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UPDATE (30 July 2020) to the Vermont Super 8 Grand Depart, scheduled for 25 Sep 2020:
The Vermont Super 8 Grand Depart (GD) will go ahead on Sep 25 only as state guidance permits. On and after Sep 25, riders will be subject to any changes to state guidelines as they occur in real time.
In order to mitigate the potential impacts that a traditional self-supported bikepacking event could have on the spread of COVID-19, all riders are encouraged to adhere to a new self-sufficient standard of bikepacking. The Super 8 GD's self-sufficient standard is defined as follows:
All restrictions of self-supported riding apply, plus:
You may not use any commercial services except campgrounds.
You may not enter any buildings.
You may resupply at your vehicle (or another neutral, non-commercial location) in Montpelier, at the center of the 8.
An exception will be made for campground bathrooms. If you are staying at a campground and the facilities are open, you should abide by the campground's rules and use those.
To summarize: self-sufficient riders will stay outdoors for the duration of the ride, and they can't buy anything. If you enter as a self-sufficient rider and then violate #2 or #3, you'll be scratched from the self-sufficient category, and your time will be reported under the self-supported category, assuming you continue to adhere to the self-supported standard (see below).
Alternatively, all riders have the option to ride by the self-supported standard, which is more traditional for bikepacking events. For the 2020 Vermont Super 8, the self-supported standard is defined as follows:
You must complete the route under your own power.
You may only engage in commercial services that are generally available to all riders.
No support crews, pacers, or caches. However, you may resupply at your vehicle (or another neutral, non-commercial location) in Montpelier, at the center of the 8.
Note: at present, public restrooms and washrooms at gas stations and campgrounds may be closed. All riders will need to be prepared to practice Leave No Trace (LNT).
Riders coming from out of state will need to abide by state guidance as it stands at that time. This could mean quarantine and/or testing.
We are capable of more than we know.
When a rider enters a self-supported bikepacking event, they choose to abide by voluntary restrictions with the understanding that violating them will result in a scratch or an unofficial result. Violations are self-reported. This structure relies on trust and communication. The new self-sufficient category is an extension of these limitations that riders may choose to impose on themselves -- if they wish! Some riders face limitations in equipment, diet, health, or experience that may prevent them from choosing to ride by a self-sufficient standard. All riders, regardless of category, are encouraged to set intentions for their performance individually. If you choose to race, you will be most successful by setting the intention to race yourself rather than racing others. This principle is proven over and over again in bikepacking grand departs.
In ultra-endurance cycling events, we repeatedly see expectations upended. Singlespeed riders outperform geared riders, and mental strength proves to outweigh physical conditioning. Within a system of trust and respect, bikepackers push their own limits and make accomplishments that seemed impossible beforehand. The restrictions of an event give rise to unexpected accomplishments.
We want to push the envelope, and we want to find out what's possible. COVID-19 has required us all to make changes to the way we live. In bikepacking, we now have an opportunity to pioneer a new way of conducting outdoor sports. Most sporting events across the globe have been cancelled this year because of COVID-19, including many ultracycling events. But the Vermont Super 8 is uniquely positioned to continue on Sep 25 if state guidance permits due to the small number of expected riders, the dispersed nature of a bikepacking grand depart, and the restrictions already imposed by the state on travelers to Vermont. Self-sufficient standards are new not just to the Vermont Super 8, but to ultra endurance cycling in general (with a nod to the GBDURO), and it can serve the dual purposes of 1) mitigating potential impacts of the event and 2) normalizing a safer way to travel by bike that might be considered extreme today, but could become a standard tomorrow. We have a chance to pioneer a new way of conducting our sport that could give rise to innovations in gear, in policy, and in the outdoor sports community at large.
If we don't push the envelope, we may never discover our true capabilities.
Super 8 trip reports
Super 8 trip reports
Tales of chafing and junk food from the 2019 Grand Depart. New releases each Sunday this November.