Insight From The Inside
They came. They Suffered. They conquered.
2016 BWR Women’s Winner, DK200 Champ, CX Queen
The evolution of the Belgian Waffle Ride has coincidentally been a reflection of my relationship to the bike.
During the inaugural event in 2012, I was finishing my Masters degree in New Jersey and my love for racing bikes was just beginning. I had no idea cyclocross existed, and I’d only heard about the BWR’s grandeur from a few soon-to-be teammates.
In 2013, I was presented with the idea of completing 130 miles on and off-road and reluctantly accepted the challenge. I prepared as best I could and suffered through my longest ride to date. Finishing first was nowhere on my radar. I simply wanted to finish.
In 2014, I had an elite cyclocross season under my belt and was preparing for my first pro category season in cross-country mountain biking. Unfortunately, an untimely crash and a trip to the hospital at Sea Otter took me out of contention. I spent the rest of 2014 finding a better place mentally—and physically—when it came to racing my bike.
In 2015, I was looking for motivation after a poor performance at USAC Cyclocross Nationals in Austin, Texas, so I put BWR on my calendar to encourage long miles in the saddle. Finishing second was a pleasant surprise, and it ultimately gave me the motivation I needed to sign up for Dirty Kanza, enjoy training through summer, and achieve my most successful cyclocross season to date.
This year, I wanted to win. BWR has shaped a lot of my motivation and goals throughout the past few years, and I knew Rhonda Quick was a force to be reckoned with. Quality training was important, so I balanced volume and miles on the road with high-intensity efforts during a handful of cross-country mountain bike races. The course was perfectly challenging and the dirt sections suited my background, but I’m grateful that all the pieces finally came together in my favor.
The Belgian Waffle Ride is a true test of fitness for everyone who signs up. It might be a ride, but for those who want to push themselves even further, it is also a race. Some large cycling events fail to emphasize the women’s category, but the BWR has always been an exception to this. I appreciate the equality in a separate women’s wave and podium for the women, as it played a big role in my drive to win. I’m grateful for the exceptional event staff, dirt, descents, sand, bottle hand-ups, food, beer, cheers, and equipment. Thanks to everyone out there who made it a day to remember. I’m looking forward to the suffering ahead in the years to come.
7X US National Time Trial Champion
The BWR was extra fun this year because of all of the technical sections and dirt MMX had delivered to the course from his special ops helicopters. I’m not sure how they scouted the locations for the sand, but it was perfect for causing slipping, crashing and excitement all day, even for the better riders. It was great to finally solidify my friendship with Neil Shirley also as a result of our 8-hour bondage session on course. Neil and I were pleasantly surprised with our results, achieved by going at a comfortable pace with a few great guys who weren’t afraid to take a pull and entertain us with their stories. I’m talking about you, Al! We traveled through the beautiful course picking riders off along the way, and somehow rolled over the line in the 20s. After doing the Wafer last year, finishing the full Waffle was just as satisfying as the first beer I had once I got off the bike. It was truly that lovely, and I’ll be back to indulge in 2017.
Professional Cyclist for Holowesko Citadel p/b Hincapie
I was pretty stoked to be a part of the BWR this year. I really enjoy coming out to events like this not only for the laid back atmosphere, but for the excitement and challenge of something different. I’m a big fan of good events, so having an epic one that’s close to home and put on by my friends makes it all the better. Hopefully luck will be on my side next year and I can take home the W.
Lead Betty at Betty Designs. Athlete. Mom. Badass.
My obsession with finishing the full Belgian Waffle Ride came after finishing the Wafer in 2015. That, and the fact that people told me there was no way I could finish the full Waffle-distance.
As a competitive triathlete for…well, forever, cycling had always been my least favorite discipline. Maybe that was because I felt like I was a terrible cyclist, or that so many people told me I couldn’t ride, but training for BWR showed me what it really felt like to ride a bike. I’m not talking about pedaling, or getting from one place to another, but really pushing it—crushing it by my standards—and going for it. Chasing down the full waffle finish also allowed me to show my son Gavyn that when you put your mind to something and work for it, it’s achievable.
During my 12-hour adventure, there was only one minor 20-minute meltdown at mile 70 when the thought of another 5 hours on the bike had my mind upside down. I told a random guy in a white van that I loved him because he gave me a Coke. I laughed my ass off for no good reason at mile 125 when I realized that the poor event photographer was still out there taking photos. Just like me, he had literally been out there all day. Poor guy.
When I finally came up Double Peak and saw my son, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I made my way toward the top. His support made it feel easy, even at the 140+ mile mark. I chalked it up to Mama Bear motivation.
I didn’t come out on top in the results, but I stayed upright, smiled, rode further than I ever have and walked away feeling accomplished and ready for my next epic endeavor. I may not have any business doing half the epic shit I am doing, but sometimes “why not” is all the reason you need to get after your goals.
Dave Koesel AKA SuperDave
Former Elite National Champion
I’m fascinated by that place we reach after 6 or 7 hours of grueling terrain and the relentless pace and pursuit. I don’t mean the Oasis, I mean that dark place where you’re alone even among the group and you’ve got to find the other end or succumb to what are only thoughts of self-preservation. At that moment you’re slowing dying and pushing further just tempts that fate a bit more. It’s not natural, it’s not talent, it’s not training that gets you to the finish line.
This year’s BWR didn’t go as planned, but the incredible thing about the event is the opportunity for enjoyment in unexpected forms. The camaraderie is incomparable to any weekday group ride, and the terrain and views certainly surpass my usual weekend at an office park crit. I came to BWR with a score to settle from last year, but after suffering some mechanical and pheumatic misfortune early on at Modest Mule, came away with more respect for the many outcomes this race can bring. Whether Lady Luck or Miss Fortune join your ride, there’s a lesson and a takeaway you won’t find on any other prize list at any other event. See you next year.
2016 kUDOs Award Winner
April 26, 2015. I was volunteering for BWR when I saw a bunch of badasses turn onto the Hodges dirt and thought to myself, “this is so rad. I’ll never be able to do that.” With only 9 months in the saddle at that point, this was a logical thought.
Yet on April 24, 2016, I was a BWR finisher. In a year’s span, I’d registered, panicked, signed up for coaching through Source Endurance and trained my face off. I rode, ate, slept, and dreamed BWR for the next four months. During the ride, I only had one “I might die out here moment” and somehow managed to pass a few people in the dirt. BWR had made me somewhat literate at reading a line in the dirt, and I loved every second of it—no matter how sandy, rocky or crashy it got. I survived till Double Peak, and the sight of my husband Nick, dog Steve and a few friends was all I needed to pedal up that rung of Dante’s Inferno in a straight line before descending toward the finish in pure joy.
Though cycling started as exercise, it quickly became a sport, and has evolved into a full-on lifestyle with an amazing community of friends. The camaraderie experienced on the trails in the months leading up to BWR were so fun, as were the fist-bumps from guys on group rides when they learned I was taking this on. As I walked around the expo on Saturday before the race, I saw at least ten people whom I needed to hug, all whom I never would have met if not for BWR. I cannot wait for next year.