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Old 09-13-2011, 04:41 PM   #1
SpecialAgentNancy OP
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Seeking riders for RT from Bulgaria to Portugal Summer 2012

I've posted here before, twice for riders for both of my Turkey rides in 2010 and 2011.

What you need to know about me. I post a ride, I'm committed to doing it. I've done this many time before. Please don't PM unless you are serious (can afford it, can take the time off and have done this kind of extended trip before) It's a lot of work to sift through the many hopeful inquiries without substance.

You can see my post about Turkey 2010 here
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=620475

And I haven't posted my trip through Turkey in 2011 yet on ADV but it's here on my blog
http://specialagentnancy.blogspot.com/

I also did a 6 week trip in 2009 with 2 other riders though 9 Eastern European countries
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=577386

This is well in advance of the planning stage so dates, route and length of trip are all open to debate.

Thanks!
Nancy
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Old 09-14-2011, 07:36 AM   #2
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maybe i m offtopic but here it goes:

you will cross many countries and therefore many very different cultures (depending on the route you ll take). They all have something special. what would you like to see, what would you like to do?

I m asking because when you say portugal it s so unclear :). On the map it seems easy and close but once you start enjoying different places time goes so fast.
I ve done for example Romania- (north of) Portugal in 3 days but i didn t enjoy anything. I just had to get there. On another occasion i decided to enjoy a little. I hardly covered 1000km in 2 weeks and still i didn t have time to see al i wanted to see. I tried on another occasion to get from Faro to Lisbon. Almost impossible. So many villages, so many small bars in which i got lost and so many rods to take. So many beaches to get sun burned, so many "mountain" trails and twisty roads .... and at night i got even worse: many family restaurants that i could not simply walk by, so many parties, so much cold beer ....

I think you ll find more interested people if you give some more details. Also last summer in the south of Portugal i had 45C in the middle of the day (in the shadow) and i was drinking 1l of water per hour.

personally i think i would need 4 weeks at least in portugal and it won t be enough, but on the way there you have Switzerland or Italy very close, you have the alps, you have france and most important (from a personal point of view) you have spain.

As i am a difficult person, I would never go with someone i don t know for such a trip. I ve lost one day to admire the train station in valencia and for the evening i decided to join a public protest i didn t know anything about, so i m not a reliable partner, but i m sure that you could find a lot of information about what you can see and possible routes for smaller parts of your journey. and maybe people interested to join you. You could see other people journeys and you could decide what you want to see. Having a plan you ll find (i think) many interested people.

once again, sorry for the offtopic, but i was curious about the trip, about the plan, about everything
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Old 09-15-2011, 02:24 PM   #3
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Hi!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gaxel View Post
...
personally i think i would need 4 weeks at least in portugal and it won t be enough, but on the way there you have Switzerland or Italy very close, you have the alps, you have france and most important (from a personal point of view) you have spain.
...
I wouldn't go so far as saying 4 weeks in Portugal but I do agree with the rest of your post... Specially when you say this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by gaxel View Post
you will cross many countries and therefore many very different cultures (depending on the route you ll take). They all have something special. what would you like to see, what would you like to do?...
Nancy, there's a lot to be seen between Bulgaria and Portugal, too much for one trip and you'll get to that conclusion in a year's time Do you have a rough idea of route or places to visit? If you need something from Portugal just say!

I'll be watching this...

Cheers
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Old 09-18-2011, 12:52 PM   #4
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Thanks for the questions and feedback.

I've ridden with people who were hell bent on covering as much KM's as possible each day (300-500)
I've also ridden with people who were happy to do 100km a day or less, I'm flexible with either choice and can handle it too.

Basically, I'm not into stopping for museum's and cathedrals...I truly enjoy being in the saddle so to speak so if I get on some back twisty roads and ride from sun up to sundown with stops along the way for great food and chats with the locals I'm happy with that. I prefer to avoid big cities (dangerous anyway) but again am open to it if a partner just has to see something.

I also know when to stop an extra day. I could take a month off or even 5-6 weeks, no problem so if someone reaches out to me with that suggestion I'm open to it. I just posted for 3 weeks since the average person can't take that much time off; family or work obligations etc.

I'm fairly flexible and just go with the flow...there is no real route plan, I'd rather pull out the map each night and trip plan with my riding partner(s) instead of driving a schedule and planning...frankly it's impossible to plan a trip like this as anything from bad weather, to health problems to a flat tire can happen and de-rail even the best laid plan so it's important to keep the perspective and good attitude about things that come up.

