Musings on 2012 Tour de France Contenders on a Calm Summer Morning (Free Verse Friday)

06.29.2012 | 9:04 am

201206290735.jpgA Note from Fatty: The Utah Tour de Donut is July 7: a week from tomorrow. This is one of my favorite events of the year, for a lot of reasons. First, because it plays to my strengths: riding bikes and eating donuts. Check out my race writeups from 2010 and 2011 to see what I mean.

Second, because it is put on by the American Fork Rotary Club, which seems to have adopted me as their mascot or something (no, I’m not a member of the Rotary Club). Last year, for example, they used the proceeds of this fundraiser to buy a blanket warmer for the cancer center at the hospital Susan went to for treatment.

This year, they’re using the proceeds to go toward World Bicycle Relief, as well as to build a new trail connecting Lambert Park with Corner Canyon.

Both of these causes are awesome.

So. If you’re local, like bicycles, like to eat, like silliness, like helping kids in Zambia have a shot at a better life, and like seeing more local trails, why don’t you come race the Tour de Donut?

It’s insane. And wonderful. You’ll have a great time, and you’ll be doing good things, both locally and far away.

Click here to register now.

Musings on 2012 Tour de France Contenders on a Calm Summer Morning

The 2012 Tour de France approaches
What shall I think?
For whom shall I cheer?
How can I not know how each stage ends
Afore — perchance — I get to see it myself?

Bradley Wiggins is the toast of the Tour
He is expected to win by all and sundry
Phil and Paul have cried tears of joy
Over the prospect of the rapture
They predict and pray for

Alone in his hotel room
Cadel Evans sulks and frets
“I am the reigning champion!”
He confides to his pillow
“Perhaps I have given cause for concern”
“Perhaps I have not been at my best”
“But should I be truly relegated to ‘also appearing’ status?”

Not far away
And yet far far away
Another man is lonely
For he misses his brother
“How shall I race without my brother?”
He wonders aloud
To all and sundry
Other racers look on
“You know, the rest of us race without siblings all the time.”

Chris Horner looks on
Amused and bemused
And enigmatic as hell
All simultaneously
Though he would never use those words
He had been out
And now he is in
Almost as if by magic
And, magically, leading the team
The pile of Snickers wrappers accumulates
That dude’s going to have to watch his weight when he retires

By way of contrast
Levi Leipheimer
Eats a teaspoon of rice
Specially prepared
And seasoned just so
“100ish kilometers of time trials sounds good”
He says calmly, even as his heart is about to burst
“Real good.”
Then he punches a passerby in the throat
Just because he can

Oh, let us not forget
Vincenzo Nibali
Who has done magnificently
At shooting himself in the foot
For why would a team
Put their heart and soul
Behind a rider who is halfway out the door
When they could instead
Get behind a young man named Sagan
Who has had some modest success in the sprints
As of late  

But what of the others?
For are there not others with prospects?
With hopes?
With dreams?
Like Sánchez?
No, I’m sorry, he has no chance
For he is on Euskaltel-Euskadi
And is therefore tradition-bound to do well on one stage   
And then discombobulate

And what of Denis Menchov?
Nobody seems to talk about him
Which seems to suit him just fine
Because really
Why would a proven rider
With multiple Grand Tour victories
And a gift for the Time Trial
On a Time Trial-heavy course
be considered a Tour favorite?
Nothing to see here
Move along
Move along

Thank you


Fix Me

06.28.2012 | 6:42 am

What is the correct course of action one should take when one has a chronic pain? One that seems to be intensifying as time goes on? A pain that one has no explanation for, although one has one’s suspicions?

Well, one could go to a doctor, and get professional advice and help.

Or, one could crowdsource the diagnosis to one’s friends on the Internet.

Ooooh. I like that second option.

Here’s What’s Going On

This is me, pointing to where I hurt:


It’s possible that I’m mugging it up a little bit as I point to where I hurt, because I want to convey exactly how serious and painful my ache is.

It’s also possible that I’m not doing a very good job, in this photo, of pointing to where I hurt. So let me zoom in and circle the affected area and stuff:


It’s not my elbow, as you can see. It’s that area right beside my elbow. Just on my right arm.

It hurts a lot. And it’s been hurting worse lately.

