There is an annual event for the flogging of SoCal cyclists. It’s one of the toughest races…I mean rides (well, it feels like a race) that most of us amateurs will ever do. It’s called the Belgian Waffle Ride. For those of you not familiar with cycling culture, the event is an homage to the early spring races through the atrocious springtime weather and roads of northern Europe (especially in Belgium). And if you’re already wondering, they did have Belgian waffles as a pre-race…I mean ride…meal.
The event’s title sponsor is Spy+ Optic, who’s President and CEO Michael Marckx started the BWR in 2011. Back then it was a smaller, invite only event. This year they capped the full Waffle at 800 riders with the shorter Wafer at 400 riders. Now, you might be wondering what I mean by this Waffle and Wafer thing.
Well, the Waffle was a 140 miles with over 10,000 feet of climbing. The Wafer was essentially 1 lap of the Waffle with 5,000 feet of climbing over 70 miles. I had originally planned on doing the full Waffle, but opted to switch to the Wafer when I didn’t get enough training in. Plus, the Wafer would give me an idea of what the Waffle would be like in the future.
The Wafer was supposed to originally be about 40% off road. However, due to recent rainfall that week and the night before, it was cut down to only about 20%. Of the original 7 segments, it was being cut down to just 4. Sigh. I didn’t mind riding my CX bike, but I had regular cross tires on both my bike and Rose’s. Even with higher PSI, it was going to be hard to keep with a peloton who was mostly on slicks. Lesson learned for next year–bring different types of tires.
We didn’t get to the start soon enough to partake in the waffles, but we had enough time to get situated with our starting wave. The starting atmosphere was great, but they were running about 15 minutes behind. The pace was fast from the start, even with a “neutral rollout”. We also had a police escort until we started to get outside of Escondido.
The first dirt segment wasn’t much of anything. Easily rideable on a road bike. Still, it was nice to get some dirt in even though it was mostly hardpack
Highland Valley Climb
Not a dirt segment, but this climb sucked. It was the first KOM of the day. It was only about 1 mile long and averaged about 10%. Plus, it came about halfway through the ride.
This is where things got interested. After a long speedy descent on the road, you had to double back to ride single track back up. If we had been in the earlier groups, this would have been much harder. I can see how the rain also really helped on this segment vs normally having very loose, dry sand. Glad I had my CX bike for this one.
Another dirt segment not to write home about. I can see how us Wafers got it easy, since most of the hard segments were later in the ride for the Waffle guys.
Now, we’re talking. This was one dirt segment where it paid to be in a later wave. It was fireroad, but extremely muddy for the first riders. In fact, one of the motos following the leaders got stuck. By the time we rode it, it was nicely packed down. This is also where I caught Rose. She was really struggled, but little we know that her rear tire was flat and down to about 20 PSI.