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They may not like to call themselves “gravel” race promoters but Monuments of Cycling (MoC), home of the Belgian Waffle Ride enterprise, is riding the discipline’s wave.
Preferring to use the “unroad” moniker, MoC has announced two new locations for 2023, bringing the BWR tally to seven races.
New for 2023 are Scottsdale, Arizona, and Vancouver Island, Canada. Those two join the iconic BWR California, as well as the newer events in North Carolina, Utah, Michigan, and Kansas.
Another twist to the 2023 season is a more flexible Quadrupel Crown series.
The Quadrupel Crown, BWR’s four-race series, uses a points-based omnium format. In 2023, riders can choose any of the BWR events to complete their “quad,” including the new Arizona and Canada events.
The series is open to all, pros and age-groups alike.
The first Belgian Waffle Ride was held in San Diego in 2012 as in invite-only event. Of the 136 riders who started, 118 finished. Now, the event has ballooned to more than 3,000 participants.
Currently, the event’s “dynamic, multi-surface ‘unroad’ parcours replete with single track, sand, rocks, gravel, water crossings, cyclocross features and even some asphalt” are featured in four other locations.
In 2020, BWR expanded into Utah, and North Carolina and Kansas were added in 2021. This year, BWR Michigan joined the portfolio and debuts in Traverse City on October 9.
MoC founder Michael Marckx said that there is a specific criteria for adding new destinations, namely that the host community is engaged and invested.
“Is there a desire in that community? Can we meet it and can it live up to whatever benchmark we’ve set thus far?” Marckx said. “Is there a cycling community there that can support it, both people racing it and hearty volunteers to give their time?”
In addition to local participation, Marckx also relies on local expertise for everything from course design to networking with local authorities. Basically, he said, “someone who can be our proxy there that I can bother day and night with all the details.”
The final ingredient in adding a new host venue? The potential destination must be a place that riders — and hopefully their families — would want to visit.
Marckx said that Canada is an example of all forces colliding.
“That combination has to be met in order to go there,” he said. “Canada will be gangbusters out of the gate. I’ve never had so much fanfare or outreach for a venue. Both from locals in BC but also from people here who say that’s a destination I want to go to and I will bring my family.”
True to form, each new BWR venue will showcase a challenging multi-surface course that takes advantage of the unique topography of the location.
BWR Waffle courses range in length from 120- to 144-miles, with Wafer courses between roughly 68- and 84-miles. Some venues will have Wanna Rides, which are typically around 40 miles. Elevation gain ranges from 6,500 to 14,000 feet for the various Waffle courses.
Registration for the first half of the BWR season opens on Monday, October 3, 2022, at 9 a.m. PST. MoC will announce dates and locations for the second half of the year in November or December, 2022.
2023 Belgian Waffle Ride (early) schedule
• Inaugural BWR AZ in Scottsdale, AZ, March 4 – 5, 2023
• 12th Annual BWR CA in San Diego, April 14 – April 16, 2023
• Inaugural BWR BC on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, May 26 – 28, 2023
• 3rd Annual BWR NC in Asheville, June 9 – 10, 2023