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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 10-26-11, 01:56 PM   #1
Mark Stone
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What I Used to Do, What I Do Now

I'm new here at the forums and I enjoy reading in on the threads. There's a lot of people just like me that commute to work daily; I ride my bicycle about half of the 17 mile one-way trip, lock it to a bike rack in front of a busy grocery store, and ride the bus the rest of the way. I've been bicycling for many years (40?) and I've discovered changes I've made through the years - see if you can relate:

1. I no longer wear cycling shorts, although I did for 30+ years. I discovered that just wearing normal clothing makes little difference in comfort.

2. From 1984 to 1997 I used clips/straps; from 1997 to 2010 I used SPDs; now I just use platform pedals and any shoes I want. I still enjoy my cycling

3. I ride much slower now - scenery is becoming very important.

4. Skinny, high pressure fast tires are less important to me now than puncture-resistant heavy tires with pre-slimed tubes. I currently use Continental 26x1.6 SportContact tires @ 80psi.

5. It no longer bothers me when fast racer-types pass me

6. Half the weight of my bike (a 2005 Trek 4300 hardtail) is add-ons: racks, trunk bag, panniers, lights, a cool bell, big rear-view mirror, more lights, etc.

7. I don't give a flying donut what people think of my appearance on the bike, because I'm going to live forever

Who's with me here? I have almost 70,000 verifiable miles in my cycling lifetime and enjoy it more now than I ever have!
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Old 10-26-11, 02:05 PM   #2
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I'm never quite sure of the intentions of posts like these. They seem to come across as a result of some insecurities thriving on the approval of others. More power to you for where you are with your biking, but at this point I can't relate to it myself.
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Old 10-26-11, 02:10 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by MNBikeCommuter View Post
I'm never quite sure of the intentions of posts like these. They seem to come across as a result of some insecurities thriving on the approval of others. More power to you for where you are with your biking, but at this point I can't relate to it myself.
I'm new here, interested in getting to know people. I'm surprised you are looking for "intentions" -
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Old 10-26-11, 02:22 PM   #4
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I'm much newer to cycling (April 2008), but I commute much as you do (except I live closer and ride the whole way). There is no need for specialized cycling clothes on casual short(ish) rides.

On the other hand, I generally use special clothes for cold weather, hot weather, long rides, races, etc. I almost always use platform pedals, but I may use clipless for an upcoming race (Gravel Grovel).
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Old 10-26-11, 02:22 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 10-26-11, 02:45 PM   #6
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Congratulations, you have reached the pinnacle of Fredliness.
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Old 10-26-11, 02:53 PM   #7
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This is the internet; trolling happens. Some posts like this are intended to get folks riled up. But I'll play.

Me? I've been riding on two wheels for almost 40 years (and training wheels for some time before that). I ride anywhere between 3 miles and 40 plus most days, but I avoid riding in rain, snow or other precipitation when I can avoid it (unlike today). Verifiable miles? I can only account for about 4000 GPS logged commuting miles -- but I suspect I have another 8-10K miles ridden in my youth when I rode a bike almost everywhere, particularly in college.

I prefer wearing cycling shorts and other cycling specific clothing-- I find the shorts DO make a significant difference to my comfort.

I prefer being clipped in, and never quite feel right with flat/platform pedals. I used clips and straps from 1985 through 2010. I now rock SPDs on my main commuter, and have a set of Looks for my (newly acquired, as yet unridden by me) road bike.

I ride as fast as I feel able to go on a given day; going slowly never feels right. Scenery is what I look at when I have to stop or slow down for other reasons. But I'd rather be breathing hard and moving quickly. I'm not totally speed addled - I hardly ever check to see if I've set a new 'personal best' for my commute these days.

I prefer to commute on wider, more puncture resistant tires but I wouldn't object to less rolling resistance, and I'll probably change tires soon; I'm riding on Continental CountryRide 622-37s inflated to about 70PSI. They seem close to needing replacement (after about 3000+ miles), so I'll probably look for something a little bit more to the 'speed' side of the equation.

It still bothers me when people pass me, but I'm no longer compelled to see if I can chase them down... most of the time. I now rate the folks passing me based on whether they are loaded for commuting or not; I don't count the folks clearly unladen and doing training rides in my tally of folks who pass me as I play the 'who passed me/ who I passed' game. I also don't count passes made while stopped at lights... unless I catch them later ;-).

My Kona Dew Drop wears a fair bit of kit, in the form of rack, panniers, lights, bell, GPS, case for phone, pump, underseat bag, etc... I will resist the urge to do the same to the road bike. One fully loaded bike is enough.

