Dec 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Thailand introduced a 2013 New Year stamp!

This morning I received a call from my old friend, Duane who is living in Thailand. They just ushered in 2013 with a background of very loud fireworks. He is now in his first year teaching English and absolutely loves it there planning to stay as long as possible. It was so nice to hear his voice and I miss him. As 2012 is coming to a close, time for reflection is in order.

It was a wild cycling season that appears a fundamental change is in the offering. Hopefully, a positive spin the past doping transgressions will emerge. So, best to say goodbye to 2012 and eagerly welcome the new year.

This is the opportunity for me to give thanks to everyone that's supported and stopped by, this year, to read my blog...

And, to wish everyone full health, happiness and a prosperous 2013!

Dec 30, 2012

Peter Sagan: Ice Man Cometh

Sagan ready for hockey...
and ready to win big time in 2013!

With the NHL lockout locking out the fans, me included, potentially wiping out the season I'm thinking of... Peter Sagan.

The Terminator is in the news, this time getting ready for his upcoming season. He is also playing hockey. The picture is from his Facebook page in full gear and is he adding this to his pre-season conditioning?

Only 22 years old, he is set with the goal to win a big classic. Last season, he was scary good with the promise of sterling greatness: a series of top-five finishes in Milan-San Remo (4th), Ghent Wevelgem (2nd), Flanders (5th) and third in Amstel Gold. I predict a classic win will be his this upcoming season. He may be the next big thing since Merckx.

Eddy Merckx won his first of seven Milan-San Remos in 1966. He was 21 and this kick started his 10-year cycle of dominance.

Sagan has chalked up impressive stage victories especially winning three stages and the 2012 Tour de France Green Points Jersey.

Once he gets his first big classic win notched... the new Cannibal will have arrived!

Dec 28, 2012

Friday File: Northwave Vest Review, Iron Kiwi & Autodrop.

Thumbs Up to my new Northwave Sid water resistant vest.

This the last Friday File of 2012, let's get started...

This morning I rode 1hr30min around UBC and truly enjoyed the cold and rainy conditions. It wasn't pouring cats and dogs to warrant my waterproof plastic jacket. I don't real like it as it traps all the perspiration in and overheats. So, what I did was don on my new Northwave Sid Water Resistant Vest (recently purchased) was a good time to put it to use.

I'm very glad I used my new Northwave vest over my long sleeved jacket. Without delay, the cloudy weather slowly turned into rain and my vest turned into a champion keeping the rain off me. In fact, I felt so confident that my ride turned out into a good workout of hills. Unfortunately, my Marinoni is going to need some TLC cleaning!

Many thanks to Erich and Barry of Autodrop Ltd. for the embrocation. Today, the Uwharrie Embro provided that perfect amount of heat for the legs. And, also one other item of interest, is the Autodrop Ltd. cycling cap. Proudly handmade by Red Dots Cycling, made of Linen/cotton in a very distinctive black with blue stripe including the Autodrop Ltd. lion motif on the inside brim... now on sale!

38-year old, Julian Dean (Orica-GreenEDGE) will call it a career, a solid one too. Before he retires, he will compete in the Sun Tour and the New Zealand national championships in Christchurch on January 13th. A long cycling career of 17 years for the iron Kiwi will come to an end. His new career will soon begin with Orica GreenEDGE as assistant sporting director and mentor.

The Iron Kiwi will hang up his wheels.

Dec 27, 2012

Campenones de Amarillo: The KAS Cycling Team

King Kelly wore the KAS jersey well
from 1986-1988.

One of the all-time successful Spanish cycling teams was KAS.

KAS, a soft drink manufacturer, ruled the cycling roads through most of the years between 1959-1988. My earliest memory was the high flying Sean Kelly winning his second Paris-Roubaix (1986) in the classic Kas yellow/blue jersey. I remember him taking the final sprint, easily, from Rudy Dhaenens and Adri van der Poel. The Irishman wasn't the only champion to don the classic jersey...

Federico Bahamontes won the 1959 Tour de France. Little known climber and the man with probably the longest name in cycling, Francisco Gabiacacogneascoa was 1st overall in the 1966 Vuelta. Jose-Manuel Fuente, nicknamed El Tarangu for a man of strength and character, was a two-time Vuelta a Espana winner (1972, 1974). Lucien Van Impe, the classy climber was a stage winner in the 1979 Tour. And, Sean Kelly was the 1988 Vuelta champion, his final year with KAS.

