REMINDER: Stark St Mileposts Ride TOMORROW, Sun 18 June!

Yes, my friend, the final two weeks of Pedalpalooza feature an explosion of rides from the Urban Adventure League! And tomorrow it’s going to be a history themed ride from me. Hope you can join us!

Meet at 11 AM on Sunday June 18 at Stark St Station, 6049 SE Stark St. We’ll depart from this cafe at around 11:30, so time to grab something to eat and/or drink!

Back in the day, there were stone markers laid out for every mile on SE Stark St. Miraculously, more than half survive! We’ll take an eastbound tour of the extant ones from MP 4 to 14. Ride will end out in Gresham. You can take transit home, though I’ll probably grab lunch at the end! Moderate pace, we’ll mostly be riding OFF Stark.

And now…the “Through the Gorge and east of The Dalles” Tour

Okay, fine folks! Today (Sunday June 4) I am embarking on a week-long bike tour! If you’ve been following along on the Home Game you probably knew I would be taking a tour about now.

But the exact tour has changed a bit. Originally I had planned to take the train down to Klamath Falls and ride around that part of Eastern Oregon, ultimately ending up in Eugene.* But since I took the tour out to the coast a couple weeks ago, I had second thoughts with that plan. I just felt that it was a bit more daunting, a bit too much for me right now. I still want to do some touring down that way, just not at this moment.

But I still wanted to do a tour, and I still had the hankering to see the “dry side” of Oregon. I just wanted to do something a little closer to home. What about heading through the Gorge and doing stuff east of The Dalles? It’s been awhile since I had been out that way, and there’s still a bunch of stuff I want to explore. But…aren’t I going into the Gorge at the end of the month as part of Pedalpalooza? Well, yes, but I’m only  going as far east as Ainsworth, which is not really far. I’d blow past there pretty fast, then off to Hood River and The Dalles.

At The Dalles I’m getting out of the Gorge and doing a loop up the Columbia Plateau, something I had thought about four years ago but never acted upon. This loop would take me southeast through Cottonwood Canyon on the John Day River, a very new state park, then through Condon and Fossil. I’d cross the John Day again at the Clarno Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds. I’ve seen the Painted Hills and Sheep Rock, but not this part of the Fossil Beds! From there, west to Shaniko then north back to the Columbia, mostly following the last segment of the Oregon Outback.

That brings me to Friday night. On Saturday I meet up with a group tour of a few friends who are doing a Hood River-The Dalles-Dufur loop. We’ll end up in Hood River on Sunday afternoon, and I’ll catch a ride with someone back to Portland.

I may blog once or twice along the way, but the best way to keep track of me on the road is either via my flickr or Instagram photostreams.

Okay, off for adventure!

*I even booked the train tickets.

An epic first day of Pedalpalooza

I don’t usually do “blow-by-blow” reports anymore about Pedalpalooza, Portland’s (now) month long festival of bike fun. Not because it isn’t report-worthy, but there’s just so much going on and so much I participate in during the fest. So I typically do a few bigger review reports. (That is, if I remember to do them at all!)

But Thursday June 1st was a big day, in all senses of the word, and so I’m doing a report.

The day started out damn early, as my alarm went off at 3:45 AM so I can get to Mount Tabor at 5 AM for Sunrise Coffee. As much as my body protested being up that early, I’m the leader, so I can’t bail! The ride was okay: it was slightly drizzly, but remarkably warm, around 60F/16C. The drizzle stopped by the time I got to Tabor. There were eight other people who showed up, and we got to work making (or drinking made) coffee and eating treats. Unfortunately, the cloud cover never broke, so no sunrise. (While the last three Sunrise Coffees for Pedalpalooza were pretty cloudy, there was at least a glimpse of sun.)

People cleared out around 6 AM. I still had two (two!) hours before work, and it was close by, so I rode up to the top of Tabor (where I encountered a mess left behind by what I am assuming are Wednesday night revelers) and then got some more coffee, since I was going to need more if I would make it to the Kickoff Ride some twelve hours distant.

