Logan Kasper's record-breaking Super 8 ride
In the middle of the night in late August 2021, Logan and his teammate began their Super 8 time trials. Logan, a pro mtb racer, is no stranger to long hours on the bike, but the 640-mile Vermont Super 8 tested his limits. Despite heavy rains for the first two days, Logan put down an incredibly fast finishing time, setting a new course record at 2 days 23 hours and cutting the previous FKT in half.
Below, Logan recounts his ride from start to finish, then goes into detail on some of his bike and gear choices.
The idea of the Super 8 was brought to my attention from a buddy Jerimiah who many of the New England bikepackers know. I did a few of his little adventures like the Dumb and Tough 100 and the Coös Loop. He said the Super 8 was a fun but brutal ride so I figured I’d give it a go. I looked at the grand depart date and unfortunately had a race already scheduled in Utah the same day. Making lemonade out of lemons I looked at my race schedule and figured somewhere in July was going to be my best bet. July seemed like it would be good because there was going to be a lot of daylight and I knew I didn’t have to carry the extra gear for cold weather. I convinced a buddy/ teammate of mine to try it as well. He is also an avid death march seeker so I knew he would be good company.
The plan was drive up to Vermont after work on Wednesday. Van camp. Hit the trail at the crack of dawn Thursday morning. Shoot for around 200 miles a day and finish sometime Sunday. I took Monday off from work for fudge factor. My friend Will met me at my house in Massachusetts around 4 right about the same time I pulled in the driveway from work. We loaded up the van quick and hit the road. We hit a country store on the way up for dinner and parked the van at the public works parking area. We ate pizza and stayed up till 9ish fine tuning the bikes and getting amped up. Neither of us looked at the route details we just knew we were making a figure 8.
At 2:30 am the alarms rang and we were stoked. We did an obligatory pic at the capital and time stamped it at 3am. We hit the road and were instantly faced with the first hill of the adventure. We kind of laughed at the fact the hill was right off the bat “well one down a million more to go”. It was a bit chilly probably in the high 50s but compared to the hot humid days arm warmers and knee warmers felt good. Around 3 hours in Will made the comment “I’ve averaged around 325 nominal watts for the past two hours this might not be a sustainable for four days” it was a good observation but I reminded him that we feel good now in 3 days we wont so we might as well take advantage of it. If he was averaging that power and only weighing in at 125lbs I was curious what I was doing. Watts equal calories, calories equal food and we knew that so we were smashing all sorts of snacks right from the start.
As the sun came up we took some pics and took off some layers. The humidity of New England was in full swing cooking off the morning dew. In Woodstock we stopped for some breakfast at a café. Drank some maple syrup. Ate some waffles and eggs all washed down with some hot coffee. From that point on we just kept chugging. There’s something to be said about starting early in the morning. It was probably a little past 8 am and we already had a ton of miles checked off. We kept cruising around. Will was recovering from a broken hand so wasn’t really sending it on the downhills. He would crush the climbs, I'd crush the downhills and we would always slinky back together. We decided to get over the hundred-mile mark before stopping for lunch at the Wardsboro general store. We asked the deli man what he would recommend and to load them up. Turkey subs with the works it was. While those were being made, we scooped up some locally made pastries and drank a few sodas. We ate out back on some milk crates and watched the storms start rolling in. If anyone lives in New England, they know how wet July was and it looked like things were going to be consistent. As soon as we got back on the bikes the skies opened up. Not just a rain but an absolute downpour. Once the turkey sub kicked in I was feeling like a million bucks and kept chugging along. The rain put a damper on the speed in the woods but it kept the temp reasonable. Rain coats were useless because it was coming down so hard. Will and I eventually split up and I figured we would meet again further on down the road. As I passed the Jacksonville general store and hotel, I considered stopping but really had that 200 mile goal in my mind. I got past the dam and into the woods as soon as the sky got dark. Not sure what time it was but I knew it was only dark out because of the heavy rains. After the dam the trails were like washed out rivers. I was so saturated I knew once I hit the 200-mile mark I'd start looking for some sort of overhang to crash for the night.