El Tarangu

Don't worry if you can't understand Spanish, here is a documentary with fantastic historical footage called, Campenones de Amarillo: El Equipo Ciclista KAS.

Francisco Gabicagogeascoa enjoys the sweet benefits
of his sponsor.
courtesy: Yosu Yurramendi

58 minutes of Spanish cycling history: El Equipo Ciclista KAS.
Note the important early Spanish reverence to Orbea and BH bicycles.

Dec 24, 2012


Ryder Hesjedal gave us an early Christmas
gift we can't forget!

I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!

Dec 21, 2012

Friday File: In the Fridge, Mods, Adieu Jimmy & 38 Years of Marinoni

Mods unite...
Wiggo & Weller

Friday File time and today, I'm joining forces with a special edition of In the fridge to show you a new beer...

A short drive north of Vancouver is the well known ski resort of Whistler. Also, it's a haven for mountain biking and did you know, producing tasty beer.

From Whistler Brewing Co. comes Powder Mountain Lager, 5% of pure tastiness. I love the lightly hopped lager. And, this might be coincidence, last week I watched 2012 movie, The Grey starring Liam Neeson. That's the rather dark movie about his fight against wolves in Alaska. Powder Mountain Lager has the wolf howling as the logo. Watching the movie, I found myself pulling for the wolves.

3 cheers err ... howls!

Remember Paul Weller? How about Style Council? He is the Modfather. Thanks to Hans for sending me this cool link of Weller and Bradley Wiggins speaking Mod and more on BBC radio... 

2006 TdF fun...
Casper rides shot gun with Arnaud Coyot.
Caper won stage 1 and finished 135th out of 136.

Sadly, one of my favorite and colorful riders, Jimmy Casper (Ag2r-La Mondiale) has decided to hang up his bike for good and retire at the age of 34. Seems no team wanted to offer him a contract for 2013. Well known as a pretty good sprinter and also for his funny shenanigans on the bike he also was twice lantern rouge (last placed finisher) in the Tour. He won a stage in the 2006 Tour with a culmination of 61 wins since his debut in 1998.

My Wellgo RC713 road pedals.

Here's my Wellgo RC713 road pedal update: I rode a short distance with it and find them sticky to disengage out of. A quick solution is with a little light oil in both pedals. Light weight (310 grams for both pedals) smaller platform than my old Shimano PD-A525 pedals will provide my future rides with a... positive spin!



...and Campagnolo!

And one more...

To all drivers...
Let's keep it safe and share the road... together!

Dec 20, 2012

What was it like racing against Merckx?

The Cannibal hurt locker
Amstel Gold Race, 1969.

Daniel Friebe's, 'Eddy Merckx: The Cannibal,' is an excellent book that I'm finding difficult to put down. I'm taking my time reading it, absorbing every word. It's that good. The book is choke full of memorable quotations from his poor adversaries. He created many.

The Cannibal was driven. So driven that he often directed the peloton to total exhaustion. As he pulled his peloton along, many riders were just holding on like grim death. Friebe interviews former Salvarani rider, Dino Zandegù asking him, what was it like racing against him?

He came from us from every angle, slaughtered every one of us, like some rabid wild man, some barbarian. He could have been the greatest footballer, the greatest skier, the greatest boxer of all time, only he chose cycling. But Merckx also had this great drama in his life: he couldn't stand, couldn't tolerate losing. And it was a real drama for him. 

Oh, he used to drive me nuts. When he was racing, you knew that he could put you out of the time limit any time. It was a constant, breathless chase. He couldn't wait for kilometre X, when he would attack and smash us all to pieces. I used to tell him to go stuff himself. When you're hurting, you turn nasty. I'd be shouting from the back of the bunch, "Vaffanculo, Merckx! Bastardo!" Half of the peloton detested him despite thinking that he was an OK bloke. 

Translation: Vaffanculo = F**k You.

Dec 19, 2012

dhb Vaeon Bib Shorts: Winter Rides Made Warmer

dhb Vaeon Roubaix Bib Shorts.

My last piece of cycling kit (listed as back order) finally reached me yesterday.