As to your last item; I am under no illusion that fitness equals longevity. Many a fit person dies in their middle years from any number of causes. My dad died in his mid 50s from ALS- before the disease got him, he did several karate workouts a week, and could keep up with many a younger man. My uncle was an avid runner, and very fit man who died very suddenly at 60 - suspected heart attack. I just returned from my other uncle's funeral - he was a former world class track athlete who continued running, cycling and playing tennis competitively until shortly before his death. He was 74. Live forever? Probably not.
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Old 10-26-11, 02:57 PM   #8
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Scenery is almost unimportant to me while I'm commuting. I prefer to do my getting to and from work quickly, so I have more time to devote to things I enjoy. Sometimes that means cycling, but I have much better routes than the one to and from work. For the record, when I have my roadie hat on, the scenery is very important to me, and it's the main reason I choose the routes I ride. I enjoy going fast, but I also like stopping at a park to take in the view.

I don't use bike specific clothes, mainly hiking ones, but they're all made to keep me as comfortable as possible, and to stand up to the weather. Wool, etc.

I wouldn't want to ride without being clipped in.
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Old 10-26-11, 03:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Congratulations, you have reached the pinnacle of Fredliness.
+1 This^

However, in a strange kinda way, I feel as though I could be the OP, myself....

My sentiments, exactly!

Therefore, Fred meet Fred!

- Slim
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Old 10-26-11, 04:20 PM   #10
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I can relate to the OP as I'm finding "maturity" in my cycling life along with everything else in my life. I do things differently now than I did 30, 20, 10 or even 5 years ago.

When I see threads like this it makes me think of this blog post which pretty much sums it up for me, I wish I had written it:

http://surlybikes.com/blog/post/some..._ive_ever_read
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Old 10-26-11, 04:32 PM   #11
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it took me a long time to realize that it was ok if people rode faster than me. Now a lot of times I prefer they ride off and leave me. As far as bike specific clothing, I feel a lot more comfortable riding with it and don't really care what people think about that. I find it very unpleasant to ride my commute in street clothing.
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Old 10-26-11, 04:34 PM   #12
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I like what you wrote tractorlegs. The main theme I get from your post is how cycling has changed for you over the years. I feel the same way. What worked for me twenty years or ten years ago doesn't work for me now. As my life changes so does my cycling. I would never say it is getting better, it is just different. I am just happy that I can still pedal a bike.
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Old 10-26-11, 06:11 PM   #13
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after only a year back on a bike in earnest, i have felt an evolution in my attitudes towards cycling, and bike commuting.

i rode without a chamois for some time, and paid for it with some soreness.

i'm too heavy, and the roads i ride are too pitted to go without it now.

i have my third pair of baggy cycling shorts on the way.
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Old 10-26-11, 06:20 PM   #14
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Thanks to everyone who responded. I re-read what I initially posted and see how it could be perceived as a troll, or as a description of a superior riding ethic - but really the intent was to show my own evolution in bicycling and to start getting to know other members of the forums. When the skinny-tire fast riders pass me it no longer bothers me; but I don't look down on them either, I think they're fine. Glad to get to know everyone!
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Old 10-26-11, 06:48 PM   #15
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There comes a time, tractorlegs, when we realize that we are not the top athlete we think we are (..."a legend in his own mind"...) and realize that cycling is wonderful, who cares what the "others" say. On that note, congratulations on reaching a new plateau in your cycling life.

Now for those of us who haven't reached your heights, be as tolerant of us as we are of you.

That is all.
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Old 10-26-11, 06:55 PM   #16
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Well, I haven't been riding long but here's what I have found:

#1 I only wear cycling shorts if I'm gonna be on the bike for a long time. Most rides south of 20 miles, it doesn't matter.

#2 Couldn't care less about SPD pedals or the like at the moment. I like the versatility of platforms and the ability to remove one or both feet whenever the hell I want to without having to think about it. I may look into a set for my fast bike just to see if it makes me faster, but I can guarantee that my commuter/long distance/hauling bike will never see them.

#3 Speed, well I have one bike I am working towards making faster, so I do...the other I just cruise around on unless I have some particular reason to go fast. Much more enjoyable that way.

#4 Same as the above, different bikes with different purposes...skinny 23c tires on the fast bike, 27x1 1/4 tires on the other. Skinny tires are only good if you need every speed advantage you can get, otherwise just stick with the fatter tires, it's a much more enjoyable ride that way. I too value the puncture resistance and increased comfort offered by fatter tires...

#5 doesn't happen to me often, usually I'm the one doing the passing when just going from one place to another. But if I was on my loaded commuter and someone flew by in full racing form it probably wouldn't bother me.

#6 same for my commuter. I've transferred most of the 'unnecessary' stuff from my fast bike to it, so it's pretty hefty now. Don't care, I can take care of any problem I come across and I won't be in a hurry anyway.

