Part I. Private Resupply
The rules state that “equipment and supplies must be carried or found at commercial services”. These are methods of re-supply that are open to all competitors. If a racer has access to services and supplies that any other rider arriving at the same time in the same circumstances would most likely not have, then this is Private Resupply. It is the supply of equipment that is specifically for one rider at the exclusion of others and it is prohibited. Therefore we ask what constitutes Private Resupply?
1. A support vehicle with food and drink.
This is the obvious differentiator between supported and unsupported to get us started. We might consider this our “Control Question”. There’s a clue in the question; “support vehicle” is not unsupported in anyone’s book. There’s no question about this one, this is most definitely private resupply and it's against the rules.
2. Stopping off at my house to get spare parts.
This is another one that should be rather obvious, there is nothing more Private Resupply than stopping at your own house. Some may consider that without an on-road support vehicle then the ride is unsupported and anything else is fair game and it would surely be tempting for those who live along the route to pop in for a cup of tea. With the best will in the world though no-one is going to open their house to serve all the riders equally. Race organisers makes an explicit judgement here, any rider going home during the race may as well stay there. It’s totally against the rules, as is staying there or sleeping in the garden. Race organisers will have to live with the fact that some riders will know many of the roads and routes along the way, while others won’t. This is the benefit of experience and gaining experience is not against the rules.
3. Stopping off at my friend’s house to get spare parts
If it’s a location and relationship which is not available to all the other riders then it's explicitly against the rules to take any resupply, services or accommodation there. Even friends meeting you at public locations is private re-supply if they bring with them any supplies or equipment or perform any service for you of any kind. It doesn’t have to be a private location to count as Private Resupply.
4. Stopping off at a bike shop to get spare parts.
Totally OK this one and not Private Resupply, it's what bike shops are for. If it's a legitimate commercial business and you are not receiving any special treatment then it's all good.
5. Stopping off at my friend’s bike shop after hours to get spare parts.
The issue here is not that it’s your friend’s shop, if they are open to everyone then they are open to you too. What’s not OK is if they are open to you when they are not open to everyone else. Sometimes bike shops along the route of well known unsupported bike races (such as the Tour Divide for example) will go to extra lengths to service racers by giving them food and water and helping with accommodation or by extending opening hours. This is OK to an extent but they must provide the same service to all racers, not just the leaders or friends of the shop. In the case of the Transcontinental Race or Trans Pyrenees Race , we would always suggest that any bike shops who are aware of the passing of the race or knowingly serving our riders to make contact with the race, especially if they intend to extend their services outside of their normal operation. We would hope that bike shops would like to join us in promoting a fair race by being in good communication with race admin and so that race organisers can help riders in need discover them.
6. Getting a bottle of water from a stranger.
This is a more ambiguous proposition and one which divides riders opinions. On the whole it would be OK to accept such an offer. Other races, often off-road wilderness based events, might call this “Trail Magic” as it is essentially an unsolicited offer which is based mainly in fortune and usually deemed OK to receive. If the rider and offering party have no prior knowledge of each other or their meeting then it's legit. If a rider is in dire need of water it would, as a last resort and having exhausted all reasonable commercial and natural sources, seek water from private individuals. However riders shouldn’t make a habit of begging for aid in this way and should not access private property uninvited. the Transcontinental Race / Trans Pyrenees Race is not a wilderness race; water is plentiful along the route and it is the rider’s responsibility to maintain a good supply from legitimate sources.
7. Stopping for a meal with a local family.
The important thing here is that riders do not invite themselves or solicit such a gift, or that they do not have any prior knowledge of the meeting or the people. If it is a happenchance meeting and a kind offer we wouldn’t like to see racers pass up such an opportunity, but likely it won’t be the most expedient way to eat, so not a good habit for the front runners. It may also draw claims of foul play if it does look too good to be true so be careful with this one and if a GC position is what you want, maybe keep this one for touring.
8. Staying with local people I just met.
Race organisers would advise that racers don’t view local people as a standard accommodation resource. However this would not be expressly against the rules and as such could be accepted if offered provided it is completely unsolicited and not pre-arranged. You may be asked to prove it was legit if a race result hangs in the balance or there is a complaint made. Often such arrangements don’t gift themselves to the racer’s schedule and you may end up staying longer than you anticipated or finishing the days riding earlier. If truth be told it's best avoided, unless you are just out for adventure and to have fun.
9. Sending myself a package to a hotel
In many unsupported races sending yourself an equipment drop is seen to be OK, but the condition is usually that you should only send it to an official post office. Sending a package to a hotel means you must have already pre-arranged accommodation, or at least an arrangement to pick it up, even if you weren’t going to stay there. Forward booking of such services is generally frowned upon as, if a racer were to have an inexhaustible budget, then they could send many packages to many hotels and have the pick and choose of what they pick up. This would change the landscape of the challenge significantly and be the preserve of the very well financed. As we puts the accessibility of the race as one of its priorities it is important to us that there is not a means by which the race can become a war of resources. Also the Transcontinental / Trans Pyrenees is not the longest or remotest race out there, you should be able to find what you need most places. If you have a bespoke ‘thingy-ma-bob’ that needs special parts, maybe think about if you really need it or can you make do with what everyone else has access to. If you can’t live without it, is the race really for you? Most bike related things are readily available until you leave Italy and sending packages to any places further East can be a bit hit and miss in terms of delivery and often incur large duties. Race organisers makes the judgement that shipping of supplies is not within the rules. Temporary storage or jettison of major equipment and supplies is also prohibited. Any exceptions to this are at the express permission of the race director.