Day 3
October 3, 2017
Super 8 Motel
Ottuma, Iowa

A cloudy and cool morning greeted us as we wiped off the morning dews from the bikes.  Sunrise this time of year doesn’t happen till a little after 7.  Gus doesn’t see well at night with his current glasses so any ultra early ride outs are not possible.  That’s ok, I don’t like riding in the dark either.

I booted up the Garmin, and tapped the ride for Day 3.  It would be back roads across Iowa to Omaha.  Not a long ride today.  I went to the textile lined Joe Rocket gloves to ward off the cool Midwest air.  I also zipped up the vents on the Klim.  Weather radar put scattered rain in the Omaha area, leftovers from a system that was moving north.  We’ve been watching it the last few days.

Last thing before putting my gloves on was turning on the Sena.  “Can ya hear me, can ya hear me?”  I repeated.  A moment later, Gus says, “Hello?”  “yeah I got ya.”  First thing in the morning the units took about 10 seconds to connect.

We left Ottuma on U.S. 34 West, passing slower moving cars and farm implements with little problem on the wide open straight roads.  Gus was continuously commenting on the sheer expanse of the farms we rode by.

At Albia we left 34 and rode north on SR 5 to hook up with SR 92.  I love riding backroads and state highways.  I want to see things, and experience the small towns and people along the way.  I want to hear about what they do here and why they like it.

The riding was good, and we enjoyed the Senas.  Our talks really helped the miles go by.  Brothers have a connection unlike anything else.  We have always been close but more so the last 10 years, and this trip will be forever remembered.

I remembered Knoxville.  I came through here in 2002 on another Fall Tour.  That day I came from out of Missouri headed for Winterset, to see the Bridges of Madison County. 

Riding west on the 92 we could see how dark the skies were in that direction.  “Looks like rain out there brother.”

“Yeah but it says it is nothing threatening, probably just some light showers.”

“well we’re gonna find out soon”

We took our morning break in Indianola.  It was 9am, and Gus was hungry.  I just bought hashbrowns and found a nice booth to relax.  I called Debbie and responded to a few emails and texts.

A few locals asked where we from.  “Alabama.”

“Where you guys heading?”



A slow moving elderly couple was making their way in the store.  The man was supporting his wife, and would have trouble with the door, so I got up and held it open for them.

“Thank you sir” He acknowledged.


I was going back to sit down and a lady touched me on the arm when I walked by her table.   “Thank you sir”

“Not a big deal m’am”  She smiled and nodded and I moved on.

Indianola is a big place in this part of the country.  Lots of showrooms selling farm equipment.

With break over we made our way to a Shell station and loaded up on some good Shell V power 91 octane.  Back home all my bikes and Si use Shell 93.

After a long break we got back on the road and rode west on 92. 

“hey I need to get some cash” Gus announced, as we entered the highway.

“Ok we’ll find something ahead, too much trouble to use the bank around here, too hard to get back out on the highway.  Maybe find a ATM with easy access.”

SR 92 passes through the Winterset, made famous in the best selling book, and movie, “Bridges of Madison County.”  It is a quaint, friendly place I recalled.  Today we skipped the business distract, and rode the by pass.  It has grown from my last visit here.  In fact I don’t remember a by pass back then, but today it is shops and a few chain motels.  The turn off for the Roseman Covered Bridge is still where I remembered it, a 4 mile ride back into the countryside on a dirt road, but worth the effort.

The Rosmean Covered Bridge from 2002 "Heartland Ride."  I was in the first year of my long riding career when I made a special ride into America's Heartland.  It was October, weather was cool and cloudy.  Just like this day.  I have been so very blessed in this life, to have such memories of gloroius rides from the past.  I was on the ST 1100 in 2002.  I still have that journal from the old website, and presently migrating that material to my new and improved site here.

This was Winterset in 2002.
Through the Midwest towns of Greenfield and Bridewater we rode, not stopping but passing through to points west.  They were like islands in a ocean of corn.

In Massena the long sought ATM popped up, and was easy to get to.  It is a stand alone ATM, no buildings etc. No traffic to cross, and nice flat approach, all paved. The use of pebble rocks on most everything around the Midwest was a nuisance for 2 loaded sport touring bikes.  The heavy bikes (especially the Connie) are vulnerable to most any kind of tip over.  Like putting your foot down at low speeds, and have it slip on the gravel and tilt the loaded back left or right, and next thing you know its going down.  Through prudent observation and experience, neither bike touched the ground this trip.

“There’s a ATM, follow me.”  I told my brother.

