Monthly Archives: December 2015

Our final celebration song!

I spent the last bit of the ride planning a song for the end of ride celebrations. Below are the words to the song (from Sue’s Facebook page), the song was sung by Sue, Brett, Linda, Ray, and with guest appearance by Rolph .

“Where do we begin, to tell the story of how great the trip has been…
(Sure you can guess what tune that is sung to….)

On the first day of cycling our Leader said to us….
Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud
Nothing quite like it
While Riding Your Bike
(again, sure you can guess the two tunes we used for this)

On the second day of cycling our Leader said to us…
You love Gravel, You love Mud
You love taxis, cars and buses
Yes You Do, Yes You Do
and You Cherish Climbing
and You Relish Raindrops
Thunder too, Yes You Do
(sung to Frere Jacques)

On the third day of cycling our Leader said to us…
Climb every Mountain
Ford every Stream
Follow Orange Flagging
Until you find the Camp
(sung to ‘Climb every Mountain’)

‘Bikes to the Lunch Truck’ (shouted out by Ray)

On the fourth day of cycling our Leader said to us…
One Night in a Rainstorm
No tent for Her Bed
A little soaked Cathy
Layed down her damp head
(sung to Away in a Manger)

On the fifth day of cycling our Leader said to us…
The Wheels on the Bus go round and round,
Round and Round, Round and Round
The Wheels on the Bus go round and round…
(Hiss, Hiss)
Oh Bugger, Another Puncture……

On the sixth day of cycling our Leader said to us…
You want to Ride your Bicycle
You want to Ride your Bike
You want to Ride your Bicycle
You want to Ride it Where You Like…
Ring, Ring
Ring, Ring (cycle bell used)
(sung to Queen)

‘Last Call for the Lunch Truck’ (shouted out by Ray)

On the seventh day of cycling our Leader said to us…
On this tour there are lots of dogs
ee-eye-ee-eye-oh
with a Lick your Balls here
and drag your Bum there
Here a bite, There a Growl
Everywhere a Bark, Bark
TDA are here on Tour
ee-eye-ee-eye-oh
(Sung to ‘Oh MacDonald had a Farm’)

On the eighth day of cycling our Leader said to us…
Drip…Drop Drip…Drop Drip…Drop
You’re Cycling in the Rain
Just Cycling in the Rain
What a Glorious Feeling
You’re Soaking Again
We’re laughing at the Clouds
So Dark Up Above
The Sun is in Our Heart
and We’re Ready to Ride
(Sung to ‘Singing in the Rain’)

On the ninth day of cycling our Leader said to us…
Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup
Will be at camp today
With a Coffee and a Tea

‘Riders Meeting’ (shouted out by Ray)

On the tenth day of cycling our Leader said to us…
Always Look on the Bright side of Life
de de, de de de de de de
Always Look on the Bright side of Life
de de, de de de de de de

On the eleventh day of cycling our Leader said to us…
(I talked this one through with the ‘chorus’ line sung to ‘and a partridge in a pear tree’)
You have had…
a 4,000m mountain pass
altitude
a small grey dog
‘ …and you left the Pacific Sea’

You have been…
to the Amazon Rainforest
and Ridden the Trampoline of Death
Had the Rubic Cube party
‘ …been delayed by Protestors and the Military’

You have seen…
a 70km Climb
altitude, alpacas
Nasca lines, Lake Camp, Titicaca
‘ …and floating islands as far as the eye could see’

‘Dinner is Ready’ (shouted out by Ray)

You have passed…
snow capped mountains
roadblocks with woman and children
freezing cold mornings, sunny days
volcanos
endless windy salt flats
the half way party
‘ …and cacti as big as trees’

You have had…
vineyards, camp dogs
lightning, rain, thunder and floods
a snowy mountain Mando day
gravel, stunning views and scenery
‘ …and Team Challenge Number 3
(Sue sang the following to ‘It’s Not What You Do but the Way That You Do It’ while Rolph performed his much applauded Michael Jackson Moonwalk dance …)
‘It’s Not What You Do but the Way that You Do It
It’s Not What You Do but the Way that You Do It
It’s Not What You Do but the Way that You Do It
That’s What Gets Results’

