Yesterday’s highlight was visiting the Dwight Eisenhower Library and Museum in Abilene Kansas. One could not ask for a greater contrast between our current leader and Eisenhower — a true war hero, a person who consulted widely before making key decisions, a person who understood the art of compromise and detested war. He was not perfect, and I felt a little short-changed by the museum, which presented a fairly simplistic overview of his role in a number of key events in the decades before I was born — Operation Torch (the successful campaign in North Africa), Supreme Commander of the European Theater, setting up NATO, setting the parameters for the Cold War, ending the Korean war, the beginning of the civil rights movement, etc. He was a man for the times.
Probably the most interesting part of the visit was a “tour” of his boyhood home. 6 brothers (a 7th died when young) in a small house. Oldest had his own room; the rest shared one room (Dwight was #3). The kids had to work hard. They had chores for cleaning, cooking and taking care of the garden; sets of 2 boys rotated through. On Sundays two boys left church early to prepare Sunday dinner. The boys were not allowed in the “parlor”. They had to enter the house by the back door. Etc. While it is easy to focus on policy and tactics with a President, my gut sense is that character is equally important. You see where I’m headed.
People in Kansas have been so friendly; the drivers observe a “10-foot rule” meaning they usually move over a lane even though we are riding on the shoulder (or the edge of the road if there is no shoulder).
I am trying to keep in a very positive frame of mind, but the data would suggest my fitness is not getting better — with new batteries in my Infocrank, I can confirm my L/R balance was 64/36 today. We had probably the toughest day today for the remainder of the trip — 108 miles, 4,700 feet of climbing, very high heat — so I know I can finish. But it’s definitely a bit tough to get that knee functioning every day.
We had one person collapse from heat stroke today — he will I am sure try to be back on the bike tomorrow or Tuesday (Monday is a rest day). He’s a tough nut, but the heat and sun and climbing today was going to claim at least one victim.
My cousin, her son and his wife took me to dinner tonight — a really nice break from our meat and potatoes diet. Actually, some of the biggest highlights of the trip have been the visits I’ve had with my sister, the Stringhams and now my cousin. Friends and Family still trump.
Image. Unusual post box in rural Kansas.
Day 27 ride summary (McPherson to Abilene, Kansas). 64.2 miles, 795 feet of climbing. Heavy tailwind while we went north — as high as 25 miles per hour. Easiest day yet. I rode with the large group.
Day 28 ride summary (Abilene to Topeka, Kansas). 107.5 miles, 4700 feet of climbing. Tough day — distance, climbing and heat. We stayed in a group, but the winds were mainly crosswinds, so not much benefit in drafting. Roads were a bit rough. Climbing is different than in the mountains — rolling hills; sometimes a bit steep.