Ned: My wife Pam has been with me
for the whole journey. When I met her in
1979, I was training for the Ironman in
Hawaii, so she’s used to the stuff that
comes along with racing. She keeps me
grounded. The support staff and my fellow
teammates have also been a huge help.
In the very early days the racers had to be
their own mechanics, but as the sport grew
and there were more sponsors, we had
team managers, soigneurs and mechanics.
As racing got more competitive and more
international, good support became critical
for getting results.
Having support staff and teammates to
travel with made the whole race experience
a lot more rewarding. I’ve had some great
teammates—too many to mention—but
Ned Overend Steve Tilford, Todd Wells and Daryl Price were some great ones.
MBA: What was the most difficult race
you ever did?
Ned: It’s hard to say, because pain
fades over time. And if you win, it doesn’t
seem as difficult as when you suffer and
I did the Garda Marathon in Italy several
times. One year we started in the pouring
rain and climbed 3000 feet. At the top
it was slush and snow, and I wasn’t prepared. It was a long day, and riding while
you’re freezing is never good.
MBA: What advice can you give to an
aspiring rider or racer who wants to go
Ned: It’s very hard to make a living
racing mountain bikes, so I wouldn’t advise
sacrificing an education to go racing. I
encourage every rider who has a passion
for racing to see how far he or she can
go. The best way to go about it is through
high school or collegiate programs. The
beauty of NICA (high school) and collegiate
programs is that they offer coaching and
the chance to learn from your teammates.
Many of the successful pros moved up
through the collegiate and high school systems. Todd Wells, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski,
Keegan Swenson, Howard Grotts, Kate
Courtney and Chris Blevins are all examples of that.
MBA: What can you tell us about your
Specialized bikes over the years?
Ned: The bike I won the 1990 Worlds on
is lost. It was in a museum in Switzerland
for a while, and after that we lost track of
it. I’m hoping it’s going to show up in a
bike shop in Europe somewhere. ❏
The Epic carbon Ned raced at the 1995 Pan Championships at Squaw Valley hangs at Mountain Bike Specialists in Durango, Colorado.
(Left photo) The 1998 FSR XC (left) and prototype Epic from 2000 (right) show a bit of Specialized’s XC design heritage.
1991 Stumpjumper M2: Racing at
Big Bear Nationals with the number
one plate—notice the early prototype
RockShox suspension fork.
1988 steel Stumpjumper: This was
Ned’s first year on Specialized at a
national race in Durango (with a Scott
USA poster in the background).