Cycling Andalusia and Mallorca

•September 29, 2019 • 2 Comments

Cycled a month in Andalusia using Montejaque as my base. The riding there is fantastic. Some photos are below.I also did 3 days of riding on Mallorca, and pretty much hit the highlights Northwest of the Ma-13, covering 185 miles with 19,000’.

On the plus side, Mallorca cycling certainly scores high on my three main criteria for day-trip rides. Roads: mostly perfect and a joy to ride on. Terrain: Loved the climbs and descents, couldn’t ask for a better cycling topography. Scenery: nothing short of spectacular. I have never in my life seen so many recreational cyclists (not counting the likes of commuters in Northern European cities, or Japan). It was truly amazing, which leads me to the not-so-plus-side.

Many places in the world, especially Europe are suffering from “over tourism”. Think, Amsterdam, Rome, Venice, Barcelona and a whole bunch more. In my opinion Mallorca has hit that for cyclists. I never thought I would say this, but I think there are far too may cyclists there. Add the staggering numbers of bikes – and lets face it, when you get those kind of numbers, you’re bound to have a lot or riders who don’t have a ton of experience with that type of cycling – to the endless stream of cars, trucks, and busses, and you get a situation that is less than idillic, and frankly, dangerous at times.

I left Selva pretty early for the climb up to the summit then to drop down to Sa Calobra, and on that initial climb I was alone, and it was wonderful. I was also alone on my descent into Sa Calobra so I could fly down the hill. At the bottom, zero tourists, no cyclists as it was still pretty early. However, on my ascent, as I got past the halfway mark, a phalanx of busses, cars, and a growing wave of cyclists were coming down. As the busses can’t make the turns around the switchbacks very effectively, it requires full attention to keep from getting squashed against the guardrail. Not exactly a peaceful ascent, though, as I was still pretty early, there were sections of serenity that I relished.

The ride to Cap Formentor was also pretty early, but once again, not early enough. There were literally thousands of cyclists, endless cars, and on my return, buses coming up as I got near Port de Pollenca on the final descent. 

Would I go back? Maybe, but only if it was convenient, say I was going there to sail, but I would do the rides leaving at Civil Twilight, and made sure I was finished well before noon. I like cycling in Andalucia better, plus there’s more to do here when you’ve finished riding.

the small street our rental house was on. There was a 24 hour run/ride that came down our little lane

Images from Andalucia

Images from Mallorca

A few images from our stay at the Zendo, Horakuan in Nagano, Japan

•October 3, 2018 • 3 Comments

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Zendo rides: These roads are crazy steep!

•September 23, 2018 • Leave a Comment
Alison and I are at a Zendo/Zen Temple for a week.  It’s in a remote location in the mountains near Nagano, an area known as the “Japan Alps”. Most days I’m doing a loop or out & back ride.
                                All the mountain roads have mirrors at the switchbacks

The roads are small and insanely steep.  My first ride was an out & back up the road near the Zen-do to where the pavement ended.
                          A rare sight: young people harvesting rice.

In the first two miles I gained 1100 feet. I was out of the saddle with everything I had and my speed was about 2-3 mph. Just nuts. At the turnaround point I rode 7.8 miles and gained 3100’. About the same gain to Santa Fe Ski, only in half the distance!
Its almost impossible to accurately capture a road grade in a photo.
One other climb was about 2 hours with grades consistently between 9 and 19%. The total ride was 5,000 ft of gain, going up for only 11 miles. At one point my GPS said 30%, which I’m not convinced is true, but the grade was like nothing I’ve ever cycled.  It was all I could do to keep moving forward.

Oh, and the best part: the road was beautiful pavement, small, went on another 6 miles past my turnaround point, and I saw 2 cars. The downhill was blazing fast.

