“The rules are simple and brief – ultimately, the CTR is dependent upon each racer’s integrity. If you can’t do this ride without outside or pre-arranged support, don’t enter the race. Breaking or bending these simple rules is unfair to yourself and to the other racers who are out there suffering just as bad as you are, yet they are still playing by the rules. So please, play fair. You know you’re better than that – I know you’re better than that!” -Stefan G-
The Colorado Trail Race tries to be the opposite of regulated, rule heavy, licensed bike racing. Instead there is a course that is set and a few simple rules to follow, really thats about it. Now the truth is, not everybody gets the rules for Self-Supported, DIY style bike racing. So I’ll go over the rules just to be sure, and if you aren’t clear, ask before the race!
Rule 1: Self Supported
Definition of self-supporting: characterized by self-support: such as a: meeting one’s needs by one’s own efforts or output b: supporting itself or its own weight Merriam-Webster tells it pretty simply, Do It Yourself! Carry your own gear, carry your own food, hike and ride your own bike, don’t take food or shelter from folks you know. Don’t go so hard that you can’t take care of yourself and are forced to take help, even if its just water. Know the trail, climbs, descents, distances between water and resupply, look at splits of past riders, plan your own splits and how long/how much food you need. The info is out there, do your research, be reasonable, and you will have a much higher chance of finishing.
-As far as Trail Magic goes, my rule is if you know the person, say no. Trail Magic is and should be treated like a super lucky, tiny whiff of fresh air, not a resupply. If you screw up and are out of food and water, that is not anybody else’s problem, you should have done better research, or carried more. If you are hoping for/needing trail magic, you are doing it wrong. Be prepared enough to say no, or even offer it to another trail user. Sure taking a Coke or granola bar from a stranger is not a huge deal and is fine. Don’t make it a habit and do not ask/beg/or hint that you are in need when out on the trail. Seriously folks, this is a test to see how far you can go and how well you can prepare for it. Do not bring the ride down to you, rise up to the level of the ride and do your best.
-As far as visitation goes, my rule is keep it between extremely limited to not at all. The CTR isn’t gonna take you months, your friends and family will live till you get home. Spot stalking is not cool, even if the stalker thinks it is, please leave the racers alone. Racers, do not ask anyone to meet you out there, it simply isn’t fair to those that travel from afar to race and it opens the door to taking food/water/encouragement. Also changes the game knowing there is a bailout if things get too crazy, not fair at all to those putting it on the line. Plus there’s no need to add more car traffic to the CT corridor. Ultimately if someone is there at a trailhead without any arrangement, say hi, be cool, but don’t take advantage of the situation. –This Includes Camera Crews, no pre-arranged crews of any sort. Fits in with the above reasons, and as Stefan says
“…if you can’t do this ride without outside or pre-arranged support, don’t enter the race,”
Simply; a camera crew is considered support in the CTR. Document all you like on the CT, just don’t claim a time or race finish, or expect an asterisk in the least if you plan on any content gathering in multiple of places. While it is great to get content that inspires others, it isn’t fair to the ethos of the CTR to have any sort of meet ups. The whole premise behind the rules of the CTR, is to keep the “out there” feeling as much as possible, to keep it raw and personal. And to give everybody who wants to compare their time on the same course, the same basic rules to keep it legit.
-DIY documentation is considered OK.
Rule 2: Stay on Course! The CT itself is fairly well marked, still do not assume such. The Race Course is very well documented, GPX files, Strava, Topofusion, Trackleaders, etc. Know the course, use a GPS, be responsible for yourself. Navigation is the riders responsibility only!
Rule 3: Be Nice and don’t break the law. The Colorado Trail is not closed for the race and there are hundreds of other trail users out there during the race. If you are racing, YOU ARE NOT BETTER OR MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYONE ELSE!!! Everyone out there deserves to have their own experience and to not have that experience changed dramatically because you are racing your bike. Seriously, be nice to all other trail users, yield to them, stop and talk to them, often this is one of my favorite parts of racing the CT is the people you get to talk to. Don’t Strava-Hole on the CT, the world is full of assholes, lets not add more shit.
