2 weeks until Belgian Waffle Ride Canada (BC)

May 15, 2023

BWR Canada (or BWR BC) is less than 14 days away. It's been a long winter and spring of training and preparation and I'm feeling as ready as I'll ever be.

Training-wise, I've had some setbacks but have mostly stuck to my plan and am feeling the difference in power, strength and endurance as well as mental fortitude.

Will I be able to miraculously keep up with the smaller, lighter guys on long, steep hills? No, but at least I'm not spit out the back as fast as I would have been without putting in the work I've done.

I also know BWR BC is going to push my limits in new and horrible ways. Thus, I'm hoping the training plan's focus on managing negative self-talk will help me overcome these bumps in the road.

My total training progress:

December 2022

  • 263 km of indoor bike riding
  • 18 hours of cycling and weight training
  • 3,900 m of elevation gain

January 2023

  • 445 km of indoor bike riding
  • 25 hours of cycling and weight training
  • 6,800 m of elevation gain

February 2023

  • 417 km of indoor bike riding
  • 25 hours of cycling and weight training
  • 5,100 m of elevation gain

March 2023

We went to Europe with our kids for nearly a month and I rode a bike exactly once. Still, this was an incredible family trip we'd been saving up and planning for over a decade. I mean, look at these photos.

Robin Hood's Bay, England
Robin Hood's Bay, England
Talyllychau, Wales
Talyllychau, Wales
Paris, France
Paris, France

I miss vacation.

Oh wait! My training report:

  • 239 km of walking (sometimes while eating a pastry and drinking espresso)
  • 33 hours of walking and weight training
  • 2,350 m of elevation gain

April 2023

  • 860 km of cycling
  • 38 hours of cycling and weight training
  • 9,000 m of elevation gain

May 2023

2 weeks left in May and I'm not where I should be training-wise. Work has been nuts for the past 3 weeks, with lots of travel, but I've been doing the best I can with the limited time I've had. I still need to get some longer rides and intensity work in.

  • 334 km of cycling
  • 19 hours of cycling and weight training
  • 4,200 m of elevation gain

Testing, testing...

Learning how to fuel

Since starting to ride my bike outside in April, I've learned a lot about drinking and eating.

My previous habit of not eating for the first 2 hours of a bike ride has been thrown out the window. I've since adapted a pattern of eating every 30 minutes. This has made a world of difference to negate cramps and sustain some power as the hours go by.

I read somewhere that I should consume 80 to 100 grams of carbohydrates per hour, so that's what I'm following. Also, if I start to feel sad and begin to wallow in self-pity, I need to eat. Simple, but effective.

My favourite food has been the XACT ENERGY fruit bars which are quick to consume and be processed, especially combined with other fuel and textures. How will I feel about these bars after I've eaten 12 of them? Unsure.

I'll definitely be taking advantage of BWR BC's 7 aid stations.

Early in April on a long road ride, I learned my lesson that I should not just eat a bunch of dry, cold and hard to chew energy bars. Doing so resulted in general despair and stomach cramps.

Unroad riding

BWR has this thing they call "unroad". In BWR BC speak, that means 50% of the course will be muddy, wet, dry, rocky, loose, hilly and ugly. It will also include tight corners, roots, water crossing and obstacles. The other 50% will be road-like.

As such, I have been working on adopting my mountain bike skills to the gravel bike. Our trails are dry so during the past 2 weeks I've been riding lots of singletrack, roots and rocks on my Checkpoint.

The trails are finally dry
The trails are finally dry

At first I didn't enjoy doing so, but after getting new tires (Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M 40), playing around with tire pressure, and re-learning to ride loosely with my grip and body, it's made a big difference in tackling these routes.

Rocky, rooty trails. This is Bouncing Bunny.
Rocky, rooty trails. This is Bouncing Bunny on a ride I combined with Rock Lobster.

I also made some changes to my cockpit set-up so it's more comfortable to ride in the drops and be low through corners, on descents and over obstacles.

Getting comfortable being un-comfortable

Part of my training plan as I mentioned, focuses on mental preparation and coping techniques.

As such, I've pushed myself to go for early morning rides. On race day, the BWR BC start gun goes off at 7 am so I need to be prepared to deal with that.

On a couple of group rides at the beginning of April, it was -10 Celsius or colder which at speed on the road feels much worse. This taught me about preparation.

Cold mixed-surface group ride on Annie Lake Road near Whitehorse, Yukon
Cold mixed-surface group ride on Annie Lake Road near Whitehorse, Yukon
Icy road ride in Haines Junction, Yukon
Icy road ride in Haines Junction, Yukon

The longest ride I've been on was about 6 hours. BWR BC will be much more stretched out.

2 weeks to go

Accommodations have been booked. Transportation and flights have been arranged, albeit with some challenges given there's so many of us going on the same flight with expensive bikes in tow.

I still have some details to determine and my bike is in for its last-minute spa treatment, but I'm feeling ready.

BWR BC, here I come.