Friday, March 23, 2012

Rise and Ride

I both am and am not a morning person. I do like to wake up early. But mornings are a still, quiet time, and while my mind is active (I can get a full day's work done before 9am), my body is not. So I sit and work, and drink endless coffee, until my body starts to feel more energetic and I am ready to face the world. Riding a bike before that point is not something I feel compelled to do. And yet, lately I've been doing it. Group rides tend to meet in the mornings, and friends with 9-5 jobs can only ride before work. My desire to join them has lured me onto the bike at some ungodly hours.

There is a lot to be said for early morning cycling. It's quiet. There is hardly any traffic. And it's beautiful - in a magical and almost eerie way that makes you feel special to be there. The world is allowing you to see it in its softest, least aggressive state. Once I am out there pedaling, I am glad to be doing it. But getting myself out of the house in the early morning can be difficult. 

What I found helps, is to force myself to be organised and to develop a routine. I check the weather and lay out everything I will need for the ride the night before - everything, from socks to jersey and chamois cream, in one accessible pile. This way I can shower and immediately get dressed without thinking. I fill my water bottle at the same time as I fill the kettle to make coffee in the morning. I put my phone, keys, and money in my jersey pockets as soon as I put it on, so that I don't have to scramble and search for them at the last second when I can potentially forget something. Then I eat breakfast, top up the air in my tires, and go. Things that I put on right before leaving - such as gloves and sunglasses - I keep inside my helmet by the door. 

If meeting up with another person or a group in cold weather, I've learned to make sure the meeting point has the option of seeking shelter. Somebody's house, a cafe, a building with a lobby, or at least a gas station that will let you wait inside with your bike. This way, if someone is late you do not have to wait in the freezing cold - it is extremely difficult to stand still in the cold for long, particularly first thing in the morning.

Now that it's spring and the days are longer, more rides will be scheduled for the afternoons. But I am still glad to have developed a morning routine, and it will especially come in handy once it gets really hot out. What time of the day do you usually ride?

54 comments:

  1. Simple answer: 8:00am and 5:00pm

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  2. You shower before you go on a ride? That seems like a strange thing to do before you get all sweaty.

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    1. For women at least, not showering before a ride is a great way to get an infection, down there.

      I strongly suggest a clean chamois and shower every time to avoid that, ladies, especially in the summer.

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    2. Yeah, I shower every day before I ride to work in the morning. What makes sweat the most stinky is the bacteria eating up the sweat and pooping out stink. So if you have a cleaner body to begin with you get less stinky. I wear wool which naturally resists stink. So when I get to work I cool down and often don't have to take another shower at work. I live in Los Angeles and 15mile commute, so summer is a different story.

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    3. If you like to keep your crotch clean and prefer to shower post-ride, I highly recommend 7th Generation brand baby wipes, or any other brand of baby wipes that are unscented and mild (natural food stores sometimes have several brands).

      I tend to be paranoid about this only when touring (when I often can't shower at all), but it really does keep problems minimal/nonexistent. I also don't use chamois cream, but sometimes if things felt sensitive I'd apply tea tree oil salve.

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  3. When I first began cycling - mainly for fitness - I needed to find a time that wouldn't interfere with my job and family life (married, 3 kids). As much as I hated it at first, I got my act together and was in bed by 11, up by 6. I would ride locally for an hour and arrive home in time for the work/school bustle.

    Now I work from home and can easily get out for those fitness runs during the day. But on weekends, when I could sleep in like normal people, I instead rise early and ride for a couple of leisurely hours. As you say, the roads are quiet, nature is still, and I feel that it's a private reward for me to enjoy. There are always a few other cyclists and runners out, and waves are exchanged in a gesture that acknowledges our special fraternity.

    When I arrive home it's still early enough for at least some of the family to still be in bed. And best of all, it's perfect timing for a big and well-deserved breakfast!

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  4. Evenings after work or middle of day->dinner in the weekends. A shorter ride to work also which puts me in a good mood compared to cramming myself onto the subway.

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  5. I have a hard time doing "workouts" in the early morning. When I ran, I would occasionally try to run early in the morning, say if it was predicted to be really hot. I never felt like I was running "in my zone" on early morning runs like I would be for evening runs.

