(Photo: Jake Orness)
Preparation is the key to enjoying most events. Then, there are a handful of events that are so mentally and physically challenging that preparation isn’t exactly the way to enjoy it, it’s the way to survive it. The Belgian Waffle Ride is just one of those events. If you’ve never heard of the BWR you might think it sounds quite relaxing, simply munching on a stack of waffles and riding around with some buddies. In reality the BWR’s route covers some of the most challenging paved and unpaved sections you’re going to find in an event. On top of the 140 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing (there is a 70-mile route option as well), another consideration is the equipment and what it takes to get through such a day with your bike in tact. Last year 1000 riders lined up for the event, with few fully knowing what they were getting themselves into. So how how does one prepare for such a day?
Source Endurance thinks they have the answer, and is giving people a way to leave nothing up to chance with a four-day Belgian Waffle Ride Survival Camp that covers the entire 140-mile route, in addition to post-ride analysis and coaching presentations. Held over Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend in San Diego (January 15-18), the four days will include a 2016 route unveiling by BWR founder Michael Marckx then riding the entire route spread over two days. We chatted with Adam Mills of Source Endurance to see what the BWR Survival Camp is all about.
RBA: Why is the Belgian Waffle Ride the event you chose to host a training event around?
AM: The Belgian Waffle Ride is very much modeled after Paris-Roubaix in the sense that it’s as much about fitness as it is equipment choices. A lot of people that have previously done BWR felt that they weren’t as prepared as they could have been for it. So we wanted to provide an avenue for people to be successful and enjoy it rather than just struggle to finish, or not finish at all. It’s too difficult of a day to just come into it unprepared.
RBA: What is the goal of the camp?
AM: The camp is about preparing the athletes from the training and nutrition side, in addition to understanding the equipment needs of such an event. Because riders will preview the entire course over two days they’ll have the opportunity to remember it, rather than trying to make a single day too big where everyone is so exhausted and can’t remember each important piece of the route. Riders will also see what gear selection they need, tires, and positioning on the bike in the dirt. All the small nuances that add up to a lot.
RBA: Do you have ride leaders with experience in events like BWR?
AM: We are super fortunate to have four of the best ride leaders I could imagine. Dan Hughes from Lawrence, Kansas, who is 4x Dirty Kanza 200 winner and has probably ridden more gravel than anyone. Then we have BWR originator Michael Marckx. He chooses the route and has the intimate knowledge of the course’s nuances. Phil Tinstman, who has three BWR 2nd places to his credit and a long history of racing in the dirt and on the road. And we have Neil Shirley, 2x BWR winner and an enormous source of knowledge and experience. I will also be a ride leader and while getting my Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology from University of Kansas, I spent many hours on the endless gravel roads around Lawrence.
RBA: Is there a specific type of rider are you expecting to be interested in the camp?
AM: We are trying to make it so there’s something for everyone. It’s a chance to take on one of the iconic courses in the US. It’s in January when much of the country is cold so it’s nice to be able to go to San Diego where it’s typically warm. If you’re a roadie it gives you the opportunity to learn how to handle the bike in dirt and a chance to get familiarize yourself with the course. We have a couple riders already signed up that don’t plan to do BWR at all, but are just using the camp for an adventure in warm weather.
RBA: What is included in the cost of the camp?
AM: The camp cost is $1100 and will be limited to only around 20 riders so that we can provide white glove treatment, minding all the details. There will be full ride support from professional mechanics and soigneurs with ride food, bottles, spare wheels; basically anything we need while out on the bike. We’ll have presentations Friday, Saturday, and Sunday that range in topics from recovery to nutrition. After each ride the coaches will consult with the athletes on their power data and make training suggestions. Riders will also get gift bags with products from our sponsors, registration for BWR, and a preferred start position. Accommodations are not covered since we think most people would be coming into town with their family, so we wanted to allow flexibility with lodging.
For more information on the Belgian Waffle Ride Survival Camp visit Source Endurance here.
For more information on the Belgian Waffle Ride visit their Facebook page here.