We woke up around 5am local time because we heard that weather might be an issue this morning, so we wanted to try and get out ahead of it if possible. After waking up, we checked the radar and saw that there was a nasty storm fast approaching, and taking the route we had planned to take was not going to be an option, as the storm was almost there already.
After scrambling to pack all of our things and get the bikes loaded up, we hit the road heading back the way we had came the day before down to I-80. We hit I-80 heading west, and after about 30 miles, the sky started to turn dark and ominous to our north. I was in need of gas at this point since we had failed to fuel up the night before, since we figured we would do it when we left out in the morning, so we stopped for what was quite possibly the quickest fuel stop we have ever made on the bikes, which is when I snapped this picture of the sky (though the picture doesn’t do it justice).
At this point, we probably should have stayed put, but it didn’t look bad to the west at this point, and the storms appeared to be heading mainly east, so we figured we would be okay to keep heading west. About 10 miles later we realized the skies were only getting blacker and the storm was quickly closing in on us. At this point we had no choice but to tuck in, throttle down, and haul ass to the next exit we could find with somewhere to take shelter. After some rather intense riding, we finally made it to an exit with a truck stop, and we wheeled in and parked the bikes underneath the shelter at the pumps and went inside to get breakfast and wait out the storm.
Luckily, while we ate breakfast, the storm moved on past us to where we had come from, and we were able to get back on our way after we finished eating. We continued across I-80 towards Omaha, and sometime after Des Moines the skies started to look dark ahead of us again. We hopped off the interstate at an exit with no businesses or anything to pull into to check the radar and put our rain gear on. We were greeted by a rider from Colorado on a Suzuki Bandit who was on his way home from New Hampshire and had decided to do the same thing. After talking about our bikes and where we were from and where we were heading for a few minutes, we all decided that the threat looked minimal so we were going to take our chances sans rain gear. We said our farewells and bid each other safe travels, and on our way we went. We ended up riding the rest of the way across I-80 with him until he went on towards Omaha and we hit I-29 heading north towards Sioux City.
At Sioux City, we hopped off I-29 onto Hwy 20 heading to Valentine, Nebraska. At one point we had to take a detour on Hwy 59 since there was a bridge closed on Hwy 20, but just prior to that we went through an area where a tornado had hit the night before. There were trees stripped of their bark, a farmhouse that had a lot of damage, some barns that had been destroyed, and a silo that had been destroyed. There was also a lot of big pieces of metal and other debris in the fields.
After getting back on 20 after the detour, we stopped in Randolph, Nebraska to have lunch at a little gas station with a deli inside. We struck up a conversation with a couple of locals who filled us in about the tornado that hit, and informed us that they were expecting more bad storms later that night.
When we finished lunch we headed on across 20, at which point we ran into major road construction with NO warning. The road literally went from pavement to gravel with absolutely no prior warning. This was an unwelcome surprise, especially since it was quite windy. This was my first time riding my FZ6R on a gravel road, and though I was incredibly nervous at first, I handled it like a pro and was feeling much more confident by the time we were back on pavement.
Luckily this was the last surprise for the day, and after 565 miles, we finally made it to Valentine, Nebraska for the night. The picture of the bridge was taken about 3 miles outside of town. I thought it was pretty so I had to stop and take a picture.
Total mileage for today: 565, total mileage for the trip so far: 1,050