When It Hurts

Now, this thing doesn’t hurt all the time. Like right now, for example. It doesn’t hurt at all when I’m just sitting here, typing. I’m just fine right now.

But here’s when it does hurt:

  • When I fully extend my arm (pain fades after a moment, though)
  • When I pivot my wrist, side-to-side
  • When anything hits this area, like at all
  • When I hang from a pull-up bar
  • When I twist my arm clockwise, so my palm is facing up
  • When I’m kickboxing

OK, I made up the one about kickboxing, but the rest are accurate.

When It Doesn’t Hurt

The reason I haven’t been to doctor to look at this sometime during the past month or two that this has been hurting increasingly badly has something to do with a key time this does not hurt:

  • When I am riding on my bike

That’s right. This doesn’t hurt when I’m riding seated or standing, or even on a mountain bike with a rigid fork.

It’s just fine, in fact.

And yet, since riding is pretty much the main thing I do, exercise-wise, I worry that biking somehow has something to do with this.

A Description of the Pain

I would describe this pain as a sharp pain. I might describe it as a sharp stabbing pain, but I’ve never been stabbed. I would also not describe it as a sharp shooting pain for the same reason. I.e., that I’ve never been shot, not that I’ve never been stabbed.

An Appeal for Answers

So, now that you know what is going on with me, I’d like you — if you are the kind of person who knows this kind of thing (such as a doctor, or a nurse, or an insufferable know-it-all) — to tell me what’s going on, and what my options are (and especially the good options) for doing about it.

I look forward to your assistance.

A Day In The Life of The Hammer

06.27.2012 | 9:56 am

Today’s post isn’t about me. At least, not very much. Today’s post is about The Hammer, and the day she had yesterday.

Because it was a pretty full day.

Event 1: Hiking a Mountain

The day started with a hike to the top of “Y” Mountain — a seven-mile hike with 3000 feet of climbing she’s done as a long-standing tradition each month with her eighty-year-old dad.

She texted me — as I sat at my desk, working — this from the top of the mountain:


So yeah, I was a little bit jealous of how her day started.

Event 2: Lunch With The Folks

After the hike, she drove her dad back to his home and had lunch with her mom and dad. After a quick shower there, she then drove over to a clinic, where she had an appoointment to have a basal cell carcinoma removed.

It was at that point that I stopped being jealous of how her day was going.

Event 3: Surgery

The way they remove the carcinoma is to cut out what they think is all of it, then have you sit around while the pathology lab verifies that they’ve got everything out. If so, they sew you up. If not, they cut more out and repeat.

The Hammer was lucky (or maybe it’s nicer to say that the doctor is skilled); they got everything on the first pass. I arrived at the clinic right as the doctor was sewing her up.

I did my absolute best to not look squeamish, but from the distance I was sitting I couldn’t see the thread for the stitches, and so it would look — from time to time — as if the side of her face was, of its own accord, suddenly stretching out into thin air.

That weirded me out. Meanwhile, the whole time, The Hammer chatted and joked.

They bandaged her up pretty thoroughly, but you couldn’t really see anything, thanks to a strategically concealing hairdo.

This photo is actually from today, with a bandaid in place instead of the massive pile of gauze and tape originally on her face. But you still get the idea.

Event 4: Store

I had come to the clinic to offer support and with the expectation that The Hammer would be in no shape to drive home, much less do anything else.

But as we headed home, The Hammer said, “This would be a good time for us to take care of some grocery shopping.”

So we did.

Event 5: House Cleaning

We then got home, and I encouraged The Hammer to go lay down and rest for a while, since that’s totally what I would have done. In fact, I would still be laying down right now.

The Hammer, however, said that this was her housecleaning day, and went to work on that while I headed into the basement to do my day job.

Event 6: The Ride

We made dinner together (Teriyaki salmon with dirty saffron rice and peas). The IT guy joined us, because after dinner — when the day had cooled down — we were planning on going on a mountain bike ride.

Yes, really.

“We’re just going to take it easy today, right?” I asked, thinking about the fact that The Hammer had already had one good workout that day, plus we had gone on a Strava QOM hunt for her the day before, netting her both a QOM / PR on the Hog Hollow climb (weirdly, no other woman has recorded a time on Hog Hollow; The Hammer has recorded dozens of times) and a QOM for the short-but-intense Brock’s uphill sprint.

