A veritable fever-dream of a racing event, right in the heart of San Diego County.
BWR 2021, an Exercise In Logistics
The Belgian Waffle Ride 2021 was due to take place earlier in 2021, when cooler temperatures and infamous San Diego “May Gray” help keep the course cool and racers a bit fresher. With the adaptations required of organizers due to local and state regulations, the race eventually got green lit for July 2021, right in the heart of the summer heat. Where BWR really strains riders, it’s on logistics- planning for mechanicals, nutrition, weather, and for this year- heat.
The Best Tires for BWR
Everyone was talking tech leading into the BWR for this year- 80 miles of pavement and 50 miles of loose gravel (and sand) meant tire choice was on everyone’s mind. You want enough sidewall protection for jagged SoCal rocks, but enough slick speed for the long stretches of road that connect each dirt sector. Andrew opted for Continental Terra-Speed Tires in 35 mm. It was a great tire choice- despite obvious punctures and gashes after the race, Andrew never stopped once due to a flat, covering more than 130 miles with no reason to stop for a mechanical. Black-chili compound made the tires extra grippy in deep sand pits, and allowed for confident descending down twisty roads and the treacherous trails of Double-Peak Park.
The Race Breakdown
The race started off early in San Marcos, CA with thousands of riders looking to ride either the Waffle (130), Wafer (65), or “Wanna” rides, with some of the biggest names in gravel racing the full Waffle. With about an hour of road riding before the first gravel sector, fresh legs and a large field kept the race frenetic. A crash forced a split early on, but Andrew managed to regain contact with the front group on Del Dios highway, just before the first gravel sector.
The first sector was a major choke point, with minor crashes and narrow roads forcing riders to unclip or re-gather themselves, allowing a small break to get up the road, where they would be for the rest of the day. Andrew managed to get into a larger chase group a few minutes behind, keeping pace well through the first gravel sector, leading to the biggest climb of the day, Black Canyon.
The brutal heat of Black Canyon and rough washboard forced many riders to back off, causing some to even abandon. After the long climb, a long descent allowed riders to cool off, and Andrew took turns swapping pulls with riders picked up from the shattered field between varying road and gravel sectors.
The race boiled down to a war of attrition, with the biggest adversary becoming inland summer heat. Andrew managed to grab a pseudo-ice-bath at mile 100, which turned the day around. The race ended with two big climbs- Bandy Canyon and Double-Peak. The roughly 9000 mg of salt consumed started to kick in, and the uphill finish and promises of beer and waffles offered a good enough reason to claw back spots and finish strong.
The race was the first BWR for Andrew, and he looks forward to bringing what he learned with him to the next race. Keep an eye out from Skyline as we have a recap on Intelligentsia coming up soon as well- as always, a huge thanks to our supporters and sponsors, and please consider supporting the team’s parent foundation, Winning the Race With Diabetes.