Day 3 & 4: lots of hills but no rain

•September 13, 2018 • Leave a Comment
Day 3 was a transition day, part train ride and part bike ride fron Agemetsu, around Mt Daigamine, to a small Onsen in Kiso.   I needed to take the train to get me from Kansai up further north, which was too far to ride given the time I have.  I avoided (most) of the rain and did a short 20 miles, but had over 2600’ of gain. A lot of up for such a short ride. 
Day 4, riding ftom Kiso to Kumamoto via the Mmidono Dam lakes, gave me the longest climb so far, about 2.5 hours of 7 to 13%. Nice downhill!  Plus, a twisty climb to ride over, and avoid, a crazy long tunnel. 
I stayed in a typical Ryokan, in a remote wooded region, with a very nice inside and outside onsen. As I was taking off my cycling shoes (outside of course), the woman working the front desk rushed out, took my shoes, stuffed them with paper (they were a tiny bit wet), and propped them against the wall. I’ve had this happen before, I guess it’s a thing at these old mountain ryokans. Around 
The rice will ready to harvest very soon. 
Nice roads going through small towns. 
A typhoon problem.  Sometimes “no” means “maybe” but in this case I think this NO really meant no.  
So it was time for a reroute. 
As i crested this hill dozens of monkeys ran out of the bushes crossing the road and doing a high-speed tightrope walk on the electrical line. By the time i got my phone (most accessible), they were gone except for the two furry blobs i circle



Nibari to Matsusaka: Lots of nice small roads, plus a few Typhoon diversions

•September 11, 2018 • 2 Comments

After yesterday it was great to have a mostly sunny day on the bike.  I normally pick small roads when touring in Japan. But some of today’s roads were really small.  And a few of the diversions required a bit of effort to get around, and one road was completely  blocked off requiring a total reroute.  The ride ended up being 50 miles.  

I have three navigation systems running, 1) a Garmin Edge 1030, 2) a Wahoo Element Bolt, and 3) the RWGPS app running on my phone.  The Garmin gives me a great map and turn-by-turn directions, the Wahoo gives me instant syncing with my RWGPS website route and custom cues, and the RWGPS app on my phone gives me audio cue prompts.  And all three give me vastly different elevation gains for long, hilly rides that have lots of up and downs. Garmin said i climbed 6200’ today.  Wahoo said 3950, and RWGPS said 4250.  

It felt closer to Garmin, but not 6200’.  Maybe 5200, but its hard to tell.  Obviously.  

This road was a bit of a mess but was very rideable.

This required the removal of all bags so I could climb over the trees carrying my bike.

And yet another one to climb over


Then I saw these signs. Yea, “Therapy Road”. It was therapeutic all right.

And more stuffed characters.

Japan 2018 Day 1: Solid Rain & Typhoon Diversions

•September 10, 2018 • 2 Comments

The forecast today was for 100% rain.  And it was 100% accurate.  Leaving in the rain is always the hardest.

 But, it was a great route with lots of small quiet roads.  And LOTS of rain.  



Did.jpg  Something I’ve only seen in Japan, and it’s very commonin rural areas


 I may not be able to read the sign but I can see that the typhoon is forcing me to find an alternate route…

…. and it wasn’t too far out of the way, and it was pretty along the river, but it sure was wet 

[ LIVE UPDATE: I just felt an earthquake sitting here in my hotel room! ]


Cycling Japan 2018

•September 10, 2018 • Leave a Comment
I’ll be cycling in Japan for the next few weeks. This is my first two days: riding from Nara to Matsusaka. Its only about 85 miles, but with over 9,000’ of gain.  Lots of up and down on the touring bike. 
However, the day before getting on the plane I had to modify my planned route because of Typhoon Jebi, the worst storm to hit Japan in 25 years, which slammed the country less than a week before I planned to start riding. And it was a direct hit to Kansai, the region where I was starting my tour. 
The website that shows road closures had so many red circles with “X’s” signifying mudslides, fallen trees or damaged roads it was almost impossible to find a clear route. No doubt this “plan” will result in some further adjustments as I go. Fortunately, alternate routes for detours in Japan are usually well signposted, though on a bike it can sometimes result in a bunch of extra miles. I’m gonna have to stay flexible. 
On top of this, less than 24 hours before departing, Hokkaido was hit by an earthquake that cut power to over 3 million buildings and caused a bunch of landslides. While I’m not planning any bike touring there this time, Alison and I will be in Hokkaido in a few weeks. Yup, this is going to be an interesting Japan trip. 


A few more photos of Spain Cycling 2018

•July 1, 2018 • 2 Comments

Spain_25-Apr-18_085I stopped for coffee in the small, VERY HILLY village of Setenil de las Bodegas.


