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Through wind and rain, an emotional ride into Rowan

Editor’s note: David Freeze is biking coast to coast. His trek started June 10 in Oregon. He’s sending dispatches from the road to be published in the newspaper, at www.salisburypost.com, and on his blog, “Gotta Run” at blog.salisburypost.com/gottarun

My goal all along has been to finish the first segment of my trip by arriving at home, and then heading for the beach within a couple of days to dip the front wheel and make it all official.

Overnight as I slept in a tent in the drizzle, I awoke a couple of times thinking about whether to try to push through all the way to my house today. It would be a ride of over 100 miles, with a few challenging climbs early. I packed things up and the rain continued, so I didn’t know just how far I could go. I did get a great night’s sleep, and felt very good about however the day might turn out.

I took off using my plan and knowing that the first turn was on Highway 221. There was enough light to see well, and the landscape in that area is dominated by Christmas tree farms. The trees way up on the mountains were especially scenic. My first town was Sparta, and I needed to find wifi to submit yesterday’s story and pictures. There was an accommodating coffee shop that let me take care of it, then it was time to roll south toward Sparta after conquering several significant hills. By the time I got to Roaring Gap, the hills were shrinking and my time was picking up.

In Jonesville, an unusual thing happened. I had been following 21 Bypass South and somehow it suddenly joined Interstate 77 with no notice. This time I was pedaling illegally on the Interstate, even though I had done it in Montana, Wyoming and Kansas. That probably would have helped me with the officer once I got caught.

At the next exit, I got off and asked several people how to get on Highway 21, and I planned to stay on it till Statesville. About five people told me they didn’t know, but the next guy got excited because he knew who I was. All the way up in Jonesville! His daughter had been following my trip. After some discussion, he took my picture and passed me over to a local guy who got me back on track. No more interstates today.

The rain still fell and I rolled south. After several significant declines, I realized that I had 50 miles by just after noon. The thought struck me, “I will make it home tonight and see my family, and I am going to complete this portion of the adventure today!” That moment was the first emotional experience of the day.

Before Harmony, Highway 21 started getting hilly again. I thought, “If someone wants to see what doing a day on the Transamerica is like, then this would be a good way to do it.”

Past Harmony and Turnersburg, I pushed for Statesville. It started raining again, and soon it was a downpour. I asked several people how to get through Statesville the quickest way, and everyone agreed it would take 3 miles minimum to get me headed on Highway 70 toward home. From Statesville to Highway 801 at West Rowan, the rain continued to pour. Then it got worse!

I had 3-4 miles to go, and the rain pounded while the wind picked up, too. My bike headed directly for Mt. Zion Baptist Church on White Road, where we waited till things eased a little.

Once the rain lessened, I took the chance and headed on to Weaver Road. It felt great to head into the driveway, but shortly before I did, the emotion welled up again. “The biggest part of the journey is complete!”

Almost 4,000 miles complete with yesterday’s 77 and today’s 110. The bike will get a day off tomorrow, while I get a haircut, do some yard work, and catch up a little with other things.

I talked with my family tonight about which states were prettiest. Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming were all spectacular, but North Carolina still is the best, in my opinion. I will go over a lot of post ride thoughts later about the best and worst, what I will miss and what I won’t, and much more.

First things first, get the plans ready for heading to the front-tire dipping. Then go get it done.

David Freeze lives in Rowan County.

View David Freeze’s ride in a larger map

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