CARLSBAD — A group of 150 cyclists took on the challenge of the 124-mile invitational Spy Optics Belgian Waffle Ride on April 15.Among the cyclists who took on the 100-mile plus course with 9,000 feet of vertical climbing were Spy riders Ryan Trebon of Oregon, and Nicole Duke of Colorado.“Ryan is a professional bike racer,” Michael Marckx, Spy Optics CEO, said. “He focuses on cyclocross and is a mountain biking national champ. He’s as good as they get.”
Trebon has won the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross Series four times.
“I ride five to six hours a day,” Trebon said. “I’m looking forward to hanging out.”
Trebon is known for his easygoing nature off the course, but was in the race to win it.
“You put more than two guys together and it’s a competition,” Trebon said.
“Nicole Duke, she focuses her energy on cyclocross,” Marckx said. “She is a mom of two and in her 30s.”
Duke is the current Masters National Cyclocross Champion.
The sport of cyclocross is akin to BMX dirt bike riding. There are barricades to jump and get around and extreme dynamics in the course layout.
“It’s the fastest-growing segment of the cycling industry,” Marckx said.
Duke was the only woman to participate in the Belgian Waffle Ride.
“I like the company of the boys,” Duke said.
Duke said she participated in the ride for the camaraderie and personal challenge.
“It’s a bragging rights kind of ride,” Duke said.
Riders looked forward to the demanding course.
“The primary reason is that it’s an extremely unique event,” Marckx said. “There’s no other event like it in the U.S. It’s like the Spring Classic in Belgium.”
The Belgian Waffle Ride took off from Spy Optics headquarters in Carlsbad where a waffle breakfast kicked off the ride.
Riders started with a 23-mile pack processional ride through Carlsbad and part of Oceanside.
Sprints began when riders hit Via Puerte Del Sol in Oceanside and headed out to high-performance terrain in Bonsall.
Speeds of riders picked up from 23 miles per hour to 34 miles per hour on the dirt roads and rolling hills of Bonsall and Fallbrook back country.
Challenging hill climbs on Couser Canyon Road in Valley Center, Bandy Canyon Road in Escondido and Double Peak Road in San Marcos offered King of the Hill awards to the first cyclists to get to the top of the inclines.
The steepest climb was on Double Peak Road.
“It’s a very, very, very steep climb,” Marckx said. “Most riders need to get off and walk their bikes.”
Dirt, gravel and water along the route added more challenges.
“On Country Club Lane (Valley Center) there’s a dirt road water crossing that’s hard for a car to get through,” Marckx said “Hopefully everyone can make it through there in one piece.”
To keep everyone on track riders were given a laminated map of the course. There were also course markers and feed zones where riders could grab food along the route.
“We gave every consideration to course marshalling,” Marckx said. “We have support vehicles for flat tires and mechanical issues.”
The race ended at Spy Optics headquarters, where a beer festival and food met finishers.
In addition to the satisfaction of completing the race and bragging rights of winning the fastest overall time, best sprinter, best overall climber, and strongest contributor awards, the ride also benefited the UCSD Medical Center EyeMobile for children.
“It helps underprivileged kids with eye care,” Marckx said. “We’re excited about the charity as well.”