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Old 04-15-2009, 09:21 AM   #16
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Day Three: Santa Barbara - Redondo Beach

OK, let's back up a little.

Time for an introduction. This is me, Andy:


(at Morro Bay, more on this later)

I've lived in California since 2005 after moving from the United Kingdom. I absolutely love this state and am constantly amazed by the scale and diversity of environments, and people, here. This was my first road trip along the coast by bike. I'd done a little in 2003 by car but was hungry to see all I could on the way.

This trip sort of came about at Altitude Sickness last year. One of the guys was talking about riding down through Central America and I had expressed a similar desire to travel in Chile and Argentina. We discussed a couple of practice rides to Mexico to get a feel for traveling down south. We started planning this trip with four or five people. We had a gang of six at one point then, as these things often do, ended up with the hardcore lunatics who weren't paying attention to Anderson Cooper telling everybody how dangerous it was in Mexico. It's hard to get two weeks off from work for most people. I'm essentially a free-lancer plus I entertain the troops with my photos when I get back so I had a pass.

Back to the trip. Where was I? I dropped in by the Honda dealer in Santa Barbara to ask about my oil burning. I spoke to Jack, the mechanic there and he didn't think it was anything unusual. Said he'd seen lots of XR600's with seized pistons from running out of oil on highway riding and just advised me to change the oil every 1000 miles or so and switch to synthetic. They had a very cool, old-school shop down there. Full of photos or trail riding and racing. I wish I had a shop like that nearer to me. It was from a different, less commercial age.

I had breakfast with patobravo, said my goodbyes then went to check the oil. It was very low again and I used the last of the quart I bought in Seaside! So I decided to head back to the Honda shop and see if they could fit me in for an oil change. They looked busy but Jack said to give him an hour and he'd have it ready for me

I drank coffee and people watched. ultimately deciding I'm not good looking enough to live in Santa Barbara. Jack was just finishing up pouring fresh oil into my XR when I arrived. New filter, new synthetic oil and a spare quart of HP4! Time to hit the road. Thanks again Jack.

The weather in Santa Barbara was overcast with thick marine-layer murk. I hadn't expected this... doesn't the sun always shine in SoCal?



After the freeway burn yesterday I wanted some twisties so I pointed the bike in the direction of Ojai. It was a nice ride but there really wasn't anything to the town to speak of so followed the road back down to Santa Paula. This place had a Main Street out of 50's America and seemed to be quite lively. It had a railroad station which made it a big deal back in the day. There was also a cool memorial to a couple of motorcycle cops who, in 1928, rode down to warn the town of that the St Francis damn had broken and helped save lives before the flood waters hit. Apparently more than 450 people died that night.



Back on the road again. 101 to 1... down to Redondo Beach. My Google Maps route was insane and must have cost me an hour going through Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach before finally dumping me in Redondo. I grew up in a seaside town in Britain and it there was a familiar vibe to the area.

I pulled into the Marina and spotted my partner in crimes-future, Aaron, AKA xymtoic, AKA Crashymotic, AKA Crashy, working on last minute Dakar farkling.

Crashy lives on a boat. I think this is very cool. It's like this, just smaller:



However, I worry that he may have fallen in with a bad crowd.



Oh yeah, this is Crashy:



Kinda looks a bit like Lex Luthor right?

We drank beer, ate pizza, and talked ourselves into believing we were awesome enough to confront Baja with nothing but motorcycles, bravado and determination.

Apparently I have led a sheltered (or at least non-nautical life) because I had never slept on a boat before.

I didn't get seasick... berthed at the Marina.

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Old 04-15-2009, 09:57 AM   #17
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Old 04-15-2009, 10:28 AM   #18
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Day Four: Redondo Beach - Twentynine Palms

This big day started out with breakfast at "Eat at Joe's". Food was damn good.

Next we changed our tires over to D606's and did a little maintenance on the bikes. It was my first time with the 606's and they felt just like TKC's, just harder. My XR was even taller thanks to the extra height from the knobs. Seat height must have been close to 38"...

It felt like we were already burning too much daylight so we got packed and ready to hit the road.



The XR was actually packed light. The rear subframe is a known point of failure so I only had my sleeping bag and air pad on top.

We left Redondo around 1pm and headed east on LA freeways. It's just like riding in the SF Bay Area except it's safe to split at 50mph apparently

We stopped at an old-school In'n'Out near Malcom Smith Powersports for some secret-menu goodness. Here's Crashy doing two of his favorite things. Ingesting In'n'Out products while surfing the Internet using his iPhone.



