For Freeze, trip let him ‘see, hear, feel and smell what you can’t experience any other way’
ou would think that about now, David Freeze would be feeling some déjŕ vu all over again.
But he says that this summer’s bicycling ride from Maine to the Florida Keys was a totally different experience from last summer’s cross-country journey.
Freeze flew home early Thursday morning from Key West. His first stop on Friday morning was to get a haircut.
“I was a big hit at the haircuttin’ place this morning,” Freeze said Friday.
The north-south route, which mostly followed the East Coast, was mentally tougher, Freeze said, because of all the traffic. For a lot of the trip, he did what’s called urban riding.
“Last year,” he said, “until I got to the Mississippi River, heck, I was in areas where my cellphone didn’t work.”
This time around, his cell service was fine. He went through metropolitan areas including New York City — right through the Bronx — as well as Miami. He skirted Philadelphia and Boston. He caught Richmond early one morning and had no trouble there.
He even ended up finishing his ride several days ahead of schedule. He was due to ship his bike home from Key West on Aug. 6, but he got to the colorful city on Aug. 4.
All this despite the fact he was hit by a car on July 31.
He was only 250 miles from the end of the ride, in Tequesta, Fla.
“Tequesta is a nice, upscale town with good roads and good bike lanes,” Freeze said. “I was riding through, starting to think about where I would end the day. There was a woman in a car to my right. When I got right to her, she turned into me. I scooted over and yelled, ‘No!’
“She just didn’t see me. Instead of looking at the traffic, she was looking at the storm clouds that were behind me. I think she didn’t see me until after she hit me.”
Her bumper hit Freeze’s right leg, catapulting him off the bike. Then she ran over it.
“It was divine intervention,” Freeze said. “I really should’ve had my leg broke or worse. She drove right into my right leg. I thought I was gonna get away. The front bumper caught me and shoved me away. I remember being shoved over and pitched off the bike.”
Freeze held his hands above his head, not far from his face.
“Right here was her bumper,” he said. “I’ll never forget that. That’s when she finally made her turn.”
She ran over the bike, but not Freeze’s legs.
“All I got was road rash,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’m over enough. No, I’m not.’ ”
The force knocked his shoes off, and cut up his feet. He had scrapes on his left elbow, right knee and on the side of his leg at his left knee. Both big toes were bruised, and he bruised his left rib when his elbow was driven into it.
“So that made sleeping hard for a few nights,” he said.
Since the fire department was only two blocks away, firefighters arrived almost immediately.
The woman who had been driving in front of Freeze got out of her car and went over to him as he lay dazed on the pavement.
“I said, ‘She ran over me,’ and she said, ‘Yes, she did, I saw it,’ ” he said.
He stood up cautiously, then saw his bike.
“It’s the end of my ride,” he thought. “I couldn’t believe how it was destroyed.”
He carried it to the side of the road, out of traffic.
“The frame was bent in four places,” he said. “The tire rims were bent. One pedal was busted off. The chain was broke, and the handlebars were broke off one side. ’Bout that time, the firemen were pulling up. They were really quick.”
The firefighters wanted to take Freeze to the hospital. He refused transport, but allowed them to take his blood pressure and pulse onsite. He didn’t ask what the numbers were.
After Freeze gave his report to the police officer, the firefighters strapped his bike to the back of the fire truck and went back to the station to take photographs. One of the guys called Bike Street, a few miles away, and took Freeze there.
In about an hour and 15 minutes, Matt and Dawn had outfitted a Trek 1000 bike and Freeze was on his way. He rode about 10 miles to a hotel.
“I just needed to ride again before I parked the bike for the night,” he said. “I didn’t want to sleep on the accident a night or two before taking off again.
“It was enough that I knew I could ride the new bike, and I got some more riding under my belt after the accident.”
Freeze filed his daily story, but couldn’t sleep. After a fitful night, he was on the road again by 5:30 the next morning.
“I think I was less at peace with the new bike than I was with the accident,” he said.
But the bike performed well, even though the Trek is a lighter bike than the stouter Surly.
Not only was the new bike lighter, it was therefore faster, and Freeze gained 2-3 miles an hour.
Other than that mishap, Mrs. Lincoln, the trip went well overall.
“At the very beginning, I planned on riding 100 miles for each of the first two days,” Freeze said. “They were very hard days. The first part of the trip I had cool weather, and I avoided Hurricane Arthur. That passed through New Hampshire at night.”
Freeze doesn’t mind riding in the heat, and said it was never really that bad.
“When I rode through Statesboro, Ga., I remember it as being really hot,” he said. “It was 97 degrees that day. It was 93 to 95 degrees some other days, but it didn’t feel that bad. You can coast and kinda cool off, and I was stopping and getting ice and drinks.”
This time around, Freeze made sure to hydrate properly. When he came home last summer, he was plagued by a host of ailments, including kidney stones.
“Everything seems to be good,” he said.
The only problem he seems to have is swelling in both feet. He’s having that checked on next week.
Arriving in Key West, Freeze had two days to sightsee. He toured Hemingway’s House, the lighthouse across the street and Fort Zachary Taylor, all favorite stops. Key West is known for its sunsets — people even cheer when the sun goes down — and he saw two beautiful ones that made the whole trip worth it.
But the sun hasn’t set on Freeze’s bike riding. He’s already considering another trip, maybe this summer. At the suggestion of Kevin Cherry, Freeze wants to visit North Carolina’s Civil War sites, which should be about a 10-day jaunt.
“Each trip is satisfying in its own right,” Freeze said. “There’s more to see and more to do. It’s a great way to see the country. When you’re going 12 miles per hour, you’re gonna see, hear, feel and smell what you can’t experience any other way.”
If you’d like to hear first-hand about Freeze’s experience, the Post is hosting a reception for him in the Post lobby on Tuesday, Aug. 12, beginning at 5 p.m. Free Italian ice will be served. Copies of Freeze’s book, “Lord Ride With Me Today,” will be for sale, and $2 from every purchase will be donated to Rowan Helping Ministries.
Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.