You have had…
more gravel
tunnels, mountain passes
border crossings, wine, massive down hills
the Carretera Austral, Patagonian forest
‘ …and lots of ferries’

On the twelfth day of Cycling our Leader said to us…
‘Bugger off’
(shouted by Cristiano, Tour Leader)
‘ …it’s the end of your journey’

So we’re leaving on a jet plane
Don’t Know When We’ll Be Back Again
Oh, How We Hate to Go

‘Open Kitchen’ (shouted out by Ray)”

Categories: Argentina, South American Epic | 2 Comments

Day 164/164: Tolhun to Ushuaia – 104km

Climbing 1460 meters and down 1560. No gravel apart from first couple of kilometres. Convoy last 4 kilometres into town.

It is hard to believe but after nearly six months the last riding day has arrived! There was frost on the grass this morning, but otherwise it was not too cold.

We have all been worried by the possible head wind today so wanted to set off early but unfortunately the TDA staff member responsible for getting the water boiling etc slept in (I suspect they may have partied on after we all went to bed last night, and why not).

Pretty scenery with a lovely lake and snow capped mountains again. Easy riding to lunch, a few rolling hills and one last 6 kilometre climb but it was not steep. The mountain pass we climbed was protecting us from the wind.

Last mountain pass of the trip, Passo Garibaldi. Coming up from Lago Fagnano and dropping down to the Beagle Channel (Photo credit: Brett's Facebook page)

Last mountain pass of the trip, Passo Garibaldi. Coming up from Lago Fagnano and dropping down to the Beagle Channel (Photo credit: Brett’s Facebook page)

The lunch included a number of treats not normally seen such as a cheese platter and biscuits.

lunch

I did not stay around long as I got really cold having just climbed the 6 kilometres, and there was a bit of a wind as well. Also I was a bit worried that although the morning had been all right with the wind, any moment we could run into the Patagonian wind in all its glory and be down to 8 kilometres an hour.

Unbelievable very little wind, lots of up and downs but nothing significant, and despite the busy traffic the other drivers were tolerant of having to share the road – apart from one truck driver.

Suddenly I was there at the sign to Ushuaia! However I could not quite remember where the convoy meeting place was. I had arrived first so I biked a couple of kilometres into the town, then decided I had gone too far. The traffic was even more crazy, so was on my way back when Cristiano and the yellow trucks passed me coming back from town also. The meeting place was by the sign at the start of town so I rode back up there. By this time other riders started coming in. Lots of laughter, cheers, photos etc.

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Riding into Ushuaia! 

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The Survivors that made it to Ushuaia! 

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The gals that rode all the way from Cartagena to Ushuaia! 

Once everyone was together and the police escorts had arrived we convoyed in. It was great having the police blocking off the road, and just riding straight through.

Waiting for the convoy to start

Waiting for the convoy to start

We had the finishing line down at the wharf and had some sparkling wine, photos and speeches.

tda

Untitled

We were so luckily with the weather sunny and very little wind. We all had an individual photo and when it was my turn a dog appeared and got into the photo with me. There was also another dog that came and sat with me when we had the group photo coming into Ushuaia before it raced off back to its usual occupation chasing the cars as they left Ushuaia.

Me and my friendly dog

Me and my friendly dog

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I made it! All the way to Ushuaia!

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Waving the finish line flag! 

Brett and I at the finish line

Brett and me at the finish line

Then off to the hotel with the police escort. The hotel was on a hill with a steep climb, which we all thought was a fitting end for the last few kilometres of the ride.

Our hotel in Ushuaia

Our hotel in Ushuaia 

We all got cleaned up and started the process of cleaning and sorting gear to pack. Then off to the final dinner. The usual speeches and presentations for race winners, and those nine riders who had EFI (ridden every frickin inch of the trip). Plus photos etc.