We stopped at Malcom Smith's to drool at the KTM's and I pick up a liter of Repsol fully synthetic for the trip. If you haven't been, it's a pretty cool store. Plus many cute girls work there.

We mounted up and headed east again. Crashy saw the sign for Chaparral and decided that was a must-see experience from me. He wasn't kidding. Must of been the most-biggerest motocycle store I have ever seen.

This is about one quarter of the store... full of motorcycle goodness.



Mmmm orange bike. Much lust.



Finally we escaped the spider-web of freeways through LA and headed east towards Joshua Tree. It was really frickin' windy out there. There was actually a dust storm, which was pretty cool.



I think I truly had a front-page worthy photo of Crashy in the swirling dust in one of my mirrors but my camera was hard to get to and I couldn't get off the bike without being blown over.

Crashy is one of those kids your mom warned you about when she said "just because the other boys are doing something dangerous, doesn't mean you have to join in".

"Let's go find a dirt road and look at the windmills", he said. Sorry Mum, I just knew I needed to go with.



Crashy claimed to have been blown off his bike. That's his version anyway.

It really was spectacular out there.



We tabbed east along an extremely windy road. We were both hanging it out sideways to keep going straight.

We made it into Twentynine palms just before sunset, found somewhere to stay, dropped our bags then went to play on a dirt road behind the motel.


(xymotic)

End of the trail. Time to turn around.


(xymotic)

Nice BBQ for dinner as the a dust storm rattled windows at the little restaurant we chose. Some beers before to ease the aches and pains of being on the road.

I think this is when the sheer horror of my snoring caught up with Crashy for the first time. Sorry dude.

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Old 04-15-2009, 10:33 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SenorPeligro
Said he'd seen lots of XR600's with seized pistons from running out of oil on highway riding and just advised me to change the oil every 1000 miles or so and switch to synthetic.

Jack was just finishing up pouring fresh oil into my XR when I arrived. New filter, new synthetic oil and a spare quart of HP4! Time to hit the road. Thanks again Jack.
I have a feeling this is a post-ride, ride report? So maybe no point in giving advice at this point? But just in case .... I know a bit about the XR-L having owned one years ago and having ridden with a lot of guys on LONG Baja rides since 1993 or so.

Question: Is this bike brand NEW? If so, as I'm sure you've heard, best to break in with plain, high quality mineral oil. NOT synthetic. This is especially true with this Honda. Also, having owned two XL600's, XR600 and XR-L, I can attest to the fact that these Honda's do not like to get low on oil. Not even slightly low!

First thing to happen is your cam will be pitted and make a nice little ticking noise. No big deal. After that, you can get piston schuffing and the small and big end bearings might be stressed if oil is low enough and revs are high for long periods of time.

I would run regular oil for at least two thousand miles, or until you bike's oil consumption stops or is reduced substantially. Once broken in, THEN go to synthetic, or my choice, semi-synthetic. I've ridden all my Hondas down highway 5 from San Fran to L.A. or even Mexico many times. My XR-L was run at 80 mph all day only used maybe one quarter of a quart. In "normal" riding, almost no oil usage.

If you have XR-L questions there is no one wiser or smarter on them that I know of than Scott Dunleavy (sp?) at Berkeley Honda/Yamaha. Scott is a long time Baja racer and Pike's peak winner and now manages Honda's Baja race team. HE KNOWS YOUR BIKE very well.

Looking forward to more of the report when you get time!
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Old 04-15-2009, 10:45 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Django Loco
Question: Is this bike brand NEW? If so, as I'm sure you've heard, best to break in with plain, high quality mineral oil. NOT synthetic. This is especially true with this Honda. Also, having owned two XL600's, XR600 and XR-L, I can attest to the fact that these Honda's do not like to get low on oil. Not even slightly low!

First thing to happen is your cam will be pitted and make a nice little ticking noise. No big deal. After that, you can get piston schuffing and the small and big end bearings might be stressed if oil is low enough and revs are high for long periods of time.
Hey there. Yeah the bike is new new. It had about 900 miles on the clock before I started. It has close to 3900 now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Django Loco
I would run regular oil for at least two thousand miles, or until you bike's oil consumption stops or is reduced substantially. Once broken in, THEN go to synthetic, or my choice, semi-synthetic. I've ridden all my Hondas down highway 5 from San Fran to L.A. or even Mexico many times. My XR-L was run at 80 mph all day only used maybe one quarter of a quart. In "normal" riding, almost no oil usage.
I was running Honda GN4. Think I should swap back to that for a while?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Django Loco
If you have XR-L questions there is no one wiser or smarter on them that I know of than Scott Dunleavy (sp?) at Berkeley Honda/Yamaha. Scott is a long time Baja racer and Pike's peak winner and now manages Honda's Baja race team. HE KNOWS YOUR BIKE very well.
Thanks for the info. I get the impression that this bike is a little unusual in these times. Apart from the oil issue it was a great ride on the dirt roads and trails. It's actually more fun to ride at 65 on a dirt road than it is on the highway

