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Gravel

BWR Bijbel: ‘Just give up the ghost and think about surviving; think about the children.’

Belgian Waffle Ride's 75-page manual is packed with Dutch and faux Dutch phrasing, joyful insults, a long ode to BWR as a metaphor for life, and descriptions of things going horribly wrong. Enjoy!

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Most bike races distribute event information in a straightforward manner. Belgian Waffle Ride is not most bike races.

The eleventh edition of the original BWR is this weekend, and race organizer Michael Marckx on Wednesday sent out the ‘BWR Bijbel,’ a 75-page PDF filled with Dutch and faux Dutch phrasing, detailed pages on each of 24 ‘unroad’ sectors that are packed with joyful insults, a long ode to BWR as a metaphor for life, pictures of people crashing, pictures of people sitting around exhausted, and also pictures of people having fun.

Oh, and there is also stuff like, you know, maps of the course and directions on how to get to the venue.

“I have done these bijbels every year for BWR, and they’re a lot of fun,” Marckx said.

Whereas many promoters keep the tone earnest, Marckx leans into the jokes and the friendly heckling and the Belgian-ification, turning dirt trails in San Diego county into things like the Lemontwistenberg, the Kakaboulet, the Questhavensbergen, and the Muur van Dubbelberg.

Gravel events have always enjoyed more latitude in pre-race information distribution than, say, a UCI road race. Some old school gravel races never published a course beforehand, and riders would show up on race morning to be handed a cue card of turns. Others, like Amy Charity’s SBT GRVL, provide digital maps of the course well in advance and extensive on-course markings.

Each of the 24 sectors gets a detailed page. Kakaboulet!

But Marckx goes the extra mijl with his descriptions and warnings. Here are excerpts from the first four sectors.

DON’T TRY TO STAY UP FRONT HERE, YOU WON’T SUCCEED AND YOU’LL PAY THE PRICE THE NEXT 210KM.

Don’t forget to dismount at the end of this first unroad sector. You don’t have enough skill to negotiate the step and turn.

You won’t be able to bunny hop the barriers, so don’t even think about it. Now that we’ve shared this, we know some will attempt this fool’s errand, so we will have cameras poised to capture the yard sales for all to enjoy later.

Many a rider will be freaked out by how strung out the race already is here, but it is best to temper action with wisdom by setting a good tempo rather than chasing in earnest. It’s just too early on to panic. In fact, just give up the ghost and think about surviving; think about the children.

Like a little alliteration in your race manual? Marckx merrily makes many.

The Wildeman Wildernis sector, for instance, is for “those just in over their heads, ill-equipped for this ever-changing landscape and undertrained for such a difficult day in the dirt, who will wince, whine, whimper, weep and wail for the entirety of this 8km mad hatter of a sector.”

The bijbel does contain traditional elements, too, like course maps and elevation profiles.

The race bijbel also includes more straightforward sections, such as advice from Alpecin-Fenix rider Eddie Anderson on his recommendations for tire pressure, nutrition, and what types of bikes and tires to use, depending on your goals. And there are plugs for race sponsors like Canyon (which dovetails with Anderson’s Alpecin sponsorship), IRC tires, and Spinergy wheels.

There are maps for each of the three events: the full Waffle on Saturday, and the shorter Wafer and Wanna rides on Sunday.

And there are the critical pieces of information like event start times and addresses.

But even the seemingly earnest FAQ section quickly gives way to Marckx’s sarcasm. Here’s one FAQ and part of the answer:

HOW DO I KNOW IF THE WAFFLE IS TOO MUCH FOR ME TO SWALLOW?
We’re gonna tell you right now, it’s probably too much for you to take on, honestly. Sorry. 

All BWR racers should by now have received their BWR Bijbel. Anyone can read the version posted online, however.