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2023 Grand Depart Recap

Updated: Mar 10

After a very wet summer, the weather was as good as we could've asked for at the Grand Depart on Sep 22.

2023 was the largest grand depart yet with 51 riders gathered in Montpelier, plus four riders starting elsewhere along the 8. They traveled from as far away as Texas; some carpooled, and some arrived by train.

We sent a list of questions out to riders this year a week or two after they finished, while the adventure was still fresh in their minds. We got a lot of great responses, including this one which is particularly telling:

To summarize: of 22 respondents (18 first timers and 4 veterans), half found the difficulty to be about what they expected, and half responded with some form of more-difficult-than-expected, including one veteran who wrote in: "It's always harder than I expected even though I've done it 5 times." Notably, no one said it's easier than expected.

Of those 22, 18 used mtb tires (bigger than 2.1", one person riding on 4" fat tires), and 4 used some form of gravel tire (47mm or 48mm). Of the 4 gravel tire riders, 2 said it was about-as-hard-as-expected, and 2 said harder-than-expected.

There was other great feedback for consideration as we plan the next GD. I'll end the article with a some highlights. Head over the the Grand Depart page to see results from 2023 (and years past). There are also links to ride reports there - give them a read if you really want to get into riders' heads, especially if you're planning your own Super 8 ride for 2024!

Any other general feedback on your ride?

  • Was sick

  • I would like a hardtail next time :-)

  • It made me remember how I feel in love with Vermont 30 years ago and made me so thankful that I still live here.

  • great terrain. really cool to have so much linked together.

  • Wasn't ready for the drop in temperature and couldn't stay warm. I should have brought a more appropriate cold weather kit, instead of a back up kit (bibs and t-shirt). The back up kit got me dry but didn't keep me warm when I started exerting myself again.

What would you do differently, gear-wise?

  • Not bring any of my cooking gear. Doing a lot of my long distance riding in Southwest and West, I have it engrained in me that there will be minimal resupply for long periods. I saw all the towns on the route map and should have known I didn't need it. Oh well.

  • Probably a smaller chain ring, especially if I go for the full route. I ran 38t 11-42t which is probably ok with a light bike, but loaded down could've had more gears.

  • I decided to use my Oveja Negra front end loader instead of my Salsa anything rack because it's a little lighter but I wished I used the Salsa rack as it's much quicker for on/off of the drybag. Otherwise, just less gear. It was too much weight for the amount of pushing required on the course.

How has your recovery/transition been back to real life? Good naps? Aftercare tips?

  • Took about a week for my sleep cycle to stabilize. First few days I woke up every couple of hours READY TO BOOGIE regardless of whether I was rested or not.

  • I found myself to be tired on a level that I hadn't anticipated. Took about a week to shake it.

  • I don't normally remember my dreams, but for multiple nights afterwards I would have vivid dreams riding in the woods. Sometimes I would wake up in bed wondering why I was not in a tent. This hasn't happened to me on other rides.


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