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Discussion Starter #1
Well this was quite an adventure to say the least, bout 25 bikes, experienced to beginners.

For those that don't know, Doc Wong is a local guy who holds various free motorcycle riding clinics. He's very enthusiastic and its a great service to the community really.

This particular ride really did turn into an all out adventure though and a few poor souls might be so rattled as to never ride offroad again.

I'm going to do this ride report in increments as I have to head off to work in a few minutes, but here is the set up:

We all gathered at the Friday evening ground school at his Chiropractic office, (hint hint) and go through a short but thorough power point seminar on riding skills and dirt requirements. He does a really good job keeping the crowd interested and active and all in all it was a productive evening particularly for the guys who were new to offroading and motorcycling.

This particular clinic is geared towards big boar adventure touring bikes with a slight emphasis on the BMW's (he owns one) but Id have to say the KLRs at the ride out numbered anything else..

Fast forward to 2days later, I met up with a few people in San Jose at 7am to make the ride to the main meeting point in Tres Pinos Ca. just south of Hollister. The ride down was uneventful, and the place was easy to find. We all gassed up, got some supplies and a little breakfast and prepared to head in to the wilderness.........to be continued.





***If you were there please jump in and add your experience, Id also like to catch up with some guys from the ride for future endeavors.
 

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I was there too. I was going to do a report, but since you did I'll just tag along and add my pics and stories with you if that's okay.


First off - Tractorking and his friend were to of the most important people on this ride that turned out pretty ugly for a few riders who were over their heads. They ran sweep for the whole ride and helped so many people pickup their bikes and were two of the real hero's of the day. I mean that in all seriousness.

At the end of the ride we rode out together with the father and son right? Thanks for hanging with me through San Jose. I really needed your help with my friend on the Weestrom that was pretty tired.

I liked how the kLR riders ended up sticking together.

I got some good shots of you -


 

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More!, More!, I want to see KLRs napping and taking mud baths.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Ok back from work now........

**Thanks for that Mike, anybody is more than welcome to pitch in. Im sure there are many versions of this monumental ride!*****

So we leave Tres Pinos at 9am on schedule, 25 riders, heading out to clear creek. Not the Clear Creek up North, some other clear creek situated between Pacheco Pass and Coalinga.

We arrive at the trail riding start point some 35mi later, which I was a little confused about because I heard in the rider meeting 17mi then the turn, and then I started thinking 17mi MARKER which seemed reasonable, until I passed the 17mi marker and we kept going...Either way I just followed the dude ahead and fortunately someone was waiting at the turn off to point us in the right direction, but for 10-20mins I was really hoping I wasn't following "Joe Random Rider" going to Modesto.

So we end up here:




We all air down, strip out of our warm gear into some more dirt appropriate layers, and hit the trail...

Cabrito and I were bringing up the tail end, riding sweep, we knew one guy had got left behind so we trolled along waiting for him to catch up as he seemed to know what he was doing. I looked in my rear view, saw Cabrito stop, I plowed through the water crossing and stopped to wait...after a minute or two I walked up the hill and couldnt see him...I rode back about 200meters or so and still no Cabrito, he wasnt where I saw him stopped, and I wasnt sure why he went back...I turned around,rode forward and caught up to the group, reported the situation and we sent a scouting party back to look for them.

Cabrito had went back for this Gentleman:


Cabrito found him just as he was turning around to go home because he lost track of the group, Cabrito being the good guy that he is brought him back up to the main group and back into the fold.... In hind sight we realize it would have been better if he hadn't found him, but hind sight is 20/20, more on that later......

So everyone is tooling around the practice area doing skills clinic stuff which is being organized by Doc Wong, Skids, Wheelies, slow drills...there's alot of people in a tight area but things are smooth and no one seems to be having too hard of a time going through the motions.

(Doc Wong (blue back) giving a little tutalage)


So around Noon time now, we have a quick bit and gear up to do the trail ride. Billed as a beginner ride ("even a Harley has done it"). Everyone is feeling good and ready to go, only 2 guys bailed out at this point and headed home so I think it was 25 total for the trail ride portion which was to finish up around 3-4ish pm.



