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.


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