Bart Bowen-Low Budget Superstar

Bart Bowen on his way to 32nd place in the 2000 World Cyclocross Championships
Photographer: J.S. McElvery

Sint-Michielsgestel, the Netherlands | January 30, 2000

“STI? I don’t need no stinkin’ STI.”

Let’s all sing praises for Bart Bowen, the last man to rock the bar-end shifters in a mass start world championship event. And bonus style points for the front brake cable treatment. In Bowen’s quest for the perfect brake cable alignment, but a move likely to make any stem manufacturer cringe, the front brake cable has been routed through his stem via a pair of precisely drilled holes in the top and bottom. It’s always a challenge for riders on the smaller side to cleanly route their front brake cable without abrupt or sharp kinks in the housing and the through-the-stem option provides the smoothest cable pull for the bold and those handy with a drill.

And what of the race? Bowen finished 32nd on a day better known for Sven Nijs inciting the wrath of Belgium by putting his Rabobank trade team fealty to Dutchman Richard Groenendaal above national allegiance to fellow Belgian Mario de Clercq.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Another year.
Another sunny day (23 consecutive years and counting).
A new course record.
Another CorestatesWachoviaFirstUnionUSPROCommerceBank extravaganza.


Intersection magazine...Fall 2006 coverIntersection magazine...Fall 2006...Hipster messenger

If you slap a fixed-gear bike on the cover of a magazine, especially a magazine not in the cycling section, it will likely get my attention. Intersection describes itself as

“…bringing design, fashion and culture to life for the modern man. An intimate, inspired, below the radar meeting place for arbiters of taste and opinion, it’s where diverse paths cross, united by a passion for living fast and traveling far.”

In the simplest terms…it’s a car magazine. And I’m not really sure they understand urban fixed-gear bikes beyond the parameters of fashion and modishness. Look at the cover: “Why your car needs a bike rack!”. The minimal text accompanying the 12-page spread treats the bike as a prop which hipster car owners have affixed to a bike rack and when confronted with gridlock one can then hop on their fixie and beat that damned traffic (but doesn’t seem concerned about the conundrum of the abandoned car). What’s amusing to me is that the 11 men who grace the magazine with their track bikes all live in cities (NYC or London) and either work as messengers or utilize their fixies for utilitarian transportation. And I’d be highly surprised if any of these gents owned a car. You’d be insane to own a car in either city for any number of reasons: the cost, especially at their likely respective salaries; the efficacy of travel by bike; efficient mass transit…

I haven’t quite figured out if there are cyclists on the masthead who’ve happened to successfully infiltrate the publication and are sowing the seeds of dissent from within, relatively under the radar…or…it’s all fashion of the moment to be cast aside when fixed-gear machines are no longer hipster du jour props. In the current issue one of the writers admitted to having a 1950s Holdsworth and a 1930s era Schwinn track bike as her pride & joy wheels…not a car. There’s also a compelling 2-page map of the world with country size determined by the amount of velodromes each nation has within its borders (France is HUGE, followed closely by Japan…and who would have known that Trinidad-Tobago has more velodromes than China). And the articles are largely fascinating, with transportation themes frequently only skirting the tangents (definitely not your typical gear-head, road test magazine dreck) and its international, non-US focus is easy on the eyes…a world with far cooler design principles at work.

Giro Minutiae

1. Northern Dominance
The last time I laid eyes (in person) on Danilo Di Luca, he was approximately 350 meters from the summit of Passo Lanciano in the 2006 Giro d’Italia. The collective groan which rippled upwards to the summit when Di Luca was dropped from the Basso express several kilometers from the finish line belies the adoration of his native Abruzzo tifosi. And how wrong I was to right him off as “merely” a man for the one-day Classics. Bravo, Danilo! What’s also remarkable is that Di Luca is the first Italian from the southern half of Italy to ever emerge victorious in the Giro. Check out the complete domination by pros from the northern regions:

The 20 Regions of Italy
Image source:

Region # of Giro Champions
Lombardia 29
Piemonte 17
Toscana 8
Emilia-Romagna 4
Trentino-Alto Adige 3
Veneto 2
Abruzzo 1 (Danilo Di Luca, 2007)
Liguria 1

Di Luca is well aware of his place in history, and he spoke of his terrone heritage with pride.

2. Is Andy Hampsten really the first American Giro winner?
While I was investigating which region each Italian Giro winner came from, I came across this interesting tidbit about the 1924 champion Giuseppe Enrici. If Italian Wikipedia is to be trusted, it appears that Enrici was born in Pittsburgh, PA. Now I’m not much of a legal scholar, but I believe that birth on American soil automatically confers U.S. citizenship. I haven’t the faintest idea about the length of Enrici’s stateside stint before he hopped a boat to Italy (where as best I can tell, he resided in the Piemonte region), I’m equally as clueless about whether dual-citizenship was ever embraced or if he only ever considered himself Italian, but maybe USA Cycling can retro-actively claim him as one of our own (just like the Mormons) to boost our country’s Grand Tour palmares. He would also be the first American to start the Tour de France (1924 [DNF on 4th stage] and 1925 [DNF on 11th stage]), but it looks like Jonathan Boyer still has dibs on the first American to finish.

3. Conventional Wisdom
Unless your physique is Jose Rujano-sized, I thought it a given that every pro cyclist sports at least 172.5mm cranks. With that in mind, I was somewhat surprised to see that Robbie McEwen has been winning Grand Tour stages on 170mm cranks. Specs on pro bikes aren’t too plentiful, at least when it comes to crank arm length, but here’s some other sprinters for comparison:

Name Crank length
Tom Boonen 177.5mm
Allan Davis 172.5mm
Gord Fraser 172.5mm
Oscar Freire 172.5mm
Thor Hushovd 175mm
Giovanni Lombardi 172.5mm
Alessandro Petacchi 175mm
Fred Rodriguez 175mm
Erik Zabel 172.5mm

Of course, Oscar Freire and Allan Davis are the only riders listed who’re approximately the same size as McEwen, but McEwen seems to roll to the beat of a different drummer with his slightly stubbier cranks. And just for comparison’s sake, I looked at 2 Giro riders who are definitely tinier than McEwen (Di Luca and Simoni) and both of them have 172.5mm cranks. I don’t know if this means anything or not, it’s just the random kind of factoid that gets my mind revved up.