The Real Champion of Durango

The Real Champion of Durango

by zap

But more so would be the outpouring of love, respect and appreciation shown for Ed’s legacy when hundreds of people showed up for his service. “The community was always first and foremost in his mind,” recalls John Glover, who since 1980 worked for Zink at the bike shop that Ed purchased in 1968. “Whether it was promoting races or the Trails 2000 initiative he created, it was important to Ed that people would be able to enjoy the outdoors.”


I first met Ed back in 1987 when I traveled to Durango to cover the NORBA National finals. Arriving a few days early, I paid a visit to his bike shop that was then still known as The Outdoorsman, and which at the time doubled as a Mecca for all the hunters and anglers that came to town looking for supplies.

Ed was kind enough to loan me a nice Fisher mountain bike 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. Feeling like a complete idiot, I returned the bike just moments after I’d left, and Zink just laughed before handing over another bike.

A few years later 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 the beautiful ranch that had housed four generations of the Zink family to try our hand at riding Ed’s 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 (renamed 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 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.


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 honor 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 Julie 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, race promoter and cyclist, 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.

Ed’s official obituary appeared in the Durango Herald:


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