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Changing Demographics -- More Bums on Bikes?

Old 10-04-15, 10:27 AM
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McBTC
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Changing Demographics -- More Bums on Bikes?

This is based on anecdotal evidence only so not really sure I'm picking up on a trend here: just a feeling based on a few things I've noticed and my own experience over the years having toured much of the Pacific Coast Bicentennial Bike route over the years since '79 and also having driven through this area many times via automobile.

Lots of potential bike tourists may be back in school which would make non-tourists 'stand' out. And, the country's lackluster economy over the last 8 years may be a factor.

As far as the territory goes, little has changed on the ground over the years in the area we covered in a car over a week period, traveling Routes 1 and 101 from So-Cal to Mendocino in prime bicycle touring weather -- so, nothing to say about Oregon: just Cal-coastal.

It seems to me that there are fewer tourists on the roads. Additionally, there seems to be a lot more 'town people' on bikes in cities like Carmel, Monterey, who seem to travel light on bikes like tourists but with a grunge-look that seems more like a lifestyle choice than a 2-week tour with a goal to cover 700 miles.

I wouldn't call 'them' counterfeit tourists as 'they' probably could care less about blending in and passing off as tourists. If they do care, it ain't workin' because real tourists ride in more specialized bike clothing and are clean -- very clean! And they're rigging is clean. And, there're movin' on...
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Old 10-04-15, 10:57 AM
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How's the local economy? I drive a truck for a living and when the economy tanked in '08 in many parts of the US I would see more homeless looking people hitchhiking, walking or packed up and riding bicycles on Interstates and state highways.
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Old 10-04-15, 01:07 PM
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The demographics of people that use bikes in their everyday lives may be changing, but is that a bad thing?. What I do see is an increase in bikes as transportation by people at the lower end of the economic spectrum or who have lost their driving privileges. This is just my perception. The people I see every day in our community are not pretentious or make any effort to "pose" as anything, much less a touring cyclist. I think this is a positive trend.

I disagree about the perception of less bike tourists on the roads, especially on the Pacific Coast Route. I've ridden the entire Pacific Coast route from BC, Canada to Mexico, and shorter portions of it several times. I've also lived on the Oregon Coast and drive Highway 101 frequently. Where the demographics do change is in the age of the cyclists after Labor day. During the summer months there are a lot of students, younger people, and even families riding the route. Once school starts the the age of the riders go up significantly, but I'm not sure there is a major decrease in numbers until the rains start. My wife and I have done many of our shorter tour on the coast after Labor Day; the weather is usually great, and there is less traffic.


real tourists ride in more specialized bike clothing and are clean -- very clean! And they're rigging is clean. And, there're movin' on...
I'm not sure what a "real "tourist is, but I've seen a lot who I knew to be bike tourists that did not fit this description. If you saw me riding my touring bike with a couple of panniers on it to the grocery store when I was wearing my work clothes, you would probably classify me as a "bum". Perhaps you may be right

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Old 10-04-15, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by McBTC View Post
This is based on anecdotal evidence only so not really sure I'm picking up on a trend here: just a feeling based on a few things I've noticed and my own experience over the years having toured much of the Pacific Coast Bicentennial Bike route over the years since '79 and also having driven through this area many times via automobile.

Lots of potential bike tourists may be back in school which would make non-tourists 'stand' out. And, the country's lackluster economy over the last 8 years may be a factor.

As far as the territory goes, little has changed on the ground over the years in the area we covered in a car over a week period, traveling Routes 1 and 101 from So-Cal to Mendocino in prime bicycle touring weather -- so, nothing to say about Oregon: just Cal-coastal.

It seems to me that there are fewer tourists on the roads. Additionally, there seems to be a lot more 'town people' on bikes in cities like Carmel, Monterey, who seem to travel light on bikes like tourists but with a grunge-look that seems more like a lifestyle choice than a 2-week tour with a goal to cover 700 miles.

