Most people know David Freeze as a runner, but by the end of the summer he’ll have racked up more than 4,200 miles on a bicycle during a cross-country ride.
“I was kind of at the place where I needed a challenge,” he said. “This is something different and new.”
Freeze will set out on the 10-week journey next Sunday from Astoria, Oregon.
He plans to log between 50 and 60 miles each day on his way to the North Carolina coast. That will equate to eight-hour days on the bike.
“One of the traditions is to get my rear tire in the Pacific Ocean in Oregon and dip my front tire in the Atlantic,” Freeze said. “That’s when you know you’ve completed the trip.”
Freeze, who has run more than 70,000 miles throughout the past 30 years, is riding to raise awareness about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.
As the part-time wellness coordinator for Partners in Learning Child Development Center, Freeze has been working to break the cycle of poor nutrition and lack of exercise.
“When I first went to work there the kids were eating chicken nuggets and drinking real high calorie juice and milk; nothing local, nothing fresh,” he said. “Now, we’re hooked up with one of the farmer’s markets and a local farmer, so they are eating fresh daily.”
Freeze worked to eliminate foods that contain large quantities of sugar and salt.
“It’s great to see the kids eating healthy and being active,” he said. “This ride is to raise awareness for that need not only for children, but for adults as well.”
Partners in Learning is hosting a kickoff event from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday for Freeze’s trip, dubbed “Tour de David.”
Norma Honeycutt, the center’s executive director, said Freeze’s ride will serve as a fundraiser for the center.
“This journey will raise awareness and support for our centers’ wellness program and the importance of fighting childhood obesity,” she said.
The event will include a mini bike-a-thon for infants and toddlers at 3:30 p.m. and another for children older than 2 years old at 4:30 p.m.
The ride is four years in the making.
Freeze got inspired after completing a three-day, 180-mile ride on the Greenbrier River Trail in West Virginia.
“I thought ‘This is great,’” he said. “I starting thinking right away ‘What if I could do it coming across the country.’
“The idea was born then and it’s taken this long to put it together.”
Freeze had planned to do the ride last summer, but his knee started giving him trouble.
When he went to the doctor, he was informed he needed an operation.
Freeze had arthroscopic knee surgery in February 2012.
“I didn’t feel like the knee was strong enough to do the trip that summer, so I decided to push it,” he said.
Since recovering, Freeze has spent the past year training.
He typically rides between 70 and 80 miles a week, sometimes 30 miles at a time.
“As it gets closer, I’ve started to do longer rides,” he said. “I feel like my No. 1 conditioning exercise is to run at least once a day.”
Freeze said cycling has been tougher on him physically than running, with his quadriceps feeling the biggest the difference.
“Your quads work so hard when you’re biking, you don’t get that burn running,” he said.
For the first time in 30 years, Freeze won’t run any at all during the journey.
“That’s a big change for my life,” he said. “But it’s going to be a heck of a physical exertion to ride the bike; I don’t need to get up in the morning and try to run too.”
Andrew Sufficool, an avid long-distance cyclist, has been coaching Freeze for the trip, helping him plan what provisions to take.
“He told me what he felt like I needed and what was kind of fluff,” Freeze said. “You’re always thinking about weight, so I’m listening to what he says.”
Freeze will carry a tent, sleeping bag, ground cover, rain suit, two pairs of riding shorts, a wool shirt, several Dri-Fit shirts, nutrition bars, water, a cell phone and an iPad mini with him in a pair of saddle bags called panniers that will be strapped to the bike.
“There will be a minimum of niceties,” he said. “I’ll carry enough food and water to get by a couple of days. I’ll be stopping anytime I pass a grocery store or convenience store.
“Nobody’s going with me; I’m hauling it all myself.”
Freeze said people keep asking if he’ll carry a gun and the answer is no. He won’t have any other weapons on him either.
“You have to put faith in people, I think,” he said. “I hope whenever all this is over my faith in America is at the best place it can be.”
Freeze will use the iPad mini to chronicle the ride through a series of columns that will appear in the Post and a blog that can be found on the Post website.
Freeze will follow the Adventure Cycling Association’s maps of the TransAmerica Trail for about 90 percent of the trip.
Instead of going to Yorktown, Va., he will travel back to Salisbury before heading to the coast.
The terrain will vary throughout the ride with Freeze reaching his highest point at an elevation of 10,000 feet.
“I’m going to be climbing some serious mountains out west,” he said. “There’s also a lot of rolling terrain in Montana and Wyoming.”
Freeze chose the TransAmerica Trail because of the scenery he’ll encounter along the way.
He hopes to make stops at the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. He’ll cross the Mississippi River in Chester, Illinois and ride through part of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.
Freeze hasn’t decided where he’ll spend each night.
“I’m just going to take it as it comes,” he said. “I probably won’t know where I’ll spend the night until midday each day.”
Freeze plans to camp most of the time and stay in hotels occasionally to shower and wash his clothes.
The maps Freeze will be using provide an overview of the areas he’ll be passing through.
“It tips you off to some of the sights there are to see,” he said. “That’s why I don’t want to schedule anything; if I run into something interesting, I want to see it because I might not ever be back there again.”
Freeze said he hopes to meet people along the way who will make the trip worthwhile.
“I’m excited about that, I think that’s the part I’m most looking forward to,” he said. “I hope to meet unique people and find out interesting things about the towns.”
Freeze said he’ll miss some events, including Farmer’s Day and Faith Fourth of July, while he’s gone.
“It’s also going to be a lot harder for me to keep up following the New York Yankees, but I will find a way,” he said.
Some people think Freeze is crazy for embarking on such a long, laborious journey, he said.
“Maybe it takes a little bit of craziness to be willing to do this,” he said. “Maybe this is too big, maybe not.
“The whole thing is a big adventure.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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