Super 8 Grand Depart – Trackleaders!

About the Super 8 Grand Depart:

The Super 8 is the gravel cousin of the XVT. It’s a bikepacking route in the shape of an 8 through Vermont. You can choose to ride the full 640 miles, 60 kft ascent, or you can choose to ride only the northern lobe (260 mi.) or southern lobe (380 mi.) of the “8.” The ride requires a light touring or bikepacking setup, 700×45 tires or larger recommended. Short hike-a-bikes necessary!

See ROUTES for an overview of the Super 8 as it is today.

How to know where riders are – Trackleaders!

Track participants with LIVE tracking here:

This is the first time Vermont Bikepackers has put on a bikepacking ultra registered on Trackleaders is a service that rents GPS tracking devices out to athletes and tracks the event on their site.

GPS tracking devices are different than GPS cycling computers. Most common tracking devices are Garmin InReach and SPOT tracker.

Some food for thought as you dot-watch:

Riders begin a bikepacking ultra with vastly different goals. Some riders will try to finish as fast as they can, and they’ll ride late into the night to do so, sleeping only on an as-needed basis. This pace is usually only sustainable for a few days at a time, even for riders of 2,000-mi ultras. Many riders will have very specific goals and splits to meet along the way — maybe they’re going for a better time than last year, or maybe the goals are to keep them slower than they would otherwise go so they don’t blow up and have to scratch. For most riders, one goal is to finish the intended course. It could take riders two weeks to finish the entire Super 8. Staying out there for 2 weeks is a whole different kind of challenge than trying to finish in 4 days. You have to pack your bike differently, eat and sleep differently.

Finishing should not be taken for granted. The course is huge and anything can happen to cause a rider to “scratch.” Some grand departs have seen >75% scratch rate in their first years, and most established bikepacking ultras still have a 50% scratch rate. Keep in mind that there is always an adventure behind a scratch — maybe even bigger than the adventure behind finishing!

Scratching can happen for lots of different reasons. 1) Time constraint. Let’s say you can only take 2 days off work, and one or two setbacks is keeping you from being able to finish in the time you allotted for yourself. Sucks, but it’s way better than not having started. 2) A mechanical. Think about how many things have gone wrong on your mountain bike over the last 600 miles! 3) Injury. Sometimes riders have to choose between stopping and riding through a repetitive-use injury that might mean the end of the season — or worse — for them. Sometimes scratching is the smart thing to do. 4) Falling behind on your goal. In the Tour Divide this year, Sofiane Sehili decided to scratch at Brush Mountain Lodge after the worsening snow and mud made it apparent that he would no longer be able to take the men’s record. Is he a quitter or is he a badass? Or both?

Trackleaders provides you with the opportunity to watch the ride. But if you’re going to criticize, really look closely and research. If a rider is stopped inexplicably — what could be going on? Check the weather where they are!

Track participants with LIVE tracking here:

On trackleaders: ACTIVE means they’re still riding, SCR is scratched, FIN is fin. Click around and nerd out a little. Happy dot-watching.

Good luck to all the riders! 

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