Teodor Gudasz was 7 years old when he first hopped on a mountain bike. Now 9 — and a half — and a regular trail shredder, Gudasz owes most of his knowledge to the Stowe Mountain Bike Academy.
“I’ve always dreamed of being airborne for a few seconds at least and mountain biking gives me that feeling of flight when I am in the air jumping,” Gudasz said. He loves the academy coaches, the new friends he’s made, and the rush of accomplishment he feels when landing a jump.
Founded in 2018, the Stowe Mountain Bike Academy started out small with a dozen or so bikers and a couple coaches riding trails in the greater Stowe area. As of this spring, the crew has grown to 175 riders, according to Ross Scatchard, director of program development and head coach.
He described the Vermont mountain biking scene as “extensive and inclusive for everyone,” which complements the academy’s wide range of programming for adults and youth of various skill levels. They offer private or small group instruction, guided rides, summer camps and day trips for youth 6-18, a youth progression program for kiddos just learning to ride, and various racing programs.
Many wide, smooth flow trails around Stowe offer a comforting first step for a newbie. “It definitely makes the feeling of going up for a mountain bike ride more accessible to new and younger riders,” said Scatchard.
But more advanced trails, ripe with roots and boulders, are also plentiful for experienced riders seeking a little more of an adrenaline rush.
“Between Morrisville, Stowe and Waterbury there’s days-worth of riding. It never really gets old,” Scatchard said. That does not even take into account riding ops in Chittenden, Franklin and Washington counties, or the Northeast Kingdom.
Also in the academy is Maddy Doirin, 14, who first learned how to mountain bike with her dad. The most challenging part of mountain biking, she said, is digging deep and pushing “even when you feel like you’re already given everything.”
She loves racing, especially on such a positive, supportive team. Later this summer she’ll travel with the academy racing team to Thunder Mountain Bike Park to compete at an Eastern States Cup race.
“The coaches give me a ton of confidence and I can carry this on to other things I do outside of biking,” Doirin said.
The academy’s 10 coaches hail from a variety of backgrounds, from professional racers to outdoor educators, primarily from around New England. While riders can join a variety of programs and camps, Scatchard said the academy’s core mission is “teaching mountain bike progression safely and positively.”
When all of that practice all comes together, Scatchard feels the most enjoyment as a coach.
“Seeing a rider that’s been practicing a skill have that ‘aha’ moment and apply the coaching and teaching to do their riding on the trail, it’s like unlocking a total new world of fun,” he said.