Gianni and Sauro (Father and Son) and I decided to run sweep. I always naturally run sweep just out of having done lots of bicycle and motorcycle rides and other group things, I have a shepard kinda personality and I could tell that there was a need for some good help to bring up the rear.

Gianni is a co-worker and Sauro is his father and I had invited them so we had a good group of 3 guys to manage the back end. There something about knowing each other that makes you stick together in these situations.

(Sauro The Father)


(Gianni The Son)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
As we started to roll out I noticed this guy left at the training point:


Ouch, another victim of the dreaded KLR safety switch syndrome.
In the picture at a stop we tried to hot wire it but for a majority of the day he was "Bumpstart Billy"

So from the back of the pack there was alot of this:


Every obstacle or every 200meteres seemed to be a hold up, however as Sauro put it "Your in beautiful California enjoy the view"
and we did, many times over, but Im not complaining......

Now right off the bat, this guy:

(Joe)


body surfing through the aforementioned mud pit in Cabritos pictures, covered head to toe in mud, it was to be a warning sign of things to come for him. You see...every few hundred meters or less he went down, he was just not in his element.. I mean everyone has to learn, but this was the school of hard knocks. If you think I'm joking, Id say he went down no less that 30-40 times that day.
At first we felt bad, at a certain point we started to feel amused after all he wasnt getting hurt and the KLR just kept going on..but later, we began to feel really bad. This poor soul was having a really really really bad day and was probably soo rattled that he just wanted to go home and never look at the dirt again...unfortunately for him,there was no short cut, you had to ride forward or turn around and go back. Better to ride forward with the group than go it alone.

For those that witnessed it, and I heard this comment form alot of BMW guys, the KLR is unstoppable and a real beast.

For as many times as this guy lost it, broken levers and all (one clutch replaced, no break lever) it kept going.....

Oh and did I mention we had to haul it up a 25ft ravine it fell into at one point....Im still waiting for those pics to come out.
A real chain gang of people hauling that bike back up......

*****Uh Oh, wifey wants to go to Ross, guess Ill have to finish up later......more to come......
 

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Cabrito and I were bringing up the tail end, riding sweep, we knew one guy had got left behind so we trolled along waiting for him to catch up as he seemed to know what he was doing. I looked in my rear view, saw Cabrito stop, I plowed through the water crossing and stopped to wait...after a minute or two I walked up the hill and couldnt see him...I rode back about 200meters or so and still no Cabrito, he wasnt where I saw him stopped, and I wasnt sure why he went back...I turned around,rode forward and caught up to the group, reported the situation and we sent a scouting party back to look for them.

Cabrito had went back for this Gentleman:


Cabrito found him just as he was turning around to go home because he lost track of the group, Cabrito being the good guy that he is brought him back up to the main group and back into the fold.... In hind sight we realize it would have been better if he hadn't found him, but hind sight is 20/20, more on that later......
[/IMG]
The Vstrom in the pic with Jim on the Yellow zuki was Jeff. I rode up with him from SF so we sort of buddied up for the ride since I didn't know anyone there. I helped him pick up that poor strom so many times....

To add to this bit - As we took off from the starting point I noticed that Jim on the Yellow zuki was still getting his gear strapped on his bike and so I just rolled real slow waiting for him to catch up. That's why Tractor saw me stop because since I had already told Doc I was going to sweep I had to make sure he was accounted for.

Eventually I turned around to go look for him. It's funny because the spot I turned back was just around the bend from where the group was starting the training drills. I rode back quite a few miles at a fast pace before I found him heading back out of the Clear Creek area. He was almost back to the starting point when I found him. I asked what's up and he said he lost us so he was just going home. The 20/20 part is that I should have let him go and reported that back to Doc so at least he was accounted for, but I encouraged him to come back and join the group. (BIG MISTAKE) We probably would have ended the ride several hours sooner if he didn't come with us.