I seem to get very different oil levels when I check the bike cold (after a 5min idle) versus after a ride (followed by a 5min) idle. It's easier to avoid overfilling it when checking warm I think?
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Old 04-15-2009, 09:27 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SenorPeligro
Hey there. Yeah the bike is new new. It had about 900 miles on the clock before I started. It has close to 3900 now.
So I'm guessing everything worked out OK?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SenorPeligro
I was running Honda GN4. Think I should swap back to that for a while?
At this 3900 miles, if it's not using any oil, go to synthetic or semi-synthetic if you like. With a bike that uses some oil, especially an air cooled single, it will likely use a bit more oil if it's synthetic. If you go back to the GN4 just change it more frequently. LIke every 2500 or so? (this part very debatable with good arguments on both sides) My current DR650 I change every 3000 miles with Semi Syn.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SenorPeligro
Thanks for the info. I get the impression that this bike is a little unusual in these times. Apart from the oil issue it was a great ride on the dirt roads and trails. It's actually more fun to ride at 65 on a dirt road than it is on the highway
It's a great bike for sure! IMO, needs a seat and some sub frame/battery box reinforcement. Other than that, it's pretty good. You can always do more mods but for a nearly 20 year old design, it's damn good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SenorPeligro
I seem to get very different oil levels when I check the bike cold (after a 5min idle) versus after a ride (followed by a 5min) idle. It's easier to avoid overfilling it when checking warm I think?
I should have mentioned this first off (shame on me!) The XR, any XR, needs to be FULLY HOT before you can get an accurate oil level reading.
Never check when cold or even just warm.

Come to think of it, maybe that is what was happening earlier in your ride? You were probably over filling it a few times, thinking it was low. It will ALWAYS read low when cold or only warm. The excess probably went into air box. No biggie ... usually! Might smoke a bit. Won't hurt anything.

All Oil in Frame XR's are like this. A five minute warm up won't do it. Ride the bike for 10 or 15 minutes. Turn it off, wait one minute and check it.
THAT is your correct reading! Fill to upper end of dip stick mark!

Looking forward to the rest of your ride report!
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Old 04-15-2009, 09:41 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Django Loco
I should have mentioned this first off (shame on me!) The XR, any XR, needs to be FULLY HOT before you can get an accurate oil level reading.
Never check when cold or even just warm.

Come to think of it, maybe that is what was happening earlier in your ride? You were probably over filling it a few times, thinking it was low. It will ALWAYS read low when cold or only warm. The excess probably went into air box. No biggie ... usually! Might smoke a bit. Won't hurt anything.

All Oil in Frame XR's are like this. A five minute warm up won't do it. Ride the bike for 10 or 15 minutes. Turn it off, wait one minute and check it.
THAT is your correct reading! Fill to upper end of dip stick mark!
Yeah, I'm pretty sure I overfilled it a few times until i figured it out that I was getting the more reliable measurement when the bike was hot. The manual is a total crock when it talks about running the idling the bike for 2-3 minutes from cold to check the oil

Thanks for passing on the wisdom. I'll probably run it on GN4 for a couple of thousand more miles and see how it works out.

(edit: BTW, I'm home safe!)
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Old 04-15-2009, 11:22 PM   #23
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Day Five: Twentynine Palms to Yuma

I woke up in a good mood. There was a time when I wasn't sure this trip was going to happen at all but now I was on the road with Aaron and about head south again.

We gassed up and turned into Joshua Tree. I fell in love with the desert when I first went to Death Valley at the end of 2007. Ever since then, it has held a special place for me. It's like a virus, that infects the soul, changing you forever.

Joshua Tree didn't disappoint.


(xymotic)

Every few miles the plants changed. Maybe something to do with specialization and environmental niches?







This plant is Ocotillo. It sort of looks like sea weed and has brightly colored flowers on the tips of the "branches":



There was a whole grove of them:



Not everything was thriving:



These little creatures seemed to be doing fine:



We aired down to 20 PSI at the Cottonwood Visitor Center in preparation for tackling Pinkham Canyon Road. We'd heard it was easy.

