Belgian Waffle Ride, Wafer Edition

I'm still riding on a high from the Belgian Waffle Ride last weekend.  It was probably the most fun I've had on a bike in a single-day event before.  It's a road race outside of San Diego, but a road race that includes pretty much everything and more: long road climbs, fun sweeping descents, fast flats... but then this "road race" also throws in gravel climbs, washboard dirt descents, sand pits, single track, rocky steep pitches, dirt switchback descents, water crossings, bridges... like I said - everything and more!

There are two distances: the 136-mile "waffle" and the 68-mile "wafer".  Jason entered the waffle (of course), while Corinne, Catherine and I signed up for the wafer.  My Betty teammate Amy was also doing the wafer, her boyfriend Rob was doing the waffle, and Kristin and her husband were doing the waffle as well.  So we had a great crew to roll out with!

Some of our group at the start - Betty Designs represent!

Pre-race waffles
Me and Kristin - "Mama Betty" and designer
of the fabulous gear! Legend!

The tag-line for the event is "Don't let the fun name fool you"!  Yes, you start the day with waffles, and end it with waffles and beer (it starts and finishes at the Lost Abbey Brewery in San Marcos), but there's a whole lot of hard riding in between!  This is not an event for novices, and not really an event for people with no dirt skills - cyclocross or mountain bike skills were important!  It was cool to be racing on the same course as real pro cyclists.  The winner was Jesse Anthony from the Rally Cycling team, just coming off the Tour of California (along with some Herbalife and Jelly Belly riders), and there were stars in the crowd like Ted King and Phil Gaimon... sharing a course with pros is common in triathlon, but pretty much unheard of in cycling.

To give you an idea of how hard a day it is, only 429 riders finished the waffle out of 756 registrants, and 353 finished the wafer out of 503.  There were only 87 women finishers in both events total - and there were a lot of women on the start line.  I finished 27th, never dreaming I'd be in the top 30 there. Next goal - top 20!

Part of the difficulty was the elevation. The waffle had 13,000 feet of climbing, and the wafer managed to pack in almost 5,000 in the "short" 110km.  Part of the difficulty was the dirt - you needed some off-road skills to ride everything - and yes I cleaned everything pretty much (everything that was actually rideable, as there were some intentional dismounts), and you needed the right equipment to balance the road & dirt.  Jason and I went with Hutchison Sector 28 road tubeless tires, loaded up with sealant, and they were perfect!  And then part of the difficulty was the heat.  The event moved from mid-April to late-May this year.  It was 34 degrees C in spots where we rode, and even hotter up in the Julian area ("The Hinterlands") where Jason went in the waffle.  

Waffle route and elevation profile (below).  I had ridden
a lot of the roads in the area before, so even though
I wasn't sure what I was in for with the BWR, at
least I knew where I was :).

The full meal deal

Much of the fun was in the organization.  OK, it's always fun to start with waffles... but in the weeks leading up to the race we received email updates with descriptions of each part of the course - the climbs and dirt sections had all been given Belgian-style names (in the spirit of the spring classic races in Europe).  The single track section around Lake Hodges was named Hodgesmeergate for example, a fun dirt descent that ended with a road climb up Del Dios Highway was called Lemontwistenberg Omgekeerde, the final climb of the day up Doublepeak was called the Muur Van Dubbleberg, and it's twisty switchback dirt descent was the Dubbleberg Twistenweg.  And those were only some of the sections!

Corinne in Sandy Bandy - a super-fun dirt section
with a lot of (you guessed it) sand.

Corinne selfie riding up the Bandyweg
(Bandy Canyon).

Me on some random dirt section, somewhere
in San Diego's North County.
Catherine and I riding through Hodgesmeergate.
It was actually much steeper and rockier
than the picture shows.

Selfie of Corinne and I at the top of Doublepeak.
It was all (mostly) downhill from there, and the dirt
trail down was a riot of twists and switchbacks!

Jason summiting the 23% (yes you read that correctly) grade
at the top of Doublepeak.  Oops, I mean Muur Van Dubbleberg.

We all finished with smiles and laughter (mostly), and would all come back.  In fact, I am already hoping it works out to go back next year, and this time I'll chase a faster time now that I know what I'm in for.  

Post-race food with Amy, Corinne and me, while
we waited for the rest of our crew to finish.  They
gave you towels soaked in ice water when you
crossed the finish line, which is what is on Corrine's head.
The post-race waffle with ice cream was AMAZING!

Cleaned up and watching the waffle riders finish.

Jason finished - check out the salt on him!

Souvenir beers (each racer got 2) to take home
from Lost Abbey Brewing.  That was in addition to
the 3 beer tickets you got there.