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Overendís ready for a Granite State nickname, by Marty Basch
 Article List
• My winter vacation
• Phil Gaimon wins 2008 Mt. Washington Hillclimb
• Biking brothers in law charge around the Whites
• Overendís ready for a Granite State nickname
• Maineís Islesboro is a seaside bicycle adventure
• Quietly cycling Connecticutís northeastís corner
• That "new bike fit"
• Cyclocross - Best way to enjoy it, watch it.
• The next step in personal training?
• What goes up, goes down along Virginiaís Skyline Drive
• Hillclimbs, heaven or hell?
• Acadiaís bikeways beckon
• Where Cycling Is Taken Seriously
• Crusing along Lake Winnipesaukee by bike and boat
• Crank That Kanc
• Wrap, ride and reward
• A Clean Sweep
With the exception of Lance Armstrong, bicycle racers are not household names. There are those who remember Greg LeMond, the first American to ever win the Tour de France. And certainly, Floyd Landis is at the forefront of the sports-minded, his recent Tour de France performance mired in controversy.

But what about Ned Overend. Ever hear of him? Mr. Energizer Bunny. The Lung. Deadly Nedly.

"I was the guy in the fog," he joked one August day after riding to a second place finish in his second appearance in New Hampshireís Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb. Overend is a mountain bike racing pioneer and ever-evolving athlete, who at age 51 - he was riding the Hillclimb the day before his fifty-first birthday - continues to look for challenges in mountain biking and trail running. The father of two who resides in Durango, Colorado has entered the world of off-road triathlons, victorious in a number of XTERRA World Championships which feature swimming, mountain biking and trail running. He's an off-road statesman, a man who retired from professional mountain biking in 1996 and first tried riding up the Rockpile last year on his 50th birthday. A big trail advocate, he also works closely with the International Mountain Bicycling Association.

The man didn't get into mountain biking until the early 1980s, first competing as an endurance athlete out in Colorado doing mountain marathons. At first bicycling was road cycling for the lithe gifted climber. Then in 1983 he decided to try a mountain bike race in New Mexico. He won.

He made the switch from thin to knobby and never looked back. Before retiring in 1996, he won a half dozen national titles. In 1990, he won his first World Championship. Overend notched several World Cup victories, even as late as 1994. That year he rolled his way to European gold in Italy and Switzerland.

Attitude is key with Overend. He trains hard, and intensely, but he also knows when to take it easy, and give the miles a rest.
Ned Overend. Marty Basch photo
On Mount Washington, Overend pushed hard at the start, taking the lead immediately. But in just a few minutes, Olympian Tyler Hamilton surged ahead in a small pack and stayed there for the duration of the race, winning in over two minutes ahead of Overend who bested them all but Hamilton.

"It would have been nice to have kept Tyler in my sights, but we were both basically going our own race," said Overend. "It was like a time trial. Last year I did it, I rode with a couple of guys. We sort of had a cat and mouse game, especially once you got up top and it was windy. Then the draft becomes a big factor. I basically just wanted to ride it at my own pace, like a time trial and improve on my time last year."

That he did.

In 2005, Overend placed fourth, just two seconds behind the third-place finisher more than 20 years his junior. This time his second place time of 54 minutes, 41 seconds was an improvement over his '05 performance and gave him the course record in the master's division.

"I was hoping to improve it a little bit more, but maybe I'll save that for subsequent years," he said.

Overend's a mountain biker, a guy who raced motocross in his youth. He's used to rolling down a hill after grunting up it, something Mount Washington does not afford. There is little chance of recovery for mere mortals. Watch those who have fallen from their metal steeds on the final, devilish pitch and decide to walk or run while carrying the bike the final brutal yards. The mountain is steep. Colorado has elevation and thin air, but Mount Washington has fangs and claws called steepness that can hurt you. There is eerie pea-soup fog, fierce winds and horizontal rain. There is dirt, there is pavement.

Earlier this year, Overend placed second in a 27 mile plus climb up Colorado's Mount Evans. "They're in the same league," he said. "The difference about Mount Evans is that it is nowhere near as steep. It is 27, 28 miles, but it is much more gradual. The obvious difference is it goes from seven (thousand) to fourteen thousand feet so there is no air up there. You are going fairly slow and it's painful because you can't breathe, but this is much more of a leg fatigue kind of thing. Very steep, very unique and very hard to replicate in Colorado. We don't have any roads that are this steep around where I live."

Sounds like Overend could use another nickname. Thereís one here in New Hampshire thatís not taken anymore. How about Old Man of the Mountain?
by Marty Basch


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