Plus, of course, the day before that she had done a hard 96-mile road ride.

And in short, an easy ride seemed like the only sensible thing to do.

So — naturally — I was not at all surprised to see her sitting at the computer before we went. “I want to go after the Canyon Hollow – Brock’s climb.”

Have I mentioned that I have created a monster?

We started out, going relatively easy up Hog Hollow. Right from the beginning, though, The Hammer noted that her legs were tired.

“Gee, what a surprise,” I quipped. “I wonder why that could be.”

We then went down Rush, which is ordinarily one of my very favorite descents. But it’s a technical descent and not great to do as the sun gets low. Specifically, you will occasionally find yourself pretty high in the air before you even realize you just went off a jump.

I went on ahead, crashing one time, but managing to get myself and my bike together before anyone caught me.

As The Hammer and The IT Guy rolled down to the bottom of Rush, The Hammer remarked, “Blake critiqued my descending technique nonstop, the whole way down.”

You’d have to know The IT Guy a little to understand that this was likely not even a tiny bit of an exaggeration. I thought to myself, “Really, this was not the day for that.” But the Hammer / IT Guy dynamic is as unique as any mother / son relationship; I said nothing.

It was time for the main event: the two-mile, 696-foot climb from the bottom of Canyon Hollow to the Peak View trailhead.

The Hammer’s daily QOM Hunt was upon us.

Event 7: The Big Climb

The Canyon Hollow – Brock’s climb is two miles of really fantastic singletrack, climbing at a moderate 6.7% average grade (696 feet total of climbing). It’s one of my favorite ways to get to the Peak View trailhead in Corner Canyon, because it’s a mellower climb than Clark’s. Here’s what the elevation profile of this climb looks like:


Very even and steady. Get into your climbing groove and stay there. That said, when you climb at your limit, there’s no such thing as an easy climb.

My job during The Hammer’s QOM attempt was to stay about fifty feet or so ahead of her, where I served dual purposes:

  • Be a rabbit she can chase
  • Clear the path of slower riders by saying in a cheerful, loud voice as I approached them, “How’s it going?” This technique results in an almost 100% pull-over rate without me ever having to ask people to pull over to let us by.

I took on my job with relish, but The Hammer — whose job was to go as fast up the climb as she possibly could. And that “as fast as she possibly could” should ideally work out to be in under 16:45, the current QOM’s (Erika, not Erica) time — was not having fun.

Before we got even a third of the way up, she said to me, “I’m just pooped.”

“Just ride your best, don’t worry about whether you get the QOM today,” I said.

We came across Dug, who was riding the other direction with his son. Dug, immediately sensing what was going on, yelled at the top of his lungs, “Everyone clear the trail, she’s on a Strava!”

Dug’s a clown.

I plugged away, but could tell from the way she kept dropping back that The Hammer was tired. I checked my clock. It was going to be close.

Then she took a spill. She got up quickly and continued, but in my mind it was over; she wasn’t quite going to make it.

I pulled across the finish line, and then fifteen seconds later The Hammer came across, then immediately stopped and put her head on her handlebars.

“You’ve just done too much today,” I said.

“Don’t make excuses for me,” The Hammer replied, and started down Hog Hollow.

Completely exhausted, she went to bed as soon as she got home.

We didn’t even bother uploading the data from her GPS to Strava.

This Morning

The Hammer woke at 5:30 this morning, got ready for work as usual as I made her lunch (egg whites and avocados, of course). She was out the door by 6:15.

Then, after she left, I thought, “Well, I guess I’ll see how close she got,” and went to the garage to get The Hammer’s GPS.

Here’s what I saw:


She had done it. By fifteen seconds. Even after everything else — big hike, surgery, groceries, cleaning the house — she had still gotten her QOM fix.

And that is why she is The Hammer.

Big Ol’ Event Report: 2012 LiveStrong Challenge – Davis

06.26.2012 | 11:21 am

You know how after you do something really awesome for the first time (I’m talking about bike-related stuff, so just put any other “first time” related train of thoughts you were having right out of mind), you immediately start thinking, “I’ve got to go do that again?”

And then, after a while, you start wondering about whether you’ve managed to exaggerate the awesomeness of that thing. Maybe, you think, it’s going to be one of those things where the next time you try it, the novelty will have worn off, leaving you to question whether there’s any point in trying it the third time.