Those last 15 miles were a slow uphill grind. I somewhat knew where I was because of my 300 on 100 ride the previous month. That was a good and bad thing for the fact I knew I wasn’t around any sort of towns where I could crash and stay dry. I came across a mailbox shack that a local community condo association used. I crawled into that 100 percent saturated. The heavy winds and rains were still blowing in so the concrete floor was soaked. I crawled into my emergency bivy and tried sleeping on my back in a wet kit. The concrete sucked the heat out of me so I sat up against the wall. It was almost like sleeping on a plane and my buns hurt from being on the hard surface. My head would hang down and wake me up or my neck would get stiff. Being that wet I was shivering because the temp was in the 50s again. I had slammed a couple packs of peanut butter as my dinner and called it a night trying my hardest to fall asleep. At one point a local walked into the shack and got his mail. We casually said “hey how’s it going” like it wasn’t strange I was curled up soaked with a bike next to a bunch of mailboxes. The rest of the night I would sleep for probably 30 minutes at a time before waking up shivering or from my head falling over.
At 2:30 am the alarm went off again. I did the good old I’m just going to rest my eyes one more time about 6 times.
Day 1 Montpelier – Readsboro. 206 miles, 17:04 elapsed time
It was 5 am and I figured I might as well get a move on. My legs felt really good but the lack of sleep wasn’t ideal. I set off into the rain looking for the first town I could come by to get some food and restock my water. Even though I was soaked, water was heavy on my mind. I was glad I stopped where I did the night before because it was all uphill loose tech trails for a while. I was still riding it in the morning darkness slipping and sliding everywhere but it was a new day so I had a good amount of motivation pushing me along.
I rolled into Bennington and hit up the Mobil gas station. It was really the first thing I saw so the first thing I stopped at. Had I known what town it was I would have found a good café to pig out in but I'll save that for next time, I guess. I got a lot of mini-packs of doughnuts, jerky, some Oreos and odds and ends. I really was craving some breakfast sandwiches but this wasn’t one of the finer gas stations of Vermont. Fueled up I hit the not so dusty trail eating Oreos for breakfast while riding in the rain. The rain eventually cleared up mid-morning as soon as I pulled into the next gas station for a proper gas station breakfast. This was a Stewart's! Nothing crazy but I knew they had semi fresh breakfast sandwiches and peach rings. I got a coffee sat on a rock and chowed down a bacon egg and cheese. I took two more with me for the road and the other trail necessities of peach rings and mini doughnuts. This time I got the coconut flavored doughnuts for a little change up.
Every time I stopped I'd lube the chain and clean the buildup of mud and tall grass out of my cassette. I was rocking an xtr 12 speed with a 36 ring up front. I had to laugh because of how wet the previous month was my cassette already had some rust on the steel gears. Will the day before asked, "What’s that orange stuff on your chain and cassette?” and to him I replied “Just rust." Like it's common for bikes to be ridden in the rain every day for the past month #NewEnglandProblems.
Somewhere after that I hit a road that was washed out from the rain. The local DPW crew was there sitting in front of a large washout and said it probably wasn’t a good idea to keep going up the road because of all the damage. I shouldered the bike and crossed the newly formed river that used to be the road and they all got a chuckle out of it. The water was knee deep and raging along. If anyone has ever seen that cop car parked in the river this was that road.
From there on it was quite a bit of rail trail. That made me smile because of some inside jokes a buddy and I have regarding rail trails. I was happy to have the aero bars at this time. It took a ton of the load off my hands and I was cooking along at 20mph on a slight uphill. There was one down tree that was just high enough that I thought I could squeeze under. That was a little bit of a mistake. I slid right through at full speed but the bottle that was in my jersey pocket didn’t get the memo. The bottle caught the tree ripping my jersey pockets clean off. So from this point on I had nice lower back flappy cape. I figured when I got home I could cut the rest off as well as the sleeves and have a fun sleeveless jersey for casual group rides and recovery days maybe sew some patches on it.
