Dedicated To

2018 Dedication to Maurice Tierney

Print Is Not Dead – Maurice Tierney

Raise a pint to Maurice Tierney Saturday, June 16th at 5:45p on the Main Stage!

The 3rd Annual Carson City Off-Road is dedicated to Maurice Tierney, publisher of Rotating Mass Media, the parent organization of Dirt Rag Magazine and Bicycle Times. Spanning a publishing career approaching 30 years, when it comes to print media in the mountain bike industry, Maurice has seen it all. What started back in the late 1980s as a little magazine dedicated to the local mountain bike scene around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has evolved over the years as a mainstay ‘zine for core mountain bikers and those who love a grassroots, community-focused mountain bike publication.

Since its inception, Dirt Rag has never tried to be anything too fancy or flashy. It has never had a glossy cover, and to this day, it keeps true to its non-glossy roots. And for yours truly growing up as a mountain bike-obsessed kid in the early 1990s outside Pittsburgh, Dirt Rag was my bible. A copy of it went everywhere I went, especially in high school at third-period study hall.

I bumped into Tierney a few days before this year’s Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, Calif., and when the topic of sharing what the life of a publisher has been like came up, he didn’t seem too enthusiastic. But a few days later at the close of Sea Otter, I stopped by the Dirt Rag booth to chat with Maurice. My plan was to not talk about publishing, but his attitude had completely changed.

“When you saw me the other day, the last thing I wanted to talk about was the publishing business,” said Maurice as we shared a beer under the Dirt Rag tent. “But this weekend I had some very encouraging conversations with good friends, and I’m in a much better mood to talk about the business. It seems that people are beginning to understand the importance of supporting a print publication these days.”

Maurice pulled out a milk carton filled with back issues of Dirt Rag spanning more than a decade. Just by looking at the relative thickness of each issue, it said a lot about the relative health of the magazine at the time. Like rings on a tree, the past decade at Dirt Rag has seen some thick years and some very thin years.

Maurice reached for a thin issue, pulled it out and looked at the date: 2009. Post economic meltdown. Nobody had money for advertising. By 2011 the magazine had fattened up to a healthy girth, rich with advertising support. But over the past few years with the explosion of video, the magazine has gotten lean again. Through it all, Maurice has always maintained a very relaxed outward-facing demeanor no matter how tight finances might get at the publication.

Since the Internet arrived on the scene in the mid-1990s, the mission of keeping a print mountain bike publication alive – or any print publication for that matter – has become exceedingly difficult. The emergence of free online content has decimated print, and considering nobody has really figured out a lucrative print model that can compete with online, the struggle continues. Just last year, Tierney had to shut down the print version of Bicycle Times, shifting the bike commuter-focused publication strictly online, leaving Tierney with only Dirt Rag in print.

The struggle to keep print alive has forced Tierney to become more creative, resurrecting an old event from the early 1990s called Dirt Fest. Now in its eighth year, held on May 18-20 at Raystown Lake in central Pennsylvania on the Allegrippis Trails network, the Dirt Rag Dirt Fest has become a popular event that’s greatly helped the health of keeping the magazine alive. The combination of beautiful spring weather, flowy, fun singletrack, and folks who spend all week on the lake putting around in houseboats have made Dirt Fest an annual mainstay.

As we chatted under the Dirt Rag tent at Sea Otter, several folks walked by with their mountain bikes and stopped at the booth. They just wanted to let Maurice know how much Dirt Rag, and print journalism, meant to them. The words of support made Maurice beam from ear to ear. Who knows, perhaps print is beginning to turn a corner, but one thing is for sure; now more than ever as a community, we need to help keep print alive. So if you see Maurice in town our out on the course (he’ll be riding in the event), give ’em a high five and pick up a subscription to the good ‘ol Rag.

Raise a pint to Maurice Tierney Saturday, June 16th at 5:45p on the Main Stage!

Carson City Off-Road Dedication Archive