Most of the time, when Jesse Anthony lines up with his Rally Cycling team at an event it’s on the relative comfort of paved roads where the team follow car can easily cater to any equipment needs or anything else that may arise. That was hardly the case at this past weekend’s Belgian Waffle Ride in East San Diego County where just about anything can happen over the course of the 132-mile route that includes 41 miles that vary between dirt, rock, and sand. As it turns out, Jesse Anthony thrives under such conditions.
If there’s any single event that has helped spread the growth of mixed-surface riding, credit must go to the Belgian Waffle Ride. It’s been six years since the very first BWR; in the years since, the images and stories coming out of the event have only stoked the demand for others wanting to experience what ends up being the most grueling day they’ve ever experienced on a bike. One might think that this over-the-top challenge would be a detractor, yet it’s the complete opposite, it’s the draw for the 1,200 riders that sign up.
Even though Jesse Anthony makes his living racing on the road, the dirt sections hardly posed a problem as he rode away to claim the BWR title. “I like doing the off-road stuff since I grew up racing mountain bikes and cyclocross–I love this type of riding!” Jesse said.
Since the BWR fell just one day after the final stage of Tour of California, only a couple pro riders were able to compete in both events. “I knew early on that I wasn’t going to be on the Tour of California roster this year and so my race schedule was lean,” said Jesse. “That was cool because it allowed me to throw in some other things that I wouldn’t have normally been able to do. I had wanted to do BWR for a while, but up until now it never worked with my race calendar.”
Compared to the racing style that Jesse is used to where having a strong team gives you a huge tactical advantage, BWR played out differently due to the dirt sections that create selections in the group. “In an event like this teamwork doesn’t really play a factor, it comes down to you versus the group,” he said. “Going in, I knew on paper that I was one of the strongest guys there, but it’s so challenging that it’s really open to who is having a good day and less about a team. Then there’s also the variable of mechanical issues and flats. I was well prepared, but there’s still so much out of your control.”
As far as equipment goes, some riders opt for tires up to 32mm in width and disc brake-equipped bikes. But Jesse was at the mercy of his team equipment, which was his standard Diamondback Podium road bike fitted with 28mm wide Kenda tubeless tire–the biggest that could be fit into the frame. One slight modification that went on to pay dividends was a water bottle cage swap. “I changed my regular Arundel cages to one called the Arundel Bando that uses a band to secure the bottle. On the first dirt descent there were water bottles everywhere, but I never lost one”, Jesse said. Considering temperatures reached upwards of 100 degrees during the day, not losing a bottle was priceless.
How challenging of a day was it for a pro rider? “It was a 5,900 kilojoule day, that’s a big day for me! I don’t get up to that very often. In terms of numbers, it’s bigger than Philly and most other pro races. I Topical EDGE’d up hard for this one and should have used it post-event too, but I was too tired to put it on. On Monday I felt fairly decent and went for a spin, then on Tuesday it hit me and I could hardly even write emails.”
Distance: 132 miles
Duration: 6 hours, 42 minutes
Average Power: 244 watts
Normalized Power: 295 watts
Average Heart Rate: 164
Weight: 70 kilos (154 pounds)