We did our item which went down quite well. It did not seem late but it was 12:30 by the time the speeches/ presentations and dinner was over. Of course dinner did not start until 8pm, still early in South American time to eat.

Then back to the hotel to sleep, and no more riding!

Christiano and

Christiano and Ana (TDA staff)

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Day 163/164: Rio Grande to Tolhuin / Lake Fango – 117km

594 kilometres climbing and 675 kilometres down. No gravel 😀😀😀

The first 65 kilometres were fantastic riding: fine weather, a tail wind, nice coastal views and rolling hills. In two and a half hours I was at the lunch truck. I was thinking at this rate I will be at camp nice and early. In a happy frame of mind I got back on my bike and got a couple of minutes down the road and sadly no more riding that day for my bike. I had a broken spoke and the wheel was wobbling! Not sure how it happened as it was fine all morning and I had checked my spokes before I left. Luis said he would be able to fix it at camp tonight so I will be able to ride it on the final riding day tomorrow. So for the second time this week I rode into camp on the lunch truck 😕.

Leaving Rio Grande (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Leaving Rio Grande (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Down towards Lago Faguamo (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Down towards Lago Fango (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

We camped at the side of a large lake called Lake Fango, at a camp made entirely out of recycled stuff. There are also some bottle trees which I was quite taken with. The tree is made out of a thick round piece of wood and then has big nails driven into it which the bottles go on. The owner has also made a theme park for children out of recycled stuff.

Bottle tree

Bottle tree

Receycled camp

Receycled camp

Camp!

Camp!

Having a look around I think NZ Heath and Safety inspectors would immediately shut it down. Dotted around the camp are wooden teepees and other wooden buildings like sheds that we could put our tents up in. Given how windy it can get, and that rain was possible, I slept in a tent in one. The shed was titled “Kaye’s hutch”.

"Kaye's Hutch"

“Kaye’s Hutch”

Jo's camp in the wind shelter (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Jo’s camp in the wind shelter (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

The lake is very pretty and there were a few other people staying at the camp ground. I saw people fishing but I did not see anyone swimming in it. There were a number of camp dogs sleeping around the place. A couple of dogs were quite well hidden in hollows in the ground that gave them good protection from the wind.

As we are staying at recycle camp we had been asked to dress up, with the theme of course being recycling. I spent the afternoon working on the item we are going to do at the end of ride party, and then threw something together for my recycling costume.

Me, Luis and Brett, in our costumes

Me, Luis and Brett, in our costumes

me and Rolf

Me and Rolf

Our last camp (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Our last camp (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

The last supper! (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

The last supper! (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Brett washing dishes one last time (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Brett washing dishes one last time (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Sue and I have worked on a song based on the 12 days of Christmas song tune, but instead “On the twelve days of our cycling tour, our leader gave to me”. Don’t worry those of you who have heard me singing, I am not going to be singing. We have recruited three of the other riders plus Sue to sing.

Tonight we had presentations and rider awards – I was awarded the Tour Nona (means grandma), for always looking after everyone on the tour, such as making sure they had warm clothes and medicine when they needed it.

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Receiving my award

We watched a slide show that Britten from TDA had put together looking back over the past five and an half months. We have certainly done and seen some pretty awesome things.
Last night in a tent tonight 😀

Final campsite (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Final campsite (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Final sunset, over Lago

Final sunset, over Lago Fango

Categories: Argentina, South American Epic | 1 Comment

Day 162/164: Bush camp to Rio Grande – 123km

400 meters climbing and 400 down

Thankfully when we woke up the wind had dropped, it was no longer raining, and the day was warmer. I put plastic bags over my feet to stop the wet shoes making my feet cold.

Today we had our last border crossing whilst riding. We crossed back out of Chile and into Argentina for the last few days of the trip.

There was wet and muddy gravel for the first 42 kilometres, and my coat, helmet, bike and me got covered in mud.  The gravel was mostly hard packed so managed to ride along quite quickly.

