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Retired champion Bart Bowen turns to helping others win races

  • By Jason Sumner
  • Published Dec. 8, 2012
  • Updated Dec. 8, 2012 at 10:22 PM EDT

BEND, Oregon (VN) — Throughout the 1990s, Bart Bowen was winning top-level road and cyclocross races. Today, he’s the owner and head coach of Sports Performance Powered by Bowen, where he’s helping the next generation of stars (and lots of amateurs) make their way in the sport.

The 4,000-square foot facility in Bend is a one-stop shop for endurance athletes in training, and includes an eight-rider CompuTrainer spin class set-up, strength training apparatus, a Retül bike fit studio, massage therapy rooms, a recovery center and a Pilates studio.

“I honestly find the most gratification in trying to truly change people’s lives,” said Bowen, who won two USPRO road titles and a pair of Super Cup cyclocross series crowns during a 13-year pro career that included stints with Subaru-Montgomery, Saturn and Kona, prior to his retirement from racing in 2003. “We have people coming here who are in their 50s and 60s and are literally in the best shape of their lives. That’s really gratifying.”

Bowen cites an approach that is part scientific, part holistic as the driving factor in his success as a coach and mentor.

“I really try to approach each individual as an individual,” he explained. “We take care of all aspects, be it psychological, nutrition, and body work. If you want to get better, no matter what your sport is, you need to look at all the components and how they work together and affect one another.”

Sports Performance Powered by Bowen offers 16 CompuTrainer classes a week, with additional offerings in strength and core training. They also do one-on-one coaching.

Bowen says his primarily local clientele runs the gamut from pro triathletes to beginning bike racers.

“Last year we averaged about 100 visits a week,” he said. “This year, we’ll have more classes so I think that number will get up into the 120s.”

Though he’s been coaching since 2000, it wasn’t until Bowen moved from Albuquerque to Bend in 2006 that things really took off. He started as the cycling director of what was then known as Rebound Cycling Performance, but when the previous owner decided to sell, Bowen stepped up.

“It was one of those offer-I-couldn’t-refuse situations,” he said. “Then we re-worked the name to help out with marketing.”

And of course Bowen still has plenty of competitive drive. The 45-year-old father of two boys says he still pins on race numbers from time to time, and will be on course in the 45-plus race at this weekend’s U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross event in Bend, the Deschutes Brewery Cup.

“I do a lot of local races just because it’s still fun for me,” he says. “It’s great to be able to bring my boys to ’cross races. They are short and family friendly, and it’s great to be able to talk with people afterward and hear about their experience.”

Bowen is also doing his best to cultivate the next generation. Last year, he helped start the CXmas Fund, a philanthropic effort tasked with raising money to send promising junior ’cross racers from the area to the U.S. national cyclocross championships.

“We put on a race here in Bend called Future Cross that is a fundraiser, and [on Thursday night] we had a fundraising party here at the center as a way to kick off USGP weekend,” said Bowen.

A full tally was still ongoing, but Bowen guessed that they’d raised around $3200 — “enough to send four of five racers to nationals in Madison,” he said. “And next year with nationals in Boulder, we’re hoping to raise even more money.”

“I honestly believe it takes a community to keep young cyclists in sport,” he continued. “So the goal is to give these kids the opportunity to go experience the sport along with all the amazing places it can take you.

“That’s what I’ll always remember about my time racing … how it gave me a chance to see the world.”

 

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