David Freeze: A most special day

Published 12:10 am Sunday, August 2, 2015

Editor’s note: Salisbury native David Freeze is cycling from Mobile, Alabama to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Post is chronicling each day of his ride. Contact him at david.freeze@ctc.net.

Nancy and Ed Zantinge stayed up late helping me map out a good route to Toronto from Owen Sound on Friday night. This was after they gave me a wonderful place to stay and prepared a nice meal. Nancy is the sister of Richard Browne of Salisbury, whose wife Kellie is the pastor at John Calvin Presbyterian Church. I went to bed with a dilemma about whether to ride on Saturday afternoon or wait to do a mega day on Sunday on the way toward Toronto. And if I chose to ride, where would I spend the night because one wedding seemed to have all the motels booked for the next 50 miles or so.

I woke Saturday morning with what seemed to be good answers. Nancy and I would go to the Emancipation Celebration, held continually since 1842. We would stay until about noon and then I would get on the bike and ride 60 miles to Shelburne, where surely there would be a room available at a good price.

First on the schedule this morning was a visit to the Welcome Center for Owen Sound, where I met Paulette Peirol, tourism marketing coordinator. She gave me a welcome packet and my own Owen Sound shirt. Then Nancy and I followed her to Harrison Park, site of the festival. Harrison Park is a mega park with all kinds of facilities, including a lake with paddle boats and even a restaurant. I met Rod Charles, Jon Farmer and a whole host of interesting people. Nancy and I had breakfast before the opening proceedings.

A well planned series of speakers took their turns reminding those around them that all people are considered equal and that Owen Sound had been the terminus of the Underground Railroad. My own part of the ceremony was to tell briefly what my latest ride had meant to me. This certainly was a multicultural event, and it is easy to see why so many local folks work hard to keep it going. One of the highlights was the kickoff to the ceremony by the town crier, the first time that I had ever heard or met one of them. His voice and delivery were incredible.

After talking with quite a few memorable people at the festival, it was well past time for me to get started pedaling. Plus, I had to do the official wheel dipping in the bay at Owen Sound. Nancy gave me a brief car tour of the town, and we headed back to her house, where I quickly changed clothes knowing that there was a challenging half day of riding to get done.

We went across the street and dipped the bike wheel and took the official pictures. Another great moment, signifying the official end of another epic journey. It was easy for me to remember that I still had lots of riding to do. Leaving just before 1 p.m. left me about 60 miles to ride and find a room and some food before dark.

Climbing out of Owen Sound was a big challenge, but once that was accomplished, I rode Route 10 for the rest of the afternoon. I passed through Chatsworth, Holland Center and Berkeley before stopping briefly at Markdale to get a Mountain Dew and a couple of brownies. With a good tailwind, I knew this was the best way to get serious riding done. Albert Huggett of Woodstock, Ontario flagged me down and wanted to know if I knew where he could get the attachment to fill his bike tire with air. He had one of the same tubes that I use. I dug around in my handle bar bag and gave him one, then told him how to use it. Albert got excited about my ride and I enjoyed telling him about it, but enjoyed much more the fact that I was able to get him the piece that he needed, the same as Kenny Roberts had done for me last year in Jesup, Georgia. This “pay it forward” thing is wonderful. My smile was big as I left town.

I finished the last of the day’s climbing as I passed Flesherton and Dundalk, the highest point in this part of Ontario. Next I passed the same wind generators (not wind mills as I referred to them before) and rolled into Shelburne for the second time in about five days. I got food and headed to the Shelburne Motel to find a “No Vacancy” sign. The owner and his wife called every motel within 20 miles. Most were booked with the wedding and the rates for any available room were now exorbitantly high. They ended making a room for me, for which I am eternally grateful.

So tonight, after 64 miles in just the afternoon, I am spending the night comfortably. I will explain more later, but it is much like camping in a room.

By the way, yesterday’s total mileage was 57. I forgot to add it in.

Sunday, I will head toward Toronto without a shower. Like I said, more tomorrow. There are about 100 kilometers or 60 plus miles to go in this fantastic journey. It has been a very long day and the editor needs my submission. I will close with that and be back with you tomorrow.