Rule 4: Leave No Trace. Act as if there are thousands of others that are doing what you are doing. So bury your poop, leave no trash including TP, camp away from water sources, do not disturb wildlife, take nothing but pictures. Seriously, the CT corridor is getting heavily used in places and the poop is piling up. Do not poop in the creek and think it is ok, it is not OK, not ever. Racing the CTR does not remove you from this responsibility!!! Don’t Go So Hard That You Can Not Self Rescue! Know your limits, sure the CTR is all about pushing limits and I can attest that you will be pushed out there. A few folks have had some very serious breakdowns out there from extreme sleep deprivation and physical breakdown. Please do not end up in a place where you are unable to continue to a bail out point under your own power.
Thats’s it! The idea is that if everyone is nice, and leaves no trace, then CTR does not add a significant stress, burden, or damage to the CT/CT corridor. If everyone plays by the same rules and follows the same course, only then can we truly compare our experiences. If you are not sure, feel free to ask. It is up to each and every rider to know and understand the these simple rules, remember cheating in a race like this is total bullshit.
CTR Rules FAQ & Clarifications
Q: Does self-supported and no pre-arranged support mean I cannot stop for food or a motel?A: The guiding principal is “Do. It. Yourself” and “equal opportunity” for all racers, regardless of whether you live in a town the CTR passes through or on a different continent. So, gas stations, restaurants, hotels, campgrounds, and any other commercial services along the route are fair game as long as they are not pre-arranged. Friend’s houses, sag wagons, pacers, food-caches, etc. are obviously not commercial sources equally available to all racers, and absolutely are not allowed. It is important to communicate this to family/friends who may be observing the race. Their guiding principal should be “Look, but don’t touch.”Q: Maildrops to a post office and only a post office?
A: Yes! It’s not the job of a gas station, motel or restaurant to hold your package. That’s what a PO is for. Buy snacks at a gas station and sleep at a motel, but don’t mail them your junk. Imagine if everyone in the race mailed a package to the same tiny gas station…
Q: What about this “Trail Magic” I keep hearing about?
A: Beautiful, beautiful trail magic. Totally unexpected and unplanned support. e.g. a random person giving you a coke or an orange. Or finding a box of girl scout cookies on the side of the road. But let’s keep the magic, magic – if you personally know the person who is offering unplanned/unexpected support, politely decline their offer. And please, no begging!
Q: What if my bike breaks beyond repair?
A: If your bike breaks and you wish to continue the race, you must hike, walk or crawl to the next town to get it repaired. Once fixed, you must return, under your own power, to the exact spot you left the route. This is a completely self-powered race. If you get in a motorized vehicle, your race is over.
Q: Are GPS devices, cell phones, or other electronic devices allowed?
A: Yes, they are neither forbidden nor required, but they are unnecessary. The trail is typically very well marked. Using a mobile phone to call ahead for any services along the route is the same as pre-arranged support, and as such, is strictly forbidden.
Q: Can racers ride together?
A: Yes. But, this is a solo competition – racers may not draft each other nor plan on sharing gear. However, be a good citizen. If you see fit to give a fellow racer directions, mechanical assistance, water, a tube, or moral support, do so. Similarly, do not expect or feel entitled to any of the above. It’s nice to have good neighbors, but there isn’t a law mandating it.
Q: Breaking the law?
A: Duh! No trespassing. No littering. No riding in Wilderness Areas. Etc. This also means no ditching or stashing of any gear to pick up later. That is the same as littering as far as the CTR is concerned. If you need to get rid of something, find a dumpster or a post office.
Q: What if I get hurt?
A: It cannot be stressed enough that you are ON YOUR OWN out there and must take personal responsibility for yourself!! There are some seriously remote sections of trail at high altitude where cellphone service is nonexistent and any medical assistance may be far, far away. Think about the consequences of an injury and bivying in the icy rain at 11,000′ BEFORE you set out on this race. Self-evacuation is likely the only option. A Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) Card is highly recommended, although it is not insurance, nor does it guarantee a rescue in the case of an emergency.
Q: More Questions? Better ask before the race starts.