I wouldn't call 'them' counterfeit tourists as 'they' probably could care less about blending in and passing off as tourists. If they do care, it ain't workin' because real tourists ride in more specialized bike clothing and are clean -- very clean! And they're rigging is clean. And, there're movin' on...
Please post a photo of yourself dressed a "real tourist" only then can I judge
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Old 10-04-15, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post

...

If you saw me riding my touring bike with a couple of panniers on it to the grocery store when I was wearing my work clothes, you would probably classify me as a "bum". Perhaps you may be right

You mean, I may be mischaracterizing déclassé locals as bike bums? Could be... you sure you wouldn't even be wearing clean bike shorts?
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Old 10-04-15, 01:50 PM
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They could be tramps or hobos, but probably not bums.

The Difference Between Hobos, Tramps And Bums - KnowledgeNuts
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Old 10-04-15, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
They could be tramps or hobos, but probably not bums.

The Difference Between Hobos, Tramps And Bums - KnowledgeNuts
The thought or observation tho admittedly not necessarily rising to the level of a generalizable social phenomenon is perhaps a new classification of bicycle tourist --e.g., comparatively comfortable Cal coast tourist cities attracting noticeable numbers of... bike bums.
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Old 10-04-15, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by BigAura View Post
Please post a photo of yourself dressed a "real tourist" only then can I judge

It's one of those, I know it when I see it sort of things. There are a lot of factors to consider that are as different as Cal-coastal and Camino Real cities. For example, a student in San Louis Obispo who uses a bike to get around may not dress in clips, leg warmers or have a pattern of the rising sun on the back of a wool jersey but they have a home base and I don't believe are going to be confused with a homeless person on a bike. A "real tourist" on the Route 1 in San Clemente, for example, will be going from someplace north to someplace south or vice versa unless they're staying there for the night in which case they'll be riding around unloaded as all their gear is at a campsite or hotel room and in any event, they'll be all washed off.
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Old 10-04-15, 03:14 PM
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pedaling hobos are headed south for the winter, like the Snow Birds with Motor homes.
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Old 10-04-15, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by McBTC View Post
You mean, I may be mischaracterizing déclassé locals as bike bums? Could be... you sure you wouldn't even be wearing clean bike shorts?
I don't wear a single piece of cycling specific clothing unless it is raining. I do wear Lake sandals. I frankly think cycle clothing is for wankers. Years of watching people on very fancy bikes dressed like tour professionals, cycling with their arches on the pedals has made me jaundiced. Of course if you are a racer or whatever, that is somewhat different, though all the advertising on jerseys worn by people who have never met a sponsor does show the walter mitty aspect.

If I wear a pair of running or hiking shoes I don't need to wear a track suit. If I drive my car, I don't wear a helmet (probably a good idea) and nomex overalls, and driving gloves. But somehow if one drives a bike one needs to carry on as though one is an elite athlete or an elite consumer.
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Old 10-04-15, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by McBTC View Post
It's one of those, I know it when I see it sort of things.
Exactly, you and I are on the same page, please post a picture of yourself so I can know it.

For the photo: Blocking or cutting off your head is fine, If you're one of those types
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Old 10-04-15, 04:37 PM
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I'm not sure I got the point of the OP. Is it just an observation? Is it a judgement call, bad, good or indifferent? Are there laws or social norms that prohibit homeless people from owning or riding bikes?

I believe the real issue is the increasing number of homeless that are on the streets. I have the opportunity to interact with homeless people on a regular basis. It is a problem without a good solution.

I've often thought about starting a weekly/monthly free bike repair day to help resolve safety issues. It would also be a good time to do a little education about bike maintenance, being seen, and rules of the road such as what side of the road to ride on.

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Old 10-04-15, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
I don't wear a single piece of cycling specific clothing unless it is raining. I do wear Lake sandals. I frankly think cycle clothing is for wankers. Years of watching people on very fancy bikes dressed like tour professionals, cycling with their arches on the pedals has made me jaundiced. Of course if you are a racer or whatever, that is somewhat different, though all the advertising on jerseys worn by people who have never met a sponsor does show the walter mitty aspect.

