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Welcome to the gravel era. What does that mean for cycling? Simply put it means that cycling is going to get more and more popular. Lets examine some of the reasons why. It provides a bit of a safer surface to ride on since many road cyclists are hesitant to ride in traffic. It also provides an off road option for people who want to challenge themselves on a little bit of dirt. The camaraderie found in people who choose to do gravel is much more accepting and more of a casual but go hard feel. Bike technology has helped create a market for people to get on gravel and find just the right equipment to do it. Lastly events like the Canyon Belgian Waffle Ride has brought in people in droves to some of the most unique and fun cycling events in the country.
We cover the 2018 iteration of the Belgian Waffle Ride and this year it did not disappoint. It started with a two day expo at the newly opened Canyon USA headquarters in Carlsbad California. There they had music, food, games, industry expo and a course reveal of the most unique one day cycling event in the country.
Dave Malwitz of Gravelstoke joins us to give his perspective of the gravel phenomenon and his BWR insights. After some listener mail referencing The Resurrection of CBR episode we talk about some of the people we interviewed for the race. During the expo event the day before the event we talk to Ryan Steers of Giant Bicycles to talk about some of his preface form.
During the morning of the race, which was delayed for about 30 minutes due to high demand of waffles we catch up with a few people during their pre race routine. We first get together with Brian McCulloch of Elevate KHS and he talks about his form going in to the start. He remained optimistic as he does with just about everything. After that we hit up the waffle line and catch up with Chris Guillemet who is the CEO of Velofix (also show sponsor) and talks about his pre race feelings.
Jake Wells has a cyclocross background and has never done the event before. He came to podium or better and we caught up with him at the infamous bathroom line to hear how he was going to have the race unfold for him. He has the technical skills as well as the engine to do well. The defending women’s champ, Larissa Connors is always quotable and she is one of the few who is wide awake at the start and gives us her rundown of the day. Lastly Los Angeles based rider Diego Binatena of Los Angeles Bicycle Club and Base Cartel brings his road experience and team to the BWR. He goes all in with a race plan to execute a winning move that may happen. One of the people with the most experience yet not going for the overall is retired pro Tom Danielson. Now a coach, he comes into the race as a mentor but draws on some of the unique comparisons between this event and races he’s done in Europe.
Once the race is off it unfolds and the final kms come down to a test of will between Ted King and Brian McCulloch. Ted was unable to come around Brian in the last corner as we get post race reactions from all of the top finishers including in the top five, Bryan Lewis (formerly of Cyclance) and Colin Strickland who is a fixture in the criterium and red hook races.
On the women’s side Larissa is ecstatic and is still full of energy for the crowd and cameras and third place finisher Alison Tetrick grabs my beer mid interview as she crosses the line prior to being interviewed.
Wel also get the post race reactions from Jake Wells, Ryan Steers and others to see if their finishes matched their pre race predictions. Lastly we talk to the staples of the gravel scene and get interviews with the father of modern gravel cycling Neil Shirley and the creator of the event Michael Marckx on how this years ride stacked up to the previous races. Lastly Canyon Bicycles has had a huge investment as a title sponsor and we talk with Colin from Canyon Bicycles about their involvement as well as his thoughts on one of the most unique bicycles today. That being the Canyon Grail.
Lastly Dave gives his three main takeaways from the event and why he thinks this is the modern face of cycling. If you are interested in gravel riding or have been an early adopter, this is the episode that you have been waiting for. Do not miss this!