    I do think that biking at a leisurely pace is a great way to "wake up" your body, which is one of the real benefits of riding to work.

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  6. Mornings require too many clothes and the entropy bucket is empty unless the company is worthwhile. Otherwise after the workers are in their cubicles and before the kids get out of school.

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    1. I am one of the workers in the soul sucking cubicles and I am jealous of you. :)

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    2. When lashed to a cubicle I got to be the master of 1'10" rides, Alice.

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    3. When I worked regular hours at an office, I rode after work. But granted that only works 3/4 seasons of the years.

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  7. I have two drawers dedicated to my cycle clothing (above my civvies) so that gets me on track.

    I also shower before cycling, for the same reasons.

    I'm very much not a morning person, but a ride blows out the cobwebs. I drink tea first thing, then ride to my first cup of java!

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  8. After work (6pm-ish) and somewhere between 8-10am on the weekends. Getting up before 6:30 to ride just doesn't seem feasible on a work day. Having said that, I will be up at 5am for the next Populaire.

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  9. for "training" i just pick a longer and hillier route to work, the store, or the big box.

    and i gotta say that the cat-6 types that so annoy the "chic bike" crowd are just doing the same thing that velouria enjoys at 6 am -- at 6pm.

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    1. I cycle at all times of day, both road and transportation. But when I'm on a roadbike, I try to get out of the city as soon as possible so as not to compete with dense urban commuter traffic. I also never go fast in the city; there is just too much going on.

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    2. Peppy (the amazing sleep sprinting cat)March 23, 2012 at 6:35 PM

      You're all so slow I take naps faster than that.

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    3. velouria, i am willing to bet you've noticed yourself riding a little more aggressively in the city...

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    4. More confidently, if that's what you mean by aggressively. But not necessarily faster, unless it is indeed early morning and the city is abandoned. Here's a post about it.

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    5. "Within milliseconds, I had to come to a complete stop."

      many faster urban riders use disc brakes. i installed disc brakes on both of my commuters and am really looking forward to drop-bar compatible hydraulics...

      on club rides one frequently descends at high speed. and if you are like me, you probably enjoy this greatly. i also suspect that 40 mph descents are something you simply would not have felt safe doing 3 years ago. i ride at high speeds in an urban environment because i have developed skills that allow me to do this safely (relative, of course). what might seem like bravado to the mikael colville-andersens of the world is just me getting from point A to point B.

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    6. 3 years ago I did not have a bike that could do 40mph descents, but summer 2010 was the first time I went 38-39mph, I think. Downhill either in Maine or on Cape Cod on my Rivendell. I remember how excited I was to see that number on the computer.

      Look, we all have different ways of commuting. if you are comfortable riding your bike 40mph in the city and using disk brakes to stop, God bless. I am not, so I will do it my way. If you want to pass me as I'm puttering along at 12-15mph in the bike lane that is fine as well, just be courteous.

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  10. Well over half my riding is transportational, but I do it all on the same semi-sporty bike, so I count those as pleasure rides as well. Those rides, of course, are dependent on when meetings take place, stores open, friends I'm meeting are free, so they are all over the map.

    For pure pleasure riding, I prefer the morning or the early part of the night. I don't ride in the afternoon except to get somewhere I have to get to.

    I've always loved mornings and found the early afternoons rather dull.

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  11. Like you, mornings are generally the most productive time of my day, at least mentally. It's hard to get myself out of the house, but I frequently wake up very early and immediately dive in to work (in college/grad school, I would always set my alarm for ungodly hours to wake up and study or write papers).

    I love to get exercise in the mornings, and feel strangely privileged to get out in the lovely, quiet early morning hours. I feel like I get to see things no one else does.

    But alas, I work 9-5 (more like 7- or 8- to 7 or 8 most days), and with a 45 minute commute on either end (which I do by bike, but not the same as a sporty road ride), riding before work generally requires a 4am wake up call and a very bright headlight. It's creepy up on the canyon roads in the dark - I've definitely heard large-ish mammals stalking along side me in the brush as I pant up a climb. (Though I wish cycling could be as social for me as it is for many people, I'm too slow to ride with a group and I don't know any other cyclists in my area, so I'm always flying solo.)