Well, my anticipation turned to a smile when I received my dhb Vaeon Roubaix Bib Shorts. Today, the weather is cold (-3C), heavily snowing in normal rainy Vancouver. I'm glad I decided on a pair of robust winter-ish bib shorts to carry me warmly on my cold rides.

dhb is the house brand of cycling clothing from the mega UK online shop, Wiggle. And after reading countless reviews, it was time to make good and purchase the inexpensive priced Vaeons. I want to say that I do not receive any reimbursement of any kind from Wiggle for this review. Of course, I'm always open to the idea of reviewing cycling product.

The bibs are nothing short of excellent. Lined with Lombardia Roubaix fabric for cool conditions I put on the nicely contour fitting bib shorts and I imagine the cold weather will be far from a factor. In fact, armed with my new Wellgo RC713 road pedals and new cleats, I set out yesterday for a quick spin to a). test the cleat position/new pedals (review upcoming) and b). test the Vaeon bibs. We had a early morning dump of snow, it was cold (-1C) as I set out. The roads were slushy nothing difficult to ride on.

The Vaeon bib shorts were nothing I felt before. I remember back in the eighties, my all time favorite cycling shorts were Blacky. They just fit so comfortable and I never thought a second of the shorts while wearing them. They do their thing so you can just concentrate on the riding. The Vaeon's are like that. The Vaeon pad is thick and comfy, I envision more comfort on a longer ride. The fit is bang on ( I have the small), water repellent, and the comfort level is top notch ... amazingly for only $60 bucks!

CyTech Elastic Interface Giro chamois,
Glad to have the dual density pad.

Soft and fleecy Lombardia Roubaix
lycra fabric.

Dec 17, 2012

Tour of Alberta: Sept 3-8, 2013

Looking forward to this!

The Tour of Alberta six-stage race will start in Edmonton (Sept. 3rd) and ending in Calgary (Sept. 8th). I'm excited that Pro Cycling is coming to Alberta. I was born in Calgary and although I'm living in Vancouver I'm proud Alberta will be hosting this world-class event. The UCI sanctioned the ToA as a 2.1 race that means up to 16 pro teams could be included, half could include Pro Tour Teams. 

The official route will be announced in early 2013. 

Dec 16, 2012

First Look: Wellgo RC713 Pedals & Riding Kit.

Keeping with the SPD's...
I decided to upgrade to the tiny Wellgo RC-713 road pedals.

Was I glad that I decided to stay indoors this Sunday afternoon!

I planned a ride and as I was looking at the glum weather...

Canada Post rang and they delivered a special package I've been anxiously waiting for! This is an out of the box look at my new Wellgo RC-713 Pedals and riding kit.

I decided to keep with my SPD's and not upgrade to new shoes. I love my Sidi Giau MTB shoes and being extremely comfortable/well made and allow me to walk on them. With racing shoes, my nightmare is slipping on a Cafe floor. I'm not ready for them yet. Keeping within my small budget, I decided to go with the inexpensive and well-made ...Wellgo RC713 road pedals. In case you don't know, Wellgo is an established cycling brand from Taiwan that produces very good pedals. Apart from my old 1987 Campy Nuovo Record pedals, these are my newly bought clipless road pedals. It took me while. My friend, Hans gave me his old Shimano MTB pedals I've had for the past 4 years. Thanks again Hans!

What I found in the box is a set of well-machined, handsome looking pedals including spare cleats. I weighed them and surprisingly came under the advertised 310 grams. Both pedals are 303 grams. So, I will put these pedals on and have an upcoming full review.

It was past due (years that is) and time to replace some of my worn out cycling clothing with spiffy ones. Again, I'll have to get everything sorted out and will have a upcoming full review.

l to r: Northwave Gilet, GripGrap cover sock, 
Campagnolo flag socks and Santini arm/leg warmers.

Dec 14, 2012

Friday File: Favorite Jerseys, Stones A Fresh Start

Famous Faema, 1970

Friday File time...

Christmas is fast approaching and it's nice to know it's around the corner. That means I plan to slow down a notch from work duties ...enjoy the holidays and ride. This is our busy time of the season, and I find myself always rushing doing errands, shipping off Red Dots Cycling orders and even making custom cycling caps. It just keeps on going and I'm profoundly looking forward to winding down for the holidays. I'd like to wish everyone...happy holidays!

