So there’s a motorcycle hard enduro race called the Erzberg Rodeo. Every year the promoter makes it harder and harder and if more than just a few riders finish he says its too easy and makes it more brutal the following year. I’m going to go ahead and say the promoters of the Belgian Waffle Ride base their ride around a similar concept. If the finishing time is to short for the winner and he feels like it’s “too easy” the previous year, they make it harder. hahahaha. Well this year was the toughest one to date with 145miles, over 11,000 feet of elevation gain, 18 dirt sectors totaling just over 41 miles, and for me a finishing time just under 9hrs.
That was one hell of a day in the saddle and officially my longest ever. Coming into this my goal was just to finish. Obviously being focused on cross primarily we don’t really train for crazy long days, and especially not in April. I had always had it on the list of must do rides and I picked the year to finally do it. The pace off the start was “wicked fast” and we covered the first 30 miles in no time. Once we hit the dirt things spread out pretty quickly and it became comical to watch everyone try to handle the dirt sections on everything from aero road bikes and 23c road tires to full blown gravel bikes with 38c files. A flat tire early on was a bit of a blow and I was really hoping that wouldn’t set the tone for the day. Luckily that was all. I was able to settle into a group for the majority of the day with the idea to conserve the most amount of energy possible. Taking a quick break at each aid station to refill bottles and consume calories, stretch and just get off the bike for a few minutes. I just wanted to stay consistent and have fun; knowing that I was in no position to win the thing, I took the time to look around and enjoy the ride.
As the day went on I kept passing more and more folks that went out to hard and were now in a position to not finish. The last 40 miles of the course were brutal, and only got harder as the miles ticked away. The last climb, Double Peak Park climb was a 1mi, 600ft ascent that progressively got steeper and steeper as it went up and the last thing i wanted to do just a few miles from the finish. Once to the top we just flipped a u-turn and headed all the way down just because… one last punch to the gut to finish the day off.
I had the dialed bike setup with the Tarmac Disc and Force 1. I ended up running a 50t ring with the XX1 10-42 cassette. I felt comfortable all on it all day and was;t ever feeling like I needed more gear. All in all a great day and I survived! Huge thanks to the promoters and all of those involved in putting it together. It truly is the most unique cycling event I have ever done.