    Rides after work put me in the thick of LA rush hour traffic, or else keep me out pretty late, again, in the dark.

    So I don't get out much during the week, sadly. Though I'd really, really love to. Sunrise rides are bliss.

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  12. OK, so maybe this crosses the fourth wall, but I am wondering what kind of coffee you make if you start out with a kettle?

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    1. I had a French press with alovely lugged handle but got toe overlap (actually, it jammed) when I pressed the plunger.

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    2. What a shame. Mine has no TCO, thank goodness. But no lugged handle either.

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  13. I like riding in the morning to especially Sunday. Though earliest I have actually hit the road is around 8ish plan to do earlier this year a lot. Can't ride without coffee and for me has to be good New England coffee from my favorite gas station. It is nice being able to get out and catch the first rays of the sun to when it is a chilly winter morning those are always fun

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  14. Here in Colorado I ride at that time of the day when the temperature is closest to 65 degrees. Winter months that will be noon to 1 pm. Summer, earlier, often at first light. Post ride shower is the highlight of the day.

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  15. Most of my weekday rides take place between 6-9am, since I have to be at work by 9am. Getting up at 5:30 is painful, but just getting out of bed is the worst part. Once I'm up and I've had coffee (I use a French press, too), my mind is clear and I'm ready to enjoy the morning ride. Morning rides tend to "lock" me into a good mood for the whole day. I also find that organizing all my stuff the night before makes the process all the more smoother, and allows me to sleep better, knowing I haven't forgotten anything I'll need.

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  16. Daily hour-long power-rides commence at 0400 (summer), 0500 (winter). I own the place, nobody messes with me. Relaxing. Some mornings I have to wear a hoodie and fuel up with a bag of Skittles.

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  17. I am SO not a morning person. Not only am I not good at waking up early, but I am the kind of person who is slow to wake up. I require at least an hour (usually more) between when I get out of bed and when I leave the house, and that's if I *don't* shower. If I do, add another half hour or so. I also always wake up starving. I can't go anywhere until I've eaten real food. (i.e. more than just a banana.)

    Working office jobs (with 9-5 types of schedules) has never changed this aspect of me, unfortunately, and barring illness levels of exhaustion, I always perk up somewhere between 8 and 10 pm, making early bedtimes nearly impossible.

    I have some randonneuring friends who meet up at something like six am to get a ride in before work, and I don't think I'm physically capable of doing it, because I'd have to get up at 4am to make it on time. That's.....that's just not happening.

    I am so jealous of you morning people. Hmph.

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  18. I work in London, England and try not to overlap my riding with family life so for me cycling is almost exclusively a late night / early morning thing. Weekdays see rides through Richmond park at night, when the unlit roads are closed to traffic so all we need to worry about is batteries in our lights and deer on the road. Weekends have to happen first thing so its a pre 7am start and head for the hills. This out of hours approach is like being backstage before the audience has arrived; you see the stage without the show. Speaking of which, 7am approaches!

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  19. I like to be on the road by 4:30am so I can fit in thirty miles or so before breakfast. I like long rides and given my schedule this is the only time I could fit in such mileage. I've always been a morning person though, and I love being out and about like this when all the rest of the world is asleep. It is beautiful and wonderfully quiet. Roff Smith

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  20. I may be an early bird since I always wake up before 5:00 although I had been a night owl who would sleep at 2:00 four years ago.

    Anyway, I like to ride my Mama Bicycle with my daughters afternoon:)

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  21. I'm reading this as I get ready to leave on my morning ride.
    Up at 5:00, out the door at 6:00, trailhead at 7:15, to work by 10:00. Shower first, because I won't be able to do so again until after I bike home after work (1 hour, in that morning's dirty kit).
    I love being up early, but LA traffic is already moving along by 6:00, and the hikers and bikers have already populated the woods by the time I get to the trailhead.

    -Matt

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  22. I like getting started at first light of day but don't want to have to think much in the morning ritual of getting ready to go. Nothing annoys me more than having to search the house at 6AM for a particular neccessary item. I try to be ready the night before.