My general idea is to ride and use ferries to make up time (for example between Greece and Italy) and if we burned too much time getting out to Portugal then use motorways coming back (long, straight and boring I know) but it's a good way to get back quick if need be.

My general idea is Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, ferry to Italy. Corsica northern Italy, Southern France (I speak French) northern Spain and northern Portugal. Coming back is less known but would like to hit the Croatian coast and Southern Serbia. Yes, many different cultures, like I mentioned I rode through 9 Eastern European countries for 6 weeks and know what you mean.

So far I've always been packed up and ready to go before any of the men I've ridden with....not sure how that's possible since I've even got eye make up on but there it is, I'm drama free and well organized. I take care of my bike. I rarely get sick. I've got the stamina to keep up with anyone I've ever ridden with. I just get a cranky if I go too long without a meal. As for the heat....remember I rode through Turkey not only during the hottest part of the year twice but one year was during Ramadan!

I also understand your point that it's difficult to do a trip like this with someone you don't know beforehand but I'd like to offer to that it's not an issue because after all, you ride your own bike, pitch your own tent where you want to...the only time you are interacting is over meals and I've ridden with 'strangers' before, you bond pretty quickly on this kind of ride.
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Old 09-28-2011, 12:33 PM   #5
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Old 09-30-2011, 01:26 PM   #6
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This sounds right up my alley... My girlfriend and I would be happy to ride with you all next summer on this most epic journey. We're currently planning to do London to Athens in the spring, leave the bike in Greece, and come back in the Summer/fall to ride Athens to Portugal.... possibly with your group. We're both early risers, our pop-up quechua tent saves lots of time, we never quarrel, she's a culinary wiz, and I'm fluent in spanish. We're thinking of trying airbnb a few nights on our spring trip, have you ever used it?

My last adventure took me 5 weeks to get through 11 countries. Starting in London, I passed through Dublin, Paris, Geneva, Venice, Marseille, Andora, Valencia, Tangeirs, and ended in Cabanas Portugal. I took multiple ferries and camped almost the entire time. I haven't posted a ride report yet as I've just found out about this site, but i'll try to get it up soon.

I've done a great portion of where you plan to ride and here were my favorite places on that route:
A quick spin around Genova with it's many steep hills and tunnels, the view of Barcelona from the top of the aerial tram park, the twisty ride up to and down out of Andora, Caldea spa in Andora la Vella (28 well spent!), and camping at Ria Formosa in Cabanas de Tavira, Portugal (the only pay camp site i used).

This next time i 'd probably like more time off the super highways exploring the country. Instead of a BMW sport tourer i've got an Aprillia Pegaso and intend to put it to use! Regardless we're both totally flexible. We look forward to reading this thread and getting some stamps in our passports soon.
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Old 09-30-2011, 02:57 PM   #7
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SWEET!

You've got me fascinated with the quechua tent. How do you strap that to your bike? It's rather large and flat and we have (in essence) the same bike. I want to buy one and fascinate (or disgust) my riding posse here with one of those but don't see a logical way it will fit.

Air B-N-B rocks. I used it right here in the San Francisco area (it's birthplace) when I loaned my 1 bedroom condo to some out of town friends from New Zealand on a tight budget. I strongly recommend we use it, camping in someone's backyard is the most fun and if she's a whiz imagine what she can do with a real stove!

I'm pretty easy going too....frankly the only problem I have is going without food for too long. Otherwise, whatever we do or choose on the route is just fine with me. My #1 priority is good saddle time so if we visit neat things then that's great, if we just see great things along the way, that's great too. I love all your suggestions and I'll be happy to go along with them.

Definitely want to stay off the major motorways for safety, so back twisty roads is best. I speak fluent French so with your Spanish, let's look for an Italian to round off the perfect experience.

There is a famous spot in Greece I want to at least ride by, (I like stopping but I'm also OK with getting photos en route)
Agia Triada Monastery but otherwise I don't really have an agenda.

Let's do a skype call sometime around the Christmas holidays so we can start discussing dates, of which I am totally flexible. LukeKTM is very interested in going and I've ridden with him before. Excellent highly experienced rider with a calm head in the face of disaster (yep we've been there) and an uncanny sense of where to stop to camp and eat.
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Old 10-09-2011, 06:03 AM   #8
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The pop up tent i first saw in Portugal and knew i had to get one, i'm thinking it should strap nicely to the side of a pannier. I ordered the 3 person version that folds up into a 28" disc, but if you get a single or double the disc size will be smaller. I paid only $110 usd with shipping included from a best offer i submitted on ebay - saving me about fifty dollars.