Here is another shot of the Drills -


And Gianni charging one of the early water crossings.


His bike is really cool.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Ah shopping and a nice big meal......now that Im recharged, where was I...
Oh yeah....Body Surfing!

So body surfing is quite fun to do in the water on a nice warm day.
Body surfing through the mud out in the boonies is a whole other thing...

But I digress.

Joe proved the KLR is a real top notch piece of work...Even he couldnt kill it!
He basically ends up with no front brakes because the lever broke, managed to run it off a cliff, (Cabritos and I got trapped under the right side a few times during the extraction process) and it just started up and kept going. I would say his biggest issue was lack of confidence (or experience) because he never got up on the pegs and slowed too much at every obstacle. He just wouldnt get on the throttle when he needed too and the bike would sway and auger in.

Note to self: dont ever buy those imitation handlebar crash guards.
He had a set of Aceribis BRUSH guards that deceivingly look like crash guards. When the right side snapped off I looked closer and realized the mounting hardward was plastic not metal (software???). I mentioned it and Joe replied "Now I realize why there was big warning notes in the instructions about BRush guards not CRASH guards.....

Other note to self: Disable those safety switches. Its something you read about but think "mine works, if it aint broke dont fix it! Besides, it will never happen to me....right?!?!"

After seeing it happen to the guy next to me...Im a believer.
I haven't disabled mine yet but checked some forum threads and made a mental note as too which wires need to go where if it happens to me.

Did I digress again....ok back on track.

So a lot of stop and go slow going. My guys were doing fine and we were all hunky dorey at the back of the pack, stopping every few minutes to help Joe or the other random guys that had a fall or an issue of some sort. Nice thing about being at the back is by the time you get to the obstacles you've watched plenty of others go through and have your line picked out. down side is, they have usually created lots of ruts and mud and you have to help all the stragglers which can eat up a lot of energy.

I think the general feeling was that we had gone through the rough patch and it was going to get easier, I mean this is a beginner ride (really?? a Harley did this???) and they wouldn't lead a bunch of novices off into the boonies on a trail that they weren't capable of, I mean, someone must have reconnoitered this route before setting this up...right?!?!?

Word on the street was that the rains this year made it much tougher. But, unless it was a graded county trail the last time they went,I'm not buying it.

After 4 hours of fussing and fighting with motorcycles we did end up in a gorgeous place:









Some kind of groovey looking silt mine that they called the playground. Took a nice break and since you could now see down in to the Central Valley we really must have drunk the punch because now it seemed like the ride would be easy breezy....

So we left outta there after about 15-20mins. Everybody seemed ok, even Joe who had got the worst end of the stick so far. Bumpstart Billy was now parking his bike on inclines regularly and getting on fine, and heck it all down hill from here right?!?!

We ventured onto some roughly paved mining road and while I was told in the briefing they were all county roads we certainly went past a lot of "No Trespassing" signs, but hey, they must know where they are going..Having said that, the signs and the amount of shot gun shells I saw on the ground made me wonder......

We turned off the mining road and this is where it all started going down hill...figuratively and literally...

Back on the dirt, down a decent, not too technical but enough so that you had to pay attention and if your braking skills werent up to snuff it was going to be a bad day...

Gianni, Sauro and I can around the corner to find Jim (Yellow Suzuki pictured a few posts up), face down not moving, under the bike off the side of the road with no one else around. We quickly jumped off and moved the bike off of him being careful not to tweak his already tweaked ankle any worse than it was. He was responsive, no head injury, but was limping and complaining of pain in his ribs....

We rode his bike up the hill to a flat spot where he could mount it easier when we got going. It was at this point I started to notice how old Jim actually was. Its hard to tell these things with riding gear and helmets on, but If my memory serves me, I think I heard something in the range of 67 years old. Props to him for giving it a go!

So the next thing we see is:

(Unknown BMW rider)

(George, DR650)


Doc Wong on his yellow BMW GS comes blowing back up the hill, shooting by us and without slowing down sez something about turning around...followed by a gaggle of the rest of the bunch. Someone down the line explained they ran into a locked gate and had to reverse course back up the hill Jim fell on. Guess those "No Trespassing" signs meant something.

