Vermont Super 8 -2021 Recap Part 1

What is the VT Super 8? It is a pre-designated route 640 miles of gravel roads, some single track on class IV roads and a mix of pavement all on the bike of your choice and tires of your choice being completely self sufficient.

You can buy supplies at the stores along the way (there aren’t many). You can stay at an Inn/hotel or camp where it is available to others.

What you can’t do is.. run into your house or a friend’s house and resupply or camp or stay over. Your resources have to be accessible to everyone.

So here we are on September 24, 2021 at 7:45am a group of 40 riders met in front of the State House in Montpelier, VT to listen to a few words and details from Daniel Jordan (the race director) before the start of the VT Super 8

To be honest I only heard a few letting a little air out of this guy’s tires (to rib him a little) and before you scratch on Day 3 make sure you check in at an Inn get some hot food and a good night’s sleep and make a decision the next day.

My nerves were running high and someone picked up a glove I had dropped behind me and last minute rain protection adjustments had me in a fluster.. not to mention looking at my wife, Megan, who was trying so hard to be brave and encouraging but fighting back overwhelming tears.

I didn’t want to leave her but she assured me she wasn’t sad but the look on her face showed otherwise.

All of us set off at 8am. North Lobers turning left onto Main St and South Lobers turning right. The ascent started immediately.

Within a few miles we were on some wet and muddy trails. It felt good to be getting out of city traffic and into the countryside.

At the 21 mile mark there was a tent set up for us with water and Cliff bars. There I met Tatianna, she looked stressed and on the verge of tears. Her bike wasn’t shifting. The only thing I knew about Tatianna was how well prepared she was.

She posted in the FB Group all of her notes on the routes and turns and resupply places. It was incredibly detailed.

I knew she must have been so disappointed that this happened. The man there loaded up her bike and took her to get it repaired.

The rain had stopped and the views were clearing. I saw beautiful horses, llamas and ponies all in the same pasture together and they were very curious about me. They followed me to the edge of their fence just staring.

By 3pm my only thoughts were about looking forward to lying down soon.

My plan was to ride at least 65 miles and climb 6500 ft daily. By mile 45 my brakes were quickly becoming mush.

Failing brakes and unknown terrain ahead had me concerned.

Dragging my foot along the pavement to slow down because I thought I had missed my turn, a couple came out from their house I was in front of.

The gentlemen told me he saw other “bikers who looked like” me pass by and wondered what was going on. I told him about the Super 8 and that I was trying to get to the Appalachian Trail to camp. They wished me well. And helped with directions.

All I could tell them is that I was following my blue dot on Ride With GPS.

I was finally on pavement again and I was passing under the 89 highway. Here I was on a descent and had to run with my bike. You should have seen the looks I got.

Funny how my perspective changed to wanting to climb instead of descend.

Finally made it to mile 61 with almost 8k ft of climbing (my highest elevation in one day) where I could camp off the road and off the AT.

As I was setting up camp I saw Tatianna pedaling up the hill that I was pushing my bike on. She was clearly not giving up. Despite a mechanical-she got it repaired and went back to where she left off and kept going. I heard she kept going until 1am that night and then took a rest.

The next morning I had 10 miles to go to get to Woodstock. I had enough service to Youtube “how to tighten brake cables”.

I tried on my own but it didn’t improve the situation. My brake levers were touching my handle bars.

I did a combo of pedaling on the descents if I could see ahead that there was an ascent right after and pedaled and pushed the ascents. It took about 3 hours to go 10 miles but I made it.

I met Darlene. Another Bikepacker who decided to wait until the rain stopped in Montpelier before starting her trip. She was headed to Woodstock for lunch.

Woodstock Village Sports Shop was ready to help me. Lynn the bike technician took off a brand new Pinnarello/InGamba hot red frame off her stand to put my heavy 15 year old mountain bike on the stand to check my brakes.

Turns out my brand new brake pads were worn out. While I waited Lynn let me know I could use their juice to charge up my Wahoo and phone and hose down all the mud and muck off my bike before I set off again.

New brake pads were put on (front and rear) and the cables were adjusted and off I went.

Darlene and I left at the same time and I got to hear more about her.

Her daughter went to college in VT and loved it so more Darlene who lives in CT bought a camp in Cambridge, VT and wanted to get to know other people who love biking and the outdoors too.

Shortly after that she pedaled quite a bit ahead of me.

The gravel turn off the main road was one of the longest climbs I had ever been on.

One truck passed me with mountain bikes off the back and gave me a “Wow”.

Another truck passed with MTBs and I got a thumbs up.

A Subaru pulled up with two gentlemen and MTBs and asked me if I needed anything. They were going home to have lunch and a beer and told me to stop in.

Lots of words of encouragement that fueled my energy levels.

When I got to their house one guy was on a bike and another sitting in a chair at the end of the driveway clapping and cheering for me. They again offered beer and lunch. I just wanted to keep going since I was delayed already.

I finally made it to the top and as I was descending a white van was stuck- what made them think they could make it up that road I have no idea.

The views from that corner were amazing. The only other cars up there were 4×4 Toyotas and Overland trucks.

By 6pm I was looking for a place to setup camp. I found a spot not far off the road by a river.

Surely the rushing water will lull me to sleep.

Later that night I heard something scratching at my tent. Keeping my mind calm was key. “Whatever it is .. it’s just curious. It will go away.”

That night I got very little sleep. I heard a tree come crashing down and was wondering whether I had a good spot or not. Was it a bear climbing this tree that toppled?

“Just focus on the running water”, I told myself and before I knew it the morning light came through the tent.

I made it another night. Phew

Do you have questions about bikepacking? Just post them below and I’ll respond right away.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s