Are You a Bike Snob?

10.25.2005 | 2:21 pm

If you are a cyclist, the following moment either has happened, or will happen someday soon: You are on your bike, riding along, when a car passes you, with one or more bikes on its rack. After doing a quick assessment, you think a single word: “Junk.”

Or it might be an equivalent word, probably with the same number of letters.

That, my friend, is the moment you became (or will become) a bike snob.


Gauge Your Bike Snobbery

So, the question is not whether you are a bike snob. Rather, it’s, "How much of a bike snob are you?" Answer these questions to find out.


1. Finish the following statement: “My bike is worth…”

a. More than I admit, even to close personal friends. And it’s worth much, much more than I admit to my significant other.

b. Its weight in gold.

c. Really, just gold? Well, I guess that’s how much mine was worth before I upgraded the wheelset.


2. You are riding along the pavement when a recumbent bicycle with a bright orange flag approaches from the other direction. What do you do?

a. Smile and wave. Hey, it’s great that we’re both on bikes, no matter what kind!

b. Nod nearly imperceptibly, so that others on real bikes will not notice.

c. Ignore this Philistine, and avoid eye contact at all costs. Cross to the other side of the street if necessary.


3. When was the last time you cried?

a. When someone stole my bike.

b. When someone scratched my bike.

c. When I was in the local bike shop and a pudgy guy with baggy MTB shorts and a BMX helmet came in with a Bianchi S9 Matta Ti/Carbon Record, asking the mechanic to put slime in the tires so it wouldn’t get flats so often.


4. How many bikes do you own?

a. 2

b. 3-5

c. Are you counting complete, rideable bikes? Or do I have to count all the frames? Also, do I have to count the vintage bikes I keep in case I ever decide to open a bike museum? How about the one that Eddy Merckx once touched?


How to score yourself
Oh, be serious. You know how bad you are.


Today’s weight: 162.2

PS: This has been a sneak-peek excerpt from "How to be a Bike Snob," written for Be sure to watch for the whole article, including many valuable tips and techniques on how you can be the snobbiest cyclist possible. Coming soon! I think.


  1. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 2:51 pm

    more and more, I find myself torn between bike snobbery and appreciation for doing more with less.By ‘less’ I mean building my singlespeed mountain wheels for my 5th bike with Paul hubs instead of Chris Kings. I mean we all have to sacrifice something right?

  2. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 2:54 pm

    OOH, goody! First comment! I have been a bike snob so long I forgot I are one. So long, in fact, that I really, really, try to affect the "Isn’t great we all ride bikes" attitude when ever ANYONE is coming the opposite way and I have sized them up as being on inferior equipment. Over the years, this includes just about everybody who doesn’t hold a Cat 1 or 2 license. Yes, I have issues but I am working on them. But jeez, I have put in closing on 100,000 miles on a bike. I earned my snobby attitude. If they don’t want to be judged, they should raise their seat a couple of centimeters, adjust their heels in at the pedals, flatten out the top line of the seat, drop the bars and adjust the line of them, shave their legs, and buy better stuff. That’s all. At least I dismiss everybody equally. But only if they deserve it. My only saving grace is that I keep my mouth shut about it to everyone except my close friend and cycling buddy Chris, who is as jaded and cynical as I am. We understand that this type of behavior is unacceptable with normal folks, as it should be. Its still fun though.

  3. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 4:54 pm

    My wife and your sister gives me grief all of the time as I size up riders whose bikes are displayed on the backs of vehicles based on:-componentry-wheelset-bike rack type-pedal type-fork type-seat type-whether the driver of the car looks like a Fred®-if the driver or any of the passengers is wearing a doo rag"Poser" often accompanies my caustic assessment. I am such a punk. But I cannot help it. So the answers are:a)b)b)b)

  4. Comment by tayfuryagci | 10.25.2005 | 5:40 pm

    answers are 1 c2 a3 b4 bI am a bike snob. most of the time I see a car with a bike rack I look at all that pile of shish (kebab) and mutter (junk, crap they dunno what is and whatsnot a good bike but I DO I DO mauhauhha)I just LOATH the guys on road bikes or unbelievably expensive MTB’s I see on the road, they’re mostly extremely athletic and when I try to say "Lo!" they just turn their heads away. One day I’ll bash one good. Or maybe he’ll just spit on me and ?’ll die I dunno.When you see a fellow "cyclist" one with a helmet and stuff you know a "serious" cyclist. just say hi. it wont kill you.I love this blog man.