So we got Jim back in buisness, and followed him back up the trail to the semi paved road we had left earlier, where everyone was waiting. Its all a blur but I think Jim fell once or twice more on the way back up to the paved road.

At this point I pulled Doc Wong aside, who had been at the front of the ride the whole day and told him of Joe and Jim's predicament. While he seemed concerned and talked to both of them, I didnt get the feeling that he really understood the gravity of the situation these two were in. Having said that, there was not much anybody could do for them except to continue on, although I was really hoping that he would have some sort of eject plan in place in the event of just such a situation.

Now its starting to look like this:

(Central Valley way off in the distance, civilization so close but so far away)


And judging by my odometer and the way things are going, its going to be dark before we get outta the boondocks, not good... We get moving on, paved for a bit then turns to dirt again. Down DOwn Down.. Several falls from Joe and Jim...after a few miles Gianni, Sauro and I end up behind Jim alone, and the way Gianni put it: "I saw him just fall over on his side for no reason, like a Zombie! He was done"

At this point we were all thinking it but Gianni said it first.
There was now way Jim should continue riding that motorcycle, something had too be done.. We all checked our phones by no cell signals to be had..

One of the ironies here was, the general rule of trail riding that was stated over and over during discussion.
The "You are responsible for the rider behind You!" rule.
This seemed to go out the window right from the git go...

As our group stood there with the injured and battered Jim I could see the trail down the valley for at least a half a mile and no soul to be seen on that road. The strongest of the group had taken off leaving the weakest to fend for themselves...

We decided to send Gianni and Myself up ahead to get help and have Sauro stay with Jim. Gianni and I rode just past a half a mile and made the tail end of the group.

Our logic was, if we could get Doc or one of the experienced guys with the burlier BMWs they could ride him out on the back and he would abandon his bike to be picked up another day.

When we got to the tail end of the group (which was helping Joe get up from a fall) one of the other KLR guys (I never got his name but he had a newer red KLR and was one of the other guys really helping people out who were in trouble, Kudos to you too unknown red KLR guy) rode back with me while Gianni went to the front to find the Doc.

Me and red KLR guy got back to Sauro and Jim and were sorting it all out when Gianni and the doc returned with one extra on board. The extra rode the Suzuki down to the end and when Doc said he didnt think he could take Joe on his BMW GS 1200, Gianni stepped up and said he would try to ride him down :character00286:

Now a little backstory: Gianni and I work together, he is fairly new to riding motorcycles and has owned his KLR for maybe 3 months. With the exception of one other offroad adventure he and his father did he has very little dirt experience and that why he attended the beginners course. Through out the day he made the best use of his time and tested his skills becoming one hell of a good enduro rider in a short 8hrs... Ive been riding for 25yrs, worked as a motorcycle courier for many years, raced bicycles around the world on and offroad, Ive spent a majority of my life on wheels 8hrs a day. I knew that my lowered suspension wouldn't handle a 200lbs guy on the back over that terrain. I was thoroughly impressed at what happened next

I was afraid Gianni was biting off more than he could chew, but we talked about it and agreed that Jim should dismount and walk the rough spots. Low and behold not more than a mile or so later, there was the group and the end of the trail.....sort of........I was amazed at how Gianni handled his bike 2 up, he had really become a good rider in just a few short hours and was a real hero of the day...
 

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Filling in a few blanks..

Correction - Jim was the guy on the yellow Suzuki that had all the trouble. Jeff was the guy I was with on the Vstrom. At least Doc told me his name was Jim.

Joe - wow..
Joe in the mud bog.




Joe's broken lever and hand guard.



Joes bike in down the side of the ravine


Sure was fun hauling his bike out of that.. I also rode his bike for him up the steep hill up to the salt mine area.
 

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A few note's to myself.

Bring extra levers. Pack a tow strap of some sort.

Disable the clutch switch and the side stand switch in Etna!

