Last weekend, Rick Schultz (Bike Fitness Coaching, Ask the Bike Coach) put together a free bike clinic on how to ride your first gravel event. On Saturday, Rick and Nytro Multisport bikes got together at the Law Offices of Richard Duquette with attendants to discuss riding an event like the Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR) for your first time. Topics included discussions on rider and bike preparations, course routes, survival techniques and equipment selection. Rick reviewed the 2018 BWR route and discussed the kind of bicycle you want to be riding. He encouraged riding a bike with as many gears as you need (no shame in multiple front-chainrings here) and getting a proper bike fit so that you are certain to be comfortable sitting on the saddle for so long.
Nytro bikes also provided 3 test bicycles that attendants could try out. For one particular rider, being able to test his options for a bicycle that could take on BWR was extremely helpful. One of the bikes that he found to be a great option was the SCOTT Sports ‘Addict’, 10 disc brake with carbon frame. If you’d like to try the bike out for yourself, call or visit Nytro Multisport in Encinitas. Ultimately the rider ended up purchasing a full carbon Felt road bike with 28 tubeless BWR special edition tires, and two front chain rings with a wide range 11-speed Ultegra cassette in the rear. Rick emphasized the importance for riding with tubeless in an event like BWR because this type of terrain can often lead to a flat.
The following day, another free gravel/endurance clinic was held at G2 Bikes in Aliso Viejo by Rick Schultz of Bike Fitness Coaching. The focus of the clinic was on mental strength and how to combat the fear of failing. Additionally, AJ, the owner of G2 Bikes, had a lot of valuable advice to offer from her years of riding in difficult events like Rock Cobbler, Strada Rossa, Spndx Stampede, and various SoCalCross races. Many people think you need to train on gravel to be able to take on the BWR, but it really is about time in the saddle, AJ revealed. She suggested when training for something like BWR that you 1) focus your training on spending as many hours as you can in the saddle 2) find a group or a friend that you do the ride with and 3) don’t spend too much time at the aid stations.
Expanding on this advice, AJ and Rick stated that even if you don’t always train on gravel, riding long hours on the saddle can give you the confidence to take on the rough spots. Additionally, riding with a group or friend doesn’t require you to keep up with them, but everybody rides differently, so you may find that you catch up with your friends as the route changes, perhaps when they need you the most. As AJ points out, it would not be smart to tire yourself out early in the race to try and catch up with your partner or group. Make the pact to cheer each other on at the finish line and you’ll crush through those last few kilometers.
Lastly, it can be tempting during the rest stops to catch up with your friends or take a rest – all the experts agree that this isn’t wise for a couple or reasons. First is that if you spend a half an hour at the aid station and then hop back on your bike, you’re going to have to warm your body back up, perhaps by over-exerting yourself with plenty of miles left to go. Second, if you stop ten minutes or more at every rest stop in the race, that could add up to over an hour on your final time; better to finish the race as soon as you can. Lastly, the Belgian Waffle Ride finish line is at the Lost Abbey Brewery in San Marcos, so there’s lots of fun to be had. Use that time to down a cold one and catch up with your fellow finishers, you’ll have plenty friends to relive the experience with.