A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away …
The year was 2012. The place was Carlsbad, California. The time was 8:00 AM and the idiots were over a hundred strong, each one lined up to attempt the first ever Belgian Waffle Ride. However hard we thought it was going to be, it was harder. I still remember flying off my bike and landing on my head as we tried to ride/clamber up a massive wall back onto the bike path.
Mostly what I remember about that BWR, though, is that it was the first of four such events that I dutifully lined up for, each beatdown being more awful than the one before it as the route lengthened, the quality of the field increased, the difficulty of the off-road sections intensified, and most importantly, as I got older, slower, more cautious, weaker, and more prone to quitting.
My 2015 Belgian Waffle Ride I swore would be my last, and not simply because I completed it on a loaner bike that weighed 30+ pounds which paradoxically resulted in my best finish ever. “Best finish ever” on the BWR is relative, of course. For me it didn’t mean “best time,” rather it meant “finishing without feeling like my head had been beneath one of those pavement tamping-down stamper machines for nine hours.”
I only fell once, didn’t get hurt, had no flats, and stayed hydrated and well nourished for the length of the ride.
Four full-length BWRs in a row, and I was done. I had nothing left to prove, or rather, the things I did have to prove were unproveable, at least out on that course, which wasn’t so much a ride with dirt roads but rather an endless number of dirt sections stitched together with brief segments of pavement.
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but if that’s the case then why do former prisoners of war never long for a return to captivity? In my case, though, after a two-year hiatus and the implementation of a Baby BWR a/k/a the Belgian Wafer Ride, it started to sound like a good idea again.
What if I were to do the Baby BWR instead of the Full Grown Adult Hairy BWR? What if I were to do it on a full cyclocross bike with major knobbly tires and disc brakes? What if I were to do it without haste? Carefully? Not pushing myself to some absurd limit, but rather enjoying the day and its attendant festivities?
Because over the years the BWR has gone from being an invitation-only affair to one of the country’s signature rides, replete with great food, booths, entertainment, and a great vibe. Sticking my toe in the water, I went out a few months ago and did the Wafer course with some friends. It was perfect and rekindled my enthusiasm for my old flame. Better yet, it stimulated a kneejerk bicycle purchase, resulting in a new cyclocross bike.
This will be the 7th annual BWR, on the seventh route, covering approximately 137 miles with 44 miles of dirt, the most ever. The Wafer will be approximately 77 miles.
This year’s BWR promises to be bigger and more painful than ever, and thank dog the organizers have roped in Canyon Bicycles as lead sponsor and VeloFix as neutral support partner for both on-road and on-trail. A new Expo Festival format will be held Friday and Saturday (April 13-14) at the Canyon facility in Carlsbad, CA.
Whether you’re hell-bent on biting off the whole Waffle and trying to choke it down your throat, or looking to get a proportional beating on the Wafer, you’ll be among the lunatics who have over-committed themselves to the most unique cycling event in the country.
To top it all off, BWR progenitor Michael Marckx is coming to the South Bay on January 6 to ride with Joann Zwagerman’s legendary FDR group and to give South Bay riders a chance to talk with him about the ride, learn about its history, and (most importantly) get a rad sign-up discount. I’ll be there trying to get some course tips and intel. Michael will be there. Joann will be there. Hope you will be, too.
Ride leaves at 8:15 AM from Miramar Park in Redondo Beach.
Ride finishes around 10:00 AM at the Yellow Vase Ranch Market in Malaga Cove Plaza, post-ride refreshments provided! All riders who sign up after the ride will get a whopping $80 off the entry fee.
Visit the BWR website for more information and register today, before reality kicks in and you wonder what in the world you were thinking.
Additional Reasons to Waffle or Wafer
- Fundraising opportunities for the Challenged Athletes Foundation with as an individual through our registration platform or through the CAF team. Join the CAF team and earn free reg!
- Access to the BWR merchandise store to wear the best apparel on the road, designed and manufactured by JL Velo
- Prizes and giveaways from sponsors and vendors
- Complimentary race day breakfast, lunch (or maybe you’ll call it dinner, depending on when you finish), and Lost Abbey libations
- Invitation to free BWR sponsored recon rides to explore the course
- Finisher t-shirt and commemorative bottle of Lost Abbey “Bad-Ass Ale”
- 137 Miles/222 Kilometers (Waffle), 77 Miles/124 Kilometers (Wafer)
- 10 Categorized Climbs (including three category 2 climbs)
- 12,000 Feet of Climbing (Waffle), 6,000 Feet of Climbing (Wafer)
- 16 Dirt Sections totaling over 44 miles (long, sandy, wet, rocky, hilly, ugly)
- 10 Water Crossings or Foot Bridge Crossings
- 3 King/Queen of the Mountain Segments
- 3 King/Queen of the Dirt Segments
- 3 King/Queen of the Sprint Segments
- 1 King/Queen of the Canyon Segment
- 10 Feed Zones
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