I HAVE DONE A FEW GRAVEL EVENTS, but this was a race. The others, more insane tests of endurance. The Crushar, crushed my soul. Rock Cobbler, endlessly nailed my body. BWR, The Belgian Waffle Ride...
... is bar to bar,
gravel to sand to asphalt to single track,
I wanted to do a BWR for years, and I've wanted to do a gravel race for just a long. One thing that held me back was the humongous distance, 130 miles...
... but, my friend Bill, said do the Wafer.
I'm not sure if he said that or not, but turns out it was a little longer. 84 miles, 4000' of vert. No prob.
It started at 6am, with Belgian waffles. Real ones. Delicious.
At 745, we hit the course.
Superpro 5 mile police escort. There's just something about doing a race with police escort. I love it. It says...
... the promoter cares, the town cares.
Fortunately, I was warned that the first gravel sector started with all of us funneling down to double-file to go through a tiny tunnel under the highway. I came through top 15.
Bill, and his BBI henchmen, were single file and drilling it!
Gaps were opening.
The rest of us were clinging and closing.
Around mile 20, we swept up the PRO women, who'd left 7ish minutes ahead of us. We rolled on by, but then they started clawing their way to the front. Clearly they were game for our pace. This went on for a bit as we hit some twisty rollers...
... then we hit a stout climb.
It was the kind of climb where you think Ah, this must be the top and come around a turn to see another pitch.
I got ejected, along with what was left of the lead Wafer group.
A group of or guys made it.
But, it looked like a lot more because 6 or so of the top women were there.
Not knowing the course, throttling my pace seemed prudent. Plus, eventually we'd descend...
... and you know how The Old Diesel likes to rip down.
Enrique, Frank, Craig and I, gathered up 3 pro women and were laying down some good power. We worked well together.
We started picking up the Waffle riders who started 15 minutes ahead of us. Some of them worked with us, most just hung on. Can't blame 'em, they went another 50 miles.
Speaking of 50, just before aid station at mile 50 was a long sandy climb. I felt extremely fortunate to have a clear path and was able to clean the whole thing.
Are you getting a sense of the raciness of this?
The crafty, drafty?
Surfing from one group the next. Bigger cats dropped on climbs, then rolling up on the light cats. Working together.
Around mile 55, the Wafflers went right. We went left.
I say this in jest, it's clearly a much harder race. The Wafflers are awesome.
I had no idea how we were doing overall. In my mind there were 15 people up the road. And we were a long way back...
... the four of us had a pretty good rotation.
Early on I thought I might have cramping issues. I was hitting the Salt Tabs early and often. Drinking plenty - they give you cold, full, new waterbottles. Eating Honey Stinger waffles. Sucking down maple syrup. Saving the Hammer mocha caffeinated for the last 20 miles.
At our pace, I could see we were going to be much quicker than what I'd estimated. I was thinking 5 hours. We were going much faster.
Before the 5 miles of rocky, kinda technical single track, is a long gravel climb. Not a tree in sight. It's hot. Dusty. Any weakness would be amplified and unfortunately we lost my pal Frank.
3 of us hit the single track.
To my surprise, our skills were equal enough that we stayed in contact with each other. At the same time, we picked off one of the cats who hauled off early with the top pro women.
He was struggling.
Never saw him again.
We did see a dude with a groovy rainbow jersey. We blasted by. He gathered his reserves and caught on.
Next we saw Bill...
... going the opposite direction!
He usually beats me like a drum, so I figured he had finished and was riding back to find Frank. Nope. He'd missed a turn...
... which totally sucked.
As we're coming into town, guys are taking short pulls and skipping pulls. Not knowing any of them, I can't tell if they're tired or playing games.
I let a gap open. It got bigger. Finally someone came around. Then another. That answered that.
A mile later, Bill and rainbow guy slipped off the back.
Three of us left.
300 meters to go.
Lots of downtown corners...
... and bam, there's the grassy finish.
I wound up 2nd of our 3 up sprint. Could I have done better on that sprint?
Would I have ever in a million years guessed I'd end up 5th Overall and win my age group?
In my book, I cover the importance of reviewing each performance.
I got to the start late, lined up in the back. Wasn't a big deal, but could have been.
For sure, I messed up that sprint. First, I should have pre-rode it yesterday. It would have been obvious how hard it would be to pass in final 300m.
I've been feeling pretty burned out since Leadville. If I'd prepped better, I think I would have made the early climb. But, maybe I'd have blown later trying to hold that pace. 1st-3rd beat us by 9 minutes.
My food was perfect.
My bike amazing.
I also talk about repeating, meaning racing again.
So, where's another gravel race?
Yeah, a ways back.
The four of us.
Yep, another waffle... with ice-cream and chocolate.
165ish? no scale
7 hrs Sleep
0 PullUps 0 PushUps
No stretch today
0 minutes reading + journaling