In Memorium: Ed Zink

The (real) King of Durango mountain biking

By Zap

Before the Colorado mountain town of Durango became famous for the racing exploits of local champions like Ned Overend, Lisa Muhich, Greg Herbold, and John Tomac, and, of course, waaay before Quinn Simmons came along, there was Ed Zink. While best known as the proprietor of the Mountain Bike Specialists bike shop located on Main Street in D-Town, Ed was so much more – perhaps best evidenced by the recognition and official proclamation handed down by Colorado Govenor John Hickenlooper marking March 1 as Ed Zink Day.

CRASHES AND LAUGHS
I first met Ed back in 1987 when I traveled to Durango to cover the NORBA National finals. Arriving a few days early, I borrowed a bike from Ed to ride around town and check out the local trails. In typical fashion, I crashed the bike while riding down the ramp at the back of the shop and took out a brake lever in the wrought iron railing.  Felling like a complete idiot, I returned the bike just minutes after I’d left and Zink just laughed before handing over another bike.

The following year I visited in the heart of winter to do an off-season training story with Team Specialized riders; Ned Overend, Lisa Muhich and Daryl Price.  One afternoon we headed over to Ed’s beautiful ranch to try our hand at riding his snowmobile.  Despite my throttle-twisting history, the sled’s power scared me to death…and yes, I crashed that too.

Over the years as my infatuation with all things Durango deepened in my heart, I would look for any excuse to travel there.  I loved visiting his shop (originally known as The Outdoorsman, later Mountain Bike Specialists) to check out the veritable museum of cycling history found on the walls as well as to talk shop with Ed and long-time manager John Glover. Both of them were as far from being city slickers as you could imagine and  I found great value in their country-bred charm and neighborliness.

THE BIG DEAL
In addition to all Ed did promoting NORBA Nationals and the Ironhorse Bicycle Classic, there is no doubt that it was his vision, hard work, and international influence that convinced the Euros to award the city as the venue for the first-ever UCI World Mountain Bike Championships in 1990. That my friends remains the most epic weekend of mountain biking that I’ve witnessed in my 30-plus years of covering the sport.

From Ned Overend’s epic duel-to-the-death  for the rainbow jersey with Thomas Frischknecht, to Greg Herbold and Juli Furtado’s big wins, and of course Tomac’s drop-bar antics, the weekend’s stage was set for history to be made – and it was.

As a businessman, philanthropist, cowboy, husband, father, and race promoter, the 71 year-old Ed Zink was a success who never forgot the values he learned growing up in  Durango.  I always enjoyed his down home personality and wry sense of humor. In Ed you’d find a forceful man of action behind a façade of a quiet observer. For all those reasons, Ed was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 1992.

My condolences go out to his wife Patty, children Brian, Tim and Christy, employees at the bike shop and everyone in town and throughout the industry who recognized in Ed a passion and dedication for cycling that will be hard to replace.

Rest in Peace Ed – thank you for all you’ve done for the sport…and for me.

Ed’s official obituary in the Durango Herald.

Ed and his wife Patti at their farm located on the road to the Purgatory Resort where the 1990 World Championships were held.

 

The Animas Valley roared with cheers for local hero Ned Overend during the XC race. Ned was aboard a Specialized Epic Ultimate (carbon tubes with titanium lugs) with un-marked Rock Shox forks, Profile Durango handlebars and some sweet neon toe clips.
The Durango Worlds were a big deal back-in-the-day…not sure how a guy on a Slingshot could make the cover shot! The inset photo shows the Men’s DH podium of (l-r) Paul Thomasberg, Greg Herbold, and Mike Kloser.
One of the most exciting moments of the weekend was watching John Tomac attack the DH course on his drop bar Yeti C-26. That’s his teammate Juli Furtado cheering him on from the inside of the corner.

 

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