I stopped for lunch at a pizza shop and ate a couple of mini bags of potato chips and another large loaded turkey sub. Boy did that hit the spot. The shop was kind enough to let me use their soda machine to refill all my water as well. While I was eating, I took my phone off airplane to see if Will tried to get ahold of me. Turns out the first day really did him in and he decided to scratch. I could not blame him due to the recovering broken hand and just coming back from 24 hr Nats it was probably a smart move. With a big sub in my belly, I hit Brandon Gap and boy was I a slug up that. After that all the food digested and I got back into a groove. There was another section of Rte 100 I recognized before riding up to some really cool rock quarries. The views on top of all the hills were spectacular and no pictures did any justice so it wasn’t even really worth taking any. Besides I wanted to keep moving forward.
I hit a town that said Montpelier 20 miles away and knew the southern lobe was almost done. At this point I made the decision not to go for the full 200 that day and run the risk of sleeping soaking wet again in the middle of nowhere. I decided once I hit my van I would crash there, get some solid food, change my jersey and socks, and get a good night’s rest. I rode to the dominos and got a large veggie pizza to be quick in and out with all the carbs. I got some funny looks pulling up on the bike and leaving with a large on my handlebars. This wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last I pull that move off. My legs were still feeling good but I was starting to get some serous abrasions to the back of my knees from riding with soaking wet sand infused knee warmers. To take those off was a nice feeling. Boy oh boy did I sleep like a baby that night and even got done riding before dark.
Day 2 Readsboro – Montpelier. 175miles, 13:53 elapsed time.
The third day started with a 3:30 am alarm and 4am take off time. Once again right out of town it was straight up a hill for a good chunk of time. My Garmin had the hill pro screen that would pop up and boy did I get sick of looking at that. It would also screw with me because it would pop over the navigation screen and I’d often blow by corners that I could have used a lot of momentum for.
A few hours in, my left Achilles tendon started acting up. This past winter I had tendonitis in it and it felt exactly like that. Not sure if it was smart to keep chugging on but I just didn’t worry about it too much and shifted a bit more of the load to my quads. I was pretty tired considering I just ate a couple of Clif bars and oats for breakfast so the general store in Barnet was a very welcoming sight. I hit it as soon as the sun was coming up. I had some more egg sandwiches and a coffee out-front sitting on the bench enjoying the view of the sun just cresting the trees. From there it was pretty scenic and I got a good bit of energy. Once I was in Lyndonville I knew where I was again from frequently taking Kingdom trips. I knew the general store in Burke would have some tasty waffles so I just hammered down till I got there. I used that spot to refill the water, shed some arm and knee warmers, and pig out. That was hands down the best weather of the trip for the next few hours. Slight breeze, a few clouds and all the morning dew just cooked off. I got some funny looks riding white school with a full bikepack rig passing people but the stoke was still high. I came across a few young kids and their parents. One of the kids had just took a digger on the bridge and was pretty beat up. I stopped and asked if they needed anything but they were fine and I kept chugging along. I remembered the climbs up Burke mtn from the Circumburke so that brought a smile to my face reflecting on past events in the area.
From Victory to Island pond, I felt as if I was in the middle of no mans land. Didn’t see a soul. The headwind getting into Island pond wasn’t that great but it was really the only hard headwind so I couldn’t complain, besides the breeze was nice. I stopped and topped off again Island pond knowing it was probably the last spot before Newport and the Canadian border. That was true and I pulled into Newport around 5 or 6. The lake with the long name was beautiful at that time of day and some of the hills dropping down into town had amazing views over the farmland.
I stopped at the a gas station and got some sandwiches, soda another coffee and random snacks. As I was eating a sandwich a local came up and we chatted a bit about what I was up too. It was really nice having a conversation given the fact I had been alone for a good chunk of time that day. I made the decision to say screw it and punch it all the way in. I knew where I was and that it was doable to get back that night. I mean who’s going to stop with just 50 or so miles left.
My Achilles stopped hurting. I don’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing but it definitely was a thing and I was able to kick up the pace a bit. I surprisingly cleaned the climb up to those windmills just as soon as it was getting dark. I told myself I’ll turn on my light if I dab, I never dabbed but the light was essential on the downhill. Just before that climb there was several herds of goats in the road. That was pretty funny how they could care less that I was strolling through. They really didn’t even budge, I think animals can sense that you aren’t there for them just cruising through so there is no danger or need to get worked up. As the night set in my right quad started to get pretty tender around my knee. I just kept pushing though knowing it was kind of the home stretch. Every few hours I’d pull a sandwich out of my pocket and eat while the road/ trail was smooth and wash it down with some soda. I’m usually not a soda drinker so it was a fun treat.
