Purple haze

April 27, 2015 § 21 Comments

The 2015 SPY Optic Belgian Waffle Ride is a wrap.

It was uneventful for me, except for that one part where I was on Sandy Bandy behind some wanker who was in turn stuck behind a woman who had gapped us out. The guy said, “I’m passing!” and the gal said, “Pass me on the left!”

He did and she moved hard to the left as he passed, sending him sprawling in the sand and scratchy planty things. I was now terrified, and sat waiting for an opportunity to sprunt past. I did but then had a big gap to make up on the receding leaders.

Turning onto a wide dirt road I shifted the U.S.S. Aluminum into the biggest gear and raced to catch up. Dropping my head briefly, when I looked up I noticed:

  1. There was a 90-degree turn immediately in front of me.
  2. I was going way to fast to make the turn.
  3. This was gonna hurt.

And it did. I launched like a SpaceX rocket, hands out, legs akimbo, and face exposed to fully absorb the full impact of the rocks, cactus, and gravel. I lay there for a few seconds, then jumped up and tied my chain into a double half-hitch trying to get it back on the chain ring. A SPY van rushed up and got me going again. My neck throbbed and my legs dripped a mixture of blood and gravel slurry. With more than a hundred miles to go, it was going to be a long day.

But it wasn’t. I had been sent off in the Wanker Division, a/k/a Wave Three, and spent the day sweeping up and spitting out countless riders who had gone off almost half an hour earlier in Preen Wave 1 and Women’s Wave 2. At the end of the ride, numerous finishers came up to me, test-lifted my 30-lb. behemoth with its 38mm bulldozer tires and said, “Think how much faster you would have gone on a road bike!”

Of course, on a road bike I would have died on the very first dirt descent, and if I hadn’t I would have shattered the frame and wheels on my SpaceX launch. Far from hindering me, the heavy bike with massive tires reminded me early on to go slowly and conserve– and it all paid off with a finishing time of 7:42:04, fifteenth in the Wanker Division and good for about 50th overall. Most importantly, I beat Surfer Dan with whom I’d carpooled (he still owes me ten bucks) by .5 second.

There were amazing displays on offer throughout the day, but none more impressive than James Cowan, who attacked early and rode the thing in 7:11, good enough to eviscerate the Wanker Division and faster than all but fifteen riders for the entire day. Moreover, he did it without the help of the Cat 1 peloton’s shelter and speed.

So many riders got to savor the joy of simply finishing. Guys like Dan Kroboth, who dropped 75 pounds over the course of the year and endured a tough training regimen, came away with his first BWR finish. Behind the scenes the event “seamlessly” happened thanks to people like Victor Sheldon, who marked the course, then when the markings were rained on and blown down, remarked it again on Saturday, after which they were blown down again, requiring him to remark the entire course a third time, finishing at 2:00 AM on Sunday. The turns were impeccably marked and made the difference between the BWR being a ride and an Eagle Scout project in orienteering.

As expected, the food at the Gear Grinder grill was off the hook, as finishers were treated to sausage, chicken, and Belgian waffles heaped with ice cream, chocolate fudge, and cardiac arrest. Those who didn’t die immediately were carried off the Lost Abbey beer tent.

For my own selfish purposes, nothing was as important as the hand-ups of GQ6 and Coca-Cola. I swilled both throughout the ride, and wouldn’t have finished without them–that and my secret stash of Trader Joe’s trail mix, of which I ate an entire half-bag.

I was going to write an epic review in twelve parts, but this will have to do. My neck hurts. See you in 2016 … as a volunteer!



Note: What follows was sent to me by my friend Denis Faye, a fellow sufferer and finisher of this year’s BWR, who followed the strict protocol for requesting a mention something on this blog: 1) Be nice. 2) Hit the “subscribe” button.