  5. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 5:54 pm

    Fatty, Great blog, as usual, except for bringing up that THING that is not a bike – recumbent. I used to feel disgust when passing one, usually shielded the kid’s eyes if we saw one while in the car. But now, I feel pity, wondering what sort of tramatic experience befell this poor soul to drive them to humiliate them selves on this foolish contraption. Kind of reminds me of a dog scooting on the carpet. You know what I mean. At least this fair city where I live has too steep of hills for a recumbent to be parctical. Probably don’t work too goog in the winter, either. Yes, they do all seem to fly the orange flag, and wear the same bright yellow wind shell. Ah!, to be so perfect …..Like when I was riding my mbt bike w/ slicks while I was in the middle over hauling my roadie. My girlfriend was traing for her first triathalon, so I was teaching her how to pedal properly, cadence ect. The LBS team was on their Tues night ride and passed us. A couple of "nice ride, Boz" emminated from the bunch. Well deserved, looking back. Lesson learned – always have a back-up.Boz

  6. Comment by Zed | 10.25.2005 | 6:12 pm

    The only cyclists I poke fun at are those who very obviously purchased their 30-pound robot-welded hunks o’ junk at WalMart or Kmart. I mean really people, imagine what we could do with all that scrap metal if we shipped it off to a third-world country. They’d be so much more useful to them than they are to their current owners–rusting on some bike rack somewhere just waiting to be ridden off a cliff or something. It’s tragic, really.

  7. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 6:38 pm

    Dear God. All these Sideways thinkin’ Pinot Noir drinker-cyclists. For the record: Merlot ain’t bad, if you pick the right one. Most people aren’t refined enough to know the difference, and a lot of people who are, probably deserve a punch in the nose anyhow because they are so damn precious about it. Merlot don’t cost $260 a bottle; sometimes a good one only runs $15. Sure, that Pinot is tasty. But is it $245 better tasting? Or would you rather have a full case of the good Merlot? I say get your drink on, man. Quit your gassbaggin. Same as good bikes. My Giant OCR 2 rode better for me in test rides than bikes costing nearly twice as much. It fit nicer and handled better for me. Small upgrades to the crank, wheels and seat (all would have been necessary on the higher priced bikes given my ergos, weight and riding style), and an upgrade to Ultegra STIs (coming in the spring) will leave me very, very happy indeed, for probably $1150 total. Best of all, I don’t cry when it gets rained on, and wont cry when I crash it out trying to race it. (I may cry about the attendant green stick fracture, but that’s another story; and yes, I did go for the high end health insurance – I’m thinking the private room so nobody can hear my whimpering is worth $15 extra a month). Yeah, maybe I’ll upgrade to some champagne bike at some point. But it had better be functionally a lot better than what I have or I just can’t see doing it. Maybe a Rivendell…Oh, and my “new” bike is a barely retrofitted 70’s vintage Fuji fixie conversion, with original paint. Yes, that’s right. I’m the worst kind of bike snob. A Populist Retro Reverse Bike Snob. /sGiantAl

  8. Comment by Kenny | 10.25.2005 | 6:45 pm

    Now that I ride a 29inch rigid single speed, I look down on anyone with gears, suspension or small wheels.stupid people

  9. Comment by Colin | 10.25.2005 | 7:17 pm

    Great blog.. reminds me of Bill Simmon’s ESPN writing.. a lot of Bill Simmons.. Is he ghost writing for you ?

  10. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 10.25.2005 | 9:41 pm

    Snobbery extends beyond equipment assessment, although I am certainly guilty of a quiet chuckle at some of the stuff that shows up at the Saturday morning bunch rides.What about the snobbery of non-mechanical issues. Have you ever spotted a rider in the distance and wound it up a notch to effect a catch and then a friendly chat? How did you react at the catch when you discovered hairy legs? or a girl? You’re nearly at your limit and then you have to ride right on by and continue at Vmax without looking back.Of course, I personally would never display such open bigotry, but it’s out there.