By the way Tractorking, you guys should come up to the Norcal Tech Daze.

http://www.klrforum.com/showthread.php?t=10048

A few more pics of some fun..

My bike taking a nap when we were lost I only fell off this one time the whole day.


I was trying to stop quickly on the steep downhill and the tire washed out I think.


BMW's fell hard this day




so did the Vstroms


You can check my pictures here.
http://s383.photobucket.com/albums/oo275/elcabritos/Adventure ride/?start=all

I've also got some killer video of Vstroms crashing.. just need to edit the stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Dark set in.........

What was left of the group (some had started home already) was now at some abandon mine, which probably would have made for some cool photos, but as I said above it was dark...

Some guys were airing up with little compressors but a few of us opted to wait until we were back in Hollister because from what I could understand it was just down the road and the road was right there...(dont worry this DIDN'T come back to haunt me).

Having done the pickup work all day and delivered the wounded to the Doc and the end of the trail. I figured our responsibility was complete and as the Doc put it "The ride is over"

Gianni, Sauro and I, plus a coupla tag alongs ventured down the road, figuring the wounded were in good hand and Doc would get them back to Hollister safely on the roads...

After a mile or so, the dirt ended and the pavement began, but not soon enough and easy enough that I didnt think back to the poor guys who had the worst day of their lives now thinking it was over to have another few miles of offroad in the dark (Yet another "had I known" hindsight moment").

Just about when we hit the paved portion some bikes came up from the rear and passed us hauling ass!!! It was Doc and a few others, I guess they hadnt held back to nurture the wounded. In no time at all there wasnt even a glimmer of a tail light down the road. They were gone.

We motored on in this:




Well maybe that's an exaggeration, but that's what it felt like.


It was actually probably more like this:

(Not actual photo)


It was about 9pm now and most of us had started at 6am or so that day.
Most were about to turn over the 200th mile of the day with 90 of that being off road. (He did say it would be an adventure, just so you know)

So we rode through the dark-ety dark, no lights, no signs, no paint, no markings. Pretty much, if you werent careful you could ride off the road into a field and every one would have followed you in. It was freaking dark!
We rode and rode and rode and rode, for what seemed like way to long. A short stop in the middle of nowhere to bundle up some more as now the wind picked up and we were going over Pacheco Pass.

After what seemed like an eternity, we made it to Tres Pinos and the main rode to Hollister. 45miles from the"End of the Ride" to Tres Pinos. We stopped at the intersection and waited for stragglers for maybe 10-15mins...It was now 10:30 something and while a few knowns made it up to us there was no sign of anybody left behind for miles. We hoped for the best for them but I dont think any of us could hang on any longer.

We made it to Hollister for fuel (remeber that part, it comes up soon) and air. Anything that was edible was closed so we opted to head up to Gilroy and find the Dennys.

By this point, it was Gianni, Sauro, Weestrom guy, Cabrito and myself. Once at the Dennys.

Weestrom got a hold of Joe and found out they had run out of gas, found a farm house and got an ambulance for Suzuki guy who had 2 cracked ribs and a sprained ankle.
Im not sure who ran out of gas first but...evertime either of those bikes went down (and it was alot) they were leaking fuel out of the filler caps. Must have been enough to do the trick because either one or both ran out of fuel on that dark and lonely road.

Weestrom got a hotel and The rest of us motored back to the Bay Area for a good night rest. I walked in the door at 1am, but I was kind of woudn up and jazzed at what an insane adventure it was....

Me and my guys all made it with no issues and no carnage, so I could feel pretty good about that. It was fun for "ME"... "I" had a good time....I cant say the same for everybody though....

The next day Doc Wong called me up to find out how things went, I appreciated this because prior to Friday night we did not know each other and it showed some concern and desire to sort out the mess and debrief. We talked for some time and he seemed to hear the pitfalls and suggestion that I threw at him with consideration.

