CVU’s Dirty Duchesses and Dirty Dukes hit the bike trails

These CVU mountain bikers “Got Dirt!” James Eustace, Sam Clear, Cameron Hood, Nevin Hood, Trent Poitras, Will Bialowoz and Addison Aube at Catamount Outdoor Family Center. Courtesy photo.

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 been rapidly expanding 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. And 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.”

In addition, last December the club held a raffle, raising enough money to purchase a children’s bike from the 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.”

To further contribute to the cycling community, the club has attended Fellowship of the Wheel work days, where volunteers maintain and repair their local trails. Mickey Stone, Fellowship of the Wheel’s trail director and board member, says, “With education, professional builders and long-range plans that incorporate easy beginner loops that are smooth and wide near the beginning trailhead and then branching out to more difficult areas as you get further away allows for a more diverse age and skill group who can bike at a network. So get out there and take a beginner with you. The more who come the more we have the support to build for.”

Also over this past year, rider Brady Carlson created a club logo, the club had custom shirts and hoodies made by Jim and Vicki Marrier of JV Embroidery, and a club blog was started.

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!”

This upcoming season there will be frequent rides over the summer, possibly an increased number of weekend rides, and there is even talk of taking a camping and mountain biking trip to Kingdom Trails in East Burke. Members are hoping to ride with students from other schools, and there are initiatives to encourage more teen girls to join the club. 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. Eventually, the club would like to have a van or trailer to transport bikes.

At the core of this club remains the desire to get out mountain biking. “I love it because I’m outside with the friends I love and care about,” rider Addison Aube explained. The club aims to get all sorts of people onto bikes and enrich the biking community. 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.”

For more information contact Jess Barnum at (802) 355-1889.