  11. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 10:48 pm

    I was reading the Bicycling Forums the other day and wondered why we obsess about someone else’s gear and riding technique so much. We’re all out there getting some fresh air and exercise, right? I guess not."Bike snob" – that would be redundant it appears.This does explain something I noticed commuting with my old mountain bike last summer. On an almost deserted country road, a guy on a road bike approached and passed me with barely a flicker of recognition. It struck me as odd at the time but now I understand.

  12. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 11:14 pm

    people looking for community and fellowship from "fellow" cyclists are adorable. do people in cars look for this in fellow drivers? do bus riders nod to each other (sup, see you’re on the bus, cool)? communities of cyclists are just friends who ride together. we’re a curmudgeonly bunch.

  13. Comment by agreenmouther | 10.25.2005 | 11:52 pm

    I for one, am no bike snob. I knod at everyone. I try to be friendly. If I pass you (or you pass me) I say hi. dug: I do the same thing with any other kind of transportation where one makes eye-contact. My mom always told me that it was imporant to be courteous…

  14. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 10.26.2005 | 1:04 am

    craig – a monastic snob is still a snob.jimserotta – a snob who doesn’t say what he’s thinking is still a snob.rocky – i should have included rack type as part of the snobbery. better yet, i have a whole entry’s worth of love-hate with the bike rack to talk about. thanks, man. you gave me the idea i need for tomorrow’s entry.tayfuryagci – from this point forward, please yell, "I AM TAYFURYAGCI!" at every cyclist you cross paths with. eventually, one of them is bound to be me. i will yell back, "HI, TAYFURYAGCI!" or i may spray you with mace. could go either way.boz – it’s not so much the ‘bents that bug me as the crazy look most ‘bent riders have. crazy and defensive, with a 30% chance of homicidal.caloi-rider – or those bikes could be thrown into the ocean, kickstarting coral – it’s a little late, but i wanted you to know that your assos watre bottle comment from yesterday actually made me blow diet coke out of my nose. and the weird thing is, i wasn’t even drinking a diet coke at the time.kenny – it’s interesting you should mention that, because i look down on bald people who don’t finish their sentences with any punctuation. colin – actually, i am bill simmons.big mike – people talk about chuckling — and especially quiet chuckling — but i never actually see people chuckle. i think the "chuckle" is a word some writer invented because otherwise he was going to have to use "laugh" twice in the same paragraph. ellrod – it’s possible he went by without saying hi because he was a snob, but it’s also possible he went by without saying hi because he was immensely attracted to you, but was too painfully shy to introduce himself. or he may not have said hi because he was repelled by the enormous hump on your back. you’ve got to open yourself to the possibilities, man.dug – if i’m not in my own cycling happy place, i nod at cyclists. i don’t freak if they don’t nod/wave back, though, because i understand that sometimes when you’re riding you’re in the zone and don’t experience anything outside of your legs and the road. you, however, i would never expect to wave or nod to anyone, because you are not a nice person. as a disclaimer, back when i used to own a miata, i would wave / nod at other miata owners. collegiatecookiemonster – from this point forward, as you wave to other cyclists, please also yell, "HI FAT CYCLIST!" because eventually we’re bound to cross paths, and i want to make sure i wave back. and meanwhile, i guarantee that nobody at all will be offended by you calling them fat. they’ll recognized that you’re simply carrying out your mother’s courtesy mandate. really, they will.

  15. Comment by Unknown | 10.26.2005 | 4:20 am

    My confession: the one piece of biking equipment I am the biggest snob about is … a helmet. When I see I cyclist without a helmet (here in Philly, that’s about 2/3 of the two-wheeled), it just bums me out. Not wearing one is akin to begging for your pate to be addled.

  16. Comment by AO | 10.26.2005 | 4:30 am

    Fatty, I was going to take you to task for your snobbishness, but your admission to having owned and driven a Miata (and the resulting thoughts that popped in my mind) made me realize that every subculture has their snobs and stereotypes of others. I guess I am more of a car snob than a bike snob. BTW if you want to know the resulting thoughts that popped in my mind go here:

  17. Comment by Ariane | 10.26.2005 | 4:45 am

    I usually nod to other cyclists, and I always return nods given. Do not, however, nod, make eye-contact, or acknowledge anyone else while on the bus in Schenectady. Not even people you know, not even if you rode the bus for six or seven years in other cities, and fancy yourself bus-savvy. Just don’t do it.