    Before a monster road ride on the weekend I take a shower and shave, and sometimes shave my legs. I feel great. I have no data but I'm sure I cover the miles faster and better.

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  23. For our weekly club ride, the ride start inside a local cafe at 10am so every one on the ride have a brew and chat before the ride starts.

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  24. When the nights get lighter there's nothing better after a day in the office than a brisk 30-40 miler into Cheshire in the evening.

    That's why I often get the tram to work in the summer instead of commuting by bike 9 miles each way.

    I've tried utilising the light mornings of midsummer for big morning rides but it's not natural to be up at those hours.

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  25. I used to ride every Saturday morning at dawn's early light with a group out of Salem called the North Shore Cyclopaths. In my late fifties, I may have been the group's youngest member. We used to buzz into some diner in Ipswich or Gloucester like Marlon Brando on his Triumph, except we were mild and pretty big tippers. The group (me excepted) raised millions of dollars for the Jimmy fund. I loved those guys.
    Today's entry made me cry.

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  26. On the iiiPad (and probably earlier) browser, there is a "Reader" button appended to your URL. Pressing that brings up your entry stripped of everything else including, unfortunately, the comments.


    It looks, as Billy Cristal used to say, paraphrasing Ricardo Montoban, absolutely fabulous.

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    1. I see that option on my (non-iPad) browser as well. I don't like them messing with my layout, and personally I think the posts are much less engaging out of context. But I know some prefer the RSS reader.

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  27. So this post brings up two (2)things I love...Morning rides and baby wipes.

    Morning rides are the best, especially if I can find other people on the slow end of the fast spectrum to ride with. Days that begin with a ride always seem longer in an "I just cheated the Grim Reaper out of an extra half day of life" sort of way. (IN YOUR FACE DEATH!) Getting out of bed and on the bike can be like a beating but once on the road it always seems like a bit of an adventure. Anyway, it never seems as bad as, say, getting up at a4:45 a.m. the day after Christmas to drag a rifle into the woods. You also get to see night shift animals on their way home too which you wouldn't otherwise cross paths with. I see more deer and foxes in the morning than any other time and things like coyotes, bobcats and raccoons I never see any other time. Of course I'm not sure seeing a couple of coyotes shambling back to wherever they loiter after a night of doing whatever they've done to whoever they did it too really makes life better but, hey, that's life in the sticks. The last one I saw was actually carrying a sack with a chicken leg sticking out of it over his shoulder and smoking a Marlboro. I nodded and said "Hey", and he flipped me off and sloped off into the weeds behind the Burkholder's milking parlor. Circle of life.

    The other thing, baby wipes. I'm so glad April brought that up. If forced to choose, I would take a world without doughnuts over a world without un-scented baby wipes. I started carrying them in my backpack while hiking and hunting after I discovered their amazing disappearing poop magic when we had our first child. Soon I was tucking a small zip-loc with 6 or 7 into my seatbag with my tube and toolkit. Even if you never need a "quiet moment" in the rushes, there is nothing like a good scrub to get the drool and eye-boogers off once or twice during a long day in the saddle. They do a pretty good job of stage 1 first aid in the case of roadrash, sunburn or various other nasty things too.

    The first time I went to Haiti I took 3 large packs of baby scrubbers, thinking that would easily last me 10 days. After a long day of digging and hauling debris and busted concrete, a group of 20 or so of us were trying to squeeze into the shade of one little tree while waiting for the truck to take us back to camp. It was dog-breath hot, we were all as hungry as we'd probably ever been and trying to make a gallon of warm water go all the way around the tree. About 1 second after taking out a wipe and starting to clean my face I was surrounded by at least a dozen young women wanting to know where it came from. It didn't last long but till the pack was empty it was just like being Justin Bieber, Mick Jagger or Mit Romney(pick your demographic). I was offered gum, a half jar of Nutella, an evenings use of someones I-Pod, use of someone else's chap-stick(really), and as much as 5 dollars American for 3 wipes. One really distracting young woman got my attention by offering me a massage. It turned out she was "re-gifting" the massage offered to every woman on the trip by the creepy dude with 3 first names.

