Waffles, Dinges & Dirt Bikes {pedaling, part iv}

Cyclocross is not a sport for the faint of heart. Akin to road racing, but on courses made up of mud, grass, sand, hills and obstacles so steep cylists must occasionally dismount and take to foot, Cyclo-cross requires serious training, blood, sweat and plenty of sweet Belgian waffles.
I’d like to say that is was for the love of my husband that I went all the way to Princeton, New Jersey at 5 AM one muddy Sunday in late November to watch him race, but in fact it was in large part for the love of waffles that I know anything about cyclocross at all.

Let me explain. Like traditional road racing {think Tour d’France}, cyclocross’ origins are European. Legend has it that in the early 1900s, European cyclists would race each other from one town to the next cutting through the farms and fields, over fences and a myriad of obstacles to find the fastest route. But that’s not important. What is important is that the sport stuck as a way to keep cyclists fit in the off season, and has made itself cozy in Belgium, home of the best waffles and beers and the planets most flawless frites.

Though not all the details translate precisely, cyclo-cross in these parts has become synonymous with Wafels and Dinges, aka, The Waffle Truck {motto: Good Things Belgian}, who send a batch of their Leìge style Belgian best over to every race. And that’s where I come in. Having just embarked on a mammoth waffle project in the Test Kitchen at the Food Network, I felt it was my duty to do some investigate reporting on the difference between a traditional Belgian waffle {crisp and airy, made from a yeast-leavened batter} and a Leìge waffle{a rich, dense brioche-inspired waffle}.

As it turns out, the waffles, though delicious, weren’t my biggest reward for journalistic integrity. Far more fulfilling was the site of grown men {and women too}, including András and his teammates, having this much muddy fun.

By the way, according to the Waffle Truck, dinges are merely little thingies, like toppings. My favorite dinges are strawberries and whipped cream. And, in the name of journalist integrity, the "dirt bikes" I'm referring to are actually high performance cross bikes, that just happened to be covered in dirt.


Waffle-Guy said...

hi Sarah

You couldn't have given it a better summary...the relation between cyclocross and the Belgians, the love for the mud, the rain and harsh conditions that needs to be offset by some rich delicious food.
Right on!


Sarah said...


When I posted this in the middle of the night, I could have never dreamed that I'd wake up to a comment from the Waffle-Guy himself. I'm thrilled to have captured the spirit of the sport, and the approval of the Belgian Minister of Culinary Affairs {an aptly appointed title}. Thanks for stopping by, and see you next season!


alliwannadoisbicycle said...

what a great post! i'm so happy that the waffle truck has now become a staple of the cyclocross (and cycling) scene! see you guys at the end of season CX party next week!

-Christophe (FGX)

Jennywenny said...

Mmm, sounds like its worth the early morning. People keep going on at me to try cyclocross but carrying my bike through mud just sounds horrible to me, I'm sticking with road biking for the moment!

Anonymous said...

Sarah- i love this post. i too have a crazy cycling husband and have many early morning adventures.
this reminded me of our trip to the tour de france- best croissant and cafe au lait at the top of apl d'huez.

maybe someday we will meet you in belgium for a spring classic and a bite?! - merrie

Sarah said...

Merrie, I can't wait to tell the hubs you've been to Tour d'France! We're dreaming about it for it next year, but maybe we can head over early for Spring Classic, then stay all summer...imagine the meals and adventures!

A girl can dream, right?


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Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.