Hopalong Chet and Tramp Printer wouldn't dream of riding first class when they hit the road as weekend hobos. They'd sooner jump the freight trains their real-life brethren travel.

Printer, a journeyman newspaper printer, jumped a freight in Lake Charles, La., and headed for the National Hobo Association gathering here.They were among some two dozen hobo hobbyists in a bar Wednesday swapping stories about the thrills and dangers of hobo life, a sport that is catching on among professionals.

One 27-year-old corporate dropout known as Sacramento Kid said he got bored with "conforming in the world," quit his job at IBM and set out with a backpack.

"Big Train" Ron Rohlfes, 36, of San Francisco, said he hopped his first train on April Fool's Day.

"It's like testing the world and finding it's safe."