    I will never stray more than a few hundred yards from an Airliner, cabin or Hotel, paved road or dry land without baby wipes.

    Spindizzy

    (I was going to write that for attracting girls over the ninth grade, baby wipes are better even than a bag of tootsie-rolls. But no matter how I worded it it made me look, well, sorta weird. So I'm glad I left that part out)

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    1. I will never tour without them. They are just the best thing ever.

      Especially if showers are hard to come by. Especially if you're not alone in the tent. Especially if you just spent all day wearing chemical bug repellent, waterproof sunblock, and biking on a highway on a hot day. Especially if you have your period.

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  28. Not trying cause trouble, but you wear a helmet now? "Things that I put on right before leaving - such as gloves and sunglasses - I keep inside my helmet by the door." As a regular reader (and not a frequent commenter, I find this a curiosity).
    And we do French press in the morning as well.

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    1. Normally no, but I wear one for club rides on a roadbike. Here is a poem about it.

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  29. Durring the work week I ride to work for transpostation and to controll my obicity. I wake at 3:15am and start my bike commute at 3:55am. I ride 10 miles. I listen to music on my 50 minute bike commute. I love this bike ride! There are almost no cars on the road. This is a magic time for me. I have great bike lights and a good commuter bikes and accesories. I have been doing this bike commute thing for 5 years and have lost 60 pounds. I am a healty weight now and feel good. My early bike ride is the best part of my day!

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    1. Rock on! That's awesome!

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  30. I'm a morning person, and usually have no trouble getting up at 5:40 am for my morning 20 mile commute. The night before, I check the weather and have a pile of appropriate clothing all set up, as well as my work clothes packed in my pannier.

    I love my coffee, but i've never *needed* it, and usually start off with a smoothie breakfast and am out the door within 15 minutes of getting out of bed.

    sometimes, in the winter, I'll stop at RideStudioCafe as one of the first ones there, because good coffee is always a nice thing.

    I think in the summer, my routine will change: no need to worry too much about clothing being warm enough, and i can wake up earlier, and perhaps do a longer ride before work.

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  31. Not to mention that an early morning ride has you out enjoying the proverbial "golden hour"...

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  32. Morning is usually a quick 1.5 mile downhill to work, now through the woods as it's drier, but I'm meaning to make that longer.

    Evenings I try and fit in between 5 and 10 miles over the hilly back roads home. Not a great distance compared to some but I'm trying to build it up. An 8 speed hub gear makes your lungs strain on the UK Pennine hills though!

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  33. I too am not a morning person prefer to be left alone in the early morning hours; sip some coffee and read or think. I commute to work all year round and have quite a long ride, so I find myself on the road very early in the morning. I now like this time on the road, it's quite and there is time to think. While reading and riding is not a great idea (yes I tried it and it didn't end well) I attached a coffee cup holder to my Pashley Roadster and can no enjoy some joe at red lights and on clear streets. Once I get to work I find I am way more productive and I get right to it.

    There is nothing better than hearing the birds singing in the air, the smell of dew and the soft sound of my bike tires crushing the road salt whilst only a occasionally hearing some shout: get off the road you...

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  34. Oh my, I can relate. For me, it's also about having CLEAN cycling clothes ready to go and I have also learned it means setting the alarm 15 minutes earlier. The pitfall is that since I bring my work clothes in my bike bag (thank you Po Campo!!!), occasionally I will forget an essential element like shoes or a bra --which can make for a really interesting day at the office.

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  35. I've done a lot of early morning rides, getting 30 miles in before work on weekdays, before we had kids, and getting in 25-50 miles in before the day gets going at home and I am missed too much. I get clothes out, water bottles filled and on bike, tires pumped up, snacks (no time for breakfast!), sun glasses (yes, still needed), and bike near the door. That's all to save time and also to let everyone continue to sleep. I tried to ride early with a friend several times but his body rebelled too often so I go alone. My last 5AM ride was Sunday. Running is always early - I was out the door running at 5:15AM today. Dawn and dusk are the nicest times of the day, at least in my opinion, but having no or little traffic at dawn makes it the best time to ride.

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