The seven hours of work were tough, to say the least, but I survived. I fought the urge to just go home after work (since I knew I wouldn’t go to the Kickoff Ride if I did) and instead did some errands and got some food. I met at the meet up spot, Salmon Street Fountain, at 7 PM. There was already a good amount of people, most I don’t know, but plenty I did in the mix, so we caught up until the ride departed around 8 PM. The mass took to the streets downtown and did a five mile loop crossing the Willamette River and back. And man, there were people! The estimate was 1,100! It is indeed something else to be in a group of so many other cyclists like this.* And it’s been awhile since I had been in this massive of a ride, as my rides are pretty low key.**

We got back to Salmon Street Fountain around 9 PM. The group splintered: most went home or do something else, a group went for a bonfire south. I elected to stay with the Thursday Night Ride crew and head north for a bonfire up by Heron Lakes. If anything, it was on the way to my house so I could bail easily if I felt. But I stuck it out to the very end and enjoyed company at the bonfire.

It wasn’t too long of a jaunt home, but it was still late. I got into bed around 1:30 AM. Yep, I had been up for nearly 22 hours straight! I don’t remember the last time I had done something like that. I used to do things like that more “in my youth” but now pushing 42 I’m surprise I lasted.

But next time? I either push back the morning coffee to something reasonable like 7 AM or take a nap during the day. Or preferably both!

*I know that some charity rides are this big or bigger, but we didn’t pay anything and moved pretty slow.

**I have had a few bigger rides. Last year’s Sunset/Moonrise ride got nearly 100 people.

A tour to the coast: May 20-23 2017

Portland is about 70 miles from the Pacific Ocean, at least “as the crow flies”. Close enough that we all know its there,* but still just far enough away that it’s not the easiest place to get to regularly. By car it’s a 90-120 minute drive. By bus, maybe three hours. By bike? At bare minimum, one long day of a ride.

And anyone who lives in Portland and bike tours hears the clarion call of the waves at least once a year. So plans to “go to the Coast”** are made. Now, one can take a couple different buses with bike in tow to get out there, but there’s that itch that can’t be scratched, called “biking to the coast”.

As I said, at bare minimum it will take you the better part of a day to get out there, and if you want to take it easy, two. The big problem is there is no great route to the coast. The most direct ways are the most busy, so to avoid them, you’re either doing something circuitous, or hard, or both. Some people go for the Advanced Studies of figuring out an all-gravel route over the Coast Range using the tangle of unmarked logging roads criss-crossing the slopes. While rewarding in its own badassitude (and solitude), it’s not for the faint of heart or those without good GPS units.

The weekend of May 20 was turning out pretty nice in Portland, which was really nice after such a damn long winter. Several days in a row without rain? Sign me up! Originally I was going to have a “three day weekend” starting Sunday the 21st, but at the eleventh hour it remarkably turned into a four-day one starting Saturday! Pack the bags, it’s time for a mini-tour!

With four days to play with, I had the time to take a two day ride out to the coast, and even ride back if I wanted to. There were many different options, but I decided to go with this one: Ride from my house over the St Johns Bridge and north on US 30 to Scappoose, then take the Crown Zellerbach Trail over the Nehalem Divide, then follow the Nehalem out to the ocean at Nehalem Bay. I’ve only done the Crown Zellerbach once before in 2014, so I was ready for another expedition. I had never been down the Nehalem all the way, though I almost did in 2013.

I got a late start on Saturday, pretty typical. The ride through North Portland and over St Johns Bridge was pretty smooth for a weekend day. US 30 was okay for a bit, but Dirty Thirty lived up to its name, as a piece of metal pierced my rear tire outside of Scappoose. Ugh. Yeah, I don’t know if I’m feeling the supple tire action for these conditions. I replaced the tube with my spare and soldiered on.

The Crown Zellerbach Trail was tougher than I thought it would be! It’s an old logging railroad, mostly unpaved, and used for years as a logging truck road. I had to get my loaded bike over a downed tree in the first couple miles and worried that this would be a regular occurrence. Thankfully that was the only one, at least on the section of trail I completed. The rest of the trail alternated between peaceful and sublime moments interspersed with steep climbs and mud. I reached the top of the Nehalem Divide, saw the “trail closed ahead” sign (most likely because of logging activity, but I heard afterwards there’s more downed trees on this section), and decided to descend on the paved Scappoose-Vernonia Hwy instead.