Spain_24-Apr-18_078The old bridge in Ronda


Spain_24-Apr-18_077The blue town of Juzcar


Spain_24-Apr-18_071Just another great cycling road in Andalucia


Spain_24-Apr-18_070Whitewashed, perched villages are everywhere


Spain_24-Apr-18_001These goats bounded in front of me.  It was all I could do to grab my phone and shoot.


Spain_22-Apr-18_038These last two are of the killer climb up to Torcal de Antequera,

and me with my rental bike.


Why I love cycling in Spain

•April 20, 2018 • 3 Comments

Im cycling in Spain for 10 days. Here’s the route:


…and this is why Spain is a great cycling destination…

Great roads,


Lots of climbing,


Little traffic,



Lots of respect for cyclists (could use this sign on Old Santa Fe Trail),


Picturesque hilltop villages,


And yea, some really great cycling roads


A Week in San Miguel de Allende

•November 17, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Go to post by clicking photo:SanMiguel_2017-14

Cycling the Length of Japan: Hokkaido

•September 21, 2017 • 3 Comments



Hokkaido is a really big island. Our route occupied a thin vertical sliver down the western side of this vast Prefecture.




LOJ-Hokkaido-4Our group

8 days of open spaces, farms, some nice climbs, lakes, and some busy roads circumnavigating the edge of the Uchiura bay.  Oh, and that particular section had about 13 tunnels out of the total of about 20, with another dozen or so “galleries” (kinda half tunnels).

A 2.5 km tunnel… just peddel like mad.

A 2.5 km tunnel… just pedal like mad.

In all, we cycled 492 miles (787 kms) and climbed 23,747 ft (7420 mts) and there was rain day.LOJ-Hokkaido-8


Hokkaido is an OK place to ride, a bit unvaried with lots of farms and open spaces. The roads are good, some great, but some are simply ridable. I’d say there are more young Japanese bike tourers here riding with fully loaded panniers and camping gear then anywhere in Japan. Apparently, going to Hokkaido cycling – which is not really on the radar for most Japanese and is considered a remote place – is a thing to do for young Japanese boys.

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HOWEVER, the food here is amazing. Wonderful seafood: scallops, uni, small fishes, crabs, plus some wonderful ramen and udon. The udon is particularly nice, being light and subtle. I could forget the cycling and simply do a food tour of Hokkaido and it would be fantastic.

LOJ-Hokkaido-3above, sorting baby scallops so the can be tossed into the sea and become these…LOJ-Hokkaido-1-8

more wonderful Hokkaido seafood…


Next, Honshu….

The Length of Japan Cycling Tour is about to begin…

•September 2, 2017 • 5 Comments

The Length of Japan cycling tour starts next week.  I’ll be the ride leader for our 30 day journey from the northern tip of Hokkaido, Cape Soya, to the southern tip of Kyushu, Cape Sata.  It’ll be over 1,600 miles (2,600 km’s) with more than 100,000 vertical feet of climbing (30,000 mt’s) on (mostly) fantastic roads.

There will be plenty of updates and photos here during the next month…

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Kochi – Katsuo and Keirin…

•May 25, 2017 • 1 Comment

A few days in Kochi.  One of our favorite meals in Japan is katsuo no tataki, or bonito seared over a flame of burning straw.  This is the signature dish of this region. Cooking it looks like no fun. 



A few simple examples of elegance in Japanese design…


Then we went to the velodrome where they hold Keirin races. Keirin is Japanese cycle track-racing for the sole purpose of gambling.  Kinda like the horse race track in the US. The only women were working, 100% of the betting was by men. Unfortunately, the actual race was being held at another track, so these guys were betting and watching it on video monitors. There are velodromes all all over Japan, and the race schedule moves around the country all year long. 


And then this: on the street, delivering fish, with the truck running, the woman is whacking off the head of an eel. 


