Hello, my name is Michael Marckx and I love waffles and all things Belgian. I also love riding my bike a long way and drinking Belgian ales directly after. I’m Flemish; we’re just odd that way.
Being Flemish and growing up with an affinity for the culinary delights and ethnic characteristics of the Belgians, I was inspired to bring these things I love so much to the US, all in one special celebration, and thus we have the Belgian Waffle Ride, the most unique and difficult ride of its kind.
The BWR, as it has become known, actually has a few more things to acknowledge as its raison de etre.
It’s these three grand ideas—necessity is the mother of invention, the child is father of the man, and absence makes the heart grow fonder—coalesce as the inspiration and raison d’etre for the Belgian Waffle Ride.
- In North America, there is not a single race resembling a classic one-day cycling event, let alone a Monument.
- As a child I was exposed to the romance of these monumental feats of endurance, and in one weird way or another, these long events are best suited to both my physiology and psychology.
- The fact that there are no classic cycling events in the US only serves to make our American hearts grow in desire for them.
The five greatest one-day (classic) cycling events on the planet are known as the Monuments of Cycling. These races—Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and the Tour of Lombardy—carry the distinction of being called the Monuments. They are so named because they began prior to World War I; the youngest of the events, the Tour of Flanders, was first run in 1913. The roads they travel were used during the World Wars and now the courses are lined with memorials to the war dead.
The idea of the Monuments of Cycling in the US was conceived initially with the advent of “the most unique cycling event in the country,” the BWR. Don’t let the irreverent name fool you; the BWR is the most difficult bicycle race in the US at 140 miles, 40 of which are off-road sectors. It also gleans from each of the five Monuments elements that make it truly a classic. Now in its 5th edition, the BWR has reached a level of notoriety that strongly suggests, begs actually, it’s time to roll out new and different Monuments all over North America.
With names like the Italian Sausage Ride, the German Wienerschnitzel Ride, the Spanish Paella Ride, the Dutch Oven Ride and a host of other fun names, the Monuments of Cycling are being born to bring unique, classic one–day bicycle races to various inspired cycling hotbeds across the pond.
What makes these events so unique is that they are classic, long bicycle races that feature various off-road sectors emulating the pave or cobblestones of Europe; making the varied terrain a challenge for riders’ technical skills, equipment, endurance, luck and versatility. While intentionally none of the events feature mountains, they do utilize a never-ending collection of punchy climbs that take a sinister toll on riders’ physical and mental well-being… These are not races set up for freeloading sprinters or for frail climbers. They are designed to challenge riders of all stripes and sizes in demented and glorious ways. Therein lies the allure of the Monuments of Cycling; extreme challenges that require months or years of training, the right equipment, tenacity and karma.
So, the BWR is a solution to the problem:
The greatest, most romantic bicycle races on the planet are all in Europe and presently there is only one classic style cycling event in the US, the Belgian Waffle Ride. The demand is so high for such races, thousands of North Americans travel each spring to Europe to take part in Gran Fondo type events, often the day before and on the same route as the Monuments. Many, many more spend money on riding in Gran Fondo, non-competitive cycling events here in the US. The desire for long, hard events is at an all time high, but there is currently nothing in the US serving this demand.
Bring the romance and excitement of classic cycling events to the US, offering riders the chance to compete against some of the greatest cyclists on the most challenging varied courses with the best support found anywhere.
The BWR will offer the most avid cyclists the chance to be brutally tested in a way they never could have before in the US. These classic events offer a chance for people to measure themselves against each other and their predecessors in the most challenging tests in US cycling. From the bone-shattering bowler-hat rock gardens to the insanely steep Dubbelberg, each segment is as unique as the riders who push themselves through extreme exhaustion to merely finish.
With modern technology’s offering, riders are able to compete against all other riders in the event for specific honors like the King of the Mountains, the King of Sprints, or the King of Dirt. There are also peer-voted honors for the most spirited riders (the kUDOs Award) and the Hardman riders (most selfless).
Riders are also able to compare their times on hundreds of Strava segments throughout the races against riders from other years, including the male and female winners.
The most important feature of the BWR is that it isn’t just a long, tough bike race, it is an event that is so hard to complete often 30% or more of the starters do not finish. This makes the dog tags and finishers’ awards all the more valuable.
The BWR features a two-day expo
There is a four-day BWR Survival Camp being offered in January for $1,100
The 2016 BWR will be limited to 1200 riders
Entrance fees are in the $150 range
Riders will come from all over North America, Europe and Australasia
The winner of the race will finish under seven hours, and the last official finisher will make the 13-hour cut off.