I signed up for the Waffle-variety of the Belgian Waffle Ride in 2020 and like a lot of other people, I deferred it to this year. BWR, if you’ve managed to dodge social media, is a gravel race - the “waffle” version being like 130 miles or so with about 11,000 ft of climbing (209 km distance, 3353 m climbing).
This year, BWR came a few weeks following my highest priority race. Following 12 weeks out of 18 weeks of sweet spot, gravel plan, and doing the big race, I improvised my own schedule based on previous Fascat schedules: doing a Sweet Spot-style regeneration week, and then copy-pasting the final two weeks of Gravel Plan in the leadup to BWR. I was worried that my CTL was slipping a lot, but figured “how could I be expected to sustain a stage-race level of CTL gain, anyway?” Entering the event, my CTL was 84, TSB was 33.
- Dealing with heat
- Getting enough calories at each aid station
- My dang ol’ asthma
Dealing with the heat
How did I train to deal with the heat? Simulation rides in the summer anywhere inland in California are hot; many days training in 90F+ heat. Training rides during the recent/ongoing American west heatwave. A previous bike race in extreme heat. Although I’ve read that suffering heat stroke does make you more susceptible to heat illness in the future, I’ve been careful to stay hella hydrated and applying ice into my jersey or my bibs to endure.
How did I race to deal with the heat? I’m a CamelBak nerd. Since I’m not winning, I just topped off that bad boy up with 2L at each aid station. Drinking 2L of water without fear was a huge relief.
Getting enough calories
As far a calories go, I only entered the day with about 4 hours-worth of salted watermelon chews (240 g carbs). After that, each aid station had tubs of HEED and shot “glasses” of Coke. I’ve used HEED before and I knew it’d work for me. I’d do 3 poorly poured scoops in each bottle for ~300 calories. Plus a pack of cookies (about 700 calories, like 2-3 hours, on-board leaving each station).
My dang ol’ asthma
I’m not Chris Froome. I don’t know what severity of asthma he has, but we should trade! I took my Advair in the morning minutes before the race start and stored it in my CamelBak (definitely temperature-nuked the inhaler… need to replace it). After 4 hours, I noticed I was having trouble re-oxygenating; scary silent asthma. I’d have to use my inhaler a few more times, just barely obeying the minimum time suggested between doses. I consciously had to practice my breathing to hold on. Just the usual stuff for me when the rides get big. And heat doesn’t help, for sure. But when the final climb came, adrenaline surged through me and that sorted my lungs out for the final push to beat cutoff time.
Some photos. Nothing very good… too busy holding on for dear life