Braving the Elements: Racing BWR Utah Amidst Extreme Weather

UT snow and rain

The notorious Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR) Utah kicks off this week, but alongside the usual challenge lies an extraordinary test: extreme weather with temperatures expected at the start to be a chilling 26F. Don't expect a warm up as it won't get above freezing until sometime in the mid-afternoon. Riders from across the globe descend upon Cedar City armed with grit, but smart gear choices and adjusted strategies will separate those who finish from those forced to face a DNF (Did Not Finish) or Hypothermia.

Adapting to Extremes

While a fickle forecast always demands preparation, this year's BWR Utah calls for a whole new level of gear planning. Waterproof and windproof jackets are essential, as are multiple sets of gloves and even riding boots. Impending precipitation further chills the stoke and further complicates staying warm. Tire selection becomes strategic: Bring multiple sets in the case of any course changes.


BWR UT 2024 weather


Beyond the Bike: Hydration & Fuel Tweaks

Hydration takes a critical turn. Insulated bottles and keeping pack hoses tucked close to the body can prevent precious fluids and mouth pieces from freezing. Warmer, calorie-dense foods become appealing as maintaining body temperature drains energy. Exposure will be a harsh reality, so riders need to be brutally honest with themselves about go/no-go thresholds based on their personal tolerance.

Education and Preparation is Key

Athlete preparation and education is paramount for everyone, but harsh weather demands extra focus. Thoroughly review the race organization's extreme/ winter weather protocols. This will enable you to know their process when and if you need to seek help or SAG if you're beginning to show hypothermia symptoms. This includes the protocols that the event will use to shorten, reroute, delay, or cancel the event. This could be in the form of a mandatory rider meeting or an event communique (always read the race communiques).  Discuss individual emergency plans should your bike become immobile or you begin to experience hypothermia.  In extreme climates, avoiding rash decisions in the cold could be paramount to safety. The buddy system is a good place to start. Athletes should dress for a long day of consistently sub-freezing temperatures.  And above-all, relentlessly monitor the weather and the forecasts as they evolve.

Embrace the Challenge or Stay Home? 

The unpredictable spirit of BWR Utah is amplified this year. By focusing not just on fitness, but fueling, clothing, and mindset specifically tailored to the weather extremes, racers maximize their chances of success. The reward won't just be crossing that finish line, but the profound satisfaction of conquering a course where Mother Nature was a formidable opponent. Conversely, Everyone should have an objective go/ no-go criteria for starting the day.  Everyone should also take the steps to make sure you have sufficient support for the weather as well as have an individual emergency action plan in place should the day take a sideways turn.