Mixed-terrain cycling events that demand endurance fitness and off-road skill are exploding across the cycling world.
With epic ride distances, brutal courses, and generous support, these gravel rides offer each participant a chance to challenge themselves in ways that need to be experienced to be fully appreciated.
Of this emerging genre of monumental rides, one in particular stands above the rest as a “must do” event, The Belgian Waffle Ride in San Diego, California.
With a ride distance of over 130-miles and nearly 12,000’ of climbing, not to mention over 1,100 participants taking on this colossal test, “BWR” is a challenge that demands respect from every Athlete that takes to the start.
So what makes BWR special and what does it take to tame this mighty event?
To answer these questions we asked Big Wheel Coaching’s very own Coach Brian, after his win of the 2018 edition, a version of BWR that was billed as, “the most difficult course and competition in the events 8-year history.”
The dirt sectors of the infamous Belgian Waffle Ride are notorious for being incredibly challenging! Photo Credit: Danny Munson, DMunsonPhoto.com
Question #1:Coach Brian, in only your second participation at BWR you scored a big win, what is it that makes this event special and unique?
Coach Brian:To me the the Belgian Waffle Ride is more than just a hard race, it is an iconic event that tests every Athlete to their limit.
This race blends the magic of European “Spring Classic” road events with the premier ride support of a Gran Fondo, but goes a step further by adding treacherous dirt sectors and a pre/post-ride meal that brings every participant together to ‘break-bread’ and share their race experiences.
In the morning, everyone enjoys Belgian Waffles and coffee together as they contemplate the days challenge and ponder what the brutal course might hold for them.
Then, after every rider spends the day battling the course, they are welcomed to the finish by cheering fans and fellow finishers before being treated to a feast that is fitting of such a monumental event.
In short, I think the Belgian Waffle Ride is unique because it requires every Athlete to be an ‘all-arounder’. One must be able to climb, handle heat, buffet wind, work with a group, put the power down solo, and of course, tackle the insanely challenging dirt sectors!
The Belgian Waffle Ride draws an internationally talented field of heavy-hitters from various disciplines of the sport. Photo Credit: Danny Munson, DMunsonPhoto.com
Question #2: A 135-mile ride is massive for anyone, and that doesn’t even consider the notion that BWR is comprised of 100-miles of road and 35-miles of dirt. So what does it take to ‘tame’ this event?
Coach Brian:Great question, even though I won the event, I am not sure you can ‘tame’ this beast…I think it is an experience to survive more than it is to ‘tame’!
Success at the Belgian Waffle Ride takes many things, most certainly fitness and off-road skill, but a component that is less obvious is maintaining an intense focus on the task at hand.
At 6.5hrs+, my winning race time was fast by past-event standards, but for all 1,100 participants to finish, it took nearly 12hrs. No matter who you are, be it the yellow jersey winner or the “lantern rouge” (the final finisher), every rider will be tested to their limit at BWR!
That’s something that doesn’t happen at every event.
In addition to maintaining mental acuity throughout the event, one thing that I think is absolutely important to success at BWR is a solid hydration and nutrition strategy.
No matter how fast one rides the course they will be depleted, so managing the heat and exhaustion that comes from the massive workload out on course is imperative.
As a reference I consumed nearly ten bottles of GQ-6 hydration and ate eight energy bars out on course on my way to the finish.
Question #3:So BWR is a cool event, but what can the Athlete balancing a full-time job and family commitments do to make sure they are prepared for their best performance?
Coach Brian:That’s a great question, one that I think deserves an individual answer based on the unique skillset, schedule, and training capacity of the Athlete asking it.
But if I had to offer a piece of broad advice for anyone wanting to prepare for a monumental event such as the Belgian Waffle Ride, I would say this:
Start preparing right away and dedicate the most time you can to the challenge, trust me, on event day you won’t be disappointed you allotted a large amount of time to get ready!
Getting a jumpstart on your preparation for a big endurance event can make it much easier to progressively increase the training-load required to perform well at this caliber of event.
Mastering the course at BWR is a monumental over-taking that requires careful equipment selection. Photo Credit: Danny Munson, DMunsonPhoto.com
Want To Know What The Cycling Media Thinks About BWR?
We hope so!
Be sure to check out these great resources and write-ups about the 2018 Belgian Waffle Ride and be on the look-out for your favorite photo from Coach Brian’s big win!
The Belgian Waffle Ride Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Belgianwaffleride/
The Belgian Waffle Ride Website: https://belgianwaffleride.bike
Cycling Tips Article: https://cyclingtips.com/2018/04/photo-gallery-2018-belgian-waffle-ride/
VeloNews Article: http://www.velonews.com/2018/04/news/gravel/the-nitty-gritty-racing-the-canyon-belgian-waffle-ride_463508
Road Bike Action Magazine Article: https://roadbikeaction.com/being-there-belgian-waffle-ride-2/
We highly recommend every cyclist put the Belgian Waffle Ride on their 'to do' list of events. You won't be disappointed! Photo Credit: Danny Munson, DMunsonPhoto.com
We hope you have enjoyed reading about what makes the Belgian Waffle Ride an epic event that is captivating cyclists from all over the United States and the world.
As Coaches and Athletes, we know the nervousness that can overtake someone when they commit to a colossal event such as the Belgian Waffle Ride.
At Big Wheel Coaching it is our passion to help calm those nerves and combat that accompanying paralysis by helping each Athlete develop the fitness and skill necessary to perform their very best!
It’s why we use the ‘hashtag’ #TrainYourPotential.
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, And Have Fun!
Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching