BWR#5 (Waffles: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 // Wafer: 2015). After last year's finish I said no more. Well, I lied. I just can't stay away. The Belgian Waffle Ride is the most epic day on bikes + every year the event gets better + better. The caliber of athletes + infectious energy this year did not disappoint.
THE WINTER TRAINING
When I crossed the finish line in 2018 I said it was my last one. This is by far the most fun day on bikes here in the San Diego area + I cannot pass up a good sufferfest with friends. Every year the training is different. I want to BE BETTER. The base miles started a bit earlier in lieu of BWR Survival Camp (January 11), but I was prepared enough to be able to do the work for three days. Post-camp the volume went up + it was rad. Until it wasn't. I love trying to find my limits and well, I found them. Week after week of larger volume coupled with me burning the candle at both ends (staying up late to savor any moment with G when he rolled in the door at 11pm on weekends + sharing snacks close to midnight, then up at 5am the following morning to get out the door early), the wheels started coming off in early March. Even the hubby suffered. (not sure why because he is SO much better at sleeping + recovery than I am ) We were starving, grumpy, unmotivated + I lost weight. NOT GOOD. Only thing I knew was I had to dial it back or there was no way May 5 was gonna happen. We chilled out, Matt took off for Iceland and froze hit nuts off trying to photograph the Northern Lights, + I tried to take things in stride. Almost 3 weeks was mentally rough. Short, easy riding was all I was allowed to do. While it seemed everyone else was stacking up the miles. Not gonna lie. It messed with my head. My saving grace was hosting Betty Epic Camp March 25-March 29. It was just what my body + spirit needed. 4 days with incredible women who I'm proud to call my friends from around the globe. The break worked and although hesitant, my first long ride (7 hours) back the last week of March was a success. The love came back!!
THE DAY BEFORE
Lucky me thanks to the guys at IRC Tires + Pure Gravel I got to be part of the Tire Therapy panel at the expo on Saturday talking equipment set-up with a star-studded line-up of athletes. Panel + #KitGame photos by Matt.
Anyone who knows me knows that aside from the fact I love to train + stay fit, designing rad kits is my passion. Every year I need to design something special to toe the line at this race. Because the course is approximately 135 miles with 40 miles of dirt I came up with the idea to where white a couple of years ago. Why not? Pretty funny since it's definitely gonna get dirty. This year's had even more white with pops of neon coral + sky blue. 2 of my faves. For all my friends joining in the BWR fun I did some guys + girls kits as well. All-in-all, we had about 20 of these specific Squad kits on the roads come race day and nothing could have made me smile more. Thanks to all the great athletes who were part of our Squad for the day; Matt, Karen + Sean, Roch, Mike the Bike, Alison, Jen, Sarah (who ended up 2nd overall!!), Katya, Kimber + Mike, Heather, Kari, Dave, Brad, Mike, Leeann, Elke.
Mike Swim Photo @mikezswim
The start + neutral roll out was, well, anything but neutral. Starting in Wave 1 with all the pro men + women, I found myself off the back at the start of the descent down Del Dios. Nothing neutral about it. It was balls to the walls from the start. 1) Thankfully I was not alone + found a couple girlfriends to ride with, 2) this made for less crowding on the first single-track dirt of the day. Yippeeee. Riding dirt is not my strength and I'd prefer not to navigate it throwing elbows with strangers so this was awesome for me. Aside from our Canadian friend, Norm, sliding out in a turn just in front of me, I made it through the first section quickly and even rode the river crossing.
Photo by Danny Munson #BWRPhotoPool
The sand in Black Canyon was out of control this year. Matt + I had ridden it a couple of times and it had it's typical brake bumps and loose stuff, but on race day someone decided to dump a bazillion pounds of loose dirt all over. I was like a grandma out for a stroll paranoid I would slide out every second. Needless to say this was not my best riding of the day. It was also the section where I realized I was not feeling that hot. I did not have the climbing power I was used too + came to the realization that was going to be "it" for the day. Turns out Matt was sick with a horrific head cold the week leading in and it decided to rear it's ugly head around mile 50. Oh well. I knew I could finish, but I was not going to be my fastest time. Exiting Black Canyon I waved our riding group off + was somehow doing bad math that I was going to be on the course for 11 + hours and I did not want anyone waiting for me all day. I knew Gavyn was waiting for me at the top of Double Peak + I had the ability to go the distance even feeling ill so we moved to Plan B. Matt was still not feeling great so after the other took off we slowly got back to it. I loaded up with caffeine + sugar which seemed to do the trick and somehow came back to life. Sandy Bandy didn't feel sandy this year post-Black Canyon and where I typically have a minor mental meltdown on the obnoxious 2k climb at the end of Bandy, I felt totally fine. I even road Hodges + Lemontwistenburg like a champ (for me). Settling into Elfin Forest tucked in on Matt's wheel we made great time out into the final Questhaven / Oasis section + the 5.5 mile climb to the top of Double Peak. I was so stoked to see Gavyn half way up the DP climb my smile must have been enormous. Climbing out of the saddle on the steepest part I could only offer him my pinky for a hi-5 before I got over the top and headed down the backside to Lost Abbey + the finish. Riding time 9:35 // Official time 10:03. Not so bad for how I felt earlier in the day, but not gonna lie, the carnage at home that night was tough. I was absolutely spent. It took more out of me than last year.
Will I do it again? Ideally I'd love to talk to Michael about hosting a women-only gravel camp for those wanting to come out and do either the Wafer or the Waffle in 2020. I think I'm gonna ride the Wafer for a change next year + help introduce some newbies to skinny tires on dirt.
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 | IRC Formula Pro X-Guard Tubeless 28mm (why? because it's a ROAD RACE)
computer | Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt PINK Edition!
pedals | Crankbrothers Eggbeater 11
sunglasses | ROKA Custom CP-1x (matte sky blue, torch + white spec)