Q&A with Pro Cyclist Larissa Connors, Belgian Waffle Champ

by Jennifer Tetrick May 25, 2017 14 Comments

How Many Water Bottles Does It Take to Survive (and Win) the Belgian Waffle Ride?

The Cervélo Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR): 130 miles, over 10,000 feet of climbing over dirt, road, gravel and sand in Southern California's sunny and scenic hills. It's an epic challenge, one that riders do not soon forget. As the official hydration sponsor of the "most unique bike event in the US", we're excited that a local and GQ-6 athlete, Larissa Connors, claimed the win for the women. 

As testament to how EPIC this race was, we poured through over 8,000 servings of GQ-6 to support riders on course. It was a hot, tough day out there! Larissa tells us that she went through about nine bottles of GQ-6 to win the race. [Note: keep in mind Larissa's a professional and covered the distance in 7 hours, 24 minutes; more fluids would be optimal for athletes on course for a longer amount of time]. 

Key Stats for the BWR

130 miles

10,500 feet of climbing

100 degrees: max temp

8,000+ servings of GQ-6

Named to the Team USA Olympic Long Team for 2016, Larissa is an accomplished mountain biker and races for Team Twenty20 Pro Cycling. On her first performance at BWR, Larissa admits, "I was suffering, and it was not pretty...I honestly don't know how I pulled that off!" :)

Our Q&A with Larissa Connors

We chatted a little with Larissa about what it was like to race the BWR. In addition to sharing her experiences, Larissa tells us a little about her goals for 2017 and beyond. (Hint: Leadville is hopefully involved...) 

What made you sign up for the BWR? 

LC: I signed up for BWR with the attitude that it was a bucket list event that would double as great training, AND I love waffles and whipped cream... 

What did you do to prepare for the race? 

LC: I did a few long rides the weekends leading up to BWR, and coach made me do the fast local OC group ride the next day each time to prepare me for the suffering. But I was still pretty nervous going into the 'race' that our endurance-paced rides with Snickers stops weren't enough to prepare me for 130 miles of non-stop, all-out suffering. (Photo right and above: Pink Shorts Photography)

Did you have a goal coming into the BWR? 

LC: I definitely wanted to win, but I also knew going into it that super long races were Amanda Nauman's specialty, and there were some other pro women this year as well... Besides all that, the forecast called for unreasonable heat, which made me worry about whether or not I should take a Camelbak, what the feed zones would be like, and if I was capable of eating and drinking enough.

It was a hot day out there! What did you end up doing for your hydration/nutrition strategy? 

LC: I ended up taking three bottles with me, all with GQ-6 in them, and was super stoked that the aid stations all gave bottle hand-ups, also with GQ-6! I missed the first aid station, and had to bum a half drunk bottle from a dude, but after that I took bottles at every feed, forced myself to drink as often as I could and probably downed 8-9 total bottles.

I'm really bad at eating on the bike, so it's extra lucky there was drink mix in the feed bottles.

I honestly would not have survived if the aid stations hadn't provided bottles with calories because I would have been too dumb/stubborn to stop... so yeah, GQ-6 seriously saved the day.

What bike setup did you go with?

LC: My other hero of the day: the Felt VR that I was able to borrow last minute from Felt HQ. The VR is an adventure road bike, so it's meant for long road rides that may contain some dirt. I didn't have much time to dial in my set up, so I started the day with tubes in my tires (which led to a flat tire in the first 20 miles).

The VR2 comes with disc brakes, a TeXtreme carbon frame, thru axles and electronic shifters, which made it super comfy, light and so much fun to descend on in the dirt. I passed so many guys descending in the dirt, and I think the stopping power of the disc brakes has something to do with that.

Lastly, that bike loves to climb. I never felt like I was going all out on the climbs... Unlike on my F1 (my road geometry bike), where it feels good to stand and tear my legs off on ascents, I just sat and pushed, and apparently we were flying!  

Would you do the BWR again? 

LC: When they asked me this on Sunday I said the pain was still too real, and I couldn't imagine going through that again... but all I remember now is the waffles and whipped cream...so yes, yes I think I would come back for a second helping of waffles and suffering!

Any tips for future BWR participants? 

LC: USE TUBELESS TIRES!!!! And have fun because that's the most important thing, and (obviously) eat the waffles! 

What about one of your biggest lessons learned that's helped you get to this point as a cyclist? 

LC: Life (and bike racing) is a roller coaster, and there are high times and low times. It's hard, but you have to wait out the low times to experience the good, and if you commit to enjoying everything you do, you will be happy at the end of every day. You have to be proud of yourself for the little and big things; don't let the pressure to impress others determine your worth.

Anything you wish all roadies knew when they hit dirt?

LC: Everyone did great at BWR! Just practice; because the more you corner in sand, the more you enjoy that surfing feeling. It's kinda fun to be out of control for a hot second... right?! 

What's something you're learning about racing on the road?

LC: Tactics. Any and all tactics. And patience, I wish I had been more patient. And etiquette, like if I'm the only female in the group, and I'm shelled, am I an a**hole if I don't take pulls? 

And finally, what's next up for you? 

LC: Lutsen 99er to qualify for Leadville! After BWR, I don't think it will be long enough to satisfy my desire to suffer :).


Jennifer Tetrick
Jennifer Tetrick


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