It was just three weeks out from Belgian Waffle Ride and I was faced with a dilemma. I had no bike to ride. Well, no bike short of my five-year old Turner Cyclosis ‘cross bike. Given the world-wide shortage of near everything, all our recent test bikes (that fit me) had been called back. Luckily, at the last minute, the folks at Canyon gave me a reprieve on shipping our Grizl test bike back until after the event.
Given that I’m the resident old and weak guy, while Troy and David play on the 133-mile Waffle course, I will once again stick to the 72 mile Wafer course which still includes the notorious (and painful) 23% Double Peak climb that comes at the end of the ride. For that reason alone, I was happy the Grizl was running 2x Shimano GRX drivetrain. Just on the neurotic side, I wish Canyon hadn’t spec’d the small frame with a 170mm crank, but beggars can’t be choosy!
With a bike now had, it was time to quickly access what changes would be needed to make it more BWR friendly. In short, the solid, $3000 gravel bike needed to be transformed into more of a dirt-friendly road bike.
First on the list to go was the heavy wheel combo of the (alloy) DT G1800 Spline wheels and massive 45mm WTB knobby tires. In their place came a pair of 44mm deep, 1367-gram carbon Hunt Aerodynamicist disc wheels ($1389). Although we did have a pair of the 30-gram heavier carbon spoked version from last year, the lads at Hunt felt the bladed steel spokes would be a better choice for their added aero advantage and durability. Done.
When it came to skin the Hunt hoops it was hard to not choose a pair of 389 gram, 30mm IRC Serac Sand CX tires that are branded specifically for BWR. I had previously used this tire at my last BWR when it was in prototype form and thanks to the 20mm-wide rim bed of the Hunt wheels, they provided a robust rubber patch that was topped off with Orange Seal sealant.
While we could (kind of) understand why the small frame Grizl sported a shorty 70mm stem, it proved too cramped to use for the 78-mile Wafer course. My first choice was to replace it with a lightweight, 100mm Wren stem that only weighed 95 grams (versus the stock 150-gram stem). Unfortunately, that was when I discovered that the Grizl used an oversized 1.25” steerer tube. Eek!
As with the stem length, while we could (kind of) understand why Canyon would spec the larger diameter size (added front-end rigidity), it creates a hurdle to find available options. Only Giant, Pro and Ritchey offer stems to fit.
I called Shimano and they sent out a burly 100mm, 120-gram Pro Component Vibe stem. The aluminum stem has first class looks and Ti bolts with a beautifully machined, but rear mounted face plate. While we could (kind of) understand why they would choose this design, the rear facing bolts are just more difficult to tighten (a long t-handle works best). But soon enough the front-end was buttoned up and the bike was ready to roll.
THE SEATING SECTION
Although the thickly padded, 313-gram WTB Volt saddle was really comfortable, it was more saddle than I needed especially when mated with the fabulously simple, svelte and effective Canyon CLS 2.0 suspension seat post. My initial plan was to use a 167-gram Pro Components Griffon saddle, but the oversized carbon rails wouldn’t fit the clamps on the Canyon post. In its place came the eye-catching, iridescent purple ShortFit Racing Wide saddle from Selle San Marco. Bella, bella! In addition to the flashy Italian design came a 140-gram weight savings over the WTB.
As for all the asides, even though the majority of the BWR course is paved, I’m still unsure of what pedals to use. My daily go-to pedals are the Look road pedals, for the dirt race days I’m still running my beat & battered red Crank Bros. Candy pedals. I’m packing both so it will be a race day decision. Just in case flats become an issue, in addition to two tubes, an inflator and my favorite mini-pump from Bike Tubes, I’m bringing some of the new road specific tire plugs from Dynaplug.
THE WAFER RIDE
6,000 feet of climbing
7 categorized climbs
Steepest grade of 23%
15 off-road sectors / 32-miles worth
6 Feed zones