Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD — Fairfield resident Paul Strubell is providing an outlet for motorcyclist enthusiasts who wish to take their vehicles on more challenging courses than the typical pavement.
Strubell is the founder of the Annual Dirt Orcas Summer Classic, a motorcycle ride that starts in Iowa City and ends in Fairfield, taking gravel and Level B dirt roads. He and his friend Kevin Riley started the event in 2017, and just did their sixth Dirt Orcas Summer Classic over Labor Day weekend.
Strubell said BMW Motorrad hosts a series of events in Australia and Tasmania where motorcyclists travel vast distances for multiple days. He wanted to do something like that in the Midwest, but he knew he had to start small, with a one-day event. He and Riley designed a route from Iowa City to Fairfield that relied on as little pavement as possible. Partnering with Strubell and Riley are businesses Sun and Fun Motorsports, Jefferson County Ciderworks, Giant Loop Moto and Gerbing Heated Gear.
Strubell said that going on gravel and dirt roads adds to the adventure because they’re more challenging. He came up with the name “Dirt Orca” as a take on “seawolf.” He said that the way a group of motorcycles move is similar to the way orcas swim in the ocean.
“It’s a pack mentality, community oriented,” he said.
During this most recent ride, 65 motorcyclists signed up. Strubell said he could get as many as 200 people, but he caps participation at 65 to keep it manageable. That allows him and five staff members to organize three groups of about 20 riders, with an expert, intermediate and novice group.
“The weather was beautiful this year,” Strubell said. “A couple of years ago back in 2019, we did it at the end of June, and it was so muddy that the roads were almost impassable. Only the expert group was able to do some of the route, and the intermediate group struggled. We even sent the novice group on a different route, on gravel. Since we switched it from late June to Labor Day, we’ve had better luck with the weather. It tends to be dusty, but that’s better than muddy.”
This year, a second day was added to the event, which took riders from their campground on a loop ride to the Missouri border and back. The group had donuts in Bentonsport before riding through the scenic Lacey-Keosauqua State Park.
“I’m definitely going to do this again next year,” Strubell said. “I have ambitions to grow the event. I’d like to make it more of a rally-style, multiple days, and to make it nicer and more upscale.”
Strubell has gone on several adventures of his own on his motorcycle. His longest trip lasted 19 days and over 5,000 miles round-trip, from Fairfield to Jasper National Park in Alberta, in the Canadian Rockies.
Those interested in learning more about the next Dirt Orcas Summer Classic can contact Strubell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at email@example.com