And of course the price of specialty fruits and vegetables. About $36 for a box of tomatoes.  And these were NOT the most expensive I saw, yesterday I saw a box of 20 small tomatoes for $50!!  They better be damn good, 


A few days of cycling on Shikoku

•May 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment
After finishing our three weeks in the Zen Temple, I’m now doing a three-day cycle tour on Shikoku, my favorite Japanese island to ride. Day one was a short ride from the Yamatahama ferry to Uchiko, a ride I’ve done before. 
We went to a paper making factory in Uchiko. This is hard, repetitive work.
Day two was also relatively short (only 40 miles) but was a monster climbing day on a touring bike (just under 6000 feet). The roads were (mostly) very very good and it ended up being a really great ride.
This is my first springtime cycling trip in Japan; usually I ride in the fall when the rice is being harvested, now it’s being planted.
This area has lots of covered bridges

And of course, some great cycling roads

I spent the night in Yusuhara, a small town in the mountains. This is my hotel…
And the Yusuhara municipal building

Week 1: The Zen Retreat & Spring Cycling “Camp”

•May 8, 2017 • 2 Comments
 This is the first of our three weeks at a Zen retreat in a rural village on the island of Kyushu, Japan. 
Even though we struggle to stay awake until 9pm, the 5am chime on my phone still comes far too early.  We then get ready to settle into our cushions in the temple at 5:25 when the monk arrives for his 30 minutes of chanting.  Then it’s 30 minutes of zazen (sitting meditation), a few minutes of kinhan (walking meditation), and 30 more minutes of zazen.  Tea time is 7:05.
There’s no breakfast as the monk says, “breakfast is poison”. No doubt a bit of Zen hyperbole. We sneak some fruit from the stash in our room. I’ll take a bit of poison, arigato gozaimasu.  
Alison and I have coffee, then I do 30-45 minutes of yoga, sometimes in the temple, sometimes in my room by following a series of videos on the iPad, which brings us to Samu (service to the temple).  Samu is often simply weeding, but sometimes digging up the vegetable garden or raking leaves on the path in the bamboo forest. The first and latter items are perpetual chores, the point of which is very Zen, in that there’s obviously no point. 
Then lunch. Mostly it’s stuff from the garden, plus maybe miso soup, marinated mackerel, and gohan (rice) or soba noodles.  No meat yet. One day I helped make handmade udon noodles, which were oii-shi (delicious).  Jiho, our monk host, says we should only “eat to 80%”.  It’s hard to measure, but we definitely aren’t eating anywhere close to Thanksgiving Day fullness.  
For everyone else, the afternoons are either personal times or excursions with Jiho in his car.  So far these have included trips to a local onsen, or a historical site.  I’ve joined them to the onsen, but my afternoons everyday include a bike ride.  
The roads within a 30 mile radius are very small, very hilly, and have few cars. Some roads turn into paved cycling paths deep in the forest, some simply disappear.  My touring bike is perfect for this type of riding. 
 Typical road in the area, and below a woodland cycle route…
The bees must be a serious problem to warrant a road sign!
And of course, there’s the tunnels…
(Speaking of Jiho in the car. I think he’s a reincarnated Formula One race car driver.  Riding with him is not for the faint of heart.)
Dinnertime is a Leasure World Early Bird Special, normally 5pm, but Alison has gotten him to almost 5:30. 6:00 is clearly out of the question.  Like the rest of Japan meals, dinner looks a lot like lunch, and breakfast too, if we ate it. 
Then it’s hanging out, reading, socializing with the other guests (max 4) and forcing ourselves to stay awake till 9:00, ‘cause that 5:00 phone chime will be right around the corner. 
Those two spots are where Alison and I sit in the temple. 
And that’s Fabian, the Italian Bhuddist, doing some martial art thing.



A Zen Retreat, and my “Cycle Training Camp”

•April 24, 2017 • 2 Comments

We’re in Japan for 5 weeks; three of them are at a Zen Retreat on Kyushu.

untitled shoot_20-Sep-15_042-Edit-EditOur typical daily schedule includes waking up at 5:00 for 30 minutes of chanting, followed by an hour of meditation, then tea time, and an hour of Yoga. Then, a few hours of “Samu”, or service to the temple, taking us up to lunchtime.

The afternoons are mostly free, with Alison doing a daily art project, calligraphy with the monk, and hikes to the beach or the village. 

I’m bringing my bike, and plan to do a daily bike ride up into the tiny, twisty, quiet roads into the hills.  My Spring Training.

There’s internet, but we will be on a self-imposed 3 week total news blackout.  No politics. No news.  Just doing the Zen thing and me cycling as much as possible. 

