Cross country to Eastern Seaboard: David Freeze rides again

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Last summer, David Freeze completed a cross-country bicycle trip of 4,164 miles. After his return home, he experienced kidney stones, a severe ear infection, blood clots in his lungs and right leg, and was even diagnosed with what doctors thought was a brain tumor.
So naturally … he’s getting ready for another adventure.
“Two months later, whatever it was in my brain was gone,” Freeze says. “I took it as a sign that God wanted me to go again.”
The local running coach, author and speaker leaves June 30 to begin a six-week journey of 2,850 miles from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Key West, Florida.
He has to reach Key West by Aug. 6 to drop off his bike to be shipped home, and catch his flight home the next day. If all goes well, he’ll average 81 miles a day. It’s a shorter trip this summer, but with slightly longer daily miles.
As was the case last summer, Freeze hopes to file daily reports for the Post.
Last summer’s odyssey turned into a book, “Lord, Ride with Me Today.” Freeze hopes the same result will come out of this trip.
He’ll follow a fairly coastal route, but will sometimes travel as much as 60 miles from the Eastern coastline. He’ll visit Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
“I’ve got an option to do the Outer Banks,” he says. “I’ll just have to see how things are going.”
Once he gets on the road, Freeze never plans more than a day or two in advance.
Freeze doesn’t expect the same temperature and elevation extremes he experienced last summer, when he rode from Oregon east to South Carolina.
The high temperature this past week in Bar Harbor was 55 degrees. Freeze plans to cover 100 miles the first day, riding to Quoddy Head State Park in Maine, which is the easternmost point in the United States, to dip his tire in the water and go.
Last summer, his daily mileage varied widely from 61 to 120 miles a day.
“This time,” he says, “I would like to be a little more consistent.”
Freeze may take time to explore some of the larger cities on his route: Washington, D.C., Richmond and Miami, included.
“My goal is good roads without high traffic,” he notes.
His No. 1 priority, however, is hydration. Last summer, he passed two kidney stones almost immediately after returning home. His urologist told him they had been caused by severe and prolonged dehydration.
“I’ve got to take time to make sure I stay hydrated,” Freeze says. “Last summer, I was anywhere from 70 to 100 miles from supply point to supply point. One time, I totally ran out of water and was in pretty bad shape. Luckily, I stumbled across a surveyor who had water.”
Traveling through more populated areas should help.
“There’ll still be some long stretches, but nothing like it was in the Western states last year,” Freeze says.
Last summer, he started out in good health. This time around, the situation is slightly different. Freeze is wearing a bandage on his right leg. He recently had minor surgery to remove an inflamed varicose vein.
He was in the office when his doctor cut open his leg to see what the problem was, then decided Freeze better head over to Novant Health Rowan Medical Center to get it fixed.
“My doctor said, ‘Can you look at this?’ ” Freeze recalls. “I said sure and sat up, and saw this big, purply mess.”
The on-call surgeon was waiting, and repaired the damaged vein.
“He told me I couldn’t run for a week, which killed me,” Freeze says.
Since then, the wound has not healed as quickly as Freeze anticipated. He is using a prescription cream on it each day. His surgeon wanted to see him back on June 30, but Freeze told him he wouldn’t be in town.
“He just told me to keep a clean dressing on it and keep using the cream, so that’s what I’m doing,” Freeze says. “Nobody else would do this. I hope it does heal. Otherwise, it’s gonna be a mess to keep up with.”
He wouldn’t dream of delaying his trip.
“I’ve got to be back in August to start on some other obligations,” he says. “It doesn’t bother me when I run. When I sit around is when it gets stiff and ornery. When I first get up in the morning, it’s the toughest part.”
He adds, “You don’t need to make that big of a deal about it. It’s just one part of the ride.”
Freeze says he totally loved his ride last summer. “That was two months of the most incredible experiences. Ever since I got done, I’ve been thinking about where I would go next.”
Freeze considered riding the Underground Railroad, the route used to smuggle slaves to freedom during the Civil War era. He could have ridden from Ontario, Canada, to Louisiana. “But I didn’t want to end up in Louisiana in early August, hot, humid and miserable. It’s probably on my radar for sometime in the future.”
For now, his sights are set on his current trip. The total cost for last summer’s jaunt came in at just under $5,000. He expects to spend about the same this year, however, since he’ll be traveling coastal areas during peak tourist seasons. He’ll still be camping a fair amount, but knows there are far fewer cyclists’ hotels along the way.
“I’ll be trying to talk my way into a good buy,” says Freeze, known for his penchant of stretching a dollar ’til Mr. Washington yelps.
Freeze cites one example already. In Bar Harbor, he found a room for $45 a night. Because he is riding over Quoddy Head, then back to Bar Harbor before turning his bike south, he’ll face an in increase in room rates.
“By July 2, it’s done flipped over to peak season of $80 a night,” he notes. “I haven’t committed to that room yet. It may be even more fun to camp up there. I will just figure it out as I go.”
Freeze needs to stay in a hotel room at least every two or three nights, to get laundry done and to clean up.
This time around, he’s traveling even lighter than before — mostly since temperatures will be more consistent. He’ll have his same bike and his same tent. Readers of last summer’s columns may remember his tent ordeal.
“I bought this tent at Yellowstone, the most expensive place in the country to buy a tent,” Freeze says. “I got a good deal on it. It is a fantastic tent, and I’ll have it forever.”
He’ll also have his bike tools and tubes, along with a couple of T-shirts, a rain jacket, a long-sleeved wool shirt, a pair of bike shorts and a pair of leather cycling gloves.
Above all, Freeze is eager to meet people along the journey.
“Last time, I thought the trip would be more about the places and the scenery, but it turned out to be more about the people,” he says. “This time, I’m entering into it, hoping it will be about the people again.”
Freeze’s adult daughters, Ashley Baker and Amber Freeze, aren’t particularly eager to see him leave.
“They’re not really in favor of it,” Freeze admits, “but they understand I have a need to do this. They’re very supportive.”
Freeze remains unconcerned about his safety.
“I had to sling two or three rocks at some dogs last summer, but that was about it,” he says. “My thing is to have faith in people, think the best and expect the best.”
Still, Freeze notes, “I keep my eyes open. I won’t knowingly put myself in a situation that could be dangerous.”
Freeze has sponsors for this trip: Fowler Physical Therapy, Skinny Wheels, Gear For Races of Raleigh, Vac N Dash of Albemarle and the Salisbury-Rowan Runners. If you haven’t had the chance to read his first book, it’s available at Skinny Wheels, Literary Bookpost and Patterson Farm.
His first column runs June 29, the day before his departure.
Readers are invited to send Freeze encouraging emails at He’ll answer as he’s able.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.