Belgian Waffle Ride then the Death Ride. How to train, thoughts from those wiser than I please

Well I’m a newbie but the guys at TR have me hooked. Figured I’d ask the masses as I’m currently like a puppy with ADD and need some advice. I am planning on doing the Belgian Wafer Ride (half distance of the Waffle) on May 5, then the Death Ride in mid July. My training schedule works to finish a complete training regimen (Base, Build, Specialty) just in time for May 5, and then another 8 week block between the two events. Question is what Build and Specialty plans to go for? Appreciate all thoughts on training and bike choice (fiancee will kill me but planning on getting cyclocross bike) - remember I’m a new at this, be gentle.

What are your goals for each race? Just to finish?

As this is my first year, yes goal is to finish as I have no prior metrics to compare to. I’m treating my performance in these early events as diagnostics to see where my fitness and riding is at and will hopefully be able to set more specific goals after that.

Sustained power build and Century.

Wafer ride will be a fun challenge. Death ride will be hard if you are doing the five pass route.

Good luck!

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Thanks Steve! Yeah its gonna be a beast. ANNNNDDD we’re looking at wedding dates sometime in June - trying to finnagle a convenient honeymoon to Tahoe for the race. We’ll see how that flies hahahaha.


@mzapf28 totally epic plan! Not sure how many pearls of wisdom I can share but here goes… In my mid 50s I started road cycling in Dec 2015 and completed the 7 month zero-to-hero DeathRide 2016. I’m a bigger guy at 200+lbs and was at maybe 2.8 W/kg by the big event. Here’s the deal:

  • absolutely critical that you do some longer rides months in advance and nail your nutrition and hydration needs/strategy. Eat and drink at every stop. You can see my bigger rides leading up to DR here:

  • figure out your “climb all day pace” which for me was 135-140bpm HR and stick to it, even when some dude in his 70s passes you on several climbs :wink:

  • if you are sub 3 W/kg make sure your training prepares you mentally and physically for long climbs, these are my moving times for each of the 5 climbs: Monitor West 1:20 (1 hour 20 minutes); Monitor East 1:45; Ebbetts East 1:53; Ebbetts West 0:57; Carson 2:11

  • be prepared for changing conditions (gloves!), I started riding at 4:40am and temp was low 40F. There were an unbelievable number of people already riding, my wife dropped me off at group start and she said it was like watching Animal Planet and seeing a migration of wild animals! In the afternoon it was 93F in Markleeville, and 52F at the top of Carson around 6pm.

  • I mostly trained on flat ground by doing longer and longer intervals into the wind (riding on hoods). Several guys from my club bet against me because I didn’t have time to drive to the foothills and do more training rides with climbing.

I finished with a smile on my face :smile:

You can do it, enjoy the ice cream at the top of Carson!

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LOL, I did my first group ride in Dec 2015 and was so excited I immediately registered for the DR… and then woke up and realized it was on my wife’s 50th b-day ha ha. Tried selling my registration for months, and then luckily the extended family couldn’t celebrate until August so my wife reluctantly agreed to staying at our favorite cabins in the Sierras (along the last climb!) and having a spa day in South Lake Tahoe with my daughters while I did the DR.

p.s. the first descent down Monitor to Highway 395 is mind blowingly awesome - over 9 miles at 35mph average on good tarmac and no cars… I only had to pedal to keep legs warm!

I can comment on bike fit. I did the wafer last year, and am planning on the waffle this year. I rode my specailized tarmac with 25c gatorskin tires. I completed the entire day without a flat. There is still quite a bit of road on the course, and the gravel/dirt/rocks aren’t anything crazy. I do have mountain bike experience and consider myself a decent bike handler. It just depends on how comfortable you are with riding off pavement.

Definitely stop at every aide station and STAY HYDRATED. Last year I didn’t drink enough and was pretty dehydrated at the end. If you don’t have a group or friend you’re riding with, make new friends! Especially the road sections you want to have a draft.

Last year, it wasn’t too cold in the morning. I didn’t wear any cold weather gear. The first dirt section is kind of a sh*t show to be honest. If you are trying for a good time/position definitely try to be at the pointy end of the stick going into the first dirt section.

The beginning of the ride it is quite fast (and sketchy). Everyone is excited and feels strong, so we averaged almost 30mph for the first 20 minutes.

Good luck on the ride. It’s probably my favorite event that I have ever done!
(I’ll be doing all my training inside, and when the weather gets better incorporate a couple longer rides on weekends before the event to make sure my body can take sitting for 140 miles haha)

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If you have some place to practice descending techniques, to include switchbacks, do so. The locals know the descents around M-ville and will blow past you at 50+. It can be a little unnerving if you’re not used to it. Having a crew in the center of town helps as well - to dump your early morning cold weather gear and re-stock special needs if necessary. be aware that there isn’t an official start. If you have lights, you can start in the dark, otherwise at first light. and you basically start where you parked, so an early arrival is a plus (you just park alongside the road leading in). Save some energy - the last pass was the hardest (to me) and was straight into a headwind. good luck and enjoy. ps - all my info is about 15 years old, so your mileage may vary

Hi mzapf28,

I’m a TR newbie, too, but I’ve done DR 4x so I thought I’d add a few comments/observations.

Some folks start/end at the bottom of Woodfords canyon to avoid the slog to TRP at the end of the ride. After coming off Carson, it’s a nasty little finish to Turtle Rock. I start at 4:15 to minimize sun on E. Monitor, which can be brutal. However, it can be cold that early, and the initial descent from TRP to Markleeville can require gloves and another layer that you won’t need again (maybe). Starting early also exposes you to traffic on Monitor. I stay and start/finish at Carson River Resort to avoid that first descent, but I pay at the end.

Be prepared for any and all weather conditions. 3 years ago my hands went numb coming off Carson because of the front moving in (should have kept the gloves!). 2 years ago, it was 107 (per Garmin) going past TRP for the final climb. Last year, a group of late riders were delayed atop Ebbetts due to a thunder storm. I was well past, and the mist going up Carson made for a pleasant climb. Many years ago, at the peak of her fitness, my sister (and everyone else) was turned back on the final climb due to hypothermia concerns. It’s usually really hot… unless it’s really cold.

The wind can be brutal, and it can come up any time of day, even on the ascent of West Monitor and definitely the descent. 3 years ago I was forced off the shoulder and into the lane on the final turn at the top of Carson. Fortunately there was no traffic.

I discovered, accidentally, that talking helps me. I started chatting with someone on West Monitor a few years ago, and just as I was starting to say that I should probably save my breath, I realized we were at the summit. Now I seek out riders that like to chat.

Good luck on the ride!