Each of us pulled out a few bucks and got back on the road.  Easy and quick,  just like we like it. 

Massena, Iowa in the Heartland of America.   Beyond the road you leave the trees and town for the endless miles of corn.  Like stepping through a door.
While cruising down 92 I told Gus.  "We're gonna be in Omaha soon, lets keep riding West, not even lunch time yet."

"How far?"

"I dunno, but way too early to quit for the day, it never hurts to get ahead of schedule."  We can decide on how far at lunch."


The skies darkened further on the approach into Omaha, and cloud banks only several hundred feet off the ground.  We found ourselves in a misty, damp atmoshere, but I wouldn't call it rain.

"Pull over and let me get us out of the custom route, its gonna end in Omaha anyway."  We eased to the parking lot of church.  I knew Grand Island was on I-80 west so I just asked the Garmin to pilot us there.

"Ok we are off custom route now, the Garmin has control and will take us through Omaha.  Follow me and I'll keep you posted on what's going on.  If we get seperated for some reason clear Omaha and leave a voice mail."

"Got it"

Omaha was not too complicated and the GPS put us on I-80 in just a few miles and from there it was simple, but the cool mist was annoying.  The Joe Rocket gloves has a squeege thing on the right thumb and it came in handy wiping the shield of the Shoei.

"ok we gotta move right these lanes are for something else"  

My brother left all the routes and navigating to me.  I can see letting someone do that.  You can just RIDE.

After clearing Omaha, we stopped for a late lunch, and gas at a Flying J/Denny's in Pappillion.  I brought the Garmin in with me.

I had a nice pork chop dinner for lunch with all the trimmings.  Grand Island looked like a good stopping point for the day, so looked up the Super 8 there, about 150 miles away.  "We should get there about 4:30."

"are we still on central time?"


Radar said we had no rain in front of us.

We left the waitress a nice tip and went back out to the bikes and was soon confronted with a major decision.

The Kawasaki has the K pass key fob.  When near the bike a activator moves, connects the switch, and then you turn the bike on by twisting the ignition knob and powering the bike up.  This time when Gus twisted the knob nothing came on.  No lights, no nothing.  Backed out tried again, same result.  Nothing.

"Battery is good?"

"yessss no problems all this time, connections are good, I checked them last week.  The connie has a known problem with the K-pass.  A guy on youtube says if you tap this box here with something stout, it will jar the activator closed and complete the circuit."

Gus tapped it a couple of times but still nothing.

"man this ain't good, if we can't get the bike started we'll have to call a tow" And then hang around this place to get the part, because you know its not going to be in stock.  We could here be a few days, or we load your bike into a U haul and go home."

"what about the trip?"

"have to ice it, where we're goin you don't want to be on a bike that might not can crank.  We're gonna be in some remote places.  You're talkin hours before anyone could get to you."

If we turned back I'd go with him.

Gus tapped it a few more times, and then he REALLY tapped it, twisted the knob, and BOOM the bike lit up!  He punched the starter and bike came to life.

"Well what now" I asked, "up to you.  Do we start riding back east quickest route?"

"No, lets keep going, it might never do it again according to the wisdom of the Concours Forum.  If it does I just keep hitting it till that doesn't work anymore."

"Alright.  But only cut the bike off if you have to, Gas and long stops.  Stop for picture keep it going, stuff like that.  We don't want to waste one if we don't have to."

Concerned, we returned to I-80 and sped off west.  

The miles ticked off on I-80, we spent much of the next 3 hours or so talking about the K pass on the Kawasaki, and why didn't they make a fail safe with a key, like cars that use keyless ignition.  

About 50 miles from Grand Island we broke out of the clouds into the sun.  It was a welcome sight.

The Grand Island Super 8 allowed us to park our bikes under the front door canopy, but out of the way.  Thankfully, we had a ground floor room.   We ended the day with 363 miles, and at least 100 miles ahead of schedule.  

I was still full from lunch, but that didn't stop Gus, he went out for supper but I don't know where.  I told him I was reluctant to get back out on the bike after stopping for the day.  While he was gone I took a shower and caught up on messages while watching the latest on the Vegas shooter.  I took a walk to the vending machines and got a bag of chips and Mountain Dew. 

In this part of the country there is really no other way to go west but I-80.  Anything else is just too far out of the way, so tomorrow would just be a gas and go day to Laramie, Wyoming.  

When Gus returned I was already in the bed watching TV.  I fell asleep worried about the Connie making it the whole trip.  "We'll see."  

Next -into Wyoming.