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Event Series Event Series: Tripel Crown of Gravel Series (BWR)

Belgian Waffle Ride Arizona 2024

March 1, 2025 - March 2, 2025

Last Updated March 10, 2024 – Note: 2025 date is not confirmed

The Second Annual Belgian Waffle Ride Arizona, sponsored by Canyon Bikes, is a unique desert and mountain gravel experience known as the Hell of the North Desert. The Arizona event is the kick-off to the largest gravel series in the world, the Belgian Waffle Ride Series and the Tripel Crown of Gravel. Belgian Waffle Ride Arizona takes place in Cave Creek, Arizona, on the fringes of the Valley of the Sun.  The event embodies three ingredients that make the BWR events so special.  First, it is an incredible destination that is ideal for an early spring visit.  Second, varied terrain to accommodate an extremely dynamic racecourse, and third, a vibrant cycling community.  Strambecco rates BWR AZ as one of the Best Gravel Events in the Southwest.  As a testament to the overall quality of BWR events, Canyon Bikes, one of the world’s most innovative bike brands, is the event’s title sponsor and the Tripel Crown Series.

From Belgium’s iconic routes to Arizona’s rugged terrains, the innovative event producer Monuments of Cycling leaped into the heart of America’s southwest for the first time in 2023 to rave reviews.   Nestled just north of Scottsdale, the topography of the Cave Creek area transitions from the verdant riparian environment along the Salt River to the foothills of the McDowell Mountains.  You’ll ride among towering saguaro cacti standing sentry against a backdrop of made-to-order sunsets. The springtime temperatures will nurture an array of stunning wildflowers among an ocean of vibrant green cacti and remain mild enough for riders to enjoy the full day of riding.  The tantalizing mix of road and ‘unroad’ cyclists can maneuver in Scottsdale’s spring bloom is an experience like no other.  You can view 2023 routes below; however, expect some changes in 2024 as Monuments constantly improves course designs.  Final course maps are typically disclosed several weeks before the event date.

Belgian Waffle Ride Series

The inaugural BWR Arizona was the latest addition to the Belgian Waffle Ride Series, a North American series offering some of the world’s most highly respected and well-organized gravel events/races.  The idea of the Series was conceived initially with the advent of “the most unique cycling event in the country,” the Belgian Waffle Ride California (San Diego). BWR California is well known among cycling enthusiasts and pros as one of the most difficult bicycle races in the US at 146 miles and 40 off-road sectors.

BWR events are unique because they are classic, long bicycle races that feature various off-road sectors emulating the pave or cobblestones of Europe, making the varied terrain a challenge for riders’ technical skills, equipment, endurance, luck, and versatility. While none of the events intentionally feature mountains, they utilize a never-ending collection of punchy climbs that take a sinister toll on riders’ physical and mental well-being… These are not races set up for freeloading sprinters or frail climbers. They are designed to challenge riders of all stripes and sizes in demented and glorious ways. Therein lies the allure of the Monuments of Cycling: extreme challenges that require months or years of training, the right equipment, tenacity, and karma.

Each BWR venue showcases a challenging ‘unroad’ multi-surface course that takes advantage of each beautiful location’s unique topography.  Each route is uniquely designed to include a multitude of technically challenging sectors. Waffle courses range from 120-144 miles, Wafer courses between roughly 68-84 miles, and Wanna Rides, typically around 40 miles. Elevation gain will range from 6,500 feet to 14,000 feet for the various Waffle courses.  The current roster of BWR events in 2024 includes BWR AZ (March 1-2), BWR UT (April 5-6), BWR CA (27-28), BWR NC (June 21-22)BWR BC (Sept 21-22), BWR Mexico (Queretaro – Nov 23-24)Monuments are also close to finalizing details of several new events for 2024, including another special event in Mexico.

The Tripel Crown of Gravel Series

The Tripel Crown of Gravel Series is a special competition within the full Belgian Waffle Ride Series lineup that involves participation in BWR Arizona, BWR Utah, and BWR California.   It has been recreated to give riders, both professional and amateur alike, a chance to compete in three very different environments over a short period, offering the perfect blend of recovery and fitness gains for the early-season competition. The 2024 Tripel Crown will be contested for both Waffle and Wafer distances at BWR AZ (March 1-2), BWR UT (April 5-6), and BWR CA (Aril 27-28).  The competition will be a points-based omnium format for professionals and age-group riders. Riders competing for the Tripel Crown honors and prize purse (for pros only) will be scored based on the points achieved over the three races. The BWR CA will carry extra weighted points to complete the series.  There will be prize purses and prizes for the Male, Female, and Gender Diverse categories.

Duel in the Desert – BWR AZ + Cactus Cup

In a unique collaboration, BWR AZ is teaming up for the prestigious Specialized Cactus Cup MTB event/race to create a thrilling back-to-back off-road cycling extravaganza, the “Duel in the Desert.” On consecutive Saturdays, March 2 and March 9, 2024, this combination event of mountain biking and gravel racing promises an unparalleled celebration of cycling prowess, camaraderie, and the breathtaking Arizona landscape in and around the magnificent McDowell Mountains Regional Park. This unique challenge combines the Belgian Wafer Ride’s 72-mile unroad gravel racing with the technical mountain biking excellence of the Cactus Cup’s 40-mile XC race.  Cyclists daring to conquer both events can earn the prestigious Queen and King of the Desert Awards.

