hear bout it as we will be super stoked to tell you.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR THE DIRT FUND PROJECT?
Nothing would make us happier than to see every single one of them signed to a factory team, pro team etc and have a phenomenal career. We have only asked for one thing back from each rider, dig out an old jersey, sign it and send it to us, as we will raffle it off to raise more funds for future privateers once they hit the big time!
“I approached the Dirtfundproject after I saw a friend share it on instagram and I sent them a message not expecting anything I just thought I would chance my luck and when Daniel got back to me saying that I was the second payout I was shocked, the amount that they have helped me is unreal and we keep in touch with each other almost daily, which is cool to see that people are interested in my progress/ results. Its cool to see how much the project has grown since I’ve known about it and its only going to get bigger!
Its great to see some professional riders noticing and donating to the project. I cant wait to get racing now and see where it takes us” – HARRY BYRNE – Instafirstname.lastname@example.org
WE ALWAYS LIKE OUR GUESTS TO DO THE SIGN OFF, SO ANY LAST WORDS?
Just would like to thank you for giving up your time to chat to us, we are stoked for how this is going and super excited about the future. We want to thank everyone who has donated, supported, shared what we are doing. Send it!
“The Dirt Fund Project has blown me away! The whole MTB industry should be proud to see this wonderful idea turned into reality by a group of passionate riders. What a great way to support the UK’s up and coming talent!” – Harry Molloy – Madison Saracen Assistant Manager – Insta – @harrymolloydh
A big thank you to Daniel for his insight in to his world and the project so far, we look forward to following their progress and seeing how the riders they support get on this year. Make sure you follow The Dirt Fund Project and show your support, if you can why not donate as well, we will be!