Until the border there was really no wind and then after that was mostly a side wind.

Final border crossing, now into Argentina for the last time!

Final border crossing, now into Argentina for the last time!

There were some climbs, but also some nice down hills. The shoulders were not good for riding on as they were thick gravel so I tried to stay on the road as much as possible. However a few motorists took exception. even when there were no cars coming the other way and tooted angrily at us. Cristiano told us at camp that at least one motorist had rung the local police to complain that “We were riding dangerously”.

I move onto the shoulder/ gravel if there is a truck coming towards me or if I can hear one behind me, but if you stayed on it all the time you would add hours to your day.  One local cyclist riding ahead of me moved onto the gravel when a truck was passing, and then skidded and somersaulted down the grass bank. Thankfully he was not hurt although his bike was bent a bit. He was really strong and was able to bend his forks back, get the handle bars that were twisted untwisted, and kicked the gear shifters back into place, so was able to ride off again.

We camped on the outskirts of town at a camp ground which had two toilets and one shower, but no shelter to sit in but luckily the weather was fine. I was able to get my tent, my gloves and my sleeping bag dry. My shoes are dry from riding today, but I will continue with the plastic bags as they certainly help keep out the wind.

Categories: Argentina, Chile, South American Epic | 1 Comment

Day 161/164: Punta Arena to Bush Camp – 109km

802 meters climbing and 817 down. 109 k gravel 😳😳😳😂

Today we had to catch another ferry at 9am. The ferry was over 2 hours long, then we had to ride 112 kilometres, 109 of them on gravel.

Last ferry of the trip

Last ferry of the trip

On the ferry the day started to look very dark and overcast and about 30 minutes before we landed it started to rain. Feeling not at all enthusiastic, I put on all my wet weather gear and warm clothing. When I got off the ferry it was only spitting and then within 5 kilometres the sun came out and it was warm. Spirits lifting I removed a few layers of clothing and rode off.

The next 10 kilometres were pretty good, nice coastal road, and while the gravel was a bit treacherous in places nothing too bad. Then I noticed the ominous clouds above my head, and within another few minutes the rain was bucketing down and it was really windy.

Ominous clouds

Ominous clouds

I nearly got blown off my bike a few times. I also nearly fell off a couple of times as the camber of the road was very slanted and the combination of sloped treacherous gravel and wind was not good.

About an hour before getting to the lunch truck I came across Jo and Nick. Jo was having bike problems and was also feeling over it with all the long days, cold, and gravel. Luckily she managed to get to lunch and Luis and Antonio were able to fix her bike, something  to do with a cable.

I had not closed the ventilation zips on both sides under my arms on my jacket, so got wet inside and got my cellphone soaked. Given the horrid wet windy weather, treacherous gravel, being blown all over the road and being wet and getting cold, I decided my riding day was done and rode in with the lunch truck to camp. The riders not riding in the lunch truck were mainly those who had to maintain their EFI status, and none of them looked cheerful.

The road got really muddy, and also really busy with cars and trucks splashing mud over all the riders. I was pleased not to be out there.

The camp ground was wet, bleak and miserable looking, with no shelter apart from one small awning on the dinner truck. The ground under the awning was already a quagmire. It was still pouring with rain and the choice was to stand shivering under the awning or put up the tent. I decided to put up my tent and the floor of the tent got wet in the process.

My shoes were soaking wet, something to look forward to tomorrow. Thankfully I have more than one pair of clothes and other riding clothes. Three more nights in a tent! Oh yah! Beam me up Scotty! Fingers crossed the weather and the wind will be much kinder tomorrow.

final ferry

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Day 160/164: Rest day in Punta Arenas

The town we stayed in got the power from a generator, so going to sleep you could hear it but at midnight it switched off until 6am.