The last bit of rail trail from Morrisville through Hardwick was rough. The grass was high enough you couldn’t see random holes or small objects. That with the combination of the stone made it tricky to hold momentum. I would get going fast then hit a downed sapling. Part of me really wanted to hit that during the daylight hours to see the views of the river. I could sense the river the whole time but it being midnight couldn’t see anything especially since I was focused on the trail ahead.
By the time I hit the single track getting into Montpelier my legs were tender. It didn’t hurt to pedal sitting down or standing but transitioning between the two was rough. The grassy fields had a morning dew on them making the roots and bridges slick. It was really fun hitting those trails blind I didn’t know the area had such a nice network right outside of town. The last stretch into downtown was a happy moment. I pulled up to the capital and just enjoyed the moment. Took a picture for proof then noodled back over to my van. I guess you could call the ride back from the capital to my van a little cooldown lap. As soon as I hit the van, I ate some leftover jerky and gold fish Will had left behind. Probably wasn’t the most nutritious “meal” but at the end of a 22-hour day you don’t really crave anything. Food is food at that point. I drank some Pedialyte and passed right out. I remember having to wake up several times because my legs would touch each other and the pressure of that would be so sore it would wake me right up. I found sleeping on my back was the only way to stay asleep. If my knees also touched that was brutal. Its funny how far you can push the human body with just a little bit of will power.
Day 3 Montpelier -Montpelier: 265 miles, 20:37 elapsed time.
Things I would have changed:
I probably wouldn’t have brought as many water bottles as I did. I was fine with my camelback bladder in the frame bag and one bottle in my jersey pocket. I had a spare on the bike and never really touched it.
I was rocking an anything cage on the bottom of my frame as well but didn’t use it. That’s another thing that could have been left behind.
I brought a helmet light and a headlamp (handlebar light). Probably would still bring the headlamp but the helmet light could have stayed in the van.
Essentials that I was happy to have:
Arm/ knee warmers with a vest. For temperature regulation it was key. A buff was nice too its amazing how much just covering up your neck can keep you warm (even when soaking wet) No matter what time of the year it is this is a good call. I hit the route in the middle of the summer and used the knee warmers for over half of the trip.
Aero bars/ bar ends paired with ESI extra chunky grips. Having all the hand positions made a big difference. On the climbs I liked the bar ends for grinding leverage. They even came in handy for just cruising and being able to rest your palm on the tee shape. The aero bars were nice on the rail trails and flatter sections especially when you could see the flags all blowing a headwind in your direction. My hands never got sore and I think it’s because I was able to switch up so many positions.
29 inch mtb. Yes its doable on a gravel bike especially the northern lobe. But comfort is fast. Also being confident on the downhills goes a long way. I never once felt under biked on the hardtail with 100mm fork. It never even crossed my mind I would get a flat either. There is nothing fast about a flat especially if it is one that needs attention every few hours. It handled the up hill and flat sections no problem. I would argue with anyone that doing the full super 8 on a mtb is much more enjoyable and less of a hassle than a gravel bike all day anyway. A gravel bike with 29 inch tires maybe but at that point its pretty much a mtb.
A good bar light. This pretty much boils down to how much time you spend riding in the dark or how long you want your days to be. A quality light will last the whole duration and keep you safe when the trail gets fast and chunky.
Tool/repair/maintenance kit. Fortunately, I didn’t have a single mechanical but there is always the chance you can especially over 640 miles. The odds are not in your favor. Chain lube was a necessity especially after all the rain. A simple recoating went a long way. I don’t like the excuse of not finishing something because my gear failed before my body did. That being said, quality gear that you have been on for a bit and tested is going to be your only friend out there. Make sure you and your only friend get along!