I ended the night at Anderson Park in Vernonia, almost fifty miles in.*** The nice thing about this park is it’s right on the edge of this small town, so all those conveniences are readily available. I ate dinner at a nice Mediterranean place, and in the morning had breakfast at the cafe. And…there was another bike tourist at the campground! Robyn was heading from Portland out to the coast, but instead of going to Nehalam, she was planning a 90 mile day using the Westport Ferry across the Columbia and then eventually to Astoria! It was tempting to join her, but I didnt’ feel like a 90 mile day**** and really wanted to check out the Nehalem. (But man, I do need to get to Astoria at some point!)

The road ahead was mostly peaceful, as I was following a river down to the sea. The route (OR 47 to 202 to 103) was mostly quiet too, though there was a vehicle at least every couple minutes. The “store”***** at Birkenfeld was open, which was surprising, as it’s often closed. I had a nice cold lager, which was so refreshing at that point. I took a break at the store in Elsie (junction of 103 and US 26), then grit my teeth for a couple miles of 26 until the turnoff for the fabled Lower Nehalem River Road.

This road is a secret back door to the coast, not well known and lightly trafficked. It was closed for a few years due to a washed out bridge, but another reason why it’s off the beaten path is because about 20 miles of it is gravel. The first five miles from 26 were paved, and brought me to Spruce Run Campground. The campground was pretty nice and besides the Nehalem. I was already 50 miles in and considered staying, but fuck it! I really wanted to see the ocean tonight! So I pressed on. Also, since I haven’t ridden a real long distance for a real long time, I wanted to push myself and see if I was still capable for the long haul.

The first section of the gravel was actually pretty nice and level, which lulled me into complacency. However, when I crossed into Tillamook County by the Salmonberry River crossing, things changed. The gravel got chunkier, and there were several small but very steep hills that sapped my energy. Plus, I saw signs for a road closure at Wolf Creek. Am I on Wolf Creek Road? I don’t think so, but nothing is well signed here and damn, I haven’t seen a car coming in quite some time. So then I started to panic, and push on harder. A road closure would mean the promise of the coast would be denied, and I would have to turn around and come back the way I came.****** I was not in a good mental state. Eventually, a car approached from the opposite direction and I flagged it down to ask the question. Yep, the road goes through to the coast! My mood was lifted for a bit…until I noticed my front end getting squishy. Damn. Slow leak? I hate them, since sometimes you can’t find the leak. And I had no spare tube. (I typically repair the damaged tube at camp, but I had forgotten that the tube I pulled out the rear had sealant in it. No go.) Plus, getting the tire on and off the rear was a total pain. Would the front be the same?

I put some air into the front. It seemed to hold, so I pushed on. Thankfully, the pavement began back up, so I didn’t have to worry about another rock causing a pinch flat or something. I rolled into the town of Nehalem around 7 pm, and found myself at a pizza place where I devoured a small pie. Then I rode the couple miles to Nehalem Bay State Park and dumped bike and gear at the hiker/biker campsite. I ran over to the beach, where I just missed the sunset. But it was still great to see the Pacific Ocean in all its glory!

There were people camped in the hiker/biker campsite, but no one was present or awake, which gave the place an eerie presence in the twilight as I set up camp. Exhausted after an 80 mile day, I slept good that night.

I awoke Monday morning, May 22, with no real plans. I knew I wasn’t going to ride all the way back to Portland, so I just needed to be in Tillamook by 1 PM on Tuesday to get home on time. I could stay here at Nehalem Bay for another night, but I decided I wanted to explore. First things first: fix the front flat. Thankfully, the front tire was easier to remove and mount, and the leak was obvious. I patched it and I was good to go.

First I biked the couple miles into nearby Manzanita, a cute li’l beach town, where I got some supplies and got an underwhelming lunch. (My preferred option was closed.) I rode south along US 101 for about 20 miles to get to my destination for the night, Barview Jetty. Oh sure, I could have ridden another 25 miles to my favorite campsite on the coast, Cape Lookout. But I felt like taking it easy, and I had never been to Barview. Barview was a real nice campground, but expensive! I’m used to the state park hiker/biker sites costing $5 to $6 a night. But Barview is a Tillamook County park, and the site was $20! Yeeps! Still, I was really close to the beach, and I had a good sunset.

Tuesday morning I packed up camp, rode about 13 miles south on 101 to Tillamook and caught the bus home. My coast mini-tour was done.