I was pretty sold on airbnb when Alexandra showed it to me... it's like a nicer version of couch surfing haha... there were two couch surfers from Germany at my house last weekend and i'll stay with them in Berlin when i go in the spring. Even though I love to camp, a real hot shower is way better than heating up water for my outdoor shower. A great pit stop for me is to pay a couple euros to use a truck stop shower here and there.

I also like to cover lot's of ground, i'll stop and poke my head in the door of a castle here and there but generally keep moving. The one place i spent a full day being a "tourist" was venice.... mostly because you cant drive there, but also because it's such an amazing place. Oh, and i'll always go out of my way to see a sizable waterfall, which technically makes it on the way haha.

Getting an Italian in our language arsenal is a great idea, i'm working on the french rosetta stone but it's pretty hard to read! The more people we have the safer we'll be, a couple thieves snuck their hands in my tent one night and took my back pack in southern spain. I chased them a few hundred yards down the autostrade on foot and convinced them to give it back (using some very colorful language and a rather large rock). Aside from replacing a clutch cable in paris that was the only real problem i encountered. I'm totally curious what disaster you and Luke had.
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Old 10-09-2011, 12:58 PM   #9
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I've got a 1 million volt stun gun in my tent, I sleep light and I lock up my valuables in my top case but I suppose I've been lucky with not having experienced theft like that. So sad.

Well it's a post here on ADV
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=620469

But basically in a nutshell a few years ago when I was less experienced off road, we did an off road section at the end of a long day of riding, with diminishing sun and I crashed. Luke took charge and got me out of there safe and we've had some moments in Eastern Turkey where let's just say I was glad to have his calm head around. I hope he can join us. He's just a great guy.

Since you are riding to Greece in the Spring, is it safe to say that you'd prefer to do the ride from Greece to Portugal in the Fall? If we can start to narrow it down a bit then others may be able to start thinking about it too.
Also how much time do you want to devote to it? I've got to get all the way back to Bulgaria unless I find a safe place to leave my bike for a year in Portugal. I budgeted 3 weeks but could go more...
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:56 AM   #10
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I've been thinking a stun gun is a good idea. I keep my valuables under my sleep mat so all the thieves got away with was a backpack full of Fritos and dirty clothes. It was the principal of the whole thing that made me chase them, and for some reason i knew it would make a wicked cool story to tell. Anyway, I thought sleeping with the RV's at the rest stop that night would be a safe idea, but an elderly British couple who was awoken by the same thieves let me know that the rest stops in southern Spain are common places for 3am robberies. The incredibly incapable thieves had unsuccessfully tried to pick all the RV locks in the lot that night. In the spirit of positive thinking, I feel i'm a stronger person for knowing I can defend myself when put under pressure… and you and Luke have my back haha.

I enjoyed your photos very much, I especially like the helmet horns and the funny post about being allowed to hunt in the nature refuge! Maybe today is the day i'll get my ride report up…

I really appreciate you offering to push the trip back a bit, I was honestly hoping you all could do the trip in the late summer so that it's not so close to my trip in the spring. That way my bank account won't take two big blows so close together… it doesn't have to go all the way back to fall though, i'd actually prefer to get out of working in the late summer heat for three weeks! I work outside and the sun can be brutal, even up here in Pittsburgh. The length of the trip sounds great, both Alex and I would have no problem taking 3 weeks off work, a month or more might create some grumbles from our bosses. We're pretty flexible with dates as long as we notify work one month ahead. Whatever is good for both you and Luke, say sometime between August and October?

I'm working on getting some panniers for our Aprilia, right now i'm trying to decide on buying racks or fabricating them myself when I get to London in the spring. My idea was to use pipe, elbows, and JB weld, then hammer the attachment points flat and take a small Li-ion drill to make the holes. I'm thinking the drill could come in handy regardless. I'd like to get the aluminum square panniers so that i have the option of setting the bike up on them for repairs as i saw in The Long Way Down. I don't really expect to need to take wheels off like that, and i'm not sure the bottom of the Pegaso can be balanced that way, but it looked cool in the photo i saw! Being able to access panniers from the top would also be nice, the ones on my beemer open sideways and had a tendency to dump everything out when i opened them. I have a single pipe on the right side of the Aprilia so i don't know if i should get a smaller pannier for that side or one that has the space cut out for the pipe etc, i'll be searching the threads on here for information.

