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(Reprinted in Armchair World by Permission)
The "Bobobs" rode into town last week, on their way from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean on bicycles. You read it right - bicycles!
They named themselves Bobobs: "Batty old broads on bicycles", these two middle aged ladies from California. Bunni Zimberoff of Santa Rosa is 55; her bike mate, Carolyn Walker of Pismo Beach is 60.
It was, in fact, Carolyn's approaching 60th birthday that prompted the trip. "I wanted to do something challenging to mark that milestone," she said. A three thousand one hundred thirty five mile trip on a 22 speed bike will certainly cover her goal.
Bunni, her partner on the road, answered an ad Carolyn had in the national bicycling magazine and after months of telephone calls, took up the challenge. Both Bunni and Carolyn have grown children and Carolyn is a grandmother.
Both have found that the outward journey has also been an inward one. "I can't believe how naive we were", said Bunni. "It has been more than we imagined."
Carolyn added, "It's true, some of our friends and family thought we were batty to even attempt this, but it has, so far, been going so well."
The biggest problem? Finding bathrooms! They have stayed some in motels and have also camped out. They have been freezing cold at times and were grateful for the mild weather in the deep South.
The biggest surprise? "The friendliness of the people", both said in unison. For example: "We were warned about Louisiana - warned to be extra careful. But two hours after we crossed into the state, a man in a pickup truck drove up besides us and invited us to have Easter dinner with his family! They were wonderful and friendly. It's been like that almost every where we go."
I was puzzled as to how they happened to come through Franklinton which is certainly "off the beaten track". The fact is that a route published in the Bike Travel Association guide runs right through The Fair City, from California to Florida. It traces the shortest route from ocean to ocean.
Travel maps, instructions and tips are meticulously explained in the Bicycle Travel Association manual. For example, riding conditions from St. Helena to Washington Parishes are as follows: "After Tangipahoa, SR 440 has a good riding surface and becomes hilly. The route leaves SR 440 briefly to avoid a dangerous stretch of roadway. At the junction of SR 10/16/25 west of Franklinton, the route becomes a very busy high speed 2-lane road with no shoulders. Traffic picks up again after quiet SR 1072 as the route enters Bogalusa on SR 60. Bogalusa is a working town. The streets can be narrow and very busy during rush hours..."
Also noted in the same brochure is the Washington Parish Free Fair and Bogalusa's Festival in the Park for those traveling in October.
The Bobobs departed Franklinton just after noon. From here they continued on to Bogalusa, Poplarville, Gulf Shores, and over into Florida where they will ride to the Atlantic Ocean, via St. Augustine, a journey they expect to take at least three or four more weeks. They had been on the road six weeks when they rode into Franklinton.
And the wind was not always at their backs...
"We have learned so much already," said Bunni. "Not just the obvious lessons, but also inward ones. You tend to do a lot of inward reflections when you are out here." Carolyn agreed. "The challenge has been more than rough terrain, fatigue, cold, heat, and whatever. It's also been a challenge to find out who we are...."
They may call themselves "batty old broads on bicycles", but these courageous and adventuresome ladies have proven they can meet life with or without the wind at their backs.
Or enough bathrooms!
(Era-Leader Ed. Note: Bunni sent the Era-Leader a card dated April 25. She wrote, "We Did It! We Did It! We actually got here and were ahead of schedule to boot. I think often and warmly of the brief visit we had with you and of the questions I wish I'd asked your. Once I get settled in a home, I'll send a note. But at this point I want to thank you for your interest in us, and for your wonderful contribution to our experience."
© 1996 The Era-Leader
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