With the start of the new cycling season, my eyes gravitate towards the new team cycling kit designs. A cycling team gets the chance to rework their kit in the off season and hoping fans will embrace the design and purchase the new team kit. There's a lot of awful kits, like this one, throughout the ages and one must think why oh why was it conceived.

Examples are too numerous to list but happily there's an equal amount that's always fancied my eyes. Of course, it's all subjective so before some of you go having a fit, have a look at a few of my favorite jersey designs from the past... give it a chance.

Simple, Italian style...
1955 Torpado

Lotto, 1986.

Vivi-Bennoto, 1983.

Toshiba, 1991

Rabobank is history, in it's place rises from the ashes is the new Blanco Pro Cycling Team. I'm slowly liking the kit. Unorthodox vertical stripes of black/white/blue, with just Giant and Blanco on the kit is uncommon but I welcome it. A new team, a fresh start a blank canvas.

Give it time... it'll work.

And, it's showtime...

Because you just can't stop them...

Aging Keith Richards and his fellow Stones are back promoting their new album GRRRR!

Dec 12, 2012

Winter Riding: Lighting the way.

My Blaze light permanently on for
the Winter.

I'm not riding as much as I want to during this winter.

There's no sun, rains most of the time (except for today) and generally cold and miserable. How to combat our west coast unique weather? Find some time during work, steal an hour away and get on the bike. I'm pretty lucky that I can do this as I work from home. The situation did present itself this afternoon, as the sun appeared (for a moment). Knowing that the sun does not stay long, the storm clouds are always in the background ready to unleash. Today I'm ready...

Darkness does come quickly and I decided to arm myself with my rear flashing light and front light. I use the 1/2 watt blaze from Planet Bike. I find it illuminates very well as I catch the oncoming drivers attention. That's what it's all about: SAFETY. If they see me then they know I'm there.

A good thing, as I started riding and (surprise) the sun disappeared into the dark clouds. Both of my lights are on flashing mode to get full notice from drivers, pedestrians and city road construction crews.

Works very well, so well a pedestrian spotted my flashing light as I turned the corner and waited for me to pass before crossing the street. Do pedestrians take cyclists with lights more seriously? When they do see the lights they do react.

I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have both front and rear lights on in the day. My rare winter rides just got safer. Colorful cycling gear is good but proper bicycle lighting ... just lights the way!

Rear flashing!
My 23 year old rear light... I bought this little gem
during my time as a bike messenger. 

Dec 11, 2012

Road To Valor: The Heroic Gino Bartali

Now that I'm finished reading the very impressive book, 'Road To Valour' by Aili and Andres McConnon, here's my humble opinion on the fascinating life of Gino Bartali.

As all cycling fans know, Gino Bartali is the renowned Italian cyclist that emerged before the Second World War. Victories in Milan-San Remo (1939-40), Giro di Lombardia (1939-40), Giro d'ltalia (1936-37) and Tour de France (1938) earned him true cycling hero. He was well before my time and I do acknowledge the tough Tuscan as a great rider. I suppose if I grew up in that era, I would be a coppiani.

This book focusses on Gino Bartali who helped the Jewish community in 1943 Tuscany. It is quite remarkable that Bartali stuffed photos and materials that would be used to forge documents into his bike frame. When he past dangerous checkpoints he did so to the network of Catholic priests helping Jews escape from the Nazis. His job was not always to smuggle documents but to use his notoriety as a distraction.

King of the Road.
photo: Ivo Faltoni

Aili McConnon said,

"When the Nazis occupied Italy in 1943, they worked together with the Italian Fascists and they were ferocious in their search for Jews. If you helped the Jews (in any way), you were helping an enemy of the state so you were a traitor. You could face torture, imprisonment and execution. And you risked the life of your family. Bartali had a wife and a young son."

Sadly, the war years robbed many cyclists, Bartali included, of his prime cycling years. But, Bartali was unique. Perhaps the war changed him aged him and the brush with death made him stronger. He would return to the 1948 Tour de France and performed one of the greatest comebacks to win at 34 years old (old by cycling standards). And notably this amazing feat gave him the largest gap of 10 years separating his two victories - a record which stands to this day.