ISo I have the pannier shopping to do and also figure out a safe place to keep the bike stored at the end of Spring. My friend from France and two friends from Germany are telling me that Greece might not be the best destination to store it with the financial trouble their having and all. Maybe we'll end our trip in Bulgaria… Your thoughts? Oh, and I also have to sort out where to keep the bike in Portugal. The beautiful small town of Cabanas de Tavira in Portugal was where I was thinking... or i might look for a trustworthy contact through couchsurfing.
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Old 10-20-2011, 11:06 AM   #11
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It is a cool story. So I'll give you one too.

In Istanbul I was near the blue mosque and a Turk said a crass comment to me as he was walking past me, about 10 feet behind him was a cop walking towards me as well, close enough to hear what he said. Without turning my head or slowing my stride, I smacked the back of his head hard with the back of my hand all the while making eye contact with the cop and giving him a big smile. I then gave the cop a wink when I heard the guy angrily yell at me then shut right up because by now the cop and I were face to face and he was smiling back at me thinking it was pretty funny to. It was awesome. Wish I had it on camera.

The stun gun gives you options. I have it mounted to my handle bars so if someone tries to knock me off the bike, it's where I need it. At night, let's say I sleep better in the forest with bears around. (well just enough to anger a bear probably but whatever). When that old man tried to get into my tent in Romania in nothing but his underwear, I'd wished I had it.

Let's shoot for Aug 10-31. Would you ride back to Greece/Bulgaria and leave the bike there again, or do you intend to leave it in Portugal? I want to ride back through Croatia and southern Serbia. If it's 3 weeks, that means we need at least 5-6 days of that to get from Portugal to Bulgaria (riding hard).

For your panniers, I'd recommend making fabric insert bags like the packing cubes. I use soft Ortleib bags, I like to reduce weight as much as possible especially for off road jaunts.
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Old 10-31-2011, 10:30 AM   #12
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Hey nancy, funny story about the Turkish cop! I am wondering what language the crass comment in haha. I also see i'm not the first to have a tent broken into, makes me want to bring a portaledge and sleep in a tree. I'll be getting a stun gun before i go and possibly a sword like in Jupiter's Travels. =)

I was doing some rough distance calculations. When google default maps the route from Sofia to Lisbon it's 3500km.. add an extra 100km to alter the route though Andorra, avoid tolls and highways and it says it's around 4000km. At first I was thinking round-trip would be a month or more so we'd just go one way with you all and leave our bike in Portugal, but i see now it's possible to do a round-trip route in 3 weeks. If we took the roughly 8000km over 21 days it's only 380km a day. Not that i'd want to stick to a set number or anything, I like what you said about not following a set schedule, unforeseen events de-railing plans etc, and hitting tolls to make up for lost time as the trip nears it's end. I'm on the same page.

Alexandra just got a promotion and she's worried she might only be able to take two weeks and not three. If that happens I can stick around for the ride back and she could fly home early. Any news on Luke?

Oh, I was checking out some ortleib bags at REI designed for bicycles but I sort of wanted the hard aluminum style to have a place to strap the quechua tent. We slept in it last weekend and were pretty warm despite dew drops on the fly turning to ice around 5am. Who knows, i might go with my regular pole style tent and soft panniers to be ultra lightweight.. Alex thinks the time saved with the pop up tent is not worth having the 28" disc onboard. Is losing a pannier from a bump in the road common?

I have this really good book I bet you'd like, it's called "Planet Earth's Greatest Motorcycle Adventure Tours" by Colette Coleman. With shipping it's around $5 on half.com and it covers a lot of areas we'll be going through.
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Old 11-01-2011, 11:55 AM   #13
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I'll buy the book, thanks for the recommend. I find that meeting other local riders makes all the difference so that's why I'm not too concerned about guide books plus I pack very light. As for the ortleib bags, Flash412 on Chain Gang recommended these and I love them! Tough and waterproof, easy to take on and off and no one tampered with them. http://www.ortliebusa.com/CartGenie/prod-59.htm

I did briefly chat with LukeKTM and he wants to do the ride but won't know until a few months before if he can do it. That is when I plan to buy my ticket, but either way he goes, I'm committed. If you are looking to store your bike in Sofia (I know Luke's garage is full) but Doug on ADV has a motocamp nearby and can probably help. http://motosapiens.org/moto/?q=en/node/17

There is one other rider from Istanbul interested but too early to tell for him too. So at the most it would be 4 bikes, now it looks like 3. I will send this thread to him as we now have a rough trip outline and he can post his comments/ideas.

I decided against the tent because it's going to be hot and my REI tent is a 3 season tent with a separate fly so I can set it up with just the airflow mesh and let me tell you there were still some nights I could not sleep from the heat.