Bike set up:
29 inch Santa Cruz highball hardtail: This typically is a racy bike. The first time I ever rode it was on the Coös Loop last year. It was very comfortable light and could handle everything I threw at it. It was a no brainer to use it for this ride. No suspension no problems. Room for 3 water bottle cages even though I didn’t really need them it was nice to have the options.
Specialized brain fork 100mm: I had this fork kicking around so I threw it on there. I didn’t have the time to put my fox 32 on. I usually hate the brain fork for its feel and dependability but it worked ok for this route. Given it wasn’t too chunky it held up fine.
Enve carbon bars: just my normal bar set up they feel good so I stuck with them
Enve Canbon aero bars: I made a little bridge in-between them with pvc pipe that was bar wrapped in so I could mount my bar light. They had an old pair of ESI grips for the hand parts.
Trek bar ends: Not sure what these are even really called but you can see them in pictures they worked out really well. It was a little sketchy in the grown in stuff but I never got yanked over so that’s a plus. They were awesome for extra leverage, it was almost like rowing a canoe paddle.
Shimano XTR 12 speed drivetrain: bomb proof 12 speed. Even if you crash on it or bend something even if its not tuned in it still works really really well. It’s the working mans drivetrain. I did slap a fresh chain on it and it didn’t even stretch out.
Praxis 36 tooth chainring: It’s the same ring I use all the time. I’ve been a huge fan of the durability of them. The 36 let me hold some good top end speed on the flats as well. I’m more of a low cadence grinder so this ring size felt perfect even for the long haul. I know some people like a smaller ring but its just not my jam. Besides a 36/51 is such low gearing there was no reason to go smaller.
Industry 9 carbon ultralight 280 wheels with Hydra Hubs: super snappy durable carbon wheel. Never once did I question the durability of these things. The hydra hub has a bit more drag than others but if you never stop pedaling that’s not an issue! The engagement is awesome and the rim profile really compliments bigger tires.
Maxxis Recon Race 2.35: rocked these tires front and back. It was just the tires I had on the wheels. They are a really good fast high-volume tire. With the high volume you don’t need crazy tread. They stayed on top of all the mud and never left the bike feeling squirrelly. If I wasn't on these I probably would have run a Maxxis Aspen or Ikon and had the same feedback. In the back I run a tire liner, that’s nothing new for this trip I just always have one in there because I can be rough on back wheels. Front pressure was probably 20-23 psi and rear around 23-25.
Specialized phenom saddle: same one I always use. It goes back and forth between this bike and my gravel bike.
Crank brother candy pedals
Sram stylo carbon cranks
Lead out gear handlebar bag: Just a small handlebar bad that I kept all the electronic extras in. charging cables spare battery packs and a head lamp. Honestly didn’t need it but it was nice to have an extra spot to stash things.
Relevate designs frame bag: was just a half frame bag that went from headtube to seat tube. I put my camelback in it and other things like tools, pump, first aid things.
Relevate designs magtank gastank: love this bag super easy for snacks. Always closes itself with the magnet and has plenty of room. Have the bigger 2000 version of this bag but opted for this one because it was a little slimmer.
2 moosetrack bottle bags: I guess that’s what they are called. They were just some cheep ones I’ve had for a while. They worked great for snacks and bottles of soda. I would occasionally stuff my gloves in them and had some electrolyte tabs in them as well.
Porcelain Rocket Mr fusion seat bag: This was the first time I had rocked one of these. Its actually my friends that he let me borrow. I had zero issues with it swaying. Honestly, I didn’t even notice it was there the majority of the time. I kept a tube, rain jacket, bivy and a set of down pants in there. Kind of bulky items but light ones that took up more room than I wanted in the frame bag.
Exposer handlebar light: Not sure on the model but it’s the brightest one they make. You could cook a hot dog in front of it under its highest setting. It worked out great though because I had the ability to program it to different lumen outputs. I ended up running mostly around 800 lumens the majority of the time sometimes kicking it up to 1,500 and 2,500when it got fast and techy. Its very nice because there is a lcd screen on the back that tells you the mode and how much battery life in minutes you have left. Once I knew I was I the home stretch I just put it in a high setting and didn’t have to worry about it kicking out on me.