Belgian Waffle Ride expands to North Carolina and Utah

In its ninth year, BWR is expanding its mixed-surface race outside of California.

Photo: Photo by Craig Huffman

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Belgian Waffle Ride, one of the premier gravel races in the United States, is expanding from its original San Diego location to include events in Asheville, North Carolina and Cedar City, Utah for 2020.

Michael Marckx created the Belgian Waffle Ride, or BWR, nine years ago as an ultra-distance, mixed-surface race held outside the confines of USA Cycling. What began as an event with 136 riders has blossomed into a sell-out race, which draws pro riders.

Related: Gallery of the 2019 Belgian Waffle Ride.

The course changes every year and now offers multiple distances, but the long route is usually in the 140-mile range, with about 40-50 miles of dirt.

“We have always looked at expanding the event to other locations,” Marcxk told VeloNews. “Originally we looked at Arizona, and Boulder. But Asheville, that whole locale is just fantastic, and the stars aligned, and we began looking at what we could achieve there in terms of a course that is 40 percent gravel, 60 percent road, and has lots of interesting climbs and dirt sectors.”

The Asheville Belgian Waffle Ride will be August 30, and will be held on the grounds of Sierra Nevada in Mills River, as part of a three-day festival that includes live music and beer.

Marckx at Belgian Waffle Ride
Race founder Michael Marckx at the start of the Belgian Waffle Ride. Photo: Steve Driscoll

The Cedar City event will be held October 17, with a rider cap of 1,250 participants. Marckx said that date was picked to avoid overlapping with other gravel events, which continue to quickly proliferate.

“Cedar City fancies itself as the next Bend,” Marckx said, referencing the city’s hosting of the USA Cycling Masters National Championships for the next two years. “They are invested in bringing in bike-minded people. They reached out to us about hosting an event there. That course will have a higher ratio of gravel, and probably half the climbing of the San Diego and North Carolina courses.

The original BWR will be held May 3 this year. Marckx is currently petitioning San Diego County to expand its participation cap from 2,800 to 3,800, Marckx said.

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