All in all, it was a decent trip. But the ride to the coast was longer and tougher than I planned, at just about 130 miles. Since I hadn’t ridden anything that long in a long time, it felt harder. But it was nice to know that I could push myself to do this, especially with some good touring plans on the horizon. As it was, this was the first time I had camped two or more consecutive nights since my Vancouver Island-San Juans Tour in September/October. I had only done two consecutive nights then, so this trip was a good test of my touring setup and my ability to get a decent nights’ sleep on the road. And I did, at least after the first night. This shakedown gave me the confidence to go out on a longer tour soon.

And man oh man, I love the coast! It’s been too long, Pacific Ocean. At certain points in my life I was quite the “beach rat” and got to know some beaches on the Atlantic coast. The Pacific is more awesome in many ways, except for the fact I can’t swim in it. And I realize that I need to get out to the coast more often. Will I bike out the next time? Probably not. I’ll load my bike onto one of the buses to bring me most of the way, but the ride to the coast makes me realize how much I just want to be on the coast. The way out is nice at times, but there’s nothing spectacular, few points of interest. And there’s no perfect way. Yet.

They are working on the Salmonberry Corridor Trail, a path that would follow the abandoned Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad from Banks to Nehalem. This would mean a car-free way to the coast on a gentle rail grade. I’m really looking forward to its completion, though it’s going to take a few years. In the meantime, Washington State has the Willapa Hills Trail, and I need to get back there at some point. I can dream…

*Which is good for people like me who have never lived more than 70 miles from any ocean.

**If you say you’re “going to the shore” or “going to the beach”, everyone will know you’re from out of town.

***It would have been easier and more logical to end at Big Eddy Park, as going to Vernonia requires back-tracking. But Big Eddy was closed so I had to go with what was available. I passed by Scaponia Park on the way in, which I thought was closed, but it looked like it might be open.

****Of course, I ended up doing 80 miles as it was…

*****When I first visited it in 2001, it truly was a country store. Now it is basically a roadhouse/bar/music venue.

******Yeah, I could turn onto 26, but that road is too busy and narrow, and features some serious climbs.

REMINDER: Sunrise Coffee Club TOMORROW, Thursday June 1, 5 am!

Yes folks, it’s one day until Pedalpalooza, Portland’s month long festival of bike fun! And as per my tradition since 2013, I will be leading the very first event of the calendar!

On Thursday June 1 at 5 am, meet me on Mount Tabor for SUNRISE COFFEE CLUB! We’ll be in the group picnic area on east side nearest the SE 69th/Yamhill gate which will have a great view of sunrise, NOT THE VERY TOP OF THE HILL.

What better way to start Pedalpalooza? Get up before the crack of dawn and ride up to Tabor to make coffee while watching the sun rise. Coffee and camaraderie guaranteed. BYO coffee, water, and way to make coffee. Think camping stoves and the like. Sunrise is hoped for at 5:24. Bringing some breakfast ain’t a bad idea, either.

SPECIAL NOTE: The weather forecast for Thursday is iffy (of course), and there is a chance of showers. RAIN DOES NOT CANCEL THIS EVENT. If it is wet, we will head for the picnic shelter which is near the SE 69th and Yamhill entrance. Please check the group picnic area first!

Slough Country Ramblin’, 14 May 2017

Originally I was supposed to head out to the east side of the Columbia River Gorge for a ride on Sunday. But this was going to be a carpool type affair with folks I didn’t know. And I got the word on Friday that fitting my bike was a “maybe”. Plus, the meet point was ten miles from my house, at 7 am. I said, nevermind, I’ll try it again some other time.

The initial weather forecast for Sunday May 14 was crap,* but something remarkable happened: Around noon the rain stopped and the skies cleared up a bit. Nice weather for a bike ride.

I decided to pull out the ol’ three speed, my trusty Raleigh Superbe. This was also the same weekend of the Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour. After going for three years in a row, this was the first year since I started going that I wouldn’t make it. I’m a bit bummed about this, but honestly, I’m not as bummed as I thought I’d be. Well, if I couldn’t be physically in the Midwest, at least I could be there in spirit!

It seemed as appropriate as ever for a nice little ramble down into the lands of the Columbia Slough, especially since I have an upcoming ride down here. What better time to test that route than now!

