By Adam Mills
“Sometimes the best laid plans are still at the mercy of forces beyond your control and you have to step back, gain perspective and find a new path.” That’s my personal motto for 2020. In essence the only event that went as planned on a professional level was theBelgian Waffle Ride Survival Camp. When the dark clouds of Covid-19 circled the globe I believed it was realistic that the entire summer was off the table but that fall could be in-play and by winter we’d be cautious but still able to operate at 95% of normal. That ambitious thinking never played out and it soon became apparent that the struggle to reach the start line ofBWR Cedar City began around March 9 with the initiation of the California Covid-19 lockdown.
The lockdown, which would encompass nearly the entire nation and then the world would send all the annual training plans and all the preparations straight to the garbage. No longer would I or any athlete be able to train as usual, using the spring and summer events as a building blocks to progress fitness and abilities, culminating with the BWR Cedar City. It was time to do somereal training or at least to look at sometraining plans to get to a level where an epic like the BWR wouldn’t break me.
Home court advantage is a thing in cycling and the best way to get that advantage for an inaugural event was to go to Cedar City for some pre-riding with the Monuments of Cycling (MoC) heads of state. We spent 2 days riding the course and openly discussing how horrible it was. In hindsight, maybe letting Michael know all of our deepest darkest fears from the course wasn’t such a great idea. But we did get tolearn the course and those that went on the trip seemed to do well on game day. Secret tip: this is exactly what the BWR Survival Camp shows the athletes.
Final equipment check is oft overlooked but seems to gain importance with every event. Bikes are getting more “stuff” on them that require a once over to reduce the odds of a simple mishap ruining your day. For example, I was planning to ride my usedIRC Boken 40c tires when Steve Driscoll scolded me for risking my day (the last race day in 2020) on anything but new tires. A few minutes later I had a fresh set on the bike and was ready to go with no issues ever. Despite my insistence that I ride the brand newIRC Doublecross 42c tires (everyone that was on them seemed to do awesome) I was told that there were simply none in North America but they were available via PRE- ORDER (for 20% off use code: SOURCE2020). I pre-ordered them already and I can’t wait.
IRC tires pair very well with myEnve G23 wheels. I’d talk more about them but with a name like Enve I don’t think you can go wrong. Also note that Incident Protection Program. WOW!
I usedAmp Human PR Lotion (20% code: AmpHuman+SourceE) every day I rode in Cedar City. It’s at altitude and I’d be riding hard, which is the primo situation for maximum benefit.Chamois Buttr because we’re on gravel all day and that dirt and dust gets everywhere.
Bottles got slammed into a set ofArundel Bando cages. I saw lots of bottles ejected on a day in the high desert where every bottle is incredibly important. Just put some of the Bandos on your bike and make your day more fun and the day of your fellow riders more safe.
Eyewear seems to have been pushed to the back burner of important equipment for gravel but in reality products from100% have become invaluable. Riding behind someone on gravel feels like you’re being sprayed with rocks coming off the tires in front of you. Protect your eyes because you’re gonna want them for your entire life.
I rode clothes from the newCastelli Unlimited Collection. I was lucky enough to get them pre-release for the Mid-South, but then Covid-19 happened. They’re awesome. Super comfy with lots of pockets for all theSIS snacks I’d need for the day. Perfect.
Let’s be honest. I’m not going to win the BWR in Cedar City. I don’t have the ability to go uphill with the likes of a Grand Tour competitor like Pete Stetina. Nor do I have the raw power to sit in the wind when it’s going fast like Monster Racing teammate, Karl Bordine. My only advantages are that I know the course, I’m good at hiding and I’m not afraid to cut myself loose of the fast guys (otherwise known as getting dropped).
So the calculated plan was to stay with the fastest group I could manage until the Rode Heuvels (Little Salt Lake Climb) where I would ride my own tempo up and over the descent. Then I would try and re-establish myself in a quick moving group and ride with them. But that’s about all the plan making I could do knowing the groups would split and re-coalesce the remainder of the day. I would need to use my ability to makegood decisions. It was imperative that I balance speed and effort to make it across the finish line as fast as possible while notoverestimating my abilities, cracking, and crawling to the finish line.
As 2020 has proven, most plans fail to game out as they’re drawn. The early speeds were holding steady at 30 mph so when I suffered a typically benign mechanical early on I was immediately out of contention from the first two groups of 40-ish riders each. After latching on to the third group it was apparent that we were never going to catch group 2 and judging by the speed of their respective dust clouds they were never going to catch group 1 as long as the status quo stood. The gaps were narrow at less than 20 seconds to between Groups 1 and 2 and less than 30s to group 3. But at a consistent 30 mph even a 10s gap takes minutes of hard rotation by a number of strong riders to pull back. Groups 2 and 3 didn’t have that horsepower or commitment.
So that was the defining moment of the day for me. From there it was simple decision making. Do your fair share in the wind while minimizing high power efforts and keep eating and drinking. When the odometer turns over 100km or 3- ish hours or 2100kJ whatever group I was in will probably get tired, start bickering and split again (which happened right on the money 62miles, 3:02 and 2100kJ). It’s important to make that split so you’re in a group that won’t be constantly slowing the remainder of the day. Finally, save as much as you can the 45 minutes or so leading into the final climb and just go for it from there. When it was all over, I found myself in the company of my family who were with me during the whole trip to Cedar City. It was probably the best race day ever.
That’s the journey to the race. But as I mentioned in the beginning, Covid-19 has changed everything. This is an event during a pandemic and no one wants to take that sort of souvenir home or give it to anyone locally. Keeping safe needed to be the most important thing. From the very beginning MoC set out to have an event that was safe and fun. They went about it by finding the proper professionals to help them fashion an event protocol that kept the athletes, volunteers, authorities and spectators safe by obeying the rules dictated by the virus. Everyone was delivered a “handbook” of sorts via email from the event outlining what was expected and what simple steps we need to do to stay safe during the event. The execution of these protocols from the organization was spot on.
Many, many events like bike races, grand fondos, marathons, concerts, festivals simply didn’t happen in 2020. It’s my hope that the Belgian Waffle Ride will be able to show the world that with the proper protocols in place being followed by everyone it is possible to have a socially distanced gathering and to experience something like this event while staying safe.
Adam Mills has raced at the elite level since 2002 and graduated with a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kansas in 2005. His true talent comes with his ability to combine his vast experience with his knowledge of sport. He is indeed a student of science, sport, athletic performance, strategy, and tactics. He continuously educates himself by keeping up to date with current research trends and methods in sport and his clients have reaped the benefits from this work with over 17 national championships in 11 disciplines on two continents. Adam is able to incorporate these attributes on a daily basis to help his clients reach and exceed their goals whether they are a beginner or a seasoned professional. Learn more about Adam and Source Endurance here.
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November 11, 2020
Great write up!