  18. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 10.26.2005 | 6:56 am

    phillyjen – that’s not snobby, that’s just being safe. sorry; i can’t award you a snob point.nikared – the allusion to homosexuality would carry more weight if i were an attractive, well-groomed, city-savvy male with a sense of style and a lot of shoes, as opposed to a middle-aged, pale, slovenly, flubby, hairy-backed, male-pattern-balding man who talks endlessly about mountain biking. for future reference, you probably could have made this funnier if you had made a reference to leg-shaving, but now i’ve handed you that one, so it’s too late for you to get credit for that. with all this in mind, i’m going to have to serve you a comedy demerit for using a joke that shot so wide of its mark that it was difficult to tell what you were even aiming at. also, you forgot the obligatory "not that there’s anything wrong with that" catchphrase, but i’m going to cut you some slack on that, because you’re so handsome. a.toad – gotcha. note to self: stay in fetal position when on public transit in schnectady

  19. Comment by Unknown | 10.26.2005 | 11:10 am

    Wow. Where to start? First, when I feel socially inadequate, I too wave to other cyclists. Sometimes with a middle finger, perhaps a reverse peace sign, or maybe just an index finger near the temple, or even a choking gesture. If you aren’t getting a response from others Toad, perhaps it’s because your culturally insensitive gestures simply aren’t understood by your target audience. Do you know that a smile and a nod means “I’m going to kill you and make your mother have many of my babies” in the Netherlands? I’d be really careful about smiling and nodding at people on the road. In fact I’d think about responding in no uncertain terms to any bastard on a bicycle that smiled and nodded at me. As an aside, it really makes you reconsider your opinion of the Dutch when you first become aware of this fact. Second, I would be careful about yelling “Hi, Fat Cyclist” in Australia. BigMike has noted that these are magic words that can sometimes result in spontaneous flight.Third, I’d also be careful about yelling “Hi Tayfuryagci!” in public, unless I was at an anime convention cross dressed as my favorite pubescent sex kitten anime starlet. Most normal people will just call the cops on you. Dug would probably stick a stylish Zefal pump in your spokes and then write in comments here about his great new gag. Nikared would give you an embarrassing water bottle that you would feel compelled to use and praise publicly, and JimSerotta would cut you with a devastatingly nasty look, a la Oscar Wilde. It could be traumatic, especially the look from Jim. You probably weren’t aware of this, but he rides a very stylish Serotta. D, I’d be careful about riding a recumbent in public, unless I was a middle aged engineer or college professor with a beard. Blawger Ann Althouse recently noticed that almost all recumbent riders fit this profile, in a post titled “Exactly How Dorky Is A Recumbent Bicycle.” When you appear dorky to a law prof blogger, a class of people not exactly known for being "early adopters" of new trends, you need to be careful that your incredibly dense, concentrated dorkyness doesn’t turn into dark matter, become a black hole and open a huge tear in the fabric of space time. Come to think of it, non-‘bent riders may want avoid ‘bents due to the vortex effect of recumbent black holes. If you see the light from your NiteRider warping towards a recumbent rider – get out of there fast! The bending of light is a sure sign of a recumbent-caused black hole! (Well, if you for some reason you can’t get out of there fast, e.g. your dorky water bottle leaked all your GU2o, you are recovering from a long hill ride, or your haven’t gotten that new Dura-Ace crank that will make you much faster, then just remember to keep a high cadence. That may help you escape the pull of the black hole. It helps on long hills anyhow, so it stands to reason that if caught in a black hole’s vortex, you should keep the cadence up, and perhaps pedal up out of the saddle now and again to keep your momentum up. Assos Bibs may help too, for the rider who isn’t often caught in the black hole, but who wants to make every precious luxurious moment of it count). On the plus side, if you ride a recumbent and are already caught in the black hole of ‘bent, time stops – so things won’t get worse. You’ll never age or change – you’ll always be a dorky, middle aged dude with a beard. So you’ve got that going for you. and finally, Fatty, if you are laughing and Diet Coke-like substances come out of your nose in spite of not having drunk any Diet Coke, well, I’m sorry about that, and can I have your bike when you die soon? I’m pretty sure it’s dried blood from tuberculosis or cholera, either of which you can get from doing missionary and relief work in third world slums, or from wheelsucking behind red and black Vredestein tires. Not that I want to make you worry or anything.