If I wear a pair of running or hiking shoes I don't need to wear a track suit. If I drive my car, I don't wear a helmet (probably a good idea) and nomex overalls, and driving gloves. But somehow if one drives a bike one needs to carry on as though one is an elite athlete or an elite consumer.
Would you run 10 miles in a pair of penny loafers or hiking boots? Nope. You'd wear what elite road racers and marathoners wear, which is running shoes, running shorts and jersey. Does that make you a wannabe? Not in my book. You are wearing what has been demonstrated to work best for long distance running. No different with riding a bike.
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Old 10-04-15, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Would you run 10 miles in a pair of penny loafers or hiking boots? Nope. You'd wear what elite road racers and marathoners wear, which is running shoes, running shorts and jersey. Does that make you a wannabe? Not in my book. You are wearing what has been demonstrated to work best for long distance running. No different with riding a bike.
I don't know about that. When I gave up driving 5 years ago I wore cutoff blue jeans and a tshirt...actually most of the time I didn't even wear a shirt. I rode 12000 miles like that, I might have ridden my first bike trip dressed like that, I don't remember now.\

What is the difference between a biker and someone riding a bike? Is a biker someone who has the clothes on and rides one day a year for a fund raiser ride? Is someone out riding a bike someone who dresses in street clothes yet rides 12000 miles in a year? Better decide what a biker is first because you start calling names.
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Old 10-04-15, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by BigAura View Post
Exactly, you and I are on the same page, please post a picture of yourself so I can know it.

For the photo: Blocking or cutting off your head is fine, If you're one of those types
...possible problem: I don't know if we're on the same page. I don't wear stretchy pants with sewn in patches of fake chamois skin in the crotch except when cycling but if you do... there's nothing wrong with that..
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Old 10-04-15, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
I don't know about that. When I gave up driving 5 years ago I wore cutoff blue jeans and a tshirt...actually most of the time I didn't even wear a shirt. I rode 12000 miles like that, I might have ridden my first bike trip dressed like that, I don't remember now.\

What is the difference between a biker and someone riding a bike? Is a biker someone who has the clothes on and rides one day a year for a fund raiser ride? Is someone out riding a bike someone who dresses in street clothes yet rides 12000 miles in a year? Better decide what a biker is first because you start calling names.
The difference between riding a bike and touring is like going to the movies versus being in the movie.
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Old 10-04-15, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by McBTC View Post
...possible problem: I don't know if we're on the same page. I don't wear stretchy pants with sewn in patches of fake chamois skin in the crotch except when cycling but if you do... there's nothing wrong with that..
gotcha: I don't need to see it, I know it! Thanks!
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Old 10-04-15, 05:53 PM
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Well, several years ago they started requiring a 25 cent deposit for shopping cart use so I imagine most of the homeless stopped using those and moved on to bikes, which require no deposit.

Around here we don't see hobo bikers so much but there has definitely been an increase in homeless dogsled teams. Used to be people would walk their pets on a leash and clean up after themselves but now there are many teams of dogs lounging around and being unattended by their owners. I don't believe they are real dog sledders either, as in the Jack London sense of the word. These people wear polyester parkas and their mukluks haven't been polished it seems in years.

Distasteful, but that seems to be the way society is leaning these days...
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Old 10-04-15, 05:59 PM
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And I thought you meant Butts, or asses, on bikes-- Silly me!

Two of my uncles "Bo-ed" for a year between 1932-34 because they could not support their family (my mother, her mother & four sisters) in & around Anadarko, Oklahoma. They both wound up in the Central Valley of California. Both worked & saved money so the rest of the family could be brought to California. They certainly were not "Bums" and would offer fisticuff services to any who might call them so; one of them, Uncle Claude, did 90-days for 'taking-on' a deputy sheriff who called him a bum. -- be careful of what you say around folks like that/me.

