Day 16 – Ride Across America for GTG, Abilene to Topeka, KS

Imagine losing a parent or sibling or other loved one while in middle school.  Now imagine having a safe place to process this grief with a trained professional and the support of your peers.  Growing through Grief becomes a life line for students at a vulnerable time in their lives.  We are extremely grateful for this important program and the support it provides.

– Participating school Dean of Students

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A cool morning gave way to a beautiful afternoon and the added headwinds challenged us on this shorter than average distance day. Our first sag stop was at Katy Park in the town of White City. It was named after the superintendent of the railroad at the time. New Chicago and Swedeland were also considered as many of the Scandinavian townspeople had migrated from Chicago. See photo in the video. It is a lovely little town with many flower gardens displaying white and purple iris, orange poppies and white bridal veil. Further on, flat farmland gave way to rolling hillsides. Rock could be seen throughout the fields and appeared just below the surface at outcroppings. Cattle in groups on the hillside and near the fences adjacent to the Hwy showed curiosity about us as we passed. A few farms also had sheep, goats and asses. Our lunch, at mile 76 in Eskridge, was also in a park, the sun in a cloudless sky warming us while we ate.

Most of our route was on Hwy 4 and the rolling hills gave way to washboard like hills that could seen from a distance. A sign of Missouri roads to come, the peaks followed by troughs in the road occurred at 200 yard intervals. So, one pedaled consistently, but the speed you gathered going downhill didn’t carry you over the next hill. Difficult to maintain consistent output over the hills, I find it more tiresome than pedaling uphill against a consistent grade.

Ideally, on these endurance rides of 100 miles and more, one eats and drinks as you go. About a bottle of water every hour – more if warm and perspiring and a bar or other food about as often. It is the best way to minimize the ebb and flow of energy and maintain constant work output. It is a habit I need to practice and avoid eating all my calories at meals.

We had been prepped about some Kansas drivers not wanting to share the road with bikers. Another apparent statement against bikers were noticeable sculptures made from old bicycles that did not appear to have a positive impression about bikers, according to our leader. To prove the point, we had our share of drivers getting too close to us when there was room for them to move over a lane. And, I did get a flat (my fourth)- exactly at the driveway of an “artist” who made the bike sculpture. It turns out that he was a nice guy ( with a nice dog) and offered to help me. The flat occurred 12 miles from our destination, just when I wanted to be done. I arrived at the hotel at 4:30, enough time for a shower before afternoon Rap. Tomorrow, we enter Missouri, 59 miles into our 121.7 mile day.

After Rap, I was allowed to speak about the ABCDEs of skin cancer. A for asymmetry, B for an indistinct border, C for color change, D for diameter greater than 6 mm and E for evolution over time or everything else, especially a wound that doesn’t heal when it should. We briefly reviewed the 3 main types of skin cancer: Basal Cell, Squamous cell and Melanoma. Sun screen use, taking photos of moles with a millimeter ruler next to the lesion and checking family members and friends for these signs was discussed. Of course, any new or worrisome lesion must be checked by one’s primary care or a dermatologist.