Climbing, cycling, and lots of waffles: North City comes together over sports

Climbing, cycling, and lots of waffles: North City comes together over sports

North City is a fantastic place for getting together, whether it’s to hit the climbing walls, the trails, or the yoga mats. Every year, all of North City unites at the Belgian Waffle ride – a unique celebration of pedal power and community.

People who sweat together, stay together – North City is full of inclusive spaces where people form connections and develop lifelong friendships. Here, people get together to run, climb, play ball, do yoga, and get outside in spectacular nature.

Sports are key to fostering a city culture that supports a healthy mind, body and community. Studies published in Psychology Bulletin have found something that you’ve probably already experienced: working out near a partner will boost your energy output, making you faster and enabling you to push harder. It’s all about getting those endorphins going, making us feel great in our bodies and connected to the people around us.

But for two days a year, there’s only one place to be in North City: the Belgian Waffle Ride. Over 3,000 riders flock to this granddaddy among the country’s premier cycle races, which brings serious bragging rights to those who make it across the finish line. And for the rest of us, there’s waffles – lots and lots of waffles.

Nothing quite like the endorphin rush of an epic race

When the Belgian Waffle Ride turns North City into cycling central

“Imagine a giant festival where everyone is a bike nerd, and the air is filled with the scent of waffles and the hum of excitement,” says Michael Marckx, Creator and Event Producer of the Belgian Waffle Ride. Michael, who’s also Founder of Monuments of Cycling, launched the first Waffle Ride 14 years in San Diego County – he drew inspiration from the traditional cycling races in his native Belgium, and his personal affection for cyclocross, “which in Belgium means dirt, sand, mud, dismounts, and beer-spraying fans”. The Waffle Ride has now grown into a great big sports party where people can “have fun, embrace the cycling community, and tackle a truly unique challenge”.

While it may help, you don’t actually have to be a cycling nut to enter the Belgian Waffle Ride. Depending on whether you like lots of gravel in your face, or if you’re more of a Sunday two-wheel driver, there’s a race for everyone. You can start with the 40 mile long Wanna race, or the Wafer which is 75 miles long, but towering over it all is the Waffle race: “It’s no joke! It’s a 130-mile beast, but the distance belies the actual challenge. It demands serious training,” says Michael, suggesting dedicating 14-18 per week to train if you want to “finish well”.

Crossing the finish line in North City

Either way there’s lots of waffles – Michael takes his with butter only, and if there’s no butter, he’ll go plain. “For me, this ride is like reliving the best parts of my childhood – long rides and  waffles,” says Michael. “It’s a day filled with laughter, cheering, and the camaraderie of fellow cyclists,” says Michael. “Bring your family and friends along, and make unforgettable memories.” 

The Belgian Waffle Race is a day to cheer yourself hoarse and get very sticky with syrup, but it’s also about reaching your goals and finding new ones to challenge you. As outlined in the ride’s mission statement, the Waffle Bijbel, it’s about so much more than pedaling fast – this is about “stretching limits and growing into better versions of ourselves”, and also, “becoming badass cyclists and humans”.

Mesa Rim is a community-centric climbing gym and fitness center that hosts regular yoga classes and meet ups

Reaching for new heights at Mesa Rim

While the Belgian Waffle Ride is but once a year, you can flex your muscles any day of the week up the climbing walls at Mesa Rim. There are classes for adults and kids as young as four to reach for new heights – literally – as you strap yourself into a climbing harness and turn your gaze upwards. And don’t let anyone tell you that yoga is a snooze – Mesa Rim’s vinyasa classes can break you into a sweat almost as quickly as you can say namaste. 

Having said that, Mesa Rim is more than a sports center – this is a community hub. There’s yoga potluck events, the chess club meets weekly, and at the local artisan markets there’s raffles, s’mores and more. Check out the Lady Crush Crew if you’re looking for a women-only climbing group, or join the Mesa Meetup community climb nights – either way it’s a great way to meet new climbing partners.

North City has a unique location – one minute you’re in the city, the next you’re striding you a trail into the hills. Bring the family on the Double Peak trail from Discovery Lake for great views in that sweeping SoCal light, or head out on the Copper Creek Loop – there’s even plaques to tell the story of the old copper mine. Lots of the trails are great for cycling too, and there’s still plenty of time to practice for the next Belgian Waffle Ride. You may say you only want to do the Wanna or the Wafer, but don’t blame us if you end up going full Waffle! 


Mesa Rim is at 285 Industrial Street in North City. The Belgian Waffle Ride is held every spring, with the finish line in North City.