An Indigo Master, & a Pottery Village

•October 19, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The Little Indigo Museum in the small village of Miyama, north of Kyoto.  We took a subway, two trains, and a bus…but it was well worth it.


11.jpgHiroyuki Shindo has been using Indigo since he was a young man.















The pottery village of Shigaraki



1.jpgThere were art installations around the village, this one inside a kiln




Images of Japan at night (mostly)

•October 15, 2016 • 2 Comments

Some photos of Nagano, Obuse, Matsushiro, and Takayama…


In front of Zenkoji temple in Nagano

 These are of a procession in Nagano, going between a small temple and the enormous Zenkoji, which takes place at night for a few weeks each year




 Fire buckets are everywhere in Japan, usually red, but these must be faded 

 Obuse is known for its chestnuts.  The town has footpaths paved with blocks of chestnut tree wood  

 Shot through a window covered with a spotted UV pattern

 A steep path leading to a beautiful shrine outside Obuse

 Castle ruins in Matsushiro, a 10 mile bike ride from Nagano

Young Monks repairing a torn shoji screen 

Alison and I were cycling around Takayama…photo not taken by me



Images of Japan – Post Cycling Travels

•October 10, 2016 • 5 Comments

A Soba making demo…






The precision of the cutting was something 


The D.T. Suzuki Museum in Kanazawa…









At the Contemporary Art Museum, Kanazawa…








At a wasabi farm…








Just some random shots… 


Soaking feet in tubs with apples…don’t ask…






To Nagano

•October 6, 2016 • 3 Comments


My bike on a local train.  A few stops after I took this photo, the train started filling up, so I moved my bike to the front where there were no seats.  There was more than 4′ of unoccupied bench next to me, and only a few tiny spaces here and there in my car.  This was a local line…not a tourist route.  At further stops, more people boarded than departed, but no one took the space near me, they just squeezed into the other spaces.  I didn’t take it personally.  


I’m not sure this is even physically possible

05.jpgI cycled through that half tunnel 


A festival in a town I cycled through 


These wrapped ears of corn are displayed all around.  Must be a autumn thing. 

Rainy days

•September 30, 2016 • 3 Comments

It’s been raining off and on the last few days.  Fortunately, I’ve been mostly on very small mountain roads so the rain hasn’t been a huge issue.  Plus it’s been pretty light and reasonably warm. 


 Setting out in the rain 

 Taking a break to get dry for a while 

サラダ says “Sarada” or salad, but Salad Road?

 The only other place in the world I’ve seen wood so neatly stacked was Switzerland 

 Primping for the camera in front of Kumamoto castle 

 The menu at the restaurant last night.  I can read Hiragana and Katakana pretty well but I can read absolutely zero Kanji, so this was mostly useless for me 

A bike shop.  It was open for business if you could make it through the mess



Kanazawa to Shirakawa

•September 25, 2016 • 1 Comment

48 miles and 4200’…with lots of ups and downs and some pannier-load challenging grades. They call this the “Japan Alps” region, which has some passes up to 8000′, that I’ll do in a few days, but the elevations are nothing compared to the US Mountain Region. Nonetheless, the climbs are still a workout. 


Small mountain village


This region is known for its many traditional thatched roof homes


First time I saw a shrine dedicated to a big root.  Nice root, though.  

In my route planning, I’ll always choose the “route less traveled” when possible.  This section was definitely less traveled.  


Japan’s bicycle infrastructure- Kanazawa

•September 23, 2016 • 2 Comments

 These photos are pretty typical of the bicycle infrastructure in Japan.  I’m in Kanazawa a few days as the starting point for my tour. 


  You can never say things are not clear here in Japan for bicycles 


 First time I saw a bike graphic with a basket 

 A bicycle parking area near the train station 

 The bike ramp leading down to the walkway under the road 

Another Japan Cycling Tour – Sept 2016

•September 20, 2016 • 1 Comment

This time I’m staying in the region known as the “Japan Alps” in West-Central Honshu.  I’ll be riding between the cities of Kanazawa, Takayama, Matsumoto, and Nagano, with 10 days of cycling, 400 miles, and about 40,000′ of climbing.  Once again, small, quiet, but hilly roads.