Then you go back for the second time. And sometimes it doesn’t live up to your recollection from the first time. And that’s disappointing.

Every once in a while, though, when you go back and try something a second time, it’s every bit as awesome. Maybe even better in some ways, because this time you notice details you missed the first time.

That’s how an event becomes a tradition.

And that is, in a nutshell, my experience with the 2012 LiveStrong Davis Challenge.

Here are a few highlights.

The Winner

First of all, you need to meet Ed P, the winner of an Ibis with top-end Shimano components, plus a trip out to Utah to get his bike custom-fitted for him by SLC Bicycles, then some riding with The Hammer and me.

Here’s what he had to say in his email upon finding out that he won:

Ed Perrey Pic.jpgThis is awesome; I’m so pumped! I’ve been attempting to convince my wife it was time for a bike upgrade for over a year now. And, as I’m sure a lot of married mountain bikers (any biker for that matter) realizes, this is a difficult case to state. Especially when your wife believes your bike is “perfectly fine.”

I’m a big fan of your blog and think what you do, from raising money for LiveStrong to raising money to buy bikes for kids in Zambia, is great.

I must admit, there was a little selfishness in entering your contest, but I really didn’t think I’d win and knew the money being raised was for a great cause. I was just trying to help out any way I could.

You asked for a pic and I provided one. I probably should offer some explanation for the scars on my forehead and nose….I had Mohs surgery to remove Basal Cell Carcinoma from my nose in April, and plastic surgery to fix it up. Fortunately the doc said he got all of the cancer, but my advice to all is wear sunscreen!

I saw your recent Tweet about this type of skin cancer. The doc told me the same thing about this “being the best cancer you can get.” Best wishes to The Hammer on her treatment. [Note from Fatty: The Hammer is having a basal cell carcinoma removed today.]

I’m definitely a mountain biker, so I’m going with the Tranny or the Mojo (leaning toward the Tranny). But, I need to calm down and take a look at my options. I’m definitely looking forward to the trip to Utah. Once again, I’m going to have to re-read your past blogs and select where I want to go. This will be a tough decision, for sure.

Thanks again, not only for the great blog and contests, but for all that you do to make a difference!

Once Ed’s made up his mind, I’ll let you know what he’ll be riding, and where. And I’m sure a blog post or two or three will come out of this trip.

Congratulations, Ed!

The Dinner

OK, now on to the events of the Davis LiveStrong Challenge itself.

Like last year, Team Fatty gathered Friday night to hang out, as well as get a tour of the US Bicycling Hall of Fame.  


There was a group of about 30 of us, which was about the same as last year. However, this year, David stepped things up about five notches by grilling bratwurst — using my recipe — on the patio.

And he did magnificently. I was happy to declare, in fact, that his brats were every bit as good as mine. And I proved my assertion by eating three. Which I felt entitled to do, because I’m sure at least one person in the group was a vegetarian and so probably didn’t eat any.

Here’s Greg Chapek. He’s happy about the bratwurst, too.


I’d go so far, in fact, as to say that he’s very happy indeed. Perhaps the reason he was so happy was that I had just revealed to him what I was thinking. Specifically, that the course was incredibly flat, and the weather was expected to be ideal — not especially windy, and not especially hot.

I was thinking, I told Greg — a very strong rider — that maybe a group of us should do our utmost to see if we could do our first sub-five-hour century.

Greg was intrigued (and also very very happy).

And of course, there was cake, provided generously by the true organizer of the whole Team Fatty in Davis experience, Angie G.

Team Fatty Cake.jpg

It may look like a Halloween cake, but it was actually incredibly delicious, and I’m proud to say that I ate two pieces.

I’m not as proud, however, to announce that I then ate another two pieces.

The Day Before

One of the things I love about the Davis event is that it’s mellow. You have time to relax. Plus, the packet pick-up spot is right by a terrific farmers’ market, which of course has expanded way beyond produce to pretty much anything you could want to eat.

The Hammer and I ate. A lot.

And right now I’m becoming uncomfortably aware that I have so far talked about nothing but eating for this entire post.

Oh well, you may as well get used to it.

We hung around, eating pastry and sandwiches and possibly even some produce.