After his 1948 Tour victory, Bartali humbly remarked,

"Everyone in their life has his own particular way of expressing life's purpose - the lawyer his eloquence, the painter his palette, and the man of letters his pen form which the quick words of his story flow. I have my bicycle."

After reading this book, I have a new found appreciation for the man. I may be a coppiani... now I'm a bartalilani!

Dec 9, 2012

Killers Gaze: 1967 Paris-Roubaix

Killers gaze...
Merckx in the 1967 Paris-Roubaix.

As I'm writing this Sunday post, a large group of soggy cyclists passed in front of my window. It's 1C very cold, rain turning into sleet. Ah, as I sit nice and toasty warm, outside is the perfect conditions for my favorite miserable, exciting and unpredictable classic... Paris-Roubaix!

This is a lead up before I begin reading my next book, Eddy Merckx: The Cannibal, by Daniel Friebe. It's a natural tie-in. 

Merckx turned professional in 1965 with Solo-Superia riding uncomfortably under Belgium King of the classics, Rik Van Looy. The following year, he joined Tom Simpson and Peugeot-BP and made his first attempt in L'Enfer du Nord. He placed 15th behind winner Felice Gimondi. 

In 1967, Merckx got into the winning groove...

His wins were bigger, bolder and better. First place: Milan-San Remo, Ghent-Wevelgem, Flèche Wallonne and the World Championship Road Race. Merckx said...

In my third year as a pro, I slowly started to reap the rewards of the hard work I had put in earlier.

His second attempt in Paris-Roubaix was a learning curve for the young Cannibal. He rode eagerly among some of the elite of cycling : Jan Janssen, Rik Van Looy, Raymond Poulidor, Gianni Motta and Rudi Altiq. Here's a fine video on this 1967 race. Jan Janssen won the race, Van Looy (second) and Altiq (third). Eddy Merckx fought to 8th place. A befitting, gritty, black and white look with an exciting finish.

Hard fought right until the end.

Dec 7, 2012

Friday File: Raincouver, The Cannibal & Dog Gone Fun

Winter = Rain-couver.

Friday File time...

Now, that I'm feeling healthy to ride the weather does not seem to want to cooperate. That nasty bronchitis I caught is happily history with help from antibiotics. But, what's with the weather? It's 2C raining and cold. Ok I'm griping a bit here. Tomorrow will be officially my one month off the bike. I hope to change that. The sun is in the forecast and temperatures sinister around minus 1C to 5C. That's cold and I'll have to be inventive to wrap up. I don't plan to re-visit that horrible bronchitis experience. And, I just want to enjoy the bike again. Our FRFuggitivi group rides disbanded for a short spell but I plan to go out with Guy or John. In fact, John is trying to ride three days a week to keep up with fitness. I would be happy riding once a week during the bleak winter days.

I recently put in my Christmas order for kit, the basics that I long need to replace all the while keeping it under budget. Hopefully, it will arrive sometime mid-month and I purchased new pedals. Yes, in my slow to get out and join the rest of technology culture, I will finally upgrade my old Shimano pedals (thanks again Hans), and I will post it with a review of the new pedals once I receive it. The rest of the kit will be a surprise, again with a post upcoming when I receive it.

I want to thank Guy for 1. a fun end of season of bikesbooksbeers podcast (you can watch it here) and 2. Passing along the much anticipated, 'Eddy Merckx: The Cannibal by Daniel Friebe. I look forward to reading this book. These words, on the back of the book, are enough to start reading...

"His merciless domination of the sport ruined careers and revolutionised cycling. In this gripping and definitive biography, Daniel Friebe unravels the truth behind the Merckx enigma, revealing that his insatiable desire to win hid a terrible fear of losing."

1975 Paris-Roubaix...
The Cannibal vs the Gypsy. A classic example
of his insatiable desire to win.

Cycling crusader, Greg LeMond is back in the news. Did he ever leave? Well, he may be back as the new interim UCI President. Read my last post for details. Here is one of my favorite images from his return to greatness in the 1989 Tour de France.

1989 TdF,
will LeMond return to greatness once again?

Why cycling is so relaxing....

dog gone fun!
timbuk2 Facebook

Dec 5, 2012

Gianni Bugno: Star-man

Gianni Bugno
photo: Fabrizio Radelli

Gianni Bugno is the president of the Cyclistes Professionels Associés (CPA), the professional riders' association. A man that makes a strong statement wherever he goes.