BWR AZ Event Info

The BWR Arizona is unparalleled in its ruggedness. And for those who have participated in BWR events nationwide, the Arizonan edition stands out starkly. It’s not just gravel cycling; it’s borderline mountain biking at times with the sheer unpredictability of the Unroad. Arizona’s landscape – a vivid mosaic of desert rock and cacti – only adds to the challenge.  BWR AZ will start and finish at Stagecoach Village in Cave Creek. The destination is a picture-perfect town in the desert foothills that brings together history, culture, and nature in a unique atmosphere.

Events kick off Friday & Saturday with the BWR Expo, pre-rides, and a comprehensive rider briefing. Sunday, race day, starts bright and early at 5 am with waffles and coffee to fuel the riders. By 7 am, the riders set off, with the first expected finisher zooming in around 1 pm. However, the course remains open until 7 pm, allowing everyone to complete the ride and claim their bragging rights.

Monuments of Cycling is investing in new ways to ensure rider support in nutrition and hydration is augmented for each event. Each location offers diverse routes that are well-marked, involving abundant traffic control personnel on the course and police and official vehicle escorts. Additionally, each location will be hosted by a legion of like-minded volunteers who come together to showcase the hospitality of their communities.  Throughout the ride, cyclists can find solace in the well-stocked aid stations every 20 miles. With the Arizonan sun beating down and the trail throwing surprises with every turn – be it a flowy descent or a loose corner – these stations are nothing short of oases.

BWR events are also known for great SWAG.  All participants receive the following:

  • BWR swag bag that contains many important items
  • Race Number and RFID Tag (for official finishing time)
  • BWR Bad Ass Ale (trophy)
  • BWR Branded Item
  • Waffles
  • Beer
  • Fully marked course with traffic control
  • Stocked aid stations
  • Bragging rights

Event Preparation & Training

To prepare for the challenges of a BWR experience, Monuments of Cycling has partnered with FasCat Coaching to create a customized Belgian Waffle Ride Arizona training plan.  It is a comprehensive six-week training plan starting on January 22. Tailored to various skill levels and time commitments, the Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced plans cater to participants taking on the 35-mile Wanna, 70-mile Wafer, or 130ish-mile Waffle courses. The centerpiece of each week is a progressively extended gravel simulation ride, mirroring the race’s demands. The plan includes nutrition and hydration tips practiced during these rides, ensuring holistic preparation. Starting with a field test to set training zones using the Optimize app, the program incorporates Sweet Spot and Tempo intervals, group rides, recovery techniques, rest days, yoga, and foundational exercises. As the event approaches, spicy intervals and a proper taper are integrated for peak performance on race day. For a personalized coaching experience and a waived start-up fee, consider hiring a FasCat Coach for a customized training solution.

Monuments of Cycling has also created the BWR Guide to Eating Like a Semi-Pro.  It covers all aspects of cycling nutrition, including hydration, supplementation, gut training, carb-loading, recovery, on-bike feeding, and more. It’s not intended as a specific plan. Rather, it gives you the tools and knowledge to figure out what personally works for you as an athlete–and what doesn’t.  The guide is available here.  Also, note that The Feed, the largest online sports nutrition marketplace, is the official high-performance fuel sponsor of BWR events.  As a part of the BWR community, you can get a special discount.  You can find the details here.

Area Accommodations & Things to Do

While there is no official partner hotel for the BWR Arizona, there are plenty of options in the immediate area, including the Hilton Vacation Club, Boulders Resort, Hampton Inn, and Spur Cross B&B. If you prefer a more home-like experience, check out the many vacation rentals that suit various needs, from cowboy bunkhouses to guesthouses. If you enjoy camping, look into Cave Creek Regional Park Campgrounds or one of the unique one-of-a-kind camping locations in the area.

Cave Creek, AZ, and its surrounding area boast a vibrant culinary scene that marries Southwestern flavors with eclectic global influences, creating a unique dining experience set against a backdrop of desert landscapes and cowboy charm. From authentic Mexican eateries and rustic steakhouses to contemporary cafes, the region offers a diverse palate reflective of its rich cultural history and modern flair. Local favorites include the Grotto Cafe, Local Johnny’s, and Brunch.

Nestled just north of Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Arizona, is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, particularly in the gentle warmth of March. As spring breathes new life into the desert landscape, athletes find myriad activities beckoning them amidst the cacti and sunlit mountains.

A lush green gem in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area spans over 2,154 acres. March is an ideal time to visit, as the desert bloom is in full swing, with vibrant wildflowers carpeting the trails. For an immersive experience, opt for the Dragonfly Trail, a 1.6-mile loop known for its rich biodiversity. For a more challenging hike, the Elephant Mountain Trail offers a 7-mile round trip that rewards athletes with panoramic views of the Tonto National Forest and Cave Creek.

If you have room to pack your mountain bike, Cave Creek’s proximity to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve makes it a hotspot for mountain biking enthusiasts. The preserve boasts over 200 miles of trails, perfectly tailored to cater to novices and experts. With its 2.4-mile loop, the Gooseneck Trail offers a moderate ride with slight elevations. At the same time, the more adventurous can tackle the 15.4-mile Bell Pass and Windgate Loop, known for its challenging ascents and breathtaking desert vistas. The cooler March temperatures ensure a comfortable ride, even during mid-day.

A less athletic but no less exciting option is to experience the true essence of the Wild West by saddling up and exploring Cave Creek’s rugged terrain on horseback. With its expansive 2,922 acres, the Cave Creek Regional Park offers guided horseback tours that promise an authentic cowboy experience. For a serene evening ride, the Slate Trail, spanning around 4.8 miles, offers gentle terrains with mesmerizing sunset views over the desert. For those seeking a more extended riding experience, the Quartz Trail provides a 4.9-mile journey through diverse landscapes, from saguaro forests to panoramic hilltop views.

2023 Routes (subject to change in 2024)

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