108: a tribute to ed zink – the shaping and evolution of mountain bike racing and events

“He {Ed Zink} was a firm believer in critical mass. That if you had an event, it needed to look like someone was there in order for anyone to care. So, we would always spend a lot of time figuring out how we could do new things, try new things, and get people out there to spectate, take part in it, feel like they were a part of the scene…” 

EPISODE PREVIEW:

On this episode of the Channel Mastery podcast, co-produced by Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, I’m honored to pay a big tribute to Ed Zink, the owner of the award-winning specialty bike store, the Mountain Bike Specialists.

Ed Zink, a Durango native and longtime resident, unexpectedly passed away on October 11, 2019 of complications from cardiac arrest. He would have turned 72 on November 13th. He was a founder of Durango’s iconic road race, the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, which turns 49 in 2020. Ed also was the visionary behind Durango’s hosting of the 1990 World Mountain Bike Championships. Many would say with confidence that Ed Zink put Durango on the global “map” as a global mountain bike destination.

He also was a critical supporter of building, advocating for and protecting Durango’s incredible trail network through Trails 2000, an incredible non-profit organization led today by visionary Mary Monroe-Brown.

Ed was an absolute leader as an IBD, but he was also a renaissance man, a great visionary, innovator and icon in the cycling world. Most important, however, is how he viewed community – both in his hometown of Durango, Colo., and in the global cycling community. In this episode, you’ll hear first-hand how Ed based that vision out of his bike shop.

The story of Ed is told by Gaige Sippy of the Mountain Bike Specialists and Ned Overend, renowned mountain bike world champion. Both call Durango home, both have had a life shaped by the bike, and both were mentoried by Ed Zink.

Before the internet and social media, viral videos and online marketing, Ed Zink was able to create world class events and experiences that were open for all who were interested in cycling. He was a pioneer of inclusivity and focusing on the consumer experience. While the Mountain Bike Specialists served and supported the top cycling athletes in the world (and continues to), it’s also equally prioritized riders of every age, ability level and discipline.

This show is also a tribute to the power of the IBD. For five decades, the Mountain Bike Specialists has been the hub for Ed’s vision in cycling and with the outdoor recreation economy. Through his store, Ed supported trail development and advocacy, community development through clean industry, inclusivity of men, women and kids of all walks of life, and a heart-centered approach to building the infrastructure of an incredible region through the bike. This man’s shoes cannot be filled. All we can do is try to live like he did – service to others first.

Through events like the Iron Horse, World Championships and even some cycling time trials that raced through the interiors of Durango’s historic main street shops, one key facet of Zink’s life work was in connecting and building community through cycling. For anyone who knew Ed, they were touched by Ed’s vision. In this show, you’ll get to hear first hand how Ed mentored and impacted both Gaige Sippy and Ned Overend.

Ed’s legacy in the Animas Valley and the cycling community will continue to live on through the relationships he created and nurtured over his lifetime.

GUEST PROFILES:

Ned Overend

Ned Overend is a world-champion mountain bike racer, and continues to serve the cycling community in many roles, one of which is as a member of the marketing team at Specialized Bicycles. When Ned met Ed Zink, he was a car mechanic who wanted to race bikes, back in the early 1980’s. Ed took Ned under his wing, and he became an employee of Zink’s when Mountain Bike Specialists was named Outdoorsmen. Ned was a mechanic in the small bike shop located in the back of the store. He considered Ed to be one of his closest friends and credits him with much of the success of his cycling career. Overend resides in Durango, CO.

Gaige Sippy

Gaige Sippy, also a former employee of Ed Zink’s at the Mountain Bike Specialists, is the Director of Durango’s iconic Memorial Day road race and cycling celebration, the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. Sippy and Zink first met in the early 90’s in Durango, and for the past twenty-plus years, Gaige has worked with Zink to grow cycling in and around Durango

TOPICS COVERED:

Ed Zink’s Legacy, Iron Horse Classic, Mountain Biking, Consumer Centricity,  Independent Bicycle Retailers, Evolution of Cycling Events and Races, Importance of Public Land Use, Trail Advocacy, Inclusivity

SELECT QUOTES:

“What Ed has done for the community in Durango, but also, in cycling is SO big, He was a renaissance man. Rancher/outfitter, retailer, and also be a bicycle race promoter.” – Ned Overend

“Ed had a huge impact on my career. I was a car mechanic, and I wanted to make a go of making a professional cyclist. He let me work at the bike shop while I trained and tried to find sponsors, etc. he took me under his wing and got me started – he connected me with a team and got me into the Coors Classic.” -Ned Overend

“We were a Schwinn dealer and I got on that mountain bike team. Bike was still a small part of the Outdoorsman {now Mountain Bike Specialists}. The back section was the entire bike shop – that part of the business was small, and we were selling $100 Schwinn World Sports – people were complaining about how expensive those were!” – Ned Overend

“He {Ed} was a firm believer in critical mass. That if you had an event, it needed to look like someone was there in order for anyone to care. So, we would always spend a lot of time figuring out how we could do new things, try new things, and get people out there to spectate, take part in it, feel like they were a part of the scene…” – Gaige Sippy

“{Ed would tell his employees at Mountain Bike Specialists in their weekly meeting,} Don’t be swayed by the fact that you’re working on the bikes and dealing with some of the most famous cyclists in the world. Focus on respecting all the customers.” – Ned Overend

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