One of the country’s biggest gravel races was never conceived as a gravel race. And to look at the bike of the founder (and many of the past winners), you wouldn’t know the 140-mile Belgian Waffle Ride included a number of rough and tricky gravel sectors.

What will you find on Michael Marckx’s bike? A 55-tooth (!) big ring? Check. Speedplay road pedals? Yep. And 28mm tires? Only after pre-riding the entire course on 25s, per his annual tradition.

“The dynamic is, we are on the spectrum of gravel,” Marckx said. “There is Dirty Kanza on one side, and I think we are on the other.

It’s a road race with all these challenging gravel sectors. The best riders can do it on a road bike with a 28mm tires of their choice. For other people, a 32, 34, even up to a 40mm gravel tire will be better.”

Here is the set-up Marckx will use should race-day logistics allow him to ride.


Michael Marckx
Belgian Waffle Ride founder Michael Marckx always rides his event on a road bike. Photo: Steve Driscoll
Marckx tires
Every year, Marckx pre-rides the course a few days before race day on 25mm tires – just to let people know it can be done. This year, though, if he is able to race, he will probably use 28mm tires. Photo: Steve Driscoll
Formula Pro Tubeless tires from event sponsor IRC don Marckx’s wheels. Photo: Steve Driscoll
Marckx 55
In a day and age when sub compact and compact and even micro compact cranks are common, Marckx runs a 55/42. Yes, you read that correctly – a 55t big ring for his gravel race. Photo: Steve Driscoll
Marck cassette
Marckx uses a normal 11-28t cassette. Photo: Steve Driscoll
Marckx Speedplay
Another gravel-race equipment outlier: Speedplay road pedals. “No dabbing,” Marckx said. Photo: Steve Driscoll
Marckx sticker
Like his ride, Marckx is Belgian. Photo: Steve Driscoll
Marckx handlebar
The Canyon Ultimate CF SLX has its own integrated bar. And no, of course Marckx doesn’t run any extra bar tape to soften things up. Photo: Steve Driscoll