Another year. Another @belgianwaffleride in the books. This was my third attempt at the Waffle distance. While the saying goes "the third time's a charm" this in no way was my attitude heading into the event. You can never take for granted that just because you've Waffled before it guarantees you a finish + bottle of Lost Abbey Bad Ass Ale. [ We did, however have some luck with no mechanicals this year. ]
I've always gushed about this event. It's so unique. So challenging. So fun + so satisfying when you cross that finish line. My build up this year never really felt that great. The event had moved up 5 weeks earlier in the calendar so that meant lots of colder, darker early morning departures for longer rides. We kicked off our training with the official BWR Survival Camp at the end of January, that well, I barely survived. I thought I did not need much of a fitness base to do a 3-day camp. Boy, was I wrong! (yes, Matt—you were right. AGAIN.) The good news is that by Day 3 I actually started feeling better when others seemed to be losing steam. I can be a bit of a freak and really feed off the energy of group dynamics + the high of doing something that makes you really physically uncomfortable. Survival Camp reminded me of how flippin' long + hard BWR was going to be. Why the F*CK was I doing this again?!
Multiple long training rides in February + March had my teeth chattering and me in complete silence until about 2.5 hours into the day. I felt sooooooo slow on all of my rides and thought I would be doomed come April 15. Then with about 4 weeks to go something clicked. We had our longest week of riding culminating with a 7-hour ride on Saturday + 4-hour ride on Sunday. We rode steady and I felt really consistent + strong on both days. (maybe we actually did have some fitness!)
While I do hire a coach to write my workouts (Roch Frey, my old triathlon coach) and follow them to a "T"— when I'm not training I like to focus on other things in my life. Gavyn's Spring Break happened to fall the week leading into BWR and we decided to head to Waikiki for the first few days to enjoy the sunshine, warm water + surfing on small waves. This used to be our annual mom/son Spring Break trip until we missed it in 2017 so I was really excited to go back. The riding was done and sitting home thinking about what was to come didn't sound that appealing. I wanted to surf! Best. Decision. Ever. I came back happy, rejuvenated + ready to ride.
Then the fear crept in. A taper can mess with your mind. All of a sudden I felt "so unfit" and like I had not done any training. I actually got worried that I was not ready to do this again. We assembled a small group of us to wear SQUAD kits for the day. I would be in all white, the boys in all black. Why the hell not?! Might as well have fun with #newkitday!
Race morning rolled around and I was jumping out of my skin. Ready to do this. Ready to suffer. Ready to have fun no matter how the day unfolded. Matt and I had a plan to really focus on steady road riding, with me staying on his wheel for the downhills + riding all the dirt with confidence. This was the first year I had no fear on any of the dirt sections, not even the downhills. This was a huge breakthrough. Somehow around mile 12 on Lake Hodges just before the rocky section I misjudged going between 2 rocks and did my first endo. I had about 4 people on my wheel and all I heard were the gasps and sounds of guys trying not to run me over. My chest hit my stem and I went completely up and over and landed pretty much on my butt. I was incredibly lucky, I popped right back up and kept going. Didn't miss a beat and didn't even get that adrenaline spike you get when you crash. Clearly no time for that. Needless to say, my pristine all white camo kit now had dirt down the entire back. Oh well, I was hoping it made me look that much tougher out there. It most definitely made for some fun conversation all day when people passed.
I was stoked to have (finally) met one of my previous brand ambassadors—Jen Kraatz and we rode together until literally the furthest / highest point of the course out at Mesa Grande. She's one tough cookie. She lives and trains in Florida with no hills like we were riding that day. We coaxed her along as far as we could and then we parted ways.
Every year my goal is one, to finish + two, to ride stronger than I did the previous year. Secretly I really really wanted to crack the top 20 overall women with my finish, but I kept that to myself. In 2016 I was 31/32 women (with a 12:04) , 2017 I was 24/30 (with 10:59). I wasn't exactly in a position to think I might be able to ride that much faster. It's a long day and anything can happen and the field is stacked with insane athletes. Matt kept saying we would be an hour faster this year and I told him he had lost his mind. It was pretty cool when we got down the back side of Double Peak and I (finally) realized this might actually be the case. We went 1 hour 11 minutes faster and broke 10 hours by 12 minutes (9:48). Holy crap! To say I was stoked was an understatement. To make everything even sweeter, Noel, who is my right-hand-Betty at work met us out at different parts of the course and cheered her guts out for us. My mom + dad were waiting at Lost Abbey drinking beer when we crossed the finish line. I only found out later that week that I indeed did break the top 20 and came in 19/31 women who finished the Waffle.
This was by far the most fun + to top it off there were about a dozen Betty kits out on the course that day—that was a PR too! And before you ask, yes, we are doing it again next year. Who's in?
MY DREAM BIKE SET-UP [ a.k.a BWR Perfection ]
bike | Trek Domane SLR 9 Disc + ProjectOne custom white / gold
drivetrain | Quarq Zero Carbon Power Meter 172.5 mm crank + Shimano Di2 Ultegra 53-34 + compact
wheels | ENVE SES 4.5 AR Disc
tires | Hutchison Sector 28 tubeless
computer | Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt
pedals | Crankbrothers Eggbeater 11
helmet | Rudy Project Racemaster
sunglasses | betty x RUDY Momentum (available in ice silver)