David Freeze begins cross-country bike ride

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 13, 2013

David Freeze, a local fitness enthusiast and frequent Post contributor, is riding a bicycle 4,200 miles from the West Coast of the United States to the East Coast.
Freeze started his ride Monday and plans to send updates about his experience throughout the trip. Due to some technical difficulties, the Post did not receive the first two updates when he sent them. However, here they are along with the third update and accompanying photos.
After a day of traveling that took 20 hours, I am in Astoria, Ore., and ready to go. I have already seen Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens near Portland. They are amazing, with majestic, snow-covered peaks. Douglas firs grow everywhere here and can grow as tall as 200 feet.
U.S. history in this area began in 1792 when Capt. Robert Gray explored the area for fur trapping. Lewis and Clark came here to the mouth of the Columbia river after spending 18 months to get here from St. Louis. A permanent settlement was not established here till 1811.
I will ride along the mouth of the Columbia as it empties into the Pacific Ocean today and will do the traditional rear-wheel dipping at Sunset Beach. Then my trip is officially under way.
This is a cool and rainy area. As I write this it is clear, with temps in the low 40s. Showers are predicted for the rest of the week.
One more thing about Astoria. Fort Stevens was built here in 1864 to guard against possible Confederate attacks. Of course, they never came. Fort Stevens was attacked by a bombardment from a WWII Japanese submarine, the only attack on a continental U.S. facility since 1812.
It is 7 a.m. here, and my ride will start as soon as I get the bike from the local shop, Bikes and Beyond.
More on my trip as it develops.
The first two days have totaled almost 100 miles, and most of it has included some serious climbing. The Oregon Coast is very hilly, and while it makes for hard riding, the views are outstanding. Locals regularly watch for whales from the high overlooks. The Oregon coast is also very rocky. There are some beautiful beaches that are similar to the East Coast, but they few and far between.
There is a high percentage of Scandinavian people here because they find the climate similar to their own. Architectural styles, local food and the fishing industry all have Scandinavian ties.
Logging is one of the state’s largest industries. Huge logging trucks are passing me on every road. The forests are so densely populated with huge Douglas Firs. I passed through a town called Tillamook today. This area is known for a fire in 1933 that scorched 270,000 acres. I got my first pancakes of the trip in Tillamook today. There will be lots more. I saw the largest wooden clear span building in the world today that houses the Navel Air Station collection of WWII planes.
I met two girls from Canada today who are cycling the Pacific Coast. It will take them three weeks to do that. Kate and Keri are from Saskatchewan.
As I write this, I am looking out at the Pacific Ocean from a motel room in Netarts. Storm clouds are all around. It is not raining currently, though it has for much of the day.
I have had pizza both nights, and pancakes and eggs for lunch today. I am burning 6,000 calories a day so far, and that will go up as my mileage increases.
Tomorrow I will have three climbs of close to 1,000 feet from sea level. Those climbs are done in granny gear on the bike and they go on for 2 miles. Some of the steepest mountains on the whole trip are in this section. After tomorrow, there is less climbing for a few days.
I am looking for more challenges and spectacular sights tomorrow.
Today I started in Netarts, Ore., and ended up with 65 miles covered, finishing near Grand Ronde. This was a brutal climbing day, but I know there will be many more. Most of the long climbs here started at sea level and went up to 800 or 1,000 feet in a matter of a couple miles. I was actually above the clouds during a big rain storm. Very cold and windy again today, with the locals saying that the temperatures last week were in the 80s. Temps in the 50s just about all day.
There are huckleberry plants growing everywhere. They are blooming now and will probably have berries in July. Huckleberries are similar to blackberries. People grow lots of cherries here, too. I am camping for my first time tonight. I thought about  camping beside the road but did not. There will be some of that later. It is called stealth camping.
Lots of beautiful scenery again, especially the ocean and the dense forests. One could imagine Bigfoot coming out of them because they are so thick and called old-growth rain forests. I hope to see him so that I can do another story.
I am dining on Pop Tarts from a store and bananas and grapes here at the local produce market. I’m going to bed early after a long day. Not as much climbing tomorrow.