First stop was Columbia Childrens Arboretum to eat my lunch. This obscure park was peaceful (and a bit muddy) on this Sunday afternoon, just the hum of industry in the background. That’s the ultimate irony of the lowlands of the Slough: One moment you are in a forest of cottonwood and alder, or next to a peaceful pond. The next moment you’re near an auto wrecking operation or trucking company.

Further on, I took a pause by that secret slough by Heron Lakes Golf Course. Parking the Superbe against a pine, I had a postcard perfect scene. Nevermind that I-5’s roar is just less than a mile away, and quite audible.

I rambled further down the Slough trail. The bike/ped bridge across the Slough by the wastewater plant is open again, so good news. But I decided to press on. The water in Smith Lake was quite high. I made it all the way to the “edge of the peninsula”, Kelley Point Park, where the Willamette and Columbia meet. The rivers ran high here as well, swelling with spring rains, obscuring most of the sandy beaches.

I rode back towards town, using Marine Drive towards St Johns. The busy freight route was quiet this Sunday, but there were still trains a’moving and other things humming. St Johns was quiet. I got a couple slices of pizza for dinner, then a drink, and headed back home.

As I’ve said before, I’m not totally in love with living all the way out on the edge of NE Portland. But having the lands of the Columbia Slough so close by is a big perk. I can get to peaceful nature settings in a little over a mile by bike. I wouldn’t be able to do that in many other parts of town. And I can’t take that for granted.

*If I did go on the original Gorge ride, the weather would be nicer, since it was on the drier side of the mountains.

Pedalpalooza coming! Here’s what the Urban Adventure League (and Society of Three Speeds) has in store.

pp2017fullposter_DONOTPRINTYes, my friends, Pedalpalooza, Portland’s annual celebration of bike fun, is just around the corner. This year, it’s all of June! Which I’m not super stoked about, as I feel it’s just a bit too long. But whatever. (And I’ll be gone for a good chunk of the first half, due to bike tour.) But come the second half, I’ve got a lot of great rides lined up, including a new history-themed ride!

So, what do I have in store?

