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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Woodsweather Silhouette

Because I have a relatively long commute, I end up packing a lot on the bike, especially at times of year where the temperature might be 40 degrees different between my six a.m. departure for work and my 8:00 p.m. arrival at home.

Occasionally I get taken for a tourer: you know you're packing serious TMI when you are out running errands and someone rides up next to you and asks where you road from, then is surprised that you're local. Nick, the guy who crashed at our house last May, rode from L.A. to Boston with less baggage than I typically ride with.

The more common impression is, I suspect, that I'm homeless. There are subtle things an astute observer would notice: Brooks saddle, waterproof panniers, these are not the kit you see homeless guys ride with. Their bikes tend to be Wal-Mart mountain bikes, the sort of bikes many Americans buy, ride once or twice, then put out by the street on large item pickup day when they've sat around the garage gathering dust for eight years.

I meet a few of these characters on my commute, especially in the West Bottoms. Corinna and I were dinner guests of Donovan, White Hawk and Coop when they were camped out on railroad property last summer—the same White Hawk that was on the front page of the Kansas City Scar on February 1, 2012 (Coop's pic was on A8). The article was about them getting run out of a different camp than the one I visited; getting rousted every few months is just a fact of life for these guys.

I'm skeptical of the numbers some people throw around for the homeless population in Kansas City, but there are more than a few of them out there. You can't see them from cars most of the time (unless they're panhandling an intersection). That really is the giveaway that whatever else I have in common with these folks, I'm not one of them. I'm visible. Very visible, with my half dozen lights and helmet mohawk.

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