I enjoyed the restaurant breakfast: toast and lemon meringue pie, plus nice tea bags. I spent most of the morning writing notes to each TDA staff member to go with their gratuity. They don’t get paid a lot for doing this trip and the rider notes suggest $100 USD per person (so 12 for this trip, not counting April and Sharrita that I have already paid). I like to take the time to acknowledge their individual strengths and contributions. It took most of the morning. Then catching up with emails and the blog.

I went for a walk around the wharf in the afternoon.

The waterfront

The waterfront

Wharf in

In Punta Arenas 

Tonight I had a nice salmon and octopus ceviche for an entree, and a pretty average steak for a main.

Only four more riding days until the finish. It’s almost unbelievable that this time next week I will have just finished Christmas Dinner.

We have an early start tomorrow as we have another ferry to catch. About two and a half hours, and then 109 kilometres of gravel of the 120 total kilometres tomorrow.

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Day 159/164: Villa Tehuelches to Punta Arenas – 100km

Climbing 650 meters and down 800. No gravel again 😀😀

The days and getting longer and the nights are getting shorter. The sun was out by 6 am this morning and I woke up in a warm and sunny tent. A marvellous start to the day.

It had rained during the night, and I was able to get my tent mostly dry before I packed it away.

We are heading into another rest day. Jo, who is the only female who is still EFI, is unwell and hopefully the rest day and today’s lighter ride will enable her to keep going.  Jo never rests on rest days, and when on one hand she could barely eat breakfast and on the other hand started talking about going to visit a penguin colony tomorrow, both Sue and I said, at the same time, we were not even going to discuss such a silly idea with her. I have shared my view with her on a number of occasions that you can not do this ride and be a full on tourist, your body needs rest days to rest. There are many places along the way that I hope to be able to come back and visit.

Today, at the 62km point, Brett reached the milestone of having ridden 50,000 on the TDA 7 Epics. He has done for of the seven epics already, and this is his fifth. The TDA staff made up a congratulations whiteboard and had a beer waiting for him at lunch. It was nice chance occurrence, after having being at sea his whole working life, that the Magallanes Strait is in the background of the photo.

A beer at lunch!

A beer at lunch!

Whiteboard for Brett

Whiteboard for Brett

Brett has done 50,000km with TDA!

Brett has done 50,000km with TDA!

I saw some more Rhea (Nandu) plus some more Flamingo. I was not sure that they were Flamingo as they had shorter necks but they are a different type of Flamingo: Flamenco Chileno.

Flamingos

Flamingos

Today’s ride seemed harder than yesterday, no doubt because of the 20 kilometres of a quite strong head wind, and it took as long to ride even though it was 48 kilometres shorter.

Southern Patagonia

Southern Patagonia

Patagonia farm land

Patagonia farm land

Riding into Punta Arenas we came across wind chimes in the middle of nowhere. Apparently when it’s really windy they whistle.

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Monumento al Viento, wind chimes

I was pleased to get into Punta Arenas and to the hotel. A rest day after only 2 days riding! Bliss, especially after our recent long and hard riding days.

TDA had organized for us all to get together in a nearby bar for cocktails and snacks at 7pm so I went a long to that. Unfortunately it was a sit down event at a huge long table and quite noisy, so I only stayed for a couple of hours. I had dinner at a restaurant down the road. I tried the king crab which was pretty tasteless, and had a fairly average steak, most of which I folded into a paper napkin knowing there was sure to be a hungry dog lurking around nearby.

Editor's caption: Any one who knows Kaye knows this is basically her worst nightmare

Editor’s caption: Any one who knows Kaye knows this is basically her worst nightmare! 

Categories: Chile, South American Epic | 1 Comment

Day 158/164: Puerto Natales to Villa Tehuelches – 148km

Climbing 1209 meters, and down 1120 meters. No gravel 😀

It’s a measure of how far we have come in fitness that I consider today a really easy days cycling. There was a bit of side wind at times, but no full on head wind and no horrid gravel. We had a few rolling hills but no significant climbs. Lots of lakes and farm land and trees bent in one direction.

windswept

There are a number of really large farms known as stations with either sheep or cattle.

