Hundreds take part in Belgian Waffle Ride through North County

Event raises money for adaptive technology

SAN DIEGO - Hundreds of cyclists toured San Diego County on Sunday as part of the Belgian Waffle Ride, an event that kicks off with a waffle feast and ends with kegs of Belgian beer.

The group met in the morning at the headquarters of eyewear company, SPY, which started the event. 

Michael Marckx, SPY president, CEO, and creator of the event arrived when it was still dark out to prepare for the waffle breakfast. He told 10News the cause is close to his heart, as it benefits the Challenged Athletes Foundation, a group that works to remove hurdles from athletes with disabilities by providing adaptive technology. 

Now in its second year, the SPY Belgian Waffle Ride is a unique and extremely challenging Spring Classic cycling event that features a 120-mile cycling extravaganza with 10,000 feet of climbing through scenic North County San Diego.

Willie Stewart, who is the ambassador of the foundation, said he filled up during the waffle breakfast.

"You've got to eat waffles on the waffle ride," Stewart said. "Like the guy said. You’ve got to eat until you're sick."

 According to Stewart, the cyclists carbo-load their bodies before the ride -- which usually runs through dinnertime. 

Stewart lost most of his left arm in Washington, D.C., in 1980. A rope wrapped around it and snapped it off. He said he did not fully realize what had happened until he picked up his hand.

"When I thought of being someone with a disability, I thought, 'Poor you, you’re disabled. You're not going to be part of life anymore. You can't participate. You can't this, and you can't that,'" Stewart said. 

He said what he thought he could not do became a challenge, which turned into motivation. Now, he is back to being an extreme athlete and pushes others to do the same. 

Stewart said when someone is limited by a disability, he helps provide specialized gear for them with funding from races like the Belgian Waffle Ride. 

"If I didn't have this, no way could I do this ride," he said while showing his specialized prosthetic arm. "We'll see at the end of the day how it works out, but hey, I get to do this."

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