Cycling News

Belgian Waffle Ride Canada route is live and it is a monster

CTSS Chirs Istace

The course for the first Belgian Waffle Ride in Canada is live and it is a doozy. The series is known for long, challenging courses. Organizers on Vancouver Island are rolling out the welcome matt for the series, delivering a greatest hits of local trails, roads and gravel that are sure to provide a BWR-level challenge for racers.

Cowichan is known for its incredible mountain biking and the four main riding areas are the landmarks for the BWR Canada route, says course designer Alison Keple. That doesn’t mean this is a mountain bike race (or 90s mountain bike race, to follow the memes). BWR Canada is still a nearly 50-50 split of road and “unroad” (the series’ term for anything that isn’t paved). The trail networks dictate routing, but there is a long list of local favourite roads and routes connecting the short singletrack sections.

This gate will welcome riders into Maple Mountain trails. Photo: Chris Istace

Speed and singletrack to start

Looking at the BWR route, strategy – and saving energy – will be key. Three of the four mountain bike areas are in the first half of the route. But just looking at that gives a lopsided perspective of where the real challenges lie. Other than short singletrack sections, including down local-favorite Mt. Tzouhalem trail Double D, most of the first half of the course is paved. The major, and most challenging elevation gain is all in the second half of the route.

Prevost roads are rough and usually steep.

Hard way Home

After passing through Cobble Hill trails at approximately the half-way mark, riders will have a fast, rolling stretch of rough, narrow roads to soften racer’s legs before the first major climb of the day. As racers pass the south end of Shawnigan Lake, a KOM section sends them up toward’s Goldstream Heights. Half way up, pavement turns to gravel on the Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail (part of the “Great Trail”) and the grades get significantly steeper.

The second half of the course is also where the vast majority of the Unroad lies. After a roller coaster gravel descent down a separate section of the Great Trail back towards Shawnigan Lake, there is a long, and deceptively flat section of rough gravel where it turns into the Cowichan Valley Trail. This chunky gravel carries racers back toward the Koksilah Trestle, an old wooden trestle bridge. Whatever energy riders have left, they’ll need for the day’s final, and most distinctive challenge: Mt. Prevost.

Mt. Prevost is known as a…

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