Large cattle and sheep station in Patagonia

Large cattle and sheep station in Patagonia

Today I saw some small birds that look like ostriches, one of the riders Jason told me they are called Rhea. The indigenous people call them Nandu.

The Rhea

The Rhea

We are staying on a corner section in the middle of a town, next to some horse stables that look like they have never had horses in them. The cooking kitchen is set up in one stable, and the dishes and tea and coffee table in another.

horsestables

There is an Internet cafe where we can use the toilet. The cafe is almost 100% untainted by any food. Sue is still unwell and got to camp early today on the dinner truck, and said the Internet cafe was also untainted by Wifi until midday.

TDA paid for us to use to the toilet but did not tell us, and the young guy at the cafe must have been delighted when we kept giving him the 300 pesos to use the toilet.

A bus stop

A bus stop

Editor's note: Photo taken from Sue's Facebook page

At tonight’s camp (Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

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Day 157/164: Rest Day in Puerto Natales

I enjoyed making breakfast, poached eggs and bacon and toast. I also really enjoyed being able to make a cup of tea any time I wanted to.

It was quite cold out in the morning, so I stayed in the cabana drinking tea, sending emails, and updating my blog.

My bike has been making a click click noise every time I turned the pedal, plus a water bottle holder has broken and my speedo stopped working halfway through the day before yesterday. So off to the bike clinic my bike went at 9 am.

Antonio and Luis spent a long time on it, but the prognosis is “Fingers crossed it will get you to Ushuaia”, then it will need a major overhaul when I get home, the bottom bracket and front hub for a start.

So now when I come up behind people I sound like Tick Tock the crocodile in Peter Pan.

Puerto Natales foreshore

Puerto Natales foreshore

Brett and I went out to a lovely restaurant called Angelicas, and I had either best or second best meal this trip. I am still undecided between the steak in Lima and the lovely rosemary crusted lamb rack I had tonight. Brett had food envy when he tasted mine, as it was way nicer than his lamb chops. To solve the dilemma, when he finished his first meal he ordered the same as I had, for a second serving!

Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales

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Day 156/164: Cerro Castillo to Puerto Natales – 63km

Climbing 372 meters, down 540. Tarmac all day.

There was frost on the tent and it was minus 4 degrees during the night! This is 2 weeks into their summer! The house had three different fire places and when I went inside to use the toilet I did not want to come out again.

Dressing for the Patagonia summer I have all the layers that I had on yesterday. Initially in the morning it was not as cold, as the sun was out and there was not much wind. One of the riders commented on the lack of wind, and then about 5 minutes later it was like a switch was flicked on and it was back in all its glory.

On the way to Puerto Natales (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

On the way to Puerto Natales (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Very tired legs, very pleased we have a rest day tomorrow, and that we only had 63 kilometres today. Thankfully not much climbing, and we had a tail and side wind, no head wind all day. It was colder out on the bike and I was pleased that I was warmly dressed.

Heading into Puerto Natales (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Heading into Puerto Natales (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Gastro is making its way around the group again. Sue had not ridden the past two days and had to be picked up at 12 kilometres today. Fingers crossed I don’t get it again.

On the way into Patalano

On the way into Puerto Natales

On the way into town I stopped to look at some black and white swans, and I was amused to see the cygnets were riding on their parents backs.

Swans with cygnets on their backs

Swans with cygnets on their backs

We are staying in Cabanas (cabins) and we have a separate lounge / kitchen from the bedrooms. I was delighted to see cooking facilities, and headed up to the supermarket to buy ingredients for a cooked breakfast tomorrow.

I went out for dinner tonight with Ray, Sue and Brett, to a restaurant about a 5 minute walk away. They served huge helpings of roast lamb. Sue was not up to eating much, to the delight of a dog sitting hopefully outside who got the left overs.

All decked out for the Patagonia summer

All decked out for the Patagonia “summer”

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