  20. Comment by Unknown | 10.26.2005 | 3:48 pm

    see, you guys are adorable.fatty, you not so much.

  21. Comment by tayfuryagci | 10.26.2005 | 5:05 pm

    hey man whats my name got to do with near-illegal (at least will be illegal in usa soon not here in turkey) cartoon stuff. :) it is actually tayfur(name) yagci(surname). not tayfuryagci like the name of a celtic town or something like that.and I guess I didnt get any snob points because of being as friendly as a teletubby. (tinkie winky, tipsie, la la , poo … hum hum)dug sorry man but you’re not a decent fella.

  22. Comment by Unknown | 10.26.2005 | 5:31 pm

    yagci, see, that’s a problem, equating decent with friendly. if you are on the side of the road, with a flat, i’ll ask you if you need help. if you’re bleeding, i’ll apply a tourniquet. if you aren’t breathing, i’ll ask fatty to give you mouth to mouth.but if you’re riding by on the other side of the road, and i don’t know you, i am unlikely to wave or nod, just like i wouldn’t wave or nod if you were driving by in a golf cart, or a miata. i might if you were in/on a recumbant, but only cuz that’s the cycling equivalent to hayduke throwing empties out the truck window.

  23. Comment by Unknown | 10.26.2005 | 6:02 pm

    Dude, I am the worst. I am the complete opposite of a snob. I ride a Phoenix fixed-gear fold-up bicycle (worth over $500.00!!!) everywhere because I am 178 lbs. and it kicks my fat butt. I don’t care how ridiculous I look riding it. I work for the City of L.A. and I could afford a top-of-the-line bike, but I honestly hate that crap. I want to spend the least amount of money possible, because I’d rather spend money on food and my 7 cats and fun stuff to do in Los Angeles. I ride it to and from work, also home for lunch and back, about 6 miles a day total, and I am one big drop of sweat after 15 minutes on this evil little monster. But I need that. I am a WAY FAT CYCLIST. I am 44 years old, never married, no kids, 5 feet 4, and it just ain’t comin’ off any other way. No matter what I eat. I am on the Asian food diet…I shop exclusively at a local Asian market (The 99 Ranch Market in the San Fernando Valley, YAAAAAY FOR THE RANCH 99!!!!), I eat soy beans and green tea and mangoes and rice and green tea and fish and real fruit jelly candies and green tea and chicken and I have dropped an amazing amount of weight, but I plateau’ed at 180 until just this week when I got on the scale and it said 178, I almost fell off, I swear.

  24. Comment by tayfuryagci | 10.26.2005 | 6:57 pm

    dug you my have a point. sorry for the wrong choice of words. and thanks but no thanks for the mouth to mouth. :)hey someone who ACTUALLY uses a fold-up made a comment. congrats. for your bravery fellow fatso. :) (I’m 5 6 and 180lbs myself)I just broke the rear derailleur of my road bike between two comments. three cheers for a new 105 system! yip yip…

  25. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 10.26.2005 | 10:03 pm

    Val – the reason your weight has hit a plateau is your diet. Your body has gone into stasis awaiting nutrition. Rice, livened up with bamboo shoots and pickled ginger will never break your waking coma. Kick-start your metabolism with meat and 3 veg at sunset. Cereal, toast and a 1 hour ride before 7am and rabbit food during the day. Presto, there’s another 10 pounds gone before Christmas.

  26. Comment by Ariane | 10.26.2005 | 10:32 pm

    Al– I always wondered why that guy punched me in the face in Amsterdam. Granted, his mother DID wind up having many of my babies, but as I didn’t make her, this is neither here nor there.

  27. Comment by Sarah | 10.26.2005 | 10:34 pm

    So, out of curosity, Mr. Fat Cyclist sir, what is your bike snobby-ness level??

