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What will Belgian Waffle Ride look like in Canada?

What will Belgian Waffle Ride look like in Canada?

Belgian Waffle Ride, the high-profile U.S.-based gravel series, is baking up a big day of gravel racing as it gets ready to make its Canadian debut this April. Among the riders set to toe the start line in the Cowichan Valley are ex-World Tour roadies, gravel specialists, cyclocross national champions and mountain bike veterans.

We talked to two Vancouver Island locals, course designer Alison Keple and road-turned-gravel pro Rob Britton, about what to expect from BWR’s first visit to B.C.

Alison Keple has ridden many BWR events but this is local dirt from the Cowichan Crusher.

Alison Keple – Course Designer

Belgian Waffle Ride famously keeps its courses secret until just days before the ride takes place. That keeps the playing field level and, of course, adds an air of mystery to the events. But course designer and Cowichan Valley local Alison Keple did share some hints about what the course could look like and what type of gear might suit Vancouver Island’s grade of gravel best.

“There are lots of punchy climbs and there will be one flat stretch for people to recover a little bit,” says Keple, who has been dreaming up this course – and bugging BWR organizers to come to Canada – for years.  “It’s definitely up there on the difficulty scale, but hopefully with enough fun thrown in. At some points, you might hate the course, but at other points, you’ll love it.”

For those familiar with the other BWR events, Keple says the style will resemble the original San Diego location. “We don’t have the same length of climbs, there aren’t a lot of 10km climbs on the island, but we have short, steep, punchy climbs. We don’t have the same sand as San Diego but, if it’s been raining, we’ll have mud. There are roots and rocks on our trails, it’ll be more Pacific Northwest-style riding.

The Cowichan Valley is a major destination for mountain biking and Keple is clear that, while the route is still 50 per cent paved, there will be a few stretches of single track for riders to navigate on each of the area’s four mountain bike networks: Maple Mountain, Mt. Tzouhalem, Cobble Hill and even Mt. Prevost.

“I feel like if someone is coming here from afar, they definitely need to experience mountain biking,” Keple shares. “Those four mountains kind of set the course.”

Riders trying to guess how those scattered sections of singletrack will be connected should keep an open mind. Pavement will mix with what BWR calls “unroad.” In…

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