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Who won the Belgian Waffle Ride Utah?
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Gold for Rollins at BWR Utah

BWR Utah Race Report

Going into the race, my main focus was to try to be present at the front because last year when I raced gravel, I always struggled with that. I was actually pretty frustrated with gravel because I didn't feel like I was strong enough to really race. I was always kind of a participant and finished in that middle-pack range. So, I took a step back from gravel and really focused on that higher-end power earlier this year.

I was super excited to see how the start would go, and it actually went really well. I was able to follow wheels better than I ever had before. Once we kind of hit the main first climb where it usually blows up, I was able to hang. I was the last person to not make the lead men's group and I was kind of in no man's land. I sat up as I cruxed the top and noticed that Tiffany was just 10 seconds back, so I was like, “Okay, here's our race. Let's start, let's go”.

The two of us found another man to work with and the three of us actually ended up pulling back the pro men's group at mile 45…after 10 miles of dying. Once we got to the Pro men, I knew why we caught them. They were just chilling, I think they were kind of playing games themselves. Once we were able to make contact with them, we got to sit up and it was kind of nice for a minute.

Then we got into the notorious single-track section, which actually was pretty rugged. I am a mountain biker, or at least I like to consider myself a mountain biker, and it is pretty technical terrain for a gravel race. I felt completely under-biked, which was pretty cool.

I crashed in the single track and I bent my derailleur hanger, losing my easiest gears. [It] was fine for the most part because the course is pretty flat, except for the last climb at 110. We stayed together until mile 85 where we cruxed the penultimate climb of the day, and as we descended off that descent, Tiffany took the lead and she wiped out pretty hard.

I was solo after that, but I instantly started cramping in both of my legs, both quads, both adductors, and my calves were going too, which I've never had before. I'm curious if that's because I haven't ridden longer than four hours this year and this was at hour six or so. But once it flattened out and I was able to put down some more power, the cramps went away, which I don't think is normal, but I'll take it.

When I did get to that last climb of the day I had to walk. I tried to shift and it threw it into the spokes. I kept looking back, I was like, “Where's Tiff? I know she's coming”. I made it to the top, never saw her, and the single track at the end really sealed the deal.

You've changed gears a bit this season with Lifetime (LTGP) not being the main focus. How's your season changed for you?

Yes, instead of [the LTGP] Sea Otter event kicking off my year, I have really leaned into this road racing thing. Redland's Classic kicked off my year and I actually had a pretty good result there, for my first year pro stage racing. I sort of instantly had success there and really liked it.

I got invited to race for the National Team over in Europe in late April so went to Luxembourg and raced one of the Pro stage races. (she placed an impressive 15th) I had a lot of confidence coming back to the States after that but then got sick, had a mechanical at Nationals, and other normal bike racing things. So, I was super down on myself after that. I ended up going back to Europe in July for a tour of Belgium with the National Team… I crashed five times in seven days and I came back ready to never race again. After taking five weeks off from racing, this was my first race again and I decided to switch gears from the road because of the crashing – it was very traumatic. I felt like I went to war over there.

What are some key changes that you feel has made a big difference in your year?

I've been focusing on those shorter races and I think that's helped me develop the power required to be there at the front in the opening hours of the race. I mean, with the speeds that gravel races are at, if you're not present in the first three hours then it's pretty hard to come back from it.

Have you made any fueling adjustments this season or stuck to the tried and true? What were the specifics behind BWR?

I actually was terrified for BWR because I haven't ridden longer than four hours this year, so I haven't been able to practice any kind of fueling strategy [for that length]. Yet, something that I did take away from racing in Europe was that I couldn't eat anything when I was racing. When you take your hands off the bars it's scary. I felt like I was going to crash and it was impossible to eat anything solid. So, I switched over to high-carb fueling [in the bottles]. I used Skratch Superfuel and realized I was actually able to tolerate a lot more carbs an hour than I ever was doing before. I was doing 60g/hr before and when I started using the Superfuel I could get into 90-100 grams an hour pretty easily.

Belgium Waffle Ride was actually kind of a test. I was scared because I had only tried 120 grams of carbs per hour for three hours and had no idea what happened beyond that. So I actually started out targeting 100-110 an hour in the first three hours, then I diluted the Skratch a little bit. I counted afterward how many carbs I ended up consuming an hour and it was ~120g/hr. That was through a mix of Superfuel and NEVERSECOND gels.

What are you looking forward to next? Are there any kind of big events that you're excited about?

I'm going to race Gravel Nationals next week and then I'm going to make it out for another Lifetime Grand Prix race, The Rad.

In a weird way. I feel like I have an upper hand right now because everybody's exhausted and I haven't been doing these long races. Maybe I will be exhausted after this last weekend, I don’t know, but that's what I like to tell myself.

Avatar Carson Beckett

Carson Beckett / Friday, September 1, 2023