During his career, the humble rider won Milan-San Remo, Ronde Van Vlaaderen, Clássica de San Sebastián, Wincanton Classic and stages in all of the Grand Tours. His performance in the 1990 Giro d'ltalia was remarkable leading from start to finish to win the overall. Impressive still, he also won  the 1991 and 1992 UCI World Road Race Championships. I discovered he was the last man to win the World Road Championship with down tube shifters. A champion without a doubt. Today, he shares his duties as CPA president and as a helicopter rescue pilot.

He recently attended the London meetings of the UCI (Pat McQuaid) and Change Cycling Now (Greg LeMond). He has said,

The clash between the UCI and CCN is good for the sport if it leads to a new start and sows the seeds for growth and improve things. I think the riders have understood that the sport has to change. We just want that cycling makes a new start, leaving the past behind to focus on the future. The riders have to understand and decide the future they want.

A man that is the conduit between the various cycling bodies and the riders, Bugno will convey his London findings to the riders after Christmas. Until then, I'll be eagerly awaiting the response and I feel a huge 'positive' change is coming for cycling.

1990 Giro,
Bugno leading from start to finish.

Here's a few more than interesting quotes from Gianni Bugno,  president of the CPA and former star rider of the 80s-90s.

When asked about electronic shifting,

I don't often use a computer, but when I do, it's not to shift my derailleur.

When I save people's lives, I don't do it by selling yellow rubber wristbands, I do it by dropping out of the sky to rescue them in a badass helicopter.

I don't often sit down to watch professional sports, but when I do, my chair is flying at 200kmh overhead.

1992 World Road Race. Benidorm, Spain.
Classy Bugno wins again... with down tube shifters!

Dec 3, 2012

Change Cycling Now: Greg LeMond for UCI President

Greg LeMond after the 1985 Paris-Roubaix...
a dirty, muddy affair- he finished in fourth.

Greg LeMond knows a little something of the dirt on cycling.

And now together with the newly formed anti-doping pressure group, Change Cycling Now has demanded the resignation of Pat McQuaid. In case you don't know, C.C.N is funded by Aussie businessman Jaimie Fuller of Skins Sportswear. Along with cycling anti-doping crusader's: Greg LeMond, Dave Walsh, Paul Kimmage, Jonathan Vaughters, Christophe Bassons and Michael Ashenden is lobbying the UCI for much needed cycling reform.

And, what better man to help spear head the cause is the three-time American Tour winner, Greg LeMond. A man that has a long running feud with Lance Armstrong can be the next interim UCI president.

LeMond said...

Yes, if there's nobody else but I would do what I had to do and my goal would be to help the group. I was asked by this group, if we were successful, until we found a full-time president, would I be willing to step in as a temporary, interim president. I would do whatever I could to support this group and change the sport.

We need to find a great leader who can take the sport forward and repair the damage that has been done.

I still would love to see Armstrong come forward and reveal how, and I might even shake his hand if he would do this. Because I think what he could offer is insight into really what was happening... things don't happen by themselves. It was a huge effort by multiple people and he alone can reveal that. 

It would be one redeeming thing he could do for cycling, because he has done a lot of damage for cycling.

A change in cycling starts now... as a cyclist and cycling fan I'm throwing in my support for Greg LeMond as the next interim UCI president!

Dec 1, 2012

Long Live The Queen

It's the 1st of December and I'm already looking ahead to Paris-Roubaix.

To soothe my tortured soul. Here's a fantastic French documentary by Maxime Boilon of the 2002 muddy, exciting edition narrated by many famous folks. Marc Madiot is one, as he guides his FDJ troops through the muddy cobbled minefield sections. He is a hero winning the race twice (1985, 1991). Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle is another French hero winning twice (1992, 1993). Who can forget his 1993 amazing sprint to beat the late great Franco Ballerini. Ballerini was so crest fallen he swore he would never ride the Queen again, but nevertheless won in 1995 and 1998... solo.

At times watching the loneliness and despair of the riders falling and hanging on to finish the race is a study in pathos.

If French is not your forte then the historical imagery is enough to keep you riveted to this great classic.

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