“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.
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.