  • Thursday June 1, 5 am SUNRISE COFFEE CLUB Mount Tabor Park, SE 69th Ave and Yamhill (group picnic area on east side nearest 69th/Yamhill gate, NOT THE VERY TOP) What better way to start Pedalpalooza? Get up before the crack of dawn and ride up to Tabor to make coffee while watching the sun rise. Coffee and camaraderie guaranteed. BYO coffee, water, and way to make coffee. Think camping stoves and the like. Sunrise is hoped for at 5:24. Bringing some breakfast ain’t a bad idea, either.
  • Tuesday June 13, 5 pm PIZZA RIDE Yep, my semi-annual crazy mystery ride hitting up five or more pizzerias is BACK! Start location will be revealed a t registration but it’s somewhere around Tabor. $15/person, capped at 25 peeps. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pizza-ride-2017-head-east-tickets-33880030082?ref=wpwidget NOTE: Ride is currently full, but there is a wait list. If you are interested, I encourage you to SIGN UP FOR THE WAIT LIST. We may expand the size of the ride, and that will only go to people on the waiting list!
  • Sunday June 18, 11 am STARK ST MILEPOSTS  Stark St Station, 6049 SE Stark St  (Meet outside cafe.) Back in the day, there were stone markers laid out for every mile on SE Stark St. Miraculously, more than half survive! We’ll take an eastbound tour of the extant ones from MP 4 to 14. Ride will end out in Gresham. You can take transit home, though I’ll probably grab lunch at the end! Moderate pace, we’ll mostly be riding OFF Stark.
  • Tuesday June 20 6:45 pm POWELL BUTTE SOLSTICE SUNSET Taylor Court Grocery, 1135 SE 80th Ave (Meet outside store, but stock up on supplies inside!)
    Watch the sunset on the shortest night of the year from one of East Portland’s highest points! We’ll tackle the butte the easiest way possible, but it will still be work. We’ll have a lovely picnic (BYO) waiting for the sun to set. About a 7 mile ride one-way, some unpaved action. Not a loop but we’ll get you home. Sunset at 9:03 pm.
  • Thursday June 22, 5:30 pm ROUGH STUFF RAMBLE, EASTSIDE EDITION Fillmore, 7201 NE Glisan St An afterwork romp around the lands bordering I-205. Expect a 15 mi moderate pace with a mixture of paved/unpaved, a hill or two, and a lot of places you may have never been to. Route not a loop and will remain a mystery, but we’ll end up in NE and can get food/drinks at the end. Wider tires recommended. Bring lights/layers, we’ll be out until dark.
  • Sunday June 25, 9 am WOODLAWN PARK COFFEE OUTSIDE Woodlawn Park (under the bridge), NE Dekum St and Bellevue Ave (This park has cover, no excuse for rain to keep you away.) Wake up at a civilised hour to roll over to the park for coffee. This is a BYO affair, either make it there via camp stove, or bring brewed coffee. Something to eat isn’t a bad idea, either. Spend a bit here with friends, what’s the hurry?
  • Sunday June 25, 9:45 am THREE SPEED RIDE Woodlawn Park (under the bridge), NE Dekum St and Bellevue Ave A tour of the northern regions of the city on your humble internally geared three speed bicycle. Bring your trusty three speed bicycle from any nation. Three speeds preferred but any bike welcome if you don’t have one. Casual paced ramble,approx 15 mi, fairly flat, with a little unpaved “rough stuff” action thrown in. We’ll have a picnic and tea brew up on the way, bring all the necessities like food, a teakettle and a camping stove. Ride not a loop, ends near transit and adult beverages. Check website for more info.
  • Sunday June 25, 10 am SLOUGH COUNTRY RAMBLE Woodlawn Park (under the bridge), NE Dekum St and Bellevue Ave Let’s explore the nearer reaches of the Columbia Slough! This approximately 20 mi ride will feature sleepy reaches of this waterway, plus other secret spots. Mixed surfaces, may have to push or carry a bike for a bit. A bit of high traffic roads, too. Not a loop but will end near transit, and maybe we’ll do lunch, etc at the end.
  • Monday June 26, 10 am MIDWEEK RIDE TO THE COLUMBIA GORGE (start location revealed upon registration, but somewhere in Gresham) Riding to quiet country roads and spectacular scenery is easier than you think. The Columbia River Gorge is just a short bicycle ride away. And you can totally handle it if you are an everyday rider. Bring a snack, water, and Trimet fare. Geared bikes recommended. Approx 40 miles round trip. Camping option at Ainsworth State Park. REGISTRATION REQUIRED! https://ualmdwkgorge2017.eventbrite.com
  • Monday June 26 MIDWEEK CAMPING IN THE COLUMBIA GORGE Ainsworth State Park, Historic Columbia River Hwy, just S of I-84 (at the hiker/biker sites) After the Gorge ride, let’s camp at Ainsworth State Park for the night and head back Tuesday. Hiker/biker site $5/person. You can ride out with the main Gorge ride or come out on your own. Registration required. https://ualmdwkgorge2017.eventbrite.com
  • Thursday June 29, 6:30 pm PROPER PEDAL PICNIC  P’s and Q’s Market, 1301 NE Dekum St (Meet outside store, but stock up on supplies inside!) A classy type of picnic ride. Leave your ratty t-shirt, cutoffs, and “I just ran to the store” chips and hummus for ANOTHER picnic ride, this one is about stepping it up. Dress up nicely (you don’t have to be super-fancy, but it wouldn’t hurt) and think about nice foods and beverages to bring. Blankets and nice picnic setups are good too. Thankfully we start at a classy joint to buy provisions. Ride will be about five miles to a mystery picnic destination. Bring lights and layers, we may be out after dark! And stay classy.

Adventure April Update

Society Of Three Speeds

Hello all! Yeah, I haven’t posted much about the wrap-up to the Three Speed Adventure April yet, and it’s half-way through May! I know, I know. I aplogise profusely.

And what can I say? Life has been hectic. The last few weeks have been Pedalpalooza deadlines, and getting ready for all the other craziness that will happen this summer. Contrast this to last November, after the October Challenge was over. Bike touring season was over, the holidays were approaching. Things winding down. More time for this stuff.

So because of this, I’m giving everyone a little more time to get their reports in. You have until next Friday, May 19th, to let me know. You can email me or send it to my PO Box. Yes, you still need to email or mail me, even if you’ve been tagging me in all of your Instagram posts!

And then I will…

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