News of the the first Belgain Waffle Ride pedalling in to Canada from May 26 to 28 might be as sweet as syrup to the ears of cycling enthusiasts of all levels. Cowichan Valley, affectionately known as Canada’s ‘warm land’, will be the first Canadian hot spot where cyclists will turn up the heat to compete in one of three categories dependant on riders’ ability and commitment.
BWR was born in 2011 when Monuments of Cycling founder Michael Marckx put drive behind his desire to build a Belgian-style classic in North San Diego County, in which 136 riders showed up for the first ever all day race of more than 210 kilometres (136 miles).
“Our desire is for the three-day BWR Unroad Expo to surprise and delight riders and families with bike-minded activities, plus music, food and entertainment throughout the festival like atmosphere,” said Marckx. “The event will feature three different race lengths, from the beginner Wanna Ride, to the hard but not overly epic Wafer Ride to the full-on Unroad experience of the full 219 km Waffle that will test the best riders among us in new and untold ways with 2,600 m of climbing. We want to create buzz amongst Canadians about our fun and fulfilling races and get them to come join us next year.”
For raring to go riders that find themselves wavering on the intimidating distance of the Waffle, the Wafer and the Wanna are much more achievable for less than seasoned riders.
“We created the Belgian Wanna Ride to welcome new riders the opportunity to dip their toes in the Unroad waters with a totally doable 52 km course that features four Unroad sectors and 555 m of climbing,” said Marckx. “Those riders will get back to the party at Cowichan Exhibition Park early and cheer on the Wafer and Waffle riders while enjoying Belgian waffles and beer from Category 12 brewery, who created a special Belgian Tripel for the event.”
Cheers to the the partnership of Monuments of Cycling, and Panache Cycling Sports to make the dream of holding the first Belgian Waffle Ride outside of the U.S. a reality. Picturesque backdrops and a cheerful climate make Duncan’s Cowichan Exhibition Park the ideal destination for this three-day event to set in motion during the final weekend of May. Being surrounded by the world-class single track of Mount Tzouhalem, Maple Mountain, and Mount Prevost will give riders access to several gravel and single-track sectors, while blending road racing tactics with bone-jarring off-road sections throughout this dynamic multi-surface race.
“To have the Belgian Waffle Ride come to Canada, especially in B.C., is the perfect fit given the limitless possibilities of trails, gravel roads, and varied terrain that we have to offer,” said Jon Watkin, CEO of Panache Cycling Sports. “Combined with excessively polite Canadian hospitality, great food, and incredible brews, we are looking forward to providing an experience that participants will rant and rave about.”
All three courses have traffic control, and stocked aid stations, but finishing riders will also walk away with a trophy, other schwag, and the rights to brag. Beginners that are gearing up to complete the Wanna will have the chance to advance to the Wafer in 2024, while The Waffle will offer a prize purse to the top three male and female contenders. Those wanting to register for the first ever BWR BC can do on their website or by visiting here. All participants will receive a wrist band which entitles them to pre and post race waffles and coffee as well a complimentary beer ticket.
One of those participants will be Cowichan Valley’s own cycling enthusiast Alison Keple whose diligent efforts and whispers to bring this event to Canada finally came to fruition. Duncan’s Darren Meiner and Tim Winter, who both recently completed the eight-day stage race in South Africa’s Absa Cape Epic, are also all in for this year’s full waffle ride.
“I first did the Belgian Waffle Ride in 2017 in California, and was instantly hooked and have been back each year since,” said Keple. “I have also done the BWR in Utah, and this year will be headed to the event in North Carolina in June. To have BWR come here is extremely fulfilling as I have been working to make this happen for several years! I am most excited to show the Cowichan Valley off to riders from all over the world; the great diversity of riding we have here, as well as our community as a whole — the sights, the people, the food, the drinks! BWR is bringing riders from the U.S. and beyond, and I think we have done a great job in showcasing the valley in the course.”