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About the Vermont Super 8's self-supported standard

The self-supported standard is a social contract for bikepackers participating in a grand depart (GD) or individual time trial (ITT). It asserts that the rider is attempting to complete a chosen route under their own power in a manner that is generally accessible to any amateur rider. Bikepackers who complete the VT Super 8 under a self-supported standard can have their times listed in the results below.

We're not trying to tell you how to do bikepacking. Anyone can ride the Super 8 on their own terms outside of the GD or an ITT, self-supported or not, and have an incredible ride. The self-supported standard is purely voluntary and is upheld by an honor system. It increases accessibility to bikepacking by adding transparency. Posting times with a consistent, accessible standard helps both new and experienced riders set expectations. It's a way of saying: this is what I did, and this is how I did it. And yes, for those who want to race, it's a way to compare times.

Times of riders who ride the GD but deviate from the self-supported standard are marked with an (*) as well as an explanation of the deviation. The purpose of posting (*) or "unofficial" times is to provide an abundance of information about the routes. A rider marked "SCR" or scratched means for some reason, they had to stop their ride.

With all those caveats aside, below is an attempt to outline of the self-supported standard for the Vermont Super 8. Ultimately, the decision of whether a time is marked as unofficial will fall to the discretion of the event director. 

  1. Complete the entire chosen route. If you deviate from the course, return to where you deviated and keep going.

    • The major exception here is for closed roads or run-ins with landowners. You will never be scratched for re-routing at the behest of a road crew or a landowner. If this happens, please make a good faith effort to find the best re-route and return to the route as soon as you can.

    • If you realize you've missed a turn, you should try to return to the point you left the course and find the turn. Skipping or bypassing a significant amount of the course may result in a (*) at the event director's discretion.

    • You're welcome to leave the course knowingly for resupply or other self-supported amenities, but please return to the course where you left it.

  2. Complete the route under your own power.​

    • No drafting.​

    • Unplanned support from fellow riders is okay.

    • Ebikes? If you want to take on the Super 8 with an ebike, please reach out. Be aware that ebikes are prohibited on some trail sections of the Super 8.

  3. Commercial services are okay, so long as they are generally available to all riders. 

    • General stores, bike shops, even hotels are all fair game. If you get there when the store is open and other riders get there when it’s closed, that’s fine and all part of the “fun.” 

    • Calling a mobile repair service to help you out with a mechanical is fine. Paying them in advance to meet you periodically along the route is not fine.

    • Hiring/scheduling with a private organization or using sponsored resources for "commercial" support during your ride, although technically available to anyone with enough money, is not in the spirit of self-supported bikepacking. 

  4. You may not camp in your friend's yard 😔.​

    • The Super 8 is big, and Vermont is small, so many of our beloved local riders face the curse of pedaling by their house or a friend's house. While it makes all kinds of sense to camp in the yard of someone you know and definitely seems more like bikepacking than, for example, staying in a hotel, unfortunately this would violate the self-supported standard as we know it today. So while this is encouraged for bikepacking generally, unfortunately it would result in a (*) in the results for riders otherwise riding self-supported.​

    • The exception here is: if said friend opens their property to camping for all bikepackers attempting to ride self-supported, then you as well would be able to camp there. Having voluntary hosts along the Super 8 available to any bikepacker is fantastic awesome -- we have a few already, and they add so much to the community spirit of the Super 8! We'd ask the host to share a short blurb about their place, and if desired we can protect the host's location by dropping the camping waypoint at the nearest intersection and then requiring additional information to find the exact camping spot. This additional information can reach the riders ahead of time through direct rider-host communication, or through an email from the event director to the riders of a grand depart. If you or a friend wants to join the host network on the Super 8 or for bikepacking in general, then have them please reach out!

  5. No support crews, pacers, or caches. However, you may resupply at your vehicle (or another neutral, coordinated location) in Montpelier, at the center of the 8. This is the Super 8's main exception to the self-supported standard. It makes the route unique.

    • Can your friend meet you to ride along for a little bit? Sure. Can your partner meet up with you mid-ride and pace you through the night, even if they don't bring you snacks? Maybe not. The latter does not seem historically consistent with the self-supported standard. Here are some guidelines to navigate this gray-area:​

      1. If you’re attempting to set a fast time, meet-ups like this will be more heavily scrutinized.

      2. Coordinated meet-ups with partners or significant others is discouraged.

      3. Being surprised by a friend or acquaintance who wants to ride with you for a little bit is probably fine. If they want to ride with you for hours, this would be questionable -- unless of course this person is also riding in the Grand Depart or in an ITT. "Grouping up" with other bikepackers also partaking in the event is inevitable, more fun, and safer. Riding in groups during the grand depart is fine. Two riders who are leading the pack should, for example, be careful to avoid drafting.

      4. Private film crews are another gray area. Frequent communication with a crew of folks regularly meeting you at various points on the route doesn't seem self-supported, so we'd ask that you design rules around this to keep your ride as self-supported as possible. If you're considering having a film crew document your self-supported Super 8 attempt, please reach out.

  6. Trail magic is okay.​ Trail magic is when a rider gets an unexpected gift, like a gatorade from a stranger. Sometimes, dot-watchers and other local fans of the ride might leave out snacks. Trail magic is always a gift and should never be asked for, planned for, or expected.

    • If you're thinking of leaving out trail magic for Super 8 riders during the grand depart, ​please try to leave enough for all riders (to the extent that this is possible -- please don't prioritize leaving snacks for the leaders only!). If you're using Trackleaders to follow the ride, you can get a sense of how spread out the riders are.

In bikepacking more than any other cycling genre, the course is the world itself. Bikepacking will never be fair because the world is not fair. One rider may have run-ins with people, dogs, and weather that impedes their progress, while the next rider might not. A road might be smooth one year, then resurfaced with chunky gravel the next year. With respect to wild camping with no cell service, a female rider needs to prepare for a different set of risks than a male rider. All of these variables challenge our ideas of "fairness" and make times difficult to compare year-over-year and quite often within the same event.

A final note. Riders enter a self-supported grand depart with a variety of intentions. Most want to take on a challenge and see it through to completion, and they don't care too much about their times. Others want to set the fastest time they can. Because of the variety of intention here, there is a sliding scale of scrutiny in regarding self-supported rules. Blatant violations (hitchhiking along the route, excessive re-routing, food caching) will result in (*) or even SCR for any rider, but gray areas like ride-alongs and missed turns done by riders attempting to set an FKT are liable to face heavier scrutiny than violations made by other riders.

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