  28. Comment by valorousflame777 | 10.27.2005 | 1:19 am

    Mike, Thanks, I think you are absolutely right, I will try what you say, tomorrow. I do nibble all day, but maybe not the right food combinations at the right times. As I was reading what you said, I realized that I’d not been researching when I should eat certain food combinations, and my body is probably totally confused and stuck on NOWAYAMILETTINGTHISBLUBBERGO. I just had some bloodwork done by my doctor and I am in unbelievably perfect health except for my weight, and I am not giving up no matter what because right up until I was 40 years old, I was a perfect size seven with a fabulous hourglass figure that knocked men out wherever I went and one time Johnny Depp begged me to go out with him…ok, so I was 25 dressed in purple and black with Big Hair and he was 19 wearing Jordache jeans, sneakers and a windbreaker and it was at the Rainbow Bar & Grill on the Sunset Strip in the summer of 1986…20 years ago, WOW…I told him no, he was too young for me. Little peachfuzz boy. He said, "Please, pleeeaaaaasssee will you go out with me, you’re just my type!" Well, it’s a good thing I said no because he met Winona right after that, and I would have been heartbroken!Hey, Fat Cyclist, you gotta grow some bigger cojones, don’t wimp out on the wind and rain days, you burn more blubber on those days, duh!!! Go to the army navy surplus and buy a really dorky rain suit that will keep you incredibly dry and make you sweat buckets, too. I don’t give a flyin’ mofo how I look wearing it, I love staying dry in the pouring rain, Baby. Mine is cobalt blue with a vermillion lining and keeps me bone dry except for the sweat, but at the City of Los Angeles building where I work, there are downstairs showers for people who ride their bikes to work (they pay us a transit subsidy of $50.00 a month to ride or walk or take public transportation, so the Phoenix fold-up bike has paid for itself many times over already)…and now I just LAUGH VICARIOUSLY when people pass me in cars and soak me by driving through puddles, go ahead and soak me, you fools! I remain undaunted. And bone dry. I aim for puddles and ride right through them and laugh out loud. Except when those puddles are hiding huge potholes; then I am struggling not to bite the pavement. I have memorized all of the potholes along all of my favorite routes. I know exactly where there are no handicapped access sidewalk ramps, I know where there are too many peds to ride on the sidewalk…in L.A., sometimes you gotta ride on the sidewalk, people drive crazy here because the traffic makes them crazy. One time I almost got hit by some guy driving on the sidwalk trying to bypass traffic stopped at a light that had just turned green. He slammed on his brakes as I hit mine, we both glared at each other and he said, "You’re a little old to be riding a bike, aren’t you?" I yelled at the top of my lungs, "YOU’RE A LITTLE OLD TO BE DRIVING LIJKE S**T, AREN’T YOU?" and all of the car people laughed around us laughed.

  29. Comment by Unknown | 10.27.2005 | 5:30 am

    Your comment: Now you’ve got to prove that you’re not just a bike snob, but a fast cyclist, hits the nail on the head. Dont talk the talk if you cant walk the walkI love putting fatboys on their Colnago c50s to my Campagnolo elitist colleagues to shame.I get great satisfaction when, on my way to work, I ride by them effortlessly on my 17 year old Reynolds 531 frame with mudguards, wearing a full back pack on and watching them scramble to try and grab my wheel. I try to sit about 5 bike lengths in front and watch as they tire.Its one thing to own a good bike but it is another to own good legs. Fat boys, do yourself a favor and get some good legs before you get demoralised on your pride and joy.Fit snobs are better than Fat snobs, no matter what bike you are on. I love Phil Liggett’s comment: You are only as good as now!

  30. Comment by David | 10.27.2005 | 2:43 pm

    Nice story. Yea, lot’s of cyclists tend towards bike snobbery. I avoid it myself.By the way, you don’t really use the bikes in your picture section for your serious riding do you?

  31. Comment by Alan | 12.2.2005 | 2:46 am

    I can’t believe your whining and moaning about riding in the cold. My wife went shopping for 7 hours the day after thanksgiving and didn’t get home until 3 pm. I was waiting impatiently for her to watch our daughter so I could go for my ride. Well at 3 pm in Phoenix, it was close to 65 degrees. I needed my jersey AND a sweatshirt. Fortunately, shorts were still fine. Hang in there and smile when you think of me at 3 pm in July.


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