All of my grandparents and most of my uncles and aunts are buried in California. All of them worked in the fields or raised honorable children or built houses or built cities or taught in schools. Many of their offspring still do these and many other honorable things in this state. While, for a time, some of them may have been relatively 'unwashed' and 'rode the rails', none did dishonor to their family or country. One uncle, Paul, was a belly gunner on B24s during the war. He has a Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and other honors for his service including being credited with downing 2-1/2 Me109s (he was one of those who raided the Ploesti oil fields at 1200 feet). He was a Rumanian POW near the end and they salute and call him "Sir" when he goes to the VA in San Francisco (I've seen this). Uncle Pete was a medic in the Army Air Corps and saw many terrible things as he tended wounded airmen from Sicily up through Italy and into Germany. Uncle Homer, Bill (died on the beach at Iwo Jima), Sam & others were all children of the dreadful depression. None, none gave any reason to be dishonored by how they looked, dressed or comported themselves. Some of them had to "Bo" & probably looked like dirty 'bums' at times.

That's only my mother's side. My father's side of the story is just as dramatic and -- honorable.

I am a retired writer & college instructor. I ride one of my bikes everywhere; if I can't get there by bike, I don't go. I do not own a car (sold it). I dress as I please. I am clean. I help others & judge them by the "content of their character" & not by how they appear. Most of all --- I really, really don't care what folks think about me merely by my appearance. That's on them/you not me or mine.

Perhaps you did not mean to sound so judgmental. Perhaps you never read "Grapes of Wrath", walked-the-walk or even saw the movie. Perhaps you are just as stupid and uninformed as you seem to be. I hope I am wrong --- in any case, Go Away!!

"I'm no bum. I got money. You can call me a hobo 'cause a hobo'll work for his living and you can call me homeless 'cause that's true for now, but if you call me a bum again I'll have to teach you somethin' about respect that your daddy never did." -- Mud (2012)

Joe

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Old 10-04-15, 06:15 PM
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Well now... If you mean has the bike population increased in the lower economic class, (people who can only afford a bike for transportation) I would say yes, definitely. At least they have around here. Buggies have been replaced by bicycles, maybe because of a crackdown on stolen buggies... I don't know... How can one tell? Well one just needs to see/pay attention and one would realise that the people who have big garbage bags full of bottles and or their stuff hanging off their bikes has doubled/tripled/quadrupled? Around here it seems anyways...
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Old 10-04-15, 06:39 PM
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Some college kids in one of my classes toured across the U.S. on Surly and All-City bikes this past summer. Some had Ortliebs, some had handmade bags, all had grundgy clothes and duct-taped windbreakers and other artifacts of actually using their equipment.

They looked like homeless 20-year-olds. And they had a blast. And they returned to shower and study and start careers.

I don't look homeless when I tour; I look like myself. I just do what I want. So did these kids from UMass. So do most tourists. It's harder to judge people from a bike saddle than from a yacht or luxury car, and that's what I like about them so much. Please don't spoil that with some projected sense of "real" touring vs. "homelessness."
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Old 10-04-15, 06:46 PM
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In my life before retirement I developed treatment plans for adolescents and young adults and applied them while running a private treatment/survival school for teens in Montana. Many of those clients continue to use the physical activity learned at the school to substitute for their prior drug use to this day.

Among the numbers of not quite legitimate bike tourists on the Pacific Coast Route in California, I see some of the "riding wounded". Many have learned by accident to use repetitive physical movement to help manage their mental demons be they from early trauma, war time experiences or from various mental dysfunctions large and small. Endorphins generated while biking can partially or sometimes completely substitute for previous self medication with prescription or street drugs used to manage their chemical roller coaster. We legitimate bike tourists only use touring for stress relief which is totally different!

I have also met various permanent bike tourists who fall in the mild end of the autism spectrum. They describe their comfort with the simplicity and repetitiveness of bike touring. A less complex or less demanding life is more manageable. A disability stipend and/or family donation finances their lives. I see some of them periodically as they move with the seasons heading South to San Diego in the Fall or North toward Oregon in the Spring.

Just a reminder that bike touring is motivated by many different things. Hard economic times forces more folks onto bikes. I welcome the variety.
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Old 10-04-15, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by arctos View Post
In my life before retirement I developed treatment plans for adolescents and young adults and applied them while running a private treatment/survival school for teens in Montana. Many of those clients continue to use the physical activity learned at the school to substitute for their prior drug use to this day.

