Belgian Waffle Ride
7 April 2013
Riders: Mike Hodges and Rob Verfurth
Let me start by affirming that 130 miles of riding is a long distance and a long time pounding the pedals. Hodges coerced me into signing up for this flogging and I was fearful to say the least. We both had increased our riding time over the last few months but I was way behind the training levels of Mike. He just completed the Ride Across California while I spent a week on college tours back east. He exceeded his 300 mile training weeks on multiple occasions; I was lucky to get 150 miles in during a week. The ride was 130 miles and it included over 9,000 of climbing and multiple dirt trail sections spread throughout the ride. To say that I had a bit of trepidation is a huge understatement.
I picked up the packets on Saturday and learned that the route had changed due to some private property owners. I was able to get a new route card to study the ride on my computer that evening. Mike picked me up early Sunday am and we heading over to the start at Spy Headquarters in Carlsbad. Mike sampled the Belgian waffles while I readied my bike. We spoke briefly to Logan and then got distracted, missing the start of the first wave at 8:30 am. We were taking photos of each other while the final instructions for the second wave were being given. There were about 250 riders in our wave and we jumped on our bikes just before the gun sounded.
The first 22 miles were a controlled start with a motorcycle leading us out. The biggest risk for the first hour was the yo-yo action of the peloton and someone hitting you from the back. We saw a near miss but no accidents as we looped south on El Camino Real and over the PCH via La Costa. I kept my eye on Mike as he moved forward in the peloton. I stayed on the inside to make sure no riders were to my right and kept much needed space from other riders. I paced myself off of where Mike was in the large group as he rode on the outside and just ahead of me. We rode north to Cannon Road and headed inland and north again towards Oceanside. The route got us just north of route 76 and onto the San Luis Rey bike path when all hell broke lose. The "racing" started with more than 108 miles still to go. The bike path was narrow and open to the public. Riders hammered forward, passing others, while runners and other riders were on the path going both directions. We fortunately exited the path after a mile or so; first dirt section of the day.
Everyone dismounted, climbed down a steep dirt and sandy hill and spun through the deep sands on the trail. The pace was fairly quick and a few folks had difficulty navigating the changing conditions of the hard-pack dirt to gravel to sand. We climbed back up another steep hill after crossing an empty aqua duct to get onto another rocky dirt section. I hung onto the wheel of a four man group passing riders left and right as we rode through the various depth of rocks. We passed Mike and regrouped at the light on North River Road. A large group of about 30 riders sped along until mile 31 when we turned north on Via Puerta Del Sol for our third dirt section of the day. It was a climb and dirt but a fairly wide road. I fell off the back but finally got up to Mike as we got to Olive Hill at mile 33.
We were now down to a four person group as we made our way through Bonsall. At mile 40 I broke a spoke and had to stop my bike to fix the flapping spoke. I quickly broke it off and set off again but Mike and my group were now gone. I skipped stopping at the aid station in my attempt to regroup with Mike. I saw him as we rode on Mission Road and before crossing I-15 near Rainbow. We rode together past our normal water stop at the church and continued north before looping back to the top of Rice Canyon. Mike led the way down Rice with about a half dozen other riders. We crossed 76 again and began our ascent up Couser Canyon. Mike was again on point and we caught up to more riders before the start of the climb. Halfway up Couser we rode by Willie Stewart, also known as "One Arm" Willie. He lost his left arm above the elbow yet has competed and excelled in many athletic events, including the Leadville 100, Ironman and Para-Olympic skiing. He was riding strong, quite an inspiration. I rode to the top with Mike a bit farther back, descended Couser and headed onto Lilac heading back towards Valley Center; Descenders ride in reverse.
Mike caught back up on one of the rolling climbs. We formed a small group and passed a number of riders before stopping for the first time at Aid Station #3. I needed both water bottles filled and some food, we had ridden about 68 miles. Mike got some food, drink and a coke then set off again towards Woods Valley. He was feeling the effects of the ride and needed to slow a bit. He set the pace all the way to Lake Wohlford before a large group formed just before the steep descent. I stayed back on the fast descent and the group split at the light with only 7 guys stuck at the red light.
We rode down to Bear Valley and cut across on Idaho to hit Citrus. We stayed together climbing up Summit after crossing the 78 and riding toward the Wild Animal Park on Old Pasqual. The Aid Station was along 78 and Mike continued to ride. There were a number of riders at the stop and the rest of our group stopped. I stopped for more food and drink before chasing down Mike. I was able to get on the wheel of a guy that pulled me to Bandy Canyon. I fell off his pace and then a line of 10 riders came from up fast. I got on the last wheel and we quickly caught Mike. We rode as a large group to the Bandy Climb. I made good time to the top and descended down HVR. At the bottom we took a hard turn to the right to another dirt section. We rode the Mule Hill Trail over to Lake Hodges, circled around under I-15 and then took the trail past the pedestrian bridge, Mike caught up with me and we rode together toward the creek crossing. It was mile 100 and we needed a lift. Matt Davis and his buddy were out riding mountain bikes and they were our cheering section as we rode through the water and climbed the rocky section up the trail. Great to see them and we really appreciated their support.
Mike pulled away as I tried to ride through the rocks and ruts, hoping to avoid a flat. There was another Aid Station at the marina parking lot; more food and drink were welcomed. We rode slowly up Lake Dr to get to Del Dios and ride towards Elfin Forest. One of the last minute changes had us skipping Elfin Forest but the reroute around to San Marcos was more difficult for me. Mike pulled us along and we caught three riders at Cal State San Marcos. We started the climb up Twin Oaks towards Double Peak; that road was long and painful. The climb up Double Peak was short but even more painful. By the time I got to the top Mike was heading back out. I took some water and a banana before chasing after Mike.
I finally was able to get to him along Melrose. We had about 10 miles of riding left. The route took us back toward the coast before looping back east toward Spy HQ again. My legs were shot and cramping along Cassia and Poinsettia. Mike stayed on point and we chased down a few guys. We both took turns on the final stretch along Palomar Airport Road and we finished together in less than 8 hours of riding. Our total time was only about 15 minutes longer. I estimate that about half that time was waiting at lights and the other half for our quick breaks at the aid stations. Mike kept us on task and moving along during the entire ride.
The Lost Abby Brewery made a special batch of Bad Ass Ale. We drank beers and relaxed around the finish. Logan had a great day in the saddle, finishing about 7th overall. The BWR was an epic ride and perfect for the Descenders. We will plan for a larger group next year. Thanks to Mike for working on my behalf during the ride. 130 miles is a long ride; but it was well worth it.