The road started well. A nice fast dirt road giving way to double-track with nice whoops. My XR was loving it and so was I.


(xymotic)

Then we hit the sand about five or six miles in.



We just took turns in dumping our bikes. I landed on my left knee the first time, right on the pad. The XR dumps you down pretty hard on account of it being rather tall. My first ever drop of the XR:


(xymotic)

And my second drop...


(xymotic)

I ended up paddling for a while through the deep sandy stretches. That was exhausting and very hard on the arms and wrists.

Crashy overlapped with a tree:


(xymotic)

After one crash Aaron picked up a nice rock:



And killed his front brake lever.



After a little wrenching he replaced it with his spare. No more breaking allowed!



Shortly after this I had my third drop at a little more speed, trying to get on top of the sand, I hooked up my front tire against a sand channel at the edge of the "road". The front wheel sliced left into the sand and dropped me down hard on my shoulder. The EVS pressure suit took the edge off of it although I think I bumped my head a little. Crashy has a photo of that dump somewhere, with the front fender of the XR twisted over weirdly.

At one point, I thought we'd have to dig the Dakar out but Aaron managed to roost his way out



This section wasn't too bad but see how deep it gets up at the corner ahead?



It wasn't even really sand but very fine grit.

I ran out of water near the end and the waitress in the cowgirl hat still wasn't back with the Margarita I ordered so I tried my best to cowboy-up and escape my personal Pinkham purgatory. I found a good technique of sitting back in the saddle with a very light touch on the bars allowed me to follow the sandy channels without any major drama and no more drops. After a while I could see the powerlines running along I-10 but couldn't see Crashy. I put on my sunhat and started to hike back down the "road". After about five minutes of walking I realized that Aaron was further back than I thought. I headed back to the bike and started to gear up to relaunch the rescue. As I was turning around Crashy reappeared. He had unloaded his Dakar and managed to pick it up himself. I was glad he was OK. We were about even for crashes in Pinkham and neither of us are total dirt n00bs. I think I need to head out to Pismo Beach to learn some mad-skillz.

Enthused by the sight of the freeway we escaped Pinkham Canyon and feasted at Carl's Jr. at a truck stop outside of Coachella. That 17 mile excursion had smacked us hard. One broken mirror and my front wheel was all misaligned. Crashy's Dakar had lost a brake lever. Harder than either of us expected.

We refilled our camel backs with ICE and then headed South to the eastern shore of the Salton Sea. Neither of us had been there. It was unbelievably huge, run down, and nearly deserted except for a hardy few.










(xymotic)

After the surreal desolation of the Salton Sea we headed south-east for Yuma.
(xymotic)



On the way we passed the Sand Dunes at Glamis. Crashy needed to get some payback on the sand!





We rolled into Yuma in the twilight and I entered Arizona for the first time. I get to add Arizona to California and Nevada as the list of states of ridden in. We had a cowboy dinner of Chicken Fried Steak and Chicken Fried Chicken with a few beers to ease the aches.

Tomorrow was going to be a big day. We were heading into Mexico.

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Old 04-16-2009, 09:28 AM   #24
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Nice job Men!

Always takes me a day or two to adapt to deep sand. A heavy, loaded up
dual sport bike is tough in sand. Riding technique (as you discovered) is everything. Faster is better!

I always have to sort of re-learn deep sand, regain my sand "sea legs"
all over again. A couple days in Baja will learn ya!!

Old enduro rider tip on levers: Adjust the lever/perch mounting bolts snug but not tight. Use Loc-Tite so bolts don't back out. This way, there is a good chance when you fall on the lever, it can rotate rather than snap off. Some guys also cut a notch in the lever about an inch or so in from the tip for a break off point.

Great report so far!
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Old 04-16-2009, 09:36 AM   #25
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Re sand on an XRL: Two words - steering damper. Installing a Scotts damper on my XRL made a HUGE difference. That and getting weight back and gassing it. It sitll wasn't totally fun but at least I stopped crashing.
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Old 04-16-2009, 10:11 AM   #26
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this report is going to be very interesting................
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Old 04-16-2009, 11:17 AM   #27
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I don't feel so bad about sucking in the sand now.
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Old 04-16-2009, 05:32 PM   #28
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Day Six: Yuma - San Felipe

So you want to hear about Mexico right?

