63-year-old Gwinnett County man surprised after biking from west to east coast

Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 6:23 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - How many times have you thought, ‘I would love to do that and decided either you couldn’t, or it was simply too hard?

A Gwinnett County man said he realized there is never a good time to do what you want. You just have to start and figure it out as you go.

When Doug Freeland decided to jump back to an old hobby, he didn’t ease back in.

“You’ve heard the phrase go big or go home. Well, I wanted to give back into it in a big way,“ he said.

At 63-years-old, Freeland cycled from the west coast to the east coast.

“We started at Manhattan Beach just south of Los Angeles and rode 3,423 miles and finished at Revere Beach just north of Boston, Mass. in 49 days. I averaged about 80 miles a day.”

State after state, mile after mile, he pedaled with a purpose.

“We had two desert crossings that we had to do… and going through Kansas and Missouri, cornfield after cornfield. Going through two mountain passes. Around here you really can’t train for that- it kind of got down to that mental aspect of can I really do this.

He dedicated each day to the people who work at a bakery in Gwinnett County.

Andrea Aycock has special needs and has worked at Special Kneads and Treats since September 2021.

“We have everything and every person from non-verbal, in a wheelchair with limited motor skills, all the way to folks in the front to make it work. We even have a blind lady working here,” said Michael Kohler owner of Special Kneads and Treats.

Michael Kohler and his wife opened the bakery in 2013 when they were looking for a place for their son, Bradley to work.

Bradley has fragile x syndrome, a genetic condition that causes mild to severe impairment.

Over the course of more than a month, Freeland raised money for the bakery and a day program his son attends and chronicled every mile.

When he finally touched the Atlantic ocean, Freeland had raised nearly $6,000.

The CBS46 surprise squad was happy to be part of the journey.

Freeland received a Visa gift card worth $500. He also received a $1,000 check from the CBS46 Surprise Squad.

”It has been an honor to be able to ride for the bakery and I’m glad I’m young enough to be able to do this. Who knows what the next adventure will be,” Freeland said. ”We all have that adventure or cross-country bicycle ride inside us. Some big goal, some lifelong dream or bucket list.”

The key is to do it.

“It’s one of those situations where you don’t look at the staircase- and get overwhelmed,” Freeland said. “What you do is look at the next step and just keep plugging away and every turn of the wheel gets you where you ultimately want to be.”

If you know someone who is making a difference, we’d love to hear from you. Send us an email at surprisesquad@cbs46.com so we can show them some much-deserved appreciation.