This past Sunday saw one of the biggest, baddest gravel races go down, and Litespeed was there to catch the action!
It was 2011 when just 136 people showed up for the first ever Belgian Waffle Ride. What it was was anyone’s guess. Event organizer Michael Marckx envisioned an event in the spirit of the Belgian Classics; a road race with lots of dirt, hills and distance, in his backyard of San Diego, Calif.
Back then, it was a run-what-ya-brung mentality; 25mm clinchers on rim brake road bikes was really all you had, apart from the odd cyclo-cross bike or mountain bike. There were skids. Crashes. Broken handlebars. Dust, mud and smiles.
The 12th annual Belgian Waffle Ride is a full six-event gravel race series, bringing the fun —and wildly challenging—waffle spirit to Asheville, N.C., Cedar City, Utah, and even international venues with a debut on Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada, and Queretaro, Mexico.
But the San Diego event has always been the OG centerpiece. Taking place April 16th, it brought a stacked field of elites, and, well… a few thousand of the rest of us masochists, all taking part in the iconic Waffle event (128 miles), the distilled Wafer event (78 miles) and the shorty bite, the Wanna event (42 miles). Road, sandy wash crossings, water, mud, rock gardens awaited.
Litespeed was on site at the Unroad Expo, and the vibe was high as racers brought their Litespeeds to our booth for complimentary pre-race service and safety checks, ensuring stem and seat binder bolts were to torque, ready for a bumpy day in the saddle.
Of course, we had a selection of bikes perfect for the arduous conditions, unbothered by the dirt, rocks, mud and sand. The race-ready Ultimate G2 and more adventurous Watia were on show. And the recently-launched Spezia drew tons of interest at the booth. All three bikes would figure into the race that weekend.
While grey skies are generally frowned upon in (typically) sunny Southern California, riders were met with cloudy but mild skies that warmed slightly through the day—perfect temps for hard riding without overheating.
The Wanna event saw instant success. CyclingTips editor Troy Templin, who had recently received the new Spezia for road test, decided to take it for an “unroad” test. With clearance to 35mm tires, he selected the light, racy Spezia for action. As the race wound on, Templin found himself with Litespeed sales director Chris Brown, who chose the Ultimate G2 (which recently received accolade in the gravel bike category in Bicycling Magazine’s 2023 Bike Awards).
Across the finish, it was Litespeed 1-2 with Brown taking the win and Templin second (as well as sixth overall with another Ultimate G2), placing three Litespeeds in the top 10 finishers.
As the wanna, wafer and waffle riders began to trickle in, so too did other Litespeed riders—dusty and battle-weary, but with epic stories to tell.
Where will we be next with our service and gravel bikes to check out and test? Catch us later this year high in the Colorado Rockies at SBT GRVL, as well as at Unbound and BWR Asheville. Be sure to swing by the tent with your Litespeed and we’ll get you dialed for your own epic stories from the course!