Not to mention admiring the wide variety of t-shirts passersby had chosen to wear for the occasion:


Then the Hammer and I went on a little bike path tour of Davis, which has got to be the bike-friendliest town I have ever been in. Feel free to check out The Hammer’s Strava of the ride, which is interesting primarily in that it may be the only Strava upload she’s ever done that hasn’t netted her at least one QOM.

The Fundraising Award Dinner

The night before the big ride, LiveStrong always puts on a special dinner for its top fundraising teams and people.


And since Team Fatty has raised more than double the amount of the second-place team, that definitely included us.

Here I am, pretending to listen intently to someone about something. You can tell I’m intent because my arms are folded.

Elden & Lisa.jpg

This photo is also notable because I believe it is the first time in about five years that I am wearing a button-up shirt, like the big kids wear.

Since we won three out of four awards (Team Fundraising Award, Individual Fundraising Award, Individual Messenger Award), I was supposed to get up and give a five-minute speech.

So I got up and talked for about fifteen minutes, rambling about any old thing that came into my head. Basically, it was like people got to see what this blog is like, except live and unedited, and with — unbelievably enough — even more typos.

The Ride

Eventually I stopped talking and everyone got to go to back to their hotels and get to bed. But then we had to come back early, because — as the top fundraising team — we needed to report to the starting line half an hour early to get our team photo at the starting line.

There was an event photographer taking those pictures for us, and I’m sure we’ll eventually see them, but for now, a few that we took ourselves will have to do.


This one’s my favorite. We had time to scrawl in chalk, nice and huge, the team motto:


It’s probably worth clicking on to see the larger version, because then you’ll get a better view of my magnificent quads, not to mention the strained look on my face as I’m sucking my gut in.


Once all the pictures were taken, the race ride began.

Before long, a good-sized group of Team Fatty coalesced into a paceline, stamping out 23mph miles one after the other. Jeremy. Greg. Matt. Mike. David. The Hammer. Me. And others.

The course was flat. The weather was beautiful: a mild wind that made southbound riding a little hard, but not bad (if you were in a paceline). We flew.

Occasionally, a rider would have to drop off. Matt, David, and Mike early on. Jeremy toward the very end. And occasionally, we would pick up a rider or two.

Elsewhere on the course, other groups from Team Fatty were picking up riders, too. Yesterday morning, I got an awesome email from Phil who got picked up by what I like to call The Big Orange Train:

Team Fatcyclist,

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you all for the wheel yesterday. I will try and be brief here; I have only been riding for two months, I am a stocky model with a bad knee. I lost contact with my team on on after the Steiger hill climb. I was alone, battling the Vacaville winds and using a lot of energy. This is when team fatcyclist came up to my left and the leader asked “how ya doing?”, My reply “old and getting tired!” in turn he said “Grab a wheel”. I joined the tail end of the pace line and we were off!! We caught my team mates in short order and they jumped into the line as well. I never counted how many of us were in the line, but it grew and grew as we passed other riders.

I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to your team, the pull as well as all you doe for the LiveSTRONG foundation!

Have an awesome day!!


Our average dropped and it looked like we weren’t going to get that sub-five century after all. We were going to miss it by just a few minutes.

And then — right around mile 75 — we saw the “20 Miles to Go” sign.


So the course wasn’t going to be 100 miles. Which meant we still had a chance to finish in under five hours.

We stepped up the pace.

Greg — who had been pulling way more often than anyone else for the first 80 miles of the ride — was starting to tire. I was feeling great, though, thanks to the fact that I had been sucked along for most of the ride, doing hardly any work.

So for the final 15 miles, I pulled. Yep, for pretty much the whole thing. And I felt great doing it. We flew, passing groups that had passed us earlier.

Thoughts of imminent pie consumed me.

Then I saw Andrew — the fastest guy on Team Fatty. He had finished half an hour ago, and had turned around to come finish with more of us. Then, after he did that, I believe he went out a third time and finished with another group.

I would be that awesome if I had the legs for it. I swear.

In any case, we did it. The Hammer, Greg C, and I crossed the finish line in about 4:56. A sub-five.

Except, of course, it wasn’t 100 miles. But still, I think we can make a claim to being, at the very least, half-fast.

The Pie

Meanwhile, David — yes, the very same David who had awesomely done the brats for the Friday shindig — had arranged for pie to be waiting for us under the Team Fatty tent.

