Topeak-Ergon kicks off the 2018 season in California and Arizona.

Photo: Pinned Grit / Topher Riley

Topeak-Ergon kicks off the 2018 season in California and Arizona.

The April event season kicked off in sunny Carlsbad, California at the Canyon sponsored Belgian Waffle Ride. As one of the fast growing mixed-terrain events in USA there was no shortage of talent toeing the start lines of both the 73-mile and 133-mile distances.

As a tune up for the US Marathon National Championships in a few weeks time, Karen Jarchow used the 73-mile Wafer distance as a fitness test. Riding on the Canyon Inflite, Karen rode at the pointy end of the race, mixing it up with the fastest men in the field. As a very unique event, the Canyon Belgian Waffle Ride requires riders to carefully select their equipment for the both the fast tarmac sections, as well as rough single and doubletrack. Karen's choice in equipment proved to be perfect!

Karen Jarchow capped off a successful Canyon Belgian Waffle Ride with a win in the Wafer distance, including a Top 5 overall. The result wouldn't come without a bit of drama at the end with some course marking sabotage, but in the end, with a few extra miles raced, Karen would cross the line in 1st place.

“I felt strong all race...I was getting stronger as the race went on. It was fun to play around with race tactics! I'm looking forward to taking this fitness to the US National Championships in a few weeks,” stated Karen.

Jeff Kerkove also toed the start line of the Belgian Waffle Ride, taking on the 133-mile distance aboard his Canyon Inflite.

“I had a great day on the bike...feeling good most of the day. I did fade and slow in the last 15-miles. I was loving the dirt sections, as my mtb skills allowed me to move up through the Wave 2 field I started in. Overall, such a great event and deposit on the fitness bank for the big summer races in Colorado,” said a dust covered Jeff at the finish line.

After the Belgian Waffle Ride, the team headed north to Monterey, CA for the Sea Otter Classic where Yuki Ikeda flew in from Japan to meet up with the rest of the team. Yuki, preparing for major international stage races in the coming months, used the Sea Otter Classic STXC and XC to fit in some short and fast speed work training.

“The fields at Sea Otter are star-studded and some of the fastest in the North America. I pushed myself as hard as I could over the weekend. While not the results I wanted, these short and fast April events are great tune ups. I have a lot of racing yet to come this season,” said Yuki.

After Sea Otter, Yuki headed south to Arizona for the Whiskey Off-Road. As part of the premiere Epic Rides marathon series, the Whiskey Off-Road is a early season singletrack shoot out with a large cash purse. This marathon distance event is XC speed from start to finish and highlights who is running on form early in the season.

“I left it all out on course, going full-gas from start to finish. I was hoping for a better result in this stacked field, but it's hard to be disappointed when racing in such a big competitive event,” said the always smiling Yuki Ikeda.

Next up, the team heads to Arkansas for the US Marathon National Championships on May 6, followed by the Grand Junction Off-Road and Gunnison Growler in Colorado.