Moral of the story is: "If you want to ride with someone who will stop and help you out...look for the KLR guys and buy 'em a beer"
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Correction - Jim was the guy on the yellow Suzuki that had all the trouble. Jeff was the guy I was with on the Vstrom. At least Doc told me his name was Jim.
Thats right....OK everyone replace Jeff with Jim and reread the article.....This is why I refer to people by their bikes or gear....I suck with names...:)


******Edited******* Changed "Jeff" to "Jim" should read correctly now.....
 

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Wow, nice write up.
Sounded like quite a day. Sounds like I need to build my skill level a little before blindly joining a group ride like that. Recent weather could quickly change a beginner ride into a something more suited to the intermediate or advanced rider. Ran into a lot of water and mud on my last trip to an atv park and was thoroughly exhausted after just a couple of hours.
 

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Wow! This looks like a great adventure! Is it on every year? Are there other rides in SoCal like this? A great test of the bikes and the riders skills.
 

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Hi all. I just wanted to add a couple things from my perspective. After Tractor turned around to go back up the mountain, I continued to the bottom to find Doc. I got there as he was waiting for everyone else to arrive, and I told him 'Hey we have a rider who can't continue. He needs to be bailed out.' After some discussion, I turned around and went back up the hill.

On the way back up, I came on KLR guy, completely alone. I asked him if he wanted someone to ride his bike down the hill for him. He said yes at first, then no, and then said 'why don't you ride it, and show me the best line.' I did that, and he made it through alright, but he almost hit me as I struggled to turn my bike back up the hill, and yelled on his way down 'I've got no brake! Comin in hot!' I turned around and was passed by Doc with a passenger. They got to the tough section and Doc let the guy off. There was about a mile and a half to go up the hill, so I picked up the guy after the tough section and took him the rest of the way on my bike. We got to the top and since I did OK bringing the guy up, doc asked me to bring Jim down the mountain.

You know, I had a lot of fun and I learned a lot but I was pretty concerned for the safety of the two riders that were having trouble.

Doc didn't publish the route and we did get lost for 1.5 hours. He was the lone rider with high level dirt experience among 26 riders(maybe with the exception of Tractorking?), and he spent the whole time up front except for the obstacles, leaving us noobs to pick up guys that fell.

No one was appointed to 'buddy up' to the two troubled riders, meaning they kept dropping to the back of the pack and probably would have been left behind if it wasn't for us sweeps. Matter of fact, when we did leave the sweep position, after reaching asphalt, they DID get left behind.

We had no 'bail-out' route. At some point there should have been an alternative back to civilization. Bringing noobs on a 18 hour ride is a recipe for disaster.

Every time I watched Jim fall, I kept asking myself 'what are we gonna do if he gets seriously injured?' Relying on a medevac helicopter just doesn't seem like a very good contingency plan. This is what ultimately made me, my dad and Tractorking decide to give him a lift down the mountain instead of letting him ride it out. Looking at him he was absolutely drained, rattled, and dead-eyed.

I'm also surprised KLR guy(joe?) was allowed to continue on a obviously unsafe bike. Even an *experienced* rider would have been tested without a front brake. At the time, everyone was like 'what other choice is there?', but the point is there SHOULD have been another option. There should have been someone there experienced and equipped to go 2-up.


I feel pretty crappy and guilty that Jim got hurt. Its gonna take him forever to recover, and if I were him, I'd be too rattled to ever ride that bike again. For his part Joe has several hundred dollars of repairs to fix his bike after a nice 'beginner' ride.

That's my two cents.

EDIT: Doc was magnanimous and contacted me about this post. He was really exceptional in that he didn't take anything personally and he seemed to take my concerns to heart, even though I'm just a noob. He said he's gonna make some specific changes on the next ride. I'm editing this post to take out some of the more heated things that I said, and taking out the errors I made when I said that Jim broke ribs. For the most part the safety concerns I had remain.
 

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That is a bummer to here that these two guys didn't get any help from Doc on the trail and worse to be left and run out of gas. I've always heard such good things about Doc Wong and his clinics and have wanted to go check it out but this certainly gives me second thoughts even though I know I would have no problem with the terrain.
 
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