The first in a series profiling extreme endurance races and the people that tackle them.
The Canyon Belgian Waffle Ride in San Diego is North America’s rendition of a single-day Euro-style Spring Classic race. Here, amateurs can join the fray to test themselves against the pros and then party with them in the beer garden. The course is a little different every year, but there’s been one infamous consistency in the event’s seven years: it will absolutely brutalize the hardest of hardmen and hardwomen. The 2018 edition set the stage for some supreme suffering, covering 133 miles with 12,000 feet of climbing and 46 miles of skull-rattling dirt.
BWR is the kind of event you survive, one that leads you to deeply uncomfortable places but rewards every finisher with a new kernel of self-truth. Photographer Jake Orness snapped portraits of BWR riders before and after this year’s ride, documenting how a hard day on the bike literally changes us. The toll is evident in each weary, salt-caked face, but even more intriguing than the physical manifestations of a long day in the hurt locker are the mental shifts or psychological breakthroughs that can occur.
Meet eight finishers of this year’s BWR, each with their own understanding of the virtues of self-imposed suffering on the bike.