Close to 300 cyclists paid their respects with a memorial ride on Saturday morning for Steve Bowen, the owner of PV Bicycle Center, who died shortly before Christmas while riding in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Bowen, a hub of the cycling community on the Peninsula, was cycling with a friend above Malibu when he collapsed from cardiac arrest. Bowen, 66, had been hospitalized earlier this year after losing consciousness during a 100-mile ride, but had been given a clean bill of health to resume riding.
Seth Davis, an attorney who represents bicyclists involved in traffic accidents, was a close acquaintance of Bowen’s over the years both as a customer and a business consultant. Bowen occasionally served as an expert witness on some of Davis’ cases. Bowen would evaluate damage to bikes to help determine the extent of the accident.
“He was really just an extraordinary guy,” Davis said. “I never met anybody quite like him before.”
Davis described the time Bowen told him to test ride a $9,000 carbon-fiber bike. What Davis didn’t realize was that Bowen wanted him to take it out all day, not just for a spin around the parking lot. So he rode for almost four hours to San Pedro and back.
“People don’t do that in the bike business or in any business,” Davis said. “People don’t say, ‘Hey take the Mercedes out, drive it around all day and see what you think.’ He had that quality of integrity and trust in you.”
Bowen was remembered too as a patient and caring man who worked hard and took the extra effort to get to know his customers and participate in the community.
“We talk a lot in theory about how terrible it is to have these giant conglomerates take over everything. But the actual reality of it is someone like Steve,” Davis said. “Without having to advocate for it, the way he valued the community and sold his goods and services made such a compelling argument for why we need more small businesses and sole proprietors.”
Caroline Maynard was among a group of women cyclists at Saturday’s tribute ride representing a fraction of the 300 female cyclists that make up the PV Bike Chicks.
“Steve was always really good at supporting the group and women cycling in general,” Maynard said.
Nancy Linn, also a member of the group, said Bowen routinely took the extra time to get her fitted into her cleats and feel comfortable on the bike.
“He would just ride with me solo around PV so that I would get more comfortable,” Linn said. “He just wanted us to ride and have fun.”
Susan Gans, who knew Bowen for more than 30 years, said he was an amazing guy who was a concert pianist as well as a world-class cyclist. Before starting the bike shop about 10 years ago, Bowen was a conductor and composer that included stints on musicals and one job he had re-creating the scores of Ira Gershwin.
At a recent gathering of friends at his home, Bowen reportedly blew everyone’s mind with a rendition of Rachmaninov Concerto. A video of the party was recently posted the bike shops Facebook page.
“They just don’t make guys like that,” Gans said before getting ready for the morning ride.
After bowing their heads in a moment of silence, the riders on Saturday stretched out two-by-two for the winding ride to the top of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Riders gathered at Catalina Coffee Company afterward for free coffee and tea and to share stories about Steve.
While it may not have been the way Bowen would ultimately have liked to go out, no one can argue that he wasn’t doing something he absolutely loved.
“He was aware that there were risks associated with riding his bike, and he was aware those risks were potentially severe risks,” Davis said. “And the pleasure he got out of riding his bike and rewards he was able to give back to the community such that he was able to make an informed judgment about whether he wanted to do it or not. He dedicated his life to this and he touched a lot of people.”