It was just a short trip from Yuma to the San Luis Colorado border crossing. There wasn't a line or anything. Nobody stopped us or checked us, either leaving the US or entering Mexico. As I rolled over the yellow line, I could hear the sound of a door slamming in mind.


(xymotic)

And then, just like that, we were in Mexico.

Mexico!


(xymotic)

I remembered we needed to get our FMT's for BC Sur but I didn't notice Immigration anywhere as we crossed. We circled around for a while before we parked up and I walked back to ask an official at the border.

"¿Por favor, señor, donde esta inmigración?"

My first Spanish in Mexico. The immigration office was right next to the border, next to the Banjercito. Convenient! I muddled through getting the FMT with functional, basic, Spanish. I didn't understand a few things the woman said but she rephrased them in such a way that I did. I paid at the Banjercito then returned to collect my documents. My D in Spanish was really paying off now!

Crashy stayed with bikes but now it was his turn to confront Mexican bureaucracy with less Spanish than me.

"Sorry dude", I offered, "someone has to stay here with the bikes."

With FMT's in hand Crashy programmed his GPS and off we went on the freeway. Just after we paid the 12 peso toll Crashy had some sort of idea.

"Do you mind if we get off the freeway and explore a little?" he asked.

Hell, I didn't care. Let's go!

Somehow we found an irrigation canal with a neat set of dirt roads on either bank.


(xymotic)

Crashy had good food instincts on the whole trip and spied a nice restaurant on the Colorado River for lunch.


(xymotic)

It was a little slice of paradise.



Despite my lunch looking like some kind of mutated creature from a radioactive testing ground in this photo, it was in fact Chile Rellenos and was indeed delicious.



After lunch we headed south on Mexico 5. This is a long, straight, flat road that punches through what looks like a salt lake dotted with blasted mountains. It was hot and dry out here.

In Mexico there are many roadside shrines, like this:



Never seen a dust-devil like this before.


(xymotic)

At one point I lost Crashy in my mirrors so I pulled over and waited to see if he was just being slow. I should have known better...

The next thing I know I catch the flicker of his headlight in my right mirror. I turn my head and there he is ripping across the salt flat below the embanked highway. Dios mio!

I rode alongside for a while before he found a place to climb back onto the roadway. My camera was tucked away in my Dirt Bagz so I didn't get the great shot!

On the way down, we started tailing these guys. Right up to the military checkpoint. As we saw the first guy get waved through we just rolled up at the back of there group and were waved through, no questions asked...

We stopped at a roadside Tienda to shoot the breeze. This crew was lead by ADV's very own Beta Trials Rider on a KTM 450 EXC. That's a TW-200 to the right and a couple of KLR's (they get everywhere). We were destined to cross path's with these guys a few more times on our adventure.


(xymotic)


(xymotic)

The original plan was to make an attempt on Alfonsina's at Bahia Gonzaga that day but it was already 4:30pm when we arrived at San Felipe. After some futzing around we agreed to call it day so we didn't have to race the setting sun on dirt roads.

San Felipe was kind of lame. To me it looked like many of the resort towns in Spain. I think Crashy was missing the luxury lifestyle and neither of us wanted to stay amongst the (small) throng of turistas on the Malecon so we checked into the San Felipe Marina Inn.

Adventure Touring... BMW style.


(xymotic)


(xymotic)

We dined at the Marina so we could get lit. Sorry Crashy, personally I don't think Strawberry Margarita's are appropriate adventure beverages... but whatever! I stuck to the classic Margarita. Food was so-so, I had some kind of Enchilada/Mole hybrid.

I guess I didn't take many photos on Day Six for some reason.

Crossing the border had been a psychological barrier. In the end it turned out to be very easy. We'd survived our first day in Mexico. So far, nobody had tried to kill us, trick us, rape us, rob us or even call us names.

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Old 04-16-2009, 09:43 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SenorPeligro

We dined at the Marina so we could get lit. Sorry Crashy, personally I don't think Strawberry Margarita's are appropriate adventure beverages... but whatever! I stuck to the classic Margarita.
Chicks dig em See, having a penis sized penis, instead of that turtle hiding in the shell thing you have gives me the self assurance to order a foo-foo drink in security, and also that's how come I was on the sand dune, and you wuz on the pavement.

And... like a 'regular' margarita is so fuckin manly?
If you were drinkin Scotch or Gin like a real englishman, then MAYBE you could trash talk.
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Old 04-17-2009, 07:31 AM   #30
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Damn, did you slip me a ruthie?

How about Gin AND Scotch?
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