The Morgul Bismarck and the Return of the Epic

The Morgul-Bismarck Loop has become an iconic ride here in Boulder.  The loop was featured in the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic and subsequent Coors International Bicycle Classic from the late Seventies to 1988. The Morgul-Bismarck is a 13-mile loop and has three notable climbs. The last of which is formidable,  known as “the wall” with a culminating incline  of 12 percent grade. This circuit race is featured in the 1985 film, American Flyers, a movie that is both great and horrible at the same time; great because it’s one of only a few movies about bicycle racing, and horrible because at times the acting hurts to watch.  Morgul and Bismarck were the names of race organizer, Len Pettyjohn’s dog and cat.

Over Memorial Weekend, the good folks of Superior, CO put on a great weekend of bike racing in the form of an Omnium, the last day of which was the Morgul-Bismarck Circuit Race.

photo: David Kutcipal

There seems to be a wind of change in the air, a new era of bike racing that is bringing back the epic ride/race.  We hope.  Races like Battenkill in NY state, the numerous races ending with Roubaix in the US, old time circuits like the Morgul-Bismarck all have a familiar ring.  Challenge, grit, grimace.  At the same time you have some of the big races pitching in: The giro always throws in twists and turns, some figurative, some literal.  Time trials with cobbles, Finishing sprints with multiple curves, dirt roads.  Good stuff.  Even the TdF is getting gritty this year with  cobbles in the first week.  Can’t wait.

photo credit: Times Union

Cycling is getting back to its roots, its essence, that puts man and machine through a test of will, over and through extraordinary terrain.   We know who is strong with the legs, but when the terrain poses multiple challenges we find who has the will.  The stuff that bores legends and heroes.


Coming Soon – The Echelon Plaid Kit

Panache Feedback Sports – Lousiville, CO 2010 Kit

Panache Facebook Kit – Design by Angry Bovine

Panache & Lim Ice Vest

Secret weapon for tomorow’s AToC TT stage: The Panache-Lim Ice Vest.  The concept: wear during warm up to keep the core cool.  The result: increased power output.  It’s all about marginal gains.

Black pockets hold ice on race day.

Recovery Ride Convo – Bike Fit Tips

Recovery rides are a fave part of the training week.  The pace is easy and people are chatty.  Such was the case during yesterday’s recovery ride.  In addition to the usual race recaps, nutritional tips, and tech talk we got on the subject of bike fit.

Bike fitting used to be about feel and the advice of your elder statesmen on your team.  Now, bike fit has become a science, with high tech systems like Retul.  But, we all agreed as we chatted up our own systems for optimization, it all comes down to a few basics: the fundamentals:

1) Start the fitting process at the foot: The ball of your foot should be somewhere very close to being directly over the spindle (while your foot is parallel to the ground and while the pedal is at the 3 or 9 o’clock position). If it’s not directly over, you should have a reasoning for being either behind or forward, but most riders are directly over.  Some trackies like to be behind for more leverage, and some people like to be just in front of the axis for more support.

2) Adjust your saddle height and position so that you maximize your own ergonomics.  Saddle height is tough because there are so many formulas, but forget about formulas for a moment and think this: the higher the saddle the more leverage, the lower the saddle, the better the spin.  Somewhere in the middle is ideal.  For each person, this spot is slightly different.  OK, stating the obvious… but here’s how to get the right height: During a 1 minute interval on a flat to slightly rising road, at about the 45 second spot, ask yourself, “where would I like to be on my bike”?  You can feel pretty good on the bike when you’re just riding around, but when you’re on the rivet, that’s the time when you need to be efficient and the time when you can best assess how you’d like your bike set up.

3) Now, make sure the fore aft of the saddle is on, over, or in front of the spindle. This measurement and reasoning is similar to #1 above.  While seated in on the saddle, place your shoe in the pedal and put your foot in the 3 o’clock position (for right foot).  Drop a plumb line down from your knee cap.  Your knee cap should be right over the axle.  Like #1, you can adjust this 1 cm in front or behind the spindle for the very same reasons.

As far as performance, the above 3 points are pretty key.  The remaining fitting points: stem length, bar height are important for comfort, but have less affect on performance.

We finished out our piano ride at the cafe, where it began.  And on to our next convo: espresso or coffee before a race….

Mixin’ it up in Fruita

The Panache Houndstooth Team (our local Boulder team) hit the trails in Fruita, Colorado last weekend.  Good friends, good times, good weather.  Epic.

Panache Radio Shack Wool Sock

Panache Radio Shack Wool Sock available at Team Radio Shack online store:

Fayetteville Stage Race in Texas. Delirium Racing’s Kevin McCarve in the lead…

Tis the season…

The Panache – Houndstooth Team in action.  (Photo courtesy of