Yes we can do it in 3 weeks but that doesn't leave much room for broken down bikes, getting sick or just falling in love with a spot. I think it's more realistic to give it 4 weeks. I am setting things up here at work for taking 5 weeks. As you know, distance mapping considers freeways and not the kinds of roads we will take like mountain passes. I would appreciate you committing to riding back with me as I don't want to ride all the way from Portugal to Sofia alone (stupid) and as it is, I'm not that comfortable with Sofia to Greece but hey, gotta do what I gotta do. :) I'm hopeful Luke will make it.

Oh get a stun gun that doubles as a flashlight. You get through borders more easily and let's face it, you aren't gonna need it walking to the toilet in the middle of the day.

Don't get me started on flying hardcases! Avoid them at all costs. LOL but then you could be an expert rider like Luke and never go down so it's not an issue for you and they make nice chairs in a pinch.
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Old 11-02-2011, 10:29 AM   #14
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Planet Earth's Greatest Motorcycle Adventure Tours is more of an idea book for places in the world to visit than a travel guide... it's a big coffee table hard back full of awesome photos just like the ones here on advrider and has a small map for each route. Clunky travel guide books filled up the under seat compartment in my beamer and came in handy mostly as a stable platform for cooking haha.

Thank's so much for the link on the ortleib bags and for the motocamp in Sofia. I think i'm leaning toward hard cases, especially if i can sit on them! =) I emailed the Motosapiens, seems like a perfect place to store the bike. We have no problem skipping Greece in the spring and leaving the bike in Bulgaria so you don't have to do that first leg solo. It will also shorten our ride from London by 1000km.

Google struggled with a long lag time to route when i checked the two boxes for without highways and tolls. I zoomed in to see if it used passes vs tunnels and it was all twisties so I think 8000km is a good rough estimate for us, do you? Although the 380km a day is possible even on back roads, i agree 3 weeks is pushing the limit. I remember google said it was only a few hours from Interlaken to Milan... but when i took a few extra passes like Sustenpass and Oberalp it made for an 11 hr ride. (i cooked two meals and sort of got lost on purpose because the roads looked too awesome not to take) Anyway, I'm hoping Alexandra can get a world phone with internet so she can keep up with a few of her more important clients and take 4 or 5 weeks. I'm switching companies and want to work into my hiring agreement that i can take a month or more unpaid leave. I can commit to the return trip but i'll have to get back to you on the 3wk vs 5wk conundrum after my interviews this coming month.

Your idea to use ferries to shorten distances is pretty smart, I tried to use a ferry from Barcelona to Valencia via Ibiza but missed the daily high season schedule by one week. Where were you thinking of using them?

That's a good point about the ability to use only the mesh and not the fly on a tent... i was pretty cold when i rode the route in late September, the only warm night i think i had was in Morocco. August might be much warmer and I'll probably end up taking my REI tent again anyway because it packs so small and I can dry it out by flapping it around in the air whereas the quechua tent would need to sit out to dry.
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Old 11-03-2011, 12:35 PM   #15
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Those pesky jobs we have to deal with. Sheesh! I can do 3 weeks so it's not a deal breaker. I just think it's smart to give ourselves 4, 5 is excess. 4 is actually pretty hard for me because I'm a CPA and one of those weeks is close!

Meeting in Sofia as a starting point would be awesome. Luke is an excellent host, we can have a great meal and head out together. Sofia airport is small and easy to navigate although it's not cheap to fly there.
So here are some ideas.....I missed southern Serbia a few years back, its mountainous. Would love to see Croatian coast and going through Trieste would be another 007 photo opportunity! I have a home stay in Milan and just outside of Milan (if we want to avoid big cities) and one in Corsica. I will work on more over the coming months. Probably spend a couple days scouring ADV for locals.

Ferries....well if were to go through Montenegro then a ferry from there to Italy. If we were to stick with Greece, ferry to Brindisi Italy. Ferry from Italy to Sardinia (the Istanbul rider wants to see that) if he does not come, I say skip it but go to Corsica instead then ferry to southern France, preferably somewhere glamorous. I'll be ready for a little glamour by then.

I will warn you that if Luke does join us he will stay in hotels a lot more than we want, but we could still camp and meet up every morning...I'm OK with sharing to keep the cost down but it's such a hassle that I would rather camp until I have to start turning my underwear inside out.
Lord if someone told this high heels, lipstick, champagne drinking girl I would rather one day camp than stay in a hotel I would have committed them to an asylum.
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