This is the second edition of the Kansas race and we could not be more excited about the new 130+-mile Waffle course that Joe Schmalz and our team have laid out. The 111.11-km Wafer promises much of the same pedaling perversity, and the Wanna is a perfect Belgian snack at 36.2-miles. This event in Lawrence is our most ‘gravelicious’ of all the BWRs with 86% of this diabolical detour into sinuous and undulating gravel, trails, grass, mud, dirt and a couple places with asphalt. (The Wafer is 96% gravel/rocks/dirt/ mud). The only thing that could make us more excited is a forecast of rain, but there’s time.
The only Euro-style Spring Classics on American soil, this BWR in Kansas is being hosted by Sunflower Outdoor and Bike Shop. Sunflower has been a staunch partner of cycling events, teams, and promoters throughout its nearly 50-year history. The shop has provided sponsorship for local teams and riders in every discipline, supported 67 events from the local to national level, and teamed up with NICA and the Steve Tilford Foundation to launch NICA’s inaugural season in Kansas in 2021. An industry leader and perennial “Best Bike Shop in the USA,” Sunflower is the perfect host of the most unique cycling event in America’s unfurling of the Belgian flag in the Mid-West.
Equally exciting for us is the partnership with have with the bike-minded folks at Free State Brewing Co, especially Chuck Magerl, who not only founded the brewery on a passion for beer, but his background in biology, engineering and history is the foundation of the brewery, and he remains an avid student of all things beer (and bikes). Free State has created the Grand Cru of beers, the Badass Ale, as a Belgian Quadrupel to commemorate the BWR KS being the the fourth and final stop of the Quadrupel Crown of Gravel. Don’t let the smooth, malty taste fool you. It packs an 11.7 ABV, the likes of which all finishers will get to revel in, however delirious they might be before or after imbibing.
For those that have had the privilege of racing or riding in Belgium, you know its a flat country, like Holland, with the occasional berg to break things up, but these climbs, 8 9 often on cobble stones, are typically around 1-km in length. When you look at the spring classic profiles their routes have myriad little bumps but no actual sustained climbs. And while everyone thinks of Kansas as this perpetually flat state, many of them will think “we’re not in Kansas anymore,” when confronted with the rolling bergs of north-east Kansas, where Lawrence is. Of all the BWR courses, this one’s elevation profile most resembles what riders would get in Belgium. Ok, back to Kansas, Lawrence not only is an important city for cycling in Kansas, it is also for the country.
Kansas has a rich cycling history and is the home state of many notable riders, including Scott Moninger, the winningest racer in American cycling history. And then there is Steve Tilford, who was the first US MTB National Champion, a two-time US Cyclocross National Champ, and a 7-time US National Team member in road and cyclocross. Perhaps more impressively, Steve captured the UCI World Mountain Bike Championships Master title, in Mont. Ste. Anne, Quebec, in 1998, becoming the first American to do so. He repeated that feat, winning the 2000 UCI World Mountain Bike Championships Master in 10 11 Bromont, Canada, by 5 minutes over second place. This BWR is being held in honor of Steve and is raising money for the Steve Tilford Foundation, which is a natural for us, since Our Monuments of Cycling team were all lucky enough to ridden and raced with Steve over the years, and we are lucky enough to have called him friend.
Kansas has hosted several US National Championships in cyclocross and road racing, and is considered the birthplace of gravel, with the iconic Unbound Gravel event since 2006 and the more recent Grinder Nationals. In fact, Sunflower’s own President, Dan Hughes, is a four-time winner of that event. From the sweeping winds of the Flint Hills to the challenging local relief of the glaciated northeast hills, and from the urban trails of its eastern cities to the lakeside trails of the west, Kansas offers challenging and scenic routes and races for riders of all ages and levels
Lawrence has welcomed many cyclocross, MTB, and road racing events and is home to the infamous grass track velodrome, which served as the launching pad for individual pursuit world record holder and USA track team member Ashton Lambie. In 2005-2007, the University 12 13 of Kansas was host to the US Collegiate Road Racing Championships, held on and around the KU campus and environs. The US National Cyclocross Championships were held in the Lawrence area in 2000 and again in 2007- 2008. Lawrence has been home to numerous professional riders and cycling organizations, including the Kansas Cycling Association and the Steve Tilford Foundation. Notable courses in the area include the Tour of Lawrence, whose road race features 5000 feet of climbing in 50 miles; the Perry Lake Road Race, which was the National Collegiate Championship event in 2005-2007; and the Downtown Lawrence Criterium, whose figure-8 course is one of the fastest and most wide-open races in the nation. Area trails include the paved 23-mile Lawrence Loop, the challenging Clinton Lake North Shore MTB Trails, the Perry Lake MTB Trails, and the fast and fun Lawrence River Trails just blocks from Lawrence historic downtown. To be sure, we’ve tried to weave in most all of these glorious Lawrence features into the Steve Tilford inspired Waffle and 111.11-km Wafer courses.