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Traction Squad: Yannick Eckmann's Belgian Waffle Ride


Yannick Eckmann completed his first Belgian Waffle Ride and we thought we’d do little post-race Q&A on what went well, what didn’t and what he’ll do differently next time. For the record, Yannick finished in 41st place with a finishing time of 7 hours and 15 minutes. The course is 133 miles with approximately 45 miles being dirt or “off-road”.

Yannick Eckmann's Donnelly G/C Gravel Bike Full Speed Ahead Vision Selle Italia

He rode a Donnelly G/C gravel bike (size XL) with FSA’s K-Force WE drivetrain, FSA bar/stem/post, Selle Italia saddle and Vision carbon fiber tubeless ready wheels and Shimano XTR pedals.

What Donnelly tires did you use and what pressure? I used the Strada USH 700x32mm Tubeless Ready at 45psi in both the front and rear.

Do you use power meter or computer? I do not ride with power meter, but did monitor my heart rate. I used a Stages computer to keep track of the mileage, heart rate, and the route.

Knowing what you know now about the course what would you change, if anything, about your bike set up? I would likely go with a narrower tire because there is so much road riding. I think it would be an advantage. The dirt sections were firm enough and I think a narrower tire would be fine.

What was your strategy going in to the ride, and based on what you know now about the course what would you do different? My strategy was to be with the front going into the first dirt section and not to miss out on the selection. That ended up not working out so well as there was some confusion on the course direction right before the dirt section. I went from being in the top 30 to the back of the field and lost the front group. After that I was hoping to find my rhythm with a group I can hang with. I haven’t done a lot of long rides like this in a while so it was good to see where my fitness is from all my commutes to work and occasional lunch rides and weekend rides. 

What makes the Belgian Waffle Ride so unique? The vibe at the event is great. Really an awesome atmosphere. Another unique element is the course. It’s either going up and or down, nothing really flat.

Donnelly G/C gravel bike

What was your nutrition plan for the day? I planned to eat one bar an hour to stay fueled and towards the second half start using 1-2 gels per hour so I wouldn’t cramp. I tried to drink as much as possible. I didn’t have a specific plan on how much to drink, but wanted to get a lot of fluid into my body to stay hydrated. I ended up drinking 9 bottles.

What was your favorite part(s) of the course? My favorite parts where the dirt descents as I was able to rail them and catch some people in front of me. The singletrack sections where a blast, too. They flowed nicely and certainly got my spirits up for the difficult miles ahead.

Dirty Kanza is one month away. What do you think you need to do to be ready for 200 miles? I think for DK200 it will be different racing. It will be longer of course, but I think the speed will be a little slower at the beginning. At least that’s what I think! I have never done it so I’ll be prepared to expect anything. I think the Belgian Waffle Ride was a good test and training for the longer distance. I will be doing a couple more big rides leading up to the race and then I’ll just be prepared to suffer for longer! The key part for me is to stay relaxed and have fun out there. If I do that I know I will do my best.

Yannick Eckmann Belgian Waffle Ride Donnelly G/C Gravel Bike

What was the funniest thing you recall before, during or after the race? Funniest moments before the race was probably running into so many friends I have not seen since days racing for the Cal Giant team. During the race it was probably when we got to the sandy section. People were just going left, right and all over the place. Reminded me of cyclocross. There were not too many funny parts afterwards as it seemed like we were all walking around like cross-eyed zombies. It was tough day...but fun!