The rules for these races are simple. While each individual event has a few nuances within their rule set, they all boil down to five rules that define the essence of self supported racing. The Southern California Series sums them up as follows:
1. Ride your bike, self supported, under only your own power, along the entire route.
2. No pre arranged support, no outside assistance of any kind.
3. Prepare and behave in such a way as though you were riding the route entirely yourself.
4. Don’t break the law.
5. Understand that you are on your own, 100% with no outside assistance at all.
No cached food or water is allowed and anything purchased or used must be from a public or commercial source, meaning that stopping at a friend’s house to get water or spend the night is forbidden, but shacking up in a motel or buying food from a gas station is perfectly legal.
Tom Purvis, organizer of the Salida Big Friggin Loop, credits the self supported nature of the events for the increased popularity of this racing genre. “To me it’s fun that none of the events have the same resources available for route finding, or the same opportunities for re-stocking. You have to do some homework and then come up with a plan. How good your day winds up being is often highly related to how well you did your homework and used your noggin to come up with plans.”
Since there is little on the line besides bragging rights, or potentially a name on a trophy for the races such as the Crested Butte Classic, there is little incentive to cheat. Still, many of the races now include SPOT tracking by Trackleaders.com where racers carry a SPOT tracker and the race can be watched by anyone with an Internet connection.