What should I expect on these routes?
Expect soul-crushing climbs followed by descents that will make your heart sing. Expect occasional rough terrain that will test your handling skills. Expect ATVs, horses, and other cyclists. Expect friendly general stores with delicious food. Expect miles of smooth dirt as well as overgrown Class 4 roads that have seen little traffic all season.
The routes on this site should be treated as intermediate-advanced bikepacking routes. Experienced riders have put the Super 8 and the XVT somewhere between the GDMBR and the TNGA in terms of elevation gain and general difficulty. Rule of thumb is 1000 ft gain per 10 mi. See routes for more detail.
In the 2017 riding season, we still had at least 2 bushwhacks on the XVT. We're continually looking to improve these trouble spots with signage or re-routing if required. We are constantly seeking rider feedback!
If you decide to ride the XVT, be prepared for the difficulties of navigating singletrack on your GPS unit. Vermont singletrack can be tight and twisty, and the resolution of GPS units isn't always good enough to guide you through intersections. We recommend buying a VMBA Statewide Trails Map ahead of time (call any VT bike shop and see if they have some in stock). If you opt to ride the singletrack, pay close attention to trail signs. For dirt road cruising, like on most of the Super 8 blue loop and connectors, navigation should be easier.
Is the XVT the same as the Cross Vermont Trail?
No! Sorry the names are uncreative. The Cross Vermont Trail is a multi-use, four season path that runs West-to-East. The XVT Bikepack Route runs north to south and is intended for mountain bikes.
Depends on which route. See the routes page -- we have listed recommended min. tire sizes for each route. Use your own judgment to make the final call. If in doubt, size up! If you want to experiment with smaller tire sizes, be ready for occasional hike-a-bikes, but know that you'll be faster on the smooth stuff. It's a trade-off.
Navigation and devices
You need a reliable GPS device to follow these routes. Any device that supports live visual tracking of .gpx or .kml should work. If you're confident in your phone's GPS navigation ability and robustness and battery life, go ahead. It would be beneficial to download an app like Gaia that doesn't require cell service to store maps, or else to have downloaded maps ahead of time on your phone.
2018 will be the first year we have a waypoints map! Load them onto your device, or just note them as potential stops.
We do not yet have printed maps or reliable cue sheets for these routes. Keep an eye out for signs we've put at potentially confusing intersections. These signs alone are not sufficient for navigation.
Cell reception along these routes is very poor. Plan accordingly. Download your maps ahead of time (better yet use a Garmin). It is advisable to use a SPOT tracker in case of emergencies and to share your progress with friends.
Speed Limits: When driving along Vermont state highways, expect the speed limit to drop suddenly to like 30 mph as the highway becomes a town's main street. Police cruisers are often stationed at these spots. Take the speed limits seriously!
Long-term parking: search google maps for a Park'n'Ride near your drop-in point. You can also check out our facebook group and float a question to the masses. Check out the waypoints map.
Camping: Exact directions to campsites are sometimes only available in-person at trailhead kiosks. Sometimes there are hunting season closures. Don't expect to be able to plan exact camping points without consulting local resources, which can usually be tracked down online. Google maps is not 100% accurate with public land borders, and local maps will take precedent. Be respectful and honor road and trail closures. General stores are a good resource. Town offices can be as well. Give them a call during daytime hours and be friendly. National Forest camping is free! Just camp out-of-sight of roads.
Don't make a fire unless you're sure you're in a place where that's okay.
What makes Vermont bikepacking unique?
If you have experience bikepacking on the West side of North America, here are some pointers to prepare you for the contrast.
locale: Put simply: you're never "in the middle of nowhere." Vermont is scattered with small towns. You can expect to replenish supplies every 30 miles at most (more likely every 20), and water sources are plentiful in season.
moisture: Many bikepackers choose to pack up gear still damp in the morning, then wait until lunchtime to unpack and spread in sunshine. Be smart about where you camp. Avoid grassy openings without tree cover as A.M. "patchy valley fog" is ubiquitous. The difference of a few yards can make the difference between waking up wet and waking up dry.
elevation: The rule of thumb for routes on this page is 1000 ft per 10 mi elevation gain. There are some flatter sections, like the southwest leg of the Super 8. But be ready to climb!
terrain: be ready for the following: copious climbing, washed-out rocky ancient roads, gutted ATV roads with walls 6 ft deep, huge puddles, smooth dirt roads, smooth rail trails, and a little bit of pavement.
Why do you charge for the XVT files? Why is the Super 8 free?
We give money from your XVT purchase to the trail organizations that maintain the singletrack featured on the route. Without the dedication and support from these locals, you'd spend most of your ride shouldering your bike over deadfall.
The Super 8 is different because it uses public roads rather than singletrack. Class 4 roads are by definition "unmaintained," i.e. gnarly. A lot of work went into charting these routes, but we are releasing them for free because we love bikepacking.
I want to ITT the XVT! What is the record?
Short answer: 37 hours by Calvin Decker in 2015. (Good luck!) Note: we are no longer circulating the exact route as Calvin rode it due to requested changes by local trail organizations and landowners. Additionally, the XVT as-is routes through about a dozen singletrack systems, and any one of them is liable to have trail closures. If you decide to attempt an ITT, definitely do your homework (research trail conditions). Also, August-September are the driest months.
Singlespeed record: 54 hours by George Lapierre.