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Take on the 8 in 2021
1 Jan 2021
Join us on Friday, Sep 24 for the start of your self-supported bikepacking adventure. There will be a group start in Montpelier, but you may choose to start from Brattleboro or Derby Line, VT if it's more convenient. There are three mileage options: north lobe (260), south lobe (380) or full 8 (640 miles) of the Vermont Super 8 bikepacking route. For more information on the route, see our routes page.
This is not a group ride! Riders will be responsible for their own supplies, services, and navigation. Riders will be provided with a .gpx track file and should complete the chosen course under their own power in order to be included in the results. There is no entry fee, but riders will be encouraged to register with a satellite tracking service for the duration of their ride. To learn about other riders' past experiences on the Super 8, and to find out more about the self-supported bikepacking standards, check out the GD/ results / reports page.
The Super 8 is an extremely challenging course, but with the right expectations, preparation, gear, pacing, and mindset, riders of many skill levels can take it on. Vermont has an inclusive community of bikepackers. If you have questions about the route, you are encouraged to float them to this facebook group.
To register for the Grand Depart, send a Letter of Intent to email@example.com . Please state that you understand that you are solely responsible for your own services and support. It would also be good to know your intended mileage option and previous bikepacking experience as well.
See you in September! Maybe before then. Cheers and happy new year.
2020 Grand Depart Trip Reports
26 Dec 2020
Rob Levasseur's North Lobe ride. "I thought that I must be near the top by now but I was wrong. Each time I crested the next hill and started down, I would come around the corner and see another uphill. It seemed to go on and on.."
2020 Grand Depart: razor thin splits and one badass female finisher
1 Nov 2020
On Sep 25, nineteen riders lined up for the 3rd Grand Depart of the Vermont Super 8. 7 riders finished the North Lobe only, 2 riders finished the South Lobe only, and 3 riders finished the Full 8. Notable finishes include Erik Nelson, who set the new FKT on the North Lobe of 1:07:59, besting Jeremiah Macrae-Hawkins's 2020 time by about 10 minutes, and George Lapierre's 2020 time by about 30 minutes. Rob Janelli was the first place finisher of the South Lobe.
The highlight accomplishment of this year was Brittni Gorman's finish of the Full 8, making her the first place overall 2020 finisher as well as the first known female to complete the Full 8!
Matthew Tschiegg completed his second successful ride of the Full 8. Matt is now our only two-time full-8 finisher.
Check out the Results page to see full details. Over the coming weeks, we expect trip reports to roll in so keep your eye on our social media for updates (IG @vermontbikepackers), or check back here to see if anyone has sent in a report!
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.