From Denis: “I started cycling in earnest 2-3 years ago when my friend Steve Edwards (former La Grange, now a dirty MTBer living in Utah) gave me his old Cannondale Cat 5. We’ve been friends for 25+ years and he’s one of the great human beings. Currently, he’s going toe-to-toe with Lymphoma. I wanted to do something to both honor him and make a difference, so I’m doing a Birthday Challenge to raise funds for the Lymphoma Research Foundation. On May 30-31, Kevin Nix and I are riding  from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two days. (That’s a little over 450 miles in 45 hours for my 45th birthday.)”

Here’s the FB page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1447394325551415/

Here’s a blog post going into more detail: http://denisfaye.com/2015/03/26/450-miles-in-45-hours-my-birthday-challenge-to-beat-cancer/

And here’s the donation page: http://www.lymphoma.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=306330&supid=418211276

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§ 21 Responses to Purple haze

  • dangerstu says:

    I ache, therefore I Waffle.
    Good to see you yesterday!

  • Dan K says:

    75 pounds since Nov 2011. 25 pounds since Jan 1.

    I credit my survival/finishing primarily to the PVNPR. Mental toughness is what the BWR requires.

  • Kris Juarez says:

    Great post (as usual) and congrats on just finishing!

  • Wankomodo says:

    Dan, I dropped 100 lbs between 2007-2012. I completed the BWR in 2013 DFL (there wasn’t any beer left when I finished). It is a hell of an achievement. I miss riding with you since I moved out to the sticks, but I am proud of you! One lesson I learned from completing the BWR: I’ll never attempt it again (I’m much wiser now). Plus MMX keeps getting more sadistic every year. – David C.

    • fsethd says:

      I think this year was the best course yet. Tough but doable. It was good seeing you at Castaic.

  • jwhcowan says:

    Great riding Seth, especially on that tank. What a fun day, I can’t wait until 2016!

    • fsethd says:

      Top 10 overall in 2016!

      • Sausage™ says:

        James just needs to get in that first wave. Amazing achievement to finish 19th overall when he had to start a full 20 minutes behind the leaders. And he only missed Top 10 by four minutes.

        SPY has an impossible problem seeding waves, but it would be great to see guys like Cowan in that first wave.

        Tony Manzella registered as a 3 even though he was only a 4 at registration time, but the guys at SPY knew who he was and appropriately put him in Wave 1 (where he proceeded to finish 10th overall yesterday).

        It’s a massive undertaking just putting on the event, and it’s fair of SPY to say “If you pester us with an email requesting Wave 1 you will be relegated to the final wave” but maybe something as simple as sending around the Wave 3 list to a few guys MMX and Phil trust (including you, Wanky) and asking, “Hey is there anyone in Wave 3 that maybe should be bumped up?”

        Just a thought, but give Cowan all the credit in the world, he didn’t complain a peep about his seeding.

        • fsethd says:

          He did great last year. He was superlative this year. Top ten in 2016, that’s my bet — his performance surely got everyone’s attention.

  • jowdog says:

    The winners are impressive, indeed. But the people who get my admiration are the folks bringing up the rear. Many are physically over their heads, undertrained, and struggling just to finish. These people find something powerful and indefatigable within themselves and finish stronger than they started. Here’s to pushing our limits…and our bikes, when necessary.

  • Brian in VA says:

    Congrats to all involved! Really looking forward to the in depth ride report, WM.

  • channel_zero says:

    7:42 is killing it old man!

    Keep your head up!

    • fsethd says:

      It was such a Fred move! I earned the crash, not to mention my spot in the Wanker a Division!

  • A-Trav says:

    I was happy with 8:50 rolling/9:50 overall. I like to stop and smell the roses- and by “stop and smell the roses” I mean stop at the halfway and ride into the Lost Abbey for a pint of Avant Garde. Then those girls at the top of the hill gave me a Coors Light. Best course so far. Got back feeling so good I didn’t even think to say, “Goddamn, I’m never doing that fucker again! Top ten in 2016 fo sho!

  • fsethd says:

    Hard to win those spots. I mean easy.

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