By Bryan Claussen
Champlain Valley Union High School’s mountain biking club, called the Dirty Duchesses and Dirty Dukes (CVU 4D MTB), was founded in 2015. Advised by CVU teacher Jessica Barnum and inspired by a student in her advisory, this club started off with just a few riders and has rapidly expanded over the past year. Local rides occur weekly, with occasional rides held on weekends.
Attend a ride and you will see a range of riders, from those on their first ride to those years into the sport. This club is a great way for teenagers to be active, away from the stress of teenage life, and involved in their community, not to mention that whizzing through trees on a bicycle can be pretty fun.
As the CVU 4D MTB Club has expanded, members have thought beyond weekly rides. The club strives to get involved and help the greater biking community. One way they have achieved this is through working with Matt Lyon at VBT Biking and Walking Vacations and with John Williams and the Richard Tom Foundation board members.
Cameron Hood, a club rider as well as an initiator in this partnership, said, “For every mile we go, VBT donates money to RTF. Last fall the miles I tracked on Strava allowed for $1,500 to be donated to RTF. This donation will allow RTF to further their efforts to improve biking in our community. My goal by riding is to hopefully inspire others to get out to some of the local trail systems and enjoy them as much as the CVU 4D MTB Club does.”
Last December the club held a raffle, raising enough money to purchase a children’s bike from Skirack in Burlington and donate it to the Toys for Tots Foundation. Roger Costales, a buyer at Skirack, said, “We just love the enthusiasm and what is happening with the mountain bike club, and thought it was great for the students to want to give a bike away for the club’s raffle. We were very happy to be a part of it.”
Last fall, the club traveled to trails ranging from Pine Hill Park in Rutland and Cady Hill in Stowe to local Fellowship of the Wheel trail systems like Saxon Hill. The snow and the cold didn’t stop this group either, with the club going fat biking at Catamount Outdoor Family Center last winter. Tag Carpenter, the Operations Manager at Catamount, says, “We got quite a kick out of seeing the CVU riders on their fat bikes in the snow this past winter. Their teenage smiles show a great escape from school pressure, TV, computers, cell phones, etc. Life doesn’t get any better!”
There will be rides over the summer, and there is talk of taking a camping and mountain biking trip to Kingdom Trails in East Burke. They also plan to volunteer and participate in Richard’s Ride, Del’s Ride, and other events, as well as create a club video, hold a bike maintenance clinic, and explore any new bike-related opportunities that come up.
Dana Hood, father of two club members, sums it up best: “Mountain biking is a lifelong sport and we just happen to live in one of the best places in North America to take advantage of it.”