Lots and lots and lots of pie.


I may have had four pieces; I may have had five. I confess that my recollection of the events of the day become foggy and confused after the fourth, because I seem to remember a cyclist with a horse’s head mingling among us.


With such a nice day, a tent, lots of shade trees, and a nice breeze, there was no reason to not just hang around and relax for hour upon hour, talking at length with anyone from Team Fatty (and quite a few people who weren’t) who was willing to put up with me.

The Importance of Celebrating

The LiveStrong Challenge at Davis was a perfect weekend for me. A wonderful town, great friends, perfect weather, a fast ride, and an important cause.

It was, simply, incredibly fun. It wasn’t a serious, sad weekend. The seriousness had all happened before, when we had taken the step to fight cancer and raise money for a cause we believed in. Now we — and everyone there — had a chance to relax, have fun, and celebrate our success before taking a deep breath and diving back in.

I’m incredibly proud of what Team Fatty did for LiveStrong here. And I love the tradition we’ve gotten started here.

The tradition is set: we’ll be back next year: same place, same events. Same silliness, same serious reason.

If I were you, I’d start making plans to be a part of Team Fatty and joining us.

I Am Choosing a Winner for the Contest

06.23.2012 | 7:23 am

Hey, what if I liveblogged the process of me choosing a winner for the contest I’ve been running? I think that’s a great idea. Do you agree that it’s a great idea?

You do? Awesome!

6:22: I’m going to go run the report for my own donations. This will take longer than it usually does, because LiveStrong switched to a new system this year and I don’t know my way around as well.

6:25: Holy smokes. I can’t remember the password for my account, thanks to the fact that I’m using a notebook computer right now and the password is saved on my desktop computer.

6:27: OK, got it on the fifth try.

6:28: Apparently I raised $56,105, during the course of this contest. THANK YOU for your generosity, people.

6:30: Oh, downloading a CSV was easy. That’s a nice change.

6:33: Just realized that I do not have a spreadsheet program installed on this computer. Downloading one now.

6:37: Team Fatty Davis raised a total of $93,934. Congratulations on your hard work, Team Fatty!

6:42: Team Fatty Philly has raised $1201 so far, and Austin has raised $400. A good start!

6:48: Nothing to do now but wait for the spreadsheet software to download. On the super-duper fast hotel internet connection I’ve got.

6:50: The 6:48 note was sarcastic.

6:55: Oh come on. It’s just a spreadsheet.

6:57: Fine. While I wait for this to download over the next 1.8 eons or so, I’ll try using the online spreadsheet in Google Docs.

7:09: The Google Docs plan is working out fine. I’ve got all the essential data in there now and now just have to figure out enough about formulas to give everyone their assigned contest numbers before I do the random drawing.

7:22: OK, I’ve got everything in the spreadsheet and the formula is applied.

7:23: For what it’s worth, the spreadsheet software has still not completed downloading. So Google Docs was definitely the way to go here (I was not paid to say that).

7:24: Heading on over to to pick a number! This is the big moment, folks.

7:28: And the winning number is 6576. That may not mean much to you, but it…doesn’t mean anything to me, either. Heading on over to see who has that number.

7:30: Oh, this is too weird. You’re not going to believe this, but it’s true: I am the one who won the contest.

Seriously, I made a donation, just like everyone else. And my number won.

Too bad I’m not eligible.

I swear, the first time in my life I’ve ever won a contest and it’s my own stupid contest.

Heading off to draw another number now.

7:33: OK, this time the number drawn was 52,315. And it is not me this time. I won’t give a lot of hints, but I will say that the winner is a man, and is from Austin TX.

No, not that man from Austin TX.

I’m going to start writing that email now.

7:41: The email is off! Now I just wait to hear back from the winner. I’ll update again when that happens.


7:15am: Still haven’t heard back. Oh, and also I’m traveling today and so won’t be able to post anything. I will get to work, however, on writing up my experience at the LiveStrong Challenge here in Davis today, though. Cuz it was awesome.

9:07am: I just heard from a (very surprised) Ed Perrey, who’s very excited to have won. He’s considering options and will get back to me shortly on what he’s thinking in terms of what bike to get and where to ride.

Congratulations, Ed!

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