The routes can be seen in these links:


Kanazawa to Takayama (2 days)

Takayama loop

Takayama to Matsumoto (2 days)

Matsumoto Loop

Matsumoto to Nagano

Nagano Loop

Takaoka to Kanazawa


Italian Food, Part 1: Sardinia (and also a little bit on cycling)

•May 4, 2016 • 4 Comments

Sure, southern Spain has fantastic roads, great climbs, charming white-washed hilltop villages, unbelievably courteous drivers, and wonderful weather.  And Sardina has very good cycling, but honestly, it’s not Spain.  

The Sardinian coast and island interior 

But, while the Spanish cycling is amazing, the food can be a bit tedious. Yes, great food can be found in nicer restaurants, but the menus can become repetitive.  When cycling and wanting to grab something relatively quick, the options are often deep fried. 

Italy, and in this case, Sardinia, makes eating a great joy.

[But both countries have a limited definition of breakfast: In Southern Spain its toast with tomato purée and lashings of olive oil with jamon as an option; in Sardinia (and most of Italy), it’s maybe a croissant accompanied by an amazing coffee (though, this morning the B&B did put out a great spread).]

Now, the Italian dinner is something else entirely. Perfection all the way through…including the wine and digestif. 

Wine and a big pizza: $10


I remember on a recent trip to Rome (but it could have been anywhere in Italy), reading a blog comment about “the best” restaurant, and suggestions for “great meals”… really?  That’s total BS… You can close your eyes and stumble into the first place you hit and you have about a 90% chance it’ll be good. A 75% chance it’ll be great.


OK, I’ve had a bad meal in Italy…but it’s damn rare.


Carte musica…

Oh yes, so far Sardina cycling: 168 miles & 17,447′ of gain… Which is damn fortunate ’cause there’s a lot of eating going on here.





Andalucia tour finished, now to Sardinia

•May 2, 2016 • 3 Comments

Finished cycling Spain with 375 miles and 29,700′ of gain. I’m now on the overnight ferry to Sardinia for 8 more riding days. 

This day started with an amazing cycling road.  For over 15 miles it was perfect pavement, and I saw a total of zero cars.  The rest of the day was very good riding, but this section would be hard to beat.

The road approaching Zuhara.  And once again, a brutally steep final climb up to the village. 

Yes, they do put these hilltop villages in fact on the top of hills. 

Looking back to Zuhara

The front of my hotel in Osuna.  Osuna is a town filled with old palaces (my hotel was an 18th century palace, which was beautiful, but had 18th century plumbing), churches, and convents.  Lots of streets had names that included the words Jesus, Christo, Dios, etc.  

Osuna’s old homes have an interesting pop-out window detail.  


The Fiesta started in Córdoba with an interesting mix of activities, which mostly included decorated church plazas, big flower-covered crosses, and large beer stands.  An odd mix of religion and serious partying.  And true to the Spanish tradition, it was loud and went long into the morning hours.  

Day 3: Antequera to Ronda

•April 25, 2016 • 3 Comments

67 miles & 6745 ft. The road leaving Antequera makes for some truly fantastic cycling, and lots of climbing. 


The morning started with some fog



And the drivers actually follow this law


In the complex, cramped hilltop villages, the GPS sometimes thinks these are rideable 


More great roads…

Touring Andalucia Day 1: Córdoba to Zuheros

•April 22, 2016 • Leave a Comment

58 miles, 4505′.    Most of the climbing was at the end. The final ¼ mile up to the village of Zuheros on the cobble road hit 17%.  A killer with a loaded touring bike!


In the courtyard of the apartment we rented

This stage is mostly riding through farmland. A typical farmhouse in the back. 

Zuheros…the quintessential white village. 

Zuheros could NOT be any more picture perfect. 

Flamenco in Córdoba

•April 19, 2016 • 1 Comment

Probably the best Flamenco show we’ve ever seen.  

Cycling Andalusia and Sardinia

•April 6, 2016 • 1 Comment

I’m doing these two solo, self-supported loops: 7 days cycling in Andalusia and 8 days cycling in Sardinia. Total of 783 miles and just under 70,000′ of climbing.  Spring Training!

Sardinia Loop 2016


Spain Loop-2016

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