Friday, April 17, 2009

Friends & Community Invited to Join Tribute Ride this Sunday, April 19

Team Beer Celebrates Life of Teammate "Century" Steve Nelson

On the evening of Tuesday, April 14, Team Beer lost a beloved teammate, Steve Nelson. The news came after 6:00pm, just as the team gathered for its traditional Tuesday meeting. After a battle with illness and a stream of hospital visits from friends and teammates - which one nurse observed to be the deepest collective care witnessed in his career - Steve succumbed precisely in time to join his beloved Team Beer in spirit. As the call came and news was shared, heads bowed in quiet grief and meditation, and glasses were raised to quietly salute a teammate whose smile, wisdom and support would be sorely missed but never forgotten.

"I looked up to Steve, and he'll always be with me," said John Howe, a founding member of Team Beer. "I feel good knowing that I now have someone out there who I can talk to, laugh with and ask questions that I can't ask my grandpa, who’s in a similar place," he added.

I vividly remember my first impression of Century Steve. It was at Mount Tabor last year; we both joined Team Beer at the same time. I have an indelible impression of the warm-hearted, quick-witted man who encouraged me before my first stab at racing - pinning a number to my shabby hand-written tank while experienced racers wore official gear. I remember the enthusiasm and support he provided at that moment, which remained and even expanded when I completed my attempt, rolling in -  and laughing at myself - in second-to-last place. Steve was among the circle of teammates who hugged and congratulated me regardless. I remember his tight and prolonged embrace, and I remember realizing that there was no need to feel self-conscious about the layers of sweat and grime on my body. He was proud.

Fondly known as "Century Steve" because of his passion and endurance for epic long-distance rides, Steve was an ever-present member of the Team Beer family. Rather than racing competitively, Steve preferred adventuring in Oregon's stunning expanse of scenic roadsides, often slating hundred-plus mile rides into his mental notebook of life journeys. His endurance and dedication manifested not just on the road, but also in the countless ways in which he fed and embraced the camaraderie and compassion of his team. Steve rarely missed an opportunity to support his fellow Team Beer mates at the races. Whether laughing with mud-coated friends in the cyclocross season rain, or lounging in the curb-side grass on summer evenings at Mt. Tabor, "Century Steve" was always there to observe, support and share thoughts and insights with those fortunate enough to spend time with him. Also, because Team Beer was founded on principles of community participation and plain-old fun, Steve was often the first to sign up for volunteer events, from the Worst Day of the Year Ride to the Filmed By Bike premiere, which he was eagerly slated to support again this year. He loved attending all kinds of events, including parties and "bike crawls" to celebrate teammates' birthdays. 

In addition to his love for team, Steve embodied and all-encompassing passion for cycling that is difficult to match, even in the bike-enamored Portland community. He not only rode distance rides, but approached them transcendentally. For example, he completed Cycle Oregon in 2007, and he rode Reach the Beach last year while helping his dear friend Brian who was battling lung cancer. At times Steve, with his his hand on his friend's back, helped him up the hills so that they could complete the distance together.  Seeing as he spent so much time on bikes, Steve loved, acquired and fully deserved some remarkably fine rides.  Among the most memorable was a custom-made single-speed road bike, its frame exquisitely crafted entirely of stained bamboo. 

In addition to his passion for cycling, Steve relished the daily ritual of cultivating plants and the meditative beauty that they brought to his home, yard and garden. He was also a craftsman and skilled tradesperson. An active member of the People's Co-op, Steve was interested in holistic health and wellness, which he demonstrated as an individual and as a member of his Southeast Portland community. 

This Sunday, April 19, Team Beer invites friends and the community to join us in honoring the life and spirit of our fallen teammate, Century Steve. As a fitting homage to a man who loved the challenge of hill climbs and the breathtaking vistas that they bring, the ride will route will feature three vantage points that Steve loved: Mount Tabor, then Rocky Butte followed by a continued ride west to Council Crest. Please note that the ride will be open and accessible to anyone who would like to participate: we will ride as a group, and no one will be left behind, no matter one's speed or capability, just as Steve would have done. Participants can ride to one, two or all three points with the group, breaking away at any point preferable. Some of Steve's closest friends were not as involved in cycling as he, so Team Beer hopes to make the ride approachable and possible for all, especially those who made the past week's transition easier to navigate, thanks to their care and kindness. 

As we ride together, we will reflect upon the life and enduring spirit of our dear friend, and we will savor the scope of sky, hillsides and valley views with Century Steve with us in our hearts, on the climbs and in the rewarding rush of wind as we peak and head back home.

Ride Begins at 4:00pm

Starting/Ending Location: Roots Brewing, 1520 SE 7th Avenue, Portland OR 97214.

Questions? Email


  1. Wow, I got back from the hospital last night with my newly-born second son to learn about Steve's passing. He & Leo came and went in the same day, within a couple hours of each other. I got to see Steve a few months back unexpectedly when a friend was having a deck warming party for his new deck that he was soooo blown away by. I had no idea Steve was the builder until I walked in the door! My last memory of him will be of him giving me the tour of the deck, the particulars about the exotic wood...and the rousing conversation in the kitchen between he and another organic chemistry enthusiast! Perfect.

    --chris Dorr

  2. More comments at

  3. Will the photos from the memorial ride be posted here?

  4. People's is having a gathering Sat 4/25, everyone welcome:

    Steve Nelson Memorial Gathering & Celebration
    Steve Nelson, 1960-2009

    Botanist, Catalyst, Bicyclist, Friend, People's Member-Owner & HOO.

    Saturday, April 25th, 1 - 3pm
    At People's Food Co-op
    *3029 SE 21st Avenue * between Powell and Division*

    Bring memories, stories, music, pictures & other offerings to share.
    It would be nice to share and archive some pictures of Steve at work, adventure and play.
    Don't forget the Nina Hagen and other music Steve listened to!

  5. There are at LEAST seventy people in the Mt Tabor photo at and I've heard there were almost 100. I'll try to touch base and coordinate photos among the various chapters of Steve's fan club. There are so many of them, and more appearing all the time!