The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

June 14, 2013

Triathlon organizer David Freeze off on biking journey

By Erica Benjamin for the SNAP

Friday, June 14, 2013 — A regional race enthusiast has concluded one journey and began a new.

David Freeze of Salisbury helped organize the Sixth Annual Historic Badin Triathlon, an event on June 1 where athletes from across North Carolina gathered to swim 750 meters in Badin Lake, bike 12 miles along rolling hills and run a 5K down Valley Drive.

Before speaking of his next adventure, Freeze and other individuals commented first about the Badin race.

At the conclusion of the event, the top five racers for the men were: Ryan Connolly, Durham; Will Stevens, Greensboro; Jason Crawford, Chapel Hill; Theoden Jane and Chance Brown, Salisbury. Placing in the top five for the women were: Delaine Fowler, Salisbury; Katie Connolly, Durham; Jennifer Parks, Durham; Cheryl Miller, Chapel Hill and Pam Roseman, Salisbury.

The triathlon, which was created six years ago, has recently taken on a fresh start as a result of new leadership.

“The triathlon is something the town has been doing for six years and the management has changed a couple of times. David Freeze came on board three years ago while we were in the process of restructuring the event,” Badin Town Manager Jay Almond said.

“David has been instrumental in helping to move the triathlon into a larger competitive pool. He brings a lot of experience. A lot of folks that are involved now are aware of what he is able to do.”

Local runner and organizer of the Uwharrie Running Club, Peter Ascuitto, is a long-time friend of Freeze. It was Ascuitto who suggested Freeze to Better Badin, Inc. when the group decided to take the triathlon in a different direction from the previous years.

“Me and David have been friends for 10 years or so. Years ago, when running was still small in the region, me and David partnered with people in Asheboro and put together a racing circuit which included Beach Blast, Run the Valley and some events in Rowan County,” Ascuitto said.

Ascuitto said that he had been involved a little with the Historic Badin Triathlon for the first year, but after that he really hadn’t been involved until Freeze took over leadership of the event.

“It’s got more of a local feel to it now. Before, the folks who were handling it were part of a circuit, they didn’t really use local people. With this one, he’s helped make it more personalized,” Ascuitto said.

“David is all about the localization of events and making it personal. He does a great job organizing the race. Every year he’s tried to make it better.”

Freeze, who just completed his third year as Badin’s race director, has 15 years experience in directing and managing road races and triathlons. What sets the Badin Triathlon apart from other races he has managed is the community involvement and natural setting.

“At Badin, I get to work with a fantastic group of people who have the good of the town and the triathlon at heart. We always plan the triathlon for about four to five months, and there is always a large group of active volunteers that work in the days preceding and on the day of the event,” Freeze said.

“I think Badin and the triathlon are a great fit. The beautiful lake makes the perfect venue for the swim, the hills around Badin make up a challenging, yet doable bike course, and the run is around and through Badin. I have not seen a more beautiful setting for a triathlon.”

Although Freeze has just completed managing a successful event in Badin, he’s not taking much time to relax.

Freeze is off on a 10-week journey by bike from Astoria, Ore. to North Carolina on the Transamerica Bicycle Trail, the oldest cross-country trail in the country.

The trip, Freeze said, has been years in the making.

“It has been something on my bucket list for the last four years. I rode a back-country three-day trip of 180 miles in West Virginia and soon thought that it would be really cool to attempt the trip across the country,” Freeze said.

The journey will take Freeze through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and possibly South Carolina.

Freeze, who has never been to four of the states he will cross, is looking forward to seeing more of the country. In particular, Freeze intends to visit Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful, the Grand Tetons and to dip the rear wheel of his bike in the Pacific and the front wheel in the Atlantic.

Freeze has been on numerous multi-day trips including the Greenbrier Trail in West Virginia and the Erie Canal Trail in Ohio. His new journey, however, will be the first time he has ridden from coast to coast.

“The trip is a big challenge,” Freeze said.

“It is in fact the biggest challenge that I have ever considered. Along the way, I hope to find out about myself, too. There will be hardships, weather, mountains, possible equipment issues, and I want to conquer it all. Upon returning, I want to write a book about the journey.”

To prepare for such a lengthy venture, Freeze has taken on a strenuous regimen which includes running as much as 60 miles per week and riding anywhere from 80 to 90 miles. In addition, he has researched which items would be best suited for him to carry on the bike since he will be making the 10-week journey unsupported.

“I will carry from 30-35 pounds including tent, sleeping bag, clothing, tools, personal items, and food and water. I have also read accounts of others who made long distant trips,” Freeze said.

The purpose of his trip isn’t only to challenge himself.

Freeze, who is the wellness coordinator at Partners in Learning Child Development Center in Salisbury, also hopes to raise awareness of the need for fitness, good nutrition and better overall health for kids and adults alike.

“More than 50 percent of adults are obese or overweight. We need to curb that trend and be good examples to kids,” Freeze said, adding that high sugar, high fat meals, along with physical inactivity, have become commonplace in the United States.

“When I was small, we lived on a farm and grew a lot of the vegetables and meats that we ate then. There were not many opportunities to ingest food additives, chemicals and hormones. Eating out was a very special treat. Today, it is common that many families, especially those with young children stop at fast food places and end up with more calories eaten daily than they should have. Exercise is down, screen time is up. Neither is good for long term health.”

For anyone interested in taking a bike ride for any longer length of time, such as a weekend trip, Freeze has some advice.

“Just like anything else, start slowly and build fitness over several weeks. Gradually go a little farther, incorporating some hills,” Freeze said, adding that some good trails for beginners are the Railroad Grade Trail along the New River at Todd, the Virginia Creeper Trail and the New River Trail.

“But cycling can be fun in lots of parks and also on lesser traveled roads. There are lots of rail trails in the southeast, meaning those trails now used by runners, walkers and cyclists used to exist as railroad lines.

Erica Benjamin is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.