Among the numbers of not quite legitimate bike tourists on the Pacific Coast Route in California, I see some of the "riding wounded". Many have learned by accident to use repetitive physical movement to help manage their mental demons be they from early trauma, war time experiences or from various mental dysfunctions large and small. Endorphins generated while biking can partially or sometimes completely substitute for previous self medication with prescription or street drugs used to manage their chemical roller coaster. We legitimate bike tourists only use touring for stress relief which is totally different!

I have also met various permanent bike tourists who fall in the mild end of the autism spectrum. They describe their comfort with the simplicity and repetitiveness of bike touring. A less complex or less demanding life is more manageable. A disability stipend and/or family donation finances their lives. I see some of them periodically as they move with the seasons heading South to San Diego in the Fall or North toward Oregon in the Spring.

Just a reminder that bike touring is motivated by many different things. Hard economic times forces more folks onto bikes. I welcome the variety.
Well said.
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Old 10-04-15, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Joe Minton View Post
And I thought you meant Butts, or asses, on bikes-- Silly me!

Two of my uncles "Bo-ed" for a year between 1932-34 because they could not support their family (my mother, her mother & four sisters) in & around Anadarko, Oklahoma. They both wound up in the Central Valley of California. Both worked & saved money so the rest of the family could be brought to California. They certainly were not "Bums" and would offer fisticuff services to any who might call them so; one of them, Uncle Claude, did 90-days for 'taking-on' a deputy sheriff who called him a bum. -- be careful of what you say around folks like that/me.

All of my grandparents and most of my uncles and aunts are buried in California. All of them worked in the fields or raised honorable children or built houses or built cities or taught in schools. Many of their offspring still do these and many other honorable things in this state. While, for a time, some of them may have been relatively 'unwashed' and 'rode the rails', none did dishonor to their family or country. One uncle, Paul, was a belly gunner on B24s during the war. He has a Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and other honors for his service including being credited with downing 2-1/2 Me109s (he was one of those who raided the Ploesti oil fields at 1200 feet). He was a Rumanian POW near the end and they salute and call him "Sir" when he goes to the VA in San Francisco (I've seen this). Uncle Pete was a medic in the Army Air Corps and saw many terrible things as he tended wounded airmen from Sicily up through Italy and into Germany. Uncle Homer, Bill (died on the beach at Iwo Jima), Sam & others were all children of the dreadful depression. None, none gave any reason to be dishonored by how they looked, dressed or comported themselves. Some of them had to "Bo" & probably looked like dirty 'bums' at times.

That's only my mother's side. My father's side of the story is just as dramatic and -- honorable.

I am a retired writer & college instructor. I ride one of my bikes everywhere; if I can't get there by bike, I don't go. I do not own a car (sold it). I dress as I please. I am clean. I help others & judge them by the "content of their character" & not by how they appear. Most of all --- I really, really don't care what folks think about me merely by my appearance. That's on them/you not me or mine.

Perhaps you did not mean to sound so judgmental. Perhaps you never read "Grapes of Wrath", walked-the-walk or even saw the movie. Perhaps you are just as stupid and uninformed as you seem to be. I hope I am wrong --- in any case, Go Away!!

"I'm no bum. I got money. You can call me a hobo 'cause a hobo'll work for his living and you can call me homeless 'cause that's true for now, but if you call me a bum again I'll have to teach you somethin' about respect that your daddy never did." -- Mud (2012)

Joe

You sound like an expert on being judgmental... and, it butters no parsnips.
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Old 10-04-15, 09:26 PM
  #25  
B. Carfree
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In a partial defense of the OP (not much of his posting is defensible), over my many decades of riding the west coast from the east side of the Cascades and Sierra to the ocean, I have noticed a fairly recent increase in homeless people in the campgrounds. Yes, I know they are homeless because I talk with them, sometimes for hours on end. They've generously shared some fascinating stories with me. They add to my life in many ways and have my respect. Sure, these aren't the folks riding bikes in town, but I'm not in the larger towns/cities when I'm touring (at least not for long).
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