Race promoter Michael Marckx did not create Belgian Waffle Ride as a gravel event. Instead, he positioned BWR as a European-style one-day classic — but one that just happened to be in San Diego, California, with dirt roads and singletrack instead of cobblestones.
Fast forward to 2021, however, and BWR is a mainstay on the gravel circuit. Indeed, it is a Monument of Gravel, as voted on by top gravel racers and other race promoters.
This year, there are four Belgian Waffle Rides around the country, but the original is still the big one.
New for this year: The pro men and women each had their own field — a notable departure from most all-together-now gravel races — followed by USAC category fields.
You can read Fred Dreier’s reports on the women’s and men’s races, but first take a visual stroll through the expert lens of Jake Orness, who captured so much of the action at Belgian Waffle Ride San Diego.
Pete Stetina started the day with a bit of pressure, after winning here in 2019.
Thousands of riders were sent off in waves.
The women had a separate start and their own field.
The talent-laden field included 2021 Unbound Gravel champ Lauren De Crescenzo, Amity Rockwell, Lauren Stephens, Hannah Finchamp, and Katerina Nash.
The BWR Waffle course included 11,000 feet of elevation gain.
Ryan Standish tows a group.
Nash, Moriah Wilson, and Finchamp matched each other for much of the day.
Nash was happy to return to competition.
Sandy Floren raced aggressively.
Stetina, Alexey Vermeulen, and John Borstelmann chase Sandy Floren and Stephen Vogel, who were off the front for 70 miles.
Nash rips a descent.
Former BMX rider and current Flashpoint MVMNT rider Andrew Jackson was still smiling at the end of a long day.
Finchamp leads Nash and Wilson on a sector.
The BWR San Diego course takes in a variety of paths, trails, and roads in San Diego County.
Not everyone had a smooth day.
Finchamp leads Nash in the SoCal heat.
The lead trio bombs a descent.
On the final climb, it was down to Finchamp and Nash.
Nash attacked, and Finchamp couldn’t respond.
Nash and Finchamp make a pitstop to take on supplies.
Stetina was happy and relieved to have won.
Floren comes across the line in second.
Back from Africa where he rode the Migration Gravel Race, Ian Boswell was in the mix at BWR.
Eddie Anderson leads on an early climb.
Stetina and Floren have raced each other at California’s Grasshopper events.
Payson McElveen was one of many high-caliber pros at BWR.
Nash celebrates her win.
Isabelle King was fourth.
Whaddya gonna do? Finchamp comes across the line.