Headed for the coast, end of the ride, on Saturday

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 2, 2013

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

This morning was unusual. Nowhere to ride, yet I still couldn’t sleep past 5:15. My mind is definitely on completing the journey to the Atlantic Ocean, and I can’t totally relax till it is done.
I have heard from others who are still making their way west. In Yellowstone, Andy Abramson asked me how many people actually bicycle across the country. It was a really good question, but I gave him the wrong answer. Early in my adventure, I would see 5 to 10 people a day heading the other way. Plus I knew that others were in front and behind me heading east.
As I was able to talk at length with other cyclists, and particularly the hostel and motel operators, I got more information. Most of the cyclists that I was seeing were not going completely across the country. They had plans to travel for a while then either stop or head in another direction. The hostel operators told me that they get usually one or two a day who are intending to go cross country. That group is limited for the most part to the summer months. I realized that in the last few weeks, I only saw seven Transamerica cyclists going west, and I neither caught or was passed by another cyclist going east.
Bottom line, fewer than I originally thought are taking the journey. Even fewer yet were traveling alone and carrying their own stuff. It certainly has been the experience of a lifetime, and a significant challenge throughout.
One thing that I am already missing is rolling into the little towns, and some bigger ones too. However, in my opinion, small town America is the strength of our great nation. Every time I stopped, people had something to share and therefore I learned interesting facts about the area. Some of those locals turned out to be quite unusual. Remember “Mountain Man?” I’m going to do my best to see if he gets lowered into the Ohio River in a chained casket in September.
My odometer on my bike has a new battery, and my clothes are all clean. Tomorrow I will pack for the trip and this time leave the tent and sleeping bag at home. My plan is to head out Saturday morning with a goal for a good halfway point or hopefully at 100 miles, and then get a room. An early start on Sunday should finish the coast to coast trek that afternoon. Not sure on the actual time of the wheel dipping yet, but it looks like several local folks are going to head that way also.
Back on the Pacific, I made the mistake of leaving my shoes on as I carried the bike to the ocean and jockeyed around for the perfect picture. It took weeks to get all the sand out of those shoes. This time, the shoes will come off for sure.
Through the trip, I only lost a couple of pounds. One of the things that I did often was stop at McDonald’s to use their free internet connection. I ordered their oatmeal/raisin cookies, which were on the dollar menu, throughout my trip. I would order three packs of three cookies for a total of nine, then eat a few while checking messages and save the rest for later. McDonald’s corporate office must have gotten the word, because during the last week of my trip, the cookies were now just two for $1. Still cheaper than my other frequent stop at Subway.
Best I could tell, about 6,000-7,000 calories a day were consumed and even more on some days. The hungry feeling hardly ever went away.
Final thought for the day relates to my haircut at Just Hair on Arlington Street today. Lydia Wood has cut my hair for years and we always enjoy a good talk. She got me a last minute appointment for 2:30 p.m., and it turned out to be the highlight of my day. It seemed that every person in the place, male or female, got a handshake, hug, and/or photo concerning the trip. We all had a great time.
Just remember, the trip is not yet complete and I still need those prayers. Keep them coming and thank you for each and every one.
David Freeze lives in Rowan County.