Friday, July 3, 2009
Day 27 - McPherson, KS to Abilene, KS
We're halfway there! Only 1,925 miles to go! Today was a momentous day for a number of reasons. First, we crossed our "ABB Official Halfway Point." Second, we got off the highway and explored the prettier side of Kansas. Finally, we played tourist and visited some quite interesting spots in Abilene, KS. We began our day leaving McPherson, KS riding directly into a SSE headwind. We only had to ride 11 miles before we would turn north and mostly be at our backs. So, we put our heads down and pressed forward.
When we made the turn, we were exultant for two reasons. First, we had the wind at our backs. Second, we were on a nice, rural country road and not on a busy highway. We rode through Canton, KS which was a quiet small town with homes fronting the road, well-manicured lawns, and lush deciduous trees. Chris couldn't stop talking about how this road reminded him of Ohio. We were still in Kansas, but she was showing her pretty face. The sunlight streamed through high clouds and the wind rustled the leaves. In fact, I couldn't recall a time on our ride when I had heard leaves rustling. It was very peaceful.
We rolled along the low traffic road with easy ups and downs, chatting with each other and enjoying the quiet road, the trees, a harvested wheat field and tall corn. A few buzzards were soaring on the warm solars above us. This was turning into a great ride. We spotted Gerard up ahead and saw paint on the roadway. It was the halfway point! We gathered around and took photos as we celebrated our official halfway point. We had officially cycled 1,925 miles of our 3,850 mile route.
After our halfway celebration, we reached the SAG stop in Gypsum, KS, another small town, this one with a park and gazebo where we refueled. Judy, one of our ABB staff members, had creatively arranged mini cupcakes to read "1 / 2". Clever and cute. I ate several. Then several more. Judy had to keep rearranging the cupcakes so they still read "1 / 2".
Beyond Gypsum was more wheatfields, cornfields, and farmers harvesting hay bales. We watched one driver collect round haybales with a forklift-type truck that would hoist the haybales overhead then drop them on a sloped bed. Then he would quickly drive to the next bale and repeat. To dump the bales, he would drop a tailgate and drive forward. After watching this for a few minutes, we continued onward, this time turning again into the wind. Fortunately, after a few miles we turned again to have the wind at our backs once more.
We rode through Solomon, another small town with a tall brick church, small homes, and quiet streets. We were again heading east into the wind for ten more miles before we reached Abilene. We passed the grounds of the National Greyhound Association, a greyhound racetrack, and a greyhound farm. Leigh and I stopped to look at the greyhounds and they ran to us to check us out. A woman came out to let us know we were welcome to see them but this was their "resting time." It was evident that our visit wasn't helping them rest, so we moved on.
As we entered Abilene, we passed a gorgeous 1880s mansion, the Lebold Mansion. built in 1880 by C.H. Lebold, a local banker, realtor, politician, and entrepreneur. It was open for tours, but lunch and a visit to some of the other museums in town was on our minds. Gerard spotted us riding through downtown and called us to join him at "The Dish," a cute little cafe with a Friday lunchtime crowd. We drew a number of glances when we walked in with our cycling gear and sweat. But, the lunch hit the spot.
After lunch, we rode to the Eisenhower Center--The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. Young Bob had mentioned to me that he had visited it before and thought it was one of the finer Presidential Libraries. It was my first, but I found it really informative and interesting. We checked out the Visitor Center and viewed a short film about Eisenhower's life, role as general and commander of the Allied Forces in WWII, and presidency. We toured his boyhood home which is still in the exact spot where it was built and where he lived from age 8 to his 20s. And, we went in the Meditation Chapel where he and Mamie are buried. It was a good place to think and pray and thank God for our first half of this ride as well as our country we've been exploring and it's strong leaders like Pres. Eisenhower.
I left the Eisenhower Center and went around the block for one more museum: The Dickinson County Historical Museum and Museum of Independent Telephony. For four bucks, it was worth the visit. I learned about Kansas' early years and how the pioneers and settlers lived in this region. I learned about the railroad, cowboys, lawmen, and church life on the Plains. In the telephone portion of the museum, I learned about the Independent Telephone companies that brought telecommunications to the rural areas of our nation. My maternal grandfather, Poppo, worked for Bell in Boise, ID, so I had to check this museum out for him. I could imagine him walking through the exhibits with me and explaining how the old switchboards and phone operators worked. He would have liked this place.
Before I left, I chatted briefly with Maxine who staffed the front counter. She was probably in her late 70s and had lived in Abilene all her life. I asked her about tornadoes and she told me about the time in 1973 when she had first moved to Abilene and a tornado tore the roofs of her neighbors' homes but had left her home intact. I gave her one of my Ride for Impact fliers and took this photo with her. She wished me safety on my ride.
Now it was time to find the hotel. It was late afternoon and I was ready to get a shower before dinner. Riding through downtown Abilene toward our hotel, I passed several large turn-of-the-century homes and recalled one of the docents at the Presidential Library saying Eisenhower grew up "south of the tracks" in the poorer side of town. This neighborhood was where the wealthy Abilene families lived. Many of the homes had flags up in preparation for July 4th.
After showering and resting, we had dinner at a beautiful restaurant next door, The Brookville Hotel. We feasted on a family-style chicken dinner, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits, corn, and ice cream. It was a great "Halfway There" celebration. Now we are all filled with fat stomachs and fueled up for the 108 mile ride to Topeka tomorrow. Just two more days of riding and we'll be in Missouri and having our third rest day. We're all looking forward to that!
For more photos from today's "Halfway There" ride including photos of me and Ike, early telephones, and corn fields, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100297
For more about the Ride for Impact and to help me reach my "halfway goal" of $10,000 for missions and global relief, visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 2,002
Cumulative Flats: 5
Elev Gain: 957 ft
Max Elev: 1576 ft
Avg Climb: 1%
Max Climb: 5%