Caryl and Brian's World Bike Tour

Bob Immler's Perspective

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Bob Immler's Perspective

Date: Thu, 17 Jul 1997 07:38:48 -0600

Caryl and Brian were to be in Oxford, MA last Friday about noon. They were going to call me when they got there and I was to pick them up. Oxford's about a 2 hour easy drive. I looked up Oxford on the map and it has a population of about 5,000. I figured it had one E/W road and one N/S road. I had some business in Northampton, MA so I left about 10:30. I arrived in Oxford at 12:30 and saw a woman standing next to two fully loaded touring bikes.

I parked, walked up to the woman and said "Caryl? I'm Bob Immler."

They had just gotten there and Brian was looking for a pay phone to call me.

I'd put the roof rack on our Dodge van but we got both bikes and their gear inside. They were hungry and we had lunch at a diner in Oxford. Vegetarianism hasn't yet hit the town, so I had pancakes.

I had told a friend about Caryl and Brian's visit and told him that I thought we'd do some day rides and some day hikes. He said "Bob, they're not going to want to bike, they're just going to want to sit by your pool!"

He was 100% correct.

When we got home we talked for awhile with Michelle and then I took them downtown and gave them a walking tour of Brattleboro.

While downtown two touring cyclists rode through town. Caryl and Brian have been on the road 3 weeks, following Adventure Cycling's DC to Bar Harbor route, and haven't seen another cyclist. We saw two in Brattleboro on Saturday and I'd seen another earlier in the week. We asked at the area's three bike shops if Brattleboro were on any official bike route. They knew of none. I see lots of touring cyclists going through town and assume it's because Brattleboro is on three scenic routes.

That night after dinner we all watched a biography of Carl Sagan on TV and then had planned on going to see Contact, but everybody got tired.

There's a couple in Brattleboro that do 1-2 serious bike tours each year. I've been printing out Caryl and Brian's newsletter and giving it to them. They've been mailing them to an Alaskan couple they've met while touring.

I wanted to surprise them with Caryl and Brian's visit. But Michelle said, this was rude and I should call them first. What does she know?

So Saturday morning I called them up and said "are you both home?"


"I'd like to bring over the newest newsletter."


We drove over and I said "here's Caryl and Brian's latest newsletter and this is Caryl and Brian."

We had a wonderful visit and it turned out to be Hank's 70th birthday and their 45th wedding anniversary.

Hank showed us their bikes. 30 years ago he bought a set of panniers, the brand name escapes me. When they began to wear out, he took them apart and used them for patterns. Now they make their own panniers based on those original patterns.

Other friends began to arrive for the birthday/anniversary celebration and so I suggested we head over to Brattleboro's farmer's market, which is quite unique.

The son of one of the farmers' had a BOB trailer attached to his mountain bike and we stopped to have a look. His father told us he was "leaving for Maine tomorrow."

I said "so are Caryl and Brian."

He asked "On a bicycle?"


Then we had some okay Thai food (the line was too long at the good place). When we finished I saw a guy ride in on a Bike Friday. I'd heard of them but hadn't seen one in person.

Made in Oregon, they have 17" wheels and fold. The owner was a walking salesman. Couldn't say enough good things about them. The feature that appealed to Caryl and Brian was that you can buy a samsonite-like suitcase into which the bike folds. You put it on a plane without paying $45 extra for a bike. When you get to your destination, you remove the bike and put it together. Then the suitcase comes apart and it becomes your panniers.

When we got home I found Bike Friday's web page.

Another version has a trailer which becomes the suitcase into which the bike fits. A third version folds into soft side luggage which will fit into the carry on space.

My game plan was to do a day hike, but I could tell that Caryl and Brian weren't that interested. So we hit the local Wal-Mart and then came home and hit the pool.

Saturday night we saw "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare in 97 Minutes."

I've never seen anything done locally that was this good. I would have turned around and seen it again. For example, the last thing they did was a 20 minute version of "Hamlet," then they did a fast version in about 1 1/2 minutes, then they did a very fast version in about 45 seconds. Then they finished up by doing the fast version, backwards.

They also did Macbeth in Scottish accents, "Julius Caesar" in Italian accents and a rap version of "Othello."

Brian really wanted to get on the road and see Boston. I suggested they stay in a motel near the Alewife subway station, but it was cheaper for them to camp and rent a car.

They wanted to be taken to the Worcester (aka Wooster) Airport, since it would have lower taxes than Boston's. They reserved a Geo hatchback from Avis and we got there late in the morning.

Of course, no Geo hatchback. Avis offered to upgrade to a Buick LeSabre. They can get both their bikes and gear into a Geo hatchback, but it didn't look like they'd fit into a much larger Buick. Eventually they decided to go with a mini van which Avis gave them for only $20 more per week.

I really enjoyed their visit, just wished they'd stayed longer.

Bob Immler


Copyright 1995-2011 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.



We'd like to thank my father, Charles Johnson, whose diligent mail forwarding and other logistical support make this journey far easier than it could be otherwise.


Wendy Strutin Riedy for archiving the newsletters on her WWW site,

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