U.S. 360 Tour IV – My Immediate Destination: Steve Prefontaine Country

“To Give Anything Less Than Your Best Is To Sacrifice The Gift”
Steve “Pre” Prefontaine

Steve Prefontaine, known to most around the world simply as “Pre”, was an American middle-distance runner in the 1970’s that most people today have probably never heard of.  But he was, is, and will always be my boyhood hero.  Born in Coos Bay Oregon, and a product of the University of Oregon, he never lost a race at his home track in Eugene.  In his early 20’s, Prefontaine once held the American record in seven different running events.  In those days, like today, that kind of success was simply unheard of.  Pre was single-handedly responsible for the 1970’s running boom, and he was the first athlete selected by Nike to endorse their shoes.  Prefontaine was somewhat of a rebel, and was known, in addition to his flowing hair and mustache, for his blunt views and for his running style, which was simply to run his competition into the ground.

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As a competitive runner myself growing up, he was my idol, and someone I emulated on the track.  In fact, I even named my dog after him!  But it all came to a tragic end in May 1975, when at the age of 24, Pre lost his life in a car accident in Eugene, Oregon.  I have thought about Steve Prefontaine many times throughout my life, and often wondered what might have been had he lived to fulfill his destiny.  On the other hand, to have had such an enormous impact before the age of 25 is indeed a life well-lived.

I’m dedicating this cycling tour to the memory of Steve Prefontaine, and for his impact on my life.  I’ll be traveling through Steve’s boyhood home and burial town of Coos Bay Oregon, as well as the town where he lost his young life, Eugene Oregon.  I will pay respects at Prefontaine memorials in both towns.

The tour will commence in San Francisco CA, and head North along the awesome Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), deep into Oregon Territory.  At the coastal town of Florence, I intend to head inland and finish the trip at Eugene Oregon.  The total mileage for the trip will be in the neighborhood of 700 miles and I estimate it will take me a couple of weeks to complete.  I am thrilled to be resurrecting my trip on the spectacular PCH, after just having completed the Tijuana, Mexico-to-San Francisco leg a few months ago.  However, on this adventure there are two big contrasts from my previous U.S. 360 trip.  First, I will be traveling solo.  Secondly, I am heading North instead of South, meaning I’ll be performing a daily gut-check routine as I fight the prevailing Northerly winds.  In researching the many cyclists who have made this trip, the vast majority pedal Southbound, primarily because of wind direction.  My rationale for choosing the “road less travelled” is really no more complicated than I want to experience something unique, and I’m probably a bit of a contrarian.  I may change my mind as my butt is being kicked on a regular basis by the wind Gods, but I am comforted by another Steve Prefontaine quote,

“Don’t let fatigue make a coward of you.”

This is Steve Prefontaine country, and I’m proud to be pedaling with such a great American.

It’s All Good.

9 thoughts on “U.S. 360 Tour IV – My Immediate Destination: Steve Prefontaine Country”

  1. I’m already getting tired just thinking about this stage of the Rawson World Tour…you are going up hill!

    1. Hey Paul, the way I keep sane is to remember it’s technically at sea level, I just don’t think about the hills and mountains in between! Hope you’re doing well!

  2. I appreciate and thoroughly enjoyed joining you on the last two legs of your dream tour. Lots of good memories. I wish I could join you, but will have to experience it vicariously through your blog.

    Since you prepare so well, I don’t have to wish you luck, but I certainly hope you continue to experience great weather like the last leg.

  3. Hi Brian, always like reading your stories and motives behind your rides. Good luck, this one should be beautiful but difficult with the direction you are taking.

    I know you’re well prepared and in shape, enjoy the ride, and be safe.

    Richard

  4. Hey Brian, best of luck on your next segment. I look forward to your vivid descriptions and inspiring observations. Keep the rubber side down and may the bicycle gods smile down upon you and Surly!

    ~Dan

    1. Hey Dan — great to hear from you, my friend! Appreciate the note, and hope things are going well for you. You need to work out some scheduling logistics and hang with me on one of these tours. Maybe the Northern Tier through Washington, Idaho, and Montana?

      –Brian

  5. To those of you who didn’t know Brian Scott when he was a young boy, he was an outstanding adolescent athlete (runner, roller scater, and swimmer).By the time he was 10 years old and a junior olympian, he had won many medals in the dashes, long jump, and high jump and had the nation’s 3rd fastest time in the 100 yard dash. He was a 2 time U.S. and North American age-group speed skating and free- style roller skating champion. He still holds two age-group records in speed skating. When he was 10-years old he had the 3rd fastest time in the national junior olympics 100-yard dash. He then took up distance running and had run and placed in his age group at the Whit Rock marathon (26.2 miles) race. Brian usually ran more than 100 miles per week in training until several knee surgeries forced his premature retirement from the sports. So you can see why as a youth he idolized Steve “PRE” and why he has taken up long-distance biking.

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