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 been rapidly expanding over the past year. Local rides occur weekly, with occasional weekends rides. 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 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, striving to get involved and help the greater biking community.
Last fall, its members partnered with VBT Biking and Walking Vacations to donate $1,500 to the Richard Tom Foundation.
A raffle in December raised enough money to purchase a children’s bike from Skirack in Burlington to donate to the Toys for Tots Foundation. Roger Costales, a buyer at the 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.”
The club has attended Fellowship of the Wheel trail work days in which volunteers maintain and repair local trails.
This season, the club will again host frequent rides, collaborate with other schools and encourage more girls to join. Members also plan to volunteer and participate in local riding events, create a club video and hold a bike maintenance clinic.
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 said. The club aims to get all sorts of people onto bikes and enrich the biking community. Dana Hood, father of two club members, said, “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.”
Bryan Claussen is a CVU junior who has been mountain biking for the past five years and involved in CVU 4D MTB for more than a year.