#7 same here, although I don't think anything is terribly outlandish looking about my setup. But it doesn't bother me if people see me on my old 80's road bike loaded down riding from place to place thinking I'm too poor to own a car. I have one, I'm just choosing not to drive it for that particular trip. So let them think away...

Only about 1200 verifiable miles for me since I joined the forum in May of this year. Maybe could add on a few hundred from my youth when I rode around the neighborhood. But I'm only 24 and have discovered a love for cycling that I rediscover every time I get on either of my bikes. I've got the stereotypical young guy's bike...the flashy new one with skinny tires that I go flying around on wearing lycra...but I've also got the 'old man' bike, the 30 year old steel beast with turkey levers, a rack, and other tools, tubes, pumps and other junk weighing it down, and more often than not when I ride it I'm wearing plain every day clothes. It may not be new or fast, but it's smoooooooth. There's joy in all styles of riding.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
1. I no longer wear cycling shorts, although I did for 30+ years. I discovered that just wearing normal clothing makes little difference in comfort.

2. From 1984 to 1997 I used clips/straps; from 1997 to 2010 I used SPDs; now I just use platform pedals and any shoes I want. I still enjoy my cycling

3. I ride much slower now - scenery is becoming very important.

4. Skinny, high pressure fast tires are less important to me now than puncture-resistant heavy tires with pre-slimed tubes. I currently use Continental 26x1.6 SportContact tires @ 80psi.

5. It no longer bothers me when fast racer-types pass me

6. Half the weight of my bike (a 2005 Trek 4300 hardtail) is add-ons: racks, trunk bag, panniers, lights, a cool bell, big rear-view mirror, more lights, etc.

7. I don't give a flying donut what people think of my appearance on the bike, because I'm going to live forever

Who's with me here? I have almost 70,000 verifiable miles in my cycling lifetime and enjoy it more now than I ever have!
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Old 10-26-11, 07:33 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
Thanks to everyone who responded. I re-read what I initially posted and see how it could be perceived as a troll, or as a description of a superior riding ethic - but really the intent was to show my own evolution in bicycling and to start getting to know other members of the forums. When the skinny-tire fast riders pass me it no longer bothers me; but I don't look down on them either, I think they're fine. Glad to get to know everyone!
I got it from the beginning. Appreciated it too.
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Old 10-26-11, 08:16 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
Thanks to everyone who responded. I re-read what I initially posted and see how it could be perceived as a troll, or as a description of a superior riding ethic - but really the intent was to show my own evolution in bicycling and to start getting to know other members of the forums. When the skinny-tire fast riders pass me it no longer bothers me; but I don't look down on them either, I think they're fine. Glad to get to know everyone!
I agreed with everything you said the first time.
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Old 10-26-11, 09:15 PM   #19
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Thanks for sharing tractorlegs. I'm only in my 30's, so probably not as much experience as you, but I have been riding since I was six most everywhere. After finishing grad school I rode less because of sheer distance between myself work, but in the last couple years have been back into commuting.


1. I've never worn cycling shorts- never felt the need to try them. Doubt I ever will.

2. I tried clipless for about a year and hated them. Never again. Love the convenience and versatility of my platforms.

3. I ride faster now .

4. I too like the utility of wider (ish) tires for all around use. Don't have anything against skinny tires either.

5. I admit I still don't like to be passed, but rather prefer to be the passer. But I'm getting over it.

6. Half the weight of my bike is add-ons: racks, panniers, lights, etc. X2

7. I don't give a flying donut what people think of my appearance on the bike, X2 (I have no illusions about living forever, but I want to stay in good health).

So for the most part I'm with you.

Matimeo
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Old 10-26-11, 10:15 PM   #20
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I'm with ya man. ( except for the platform pedals, I like toeclips)

Quote:
Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
I'm new here at the forums and I enjoy reading in on the threads. There's a lot of people just like me that commute to work daily; I ride my bicycle about half of the 17 mile one-way trip, lock it to a bike rack in front of a busy grocery store, and ride the bus the rest of the way. I've been bicycling for many years (40?) and I've discovered changes I've made through the years - see if you can relate:

1. I no longer wear cycling shorts, although I did for 30+ years. I discovered that just wearing normal clothing makes little difference in comfort.

2. From 1984 to 1997 I used clips/straps; from 1997 to 2010 I used SPDs; now I just use platform pedals and any shoes I want. I still enjoy my cycling

3. I ride much slower now - scenery is becoming very important.

4. Skinny, high pressure fast tires are less important to me now than puncture-resistant heavy tires with pre-slimed tubes. I currently use Continental 26x1.6 SportContact tires @ 80psi.

5. It no longer bothers me when fast racer-types pass me

6. Half the weight of my bike (a 2005 Trek 4300 hardtail) is add-ons: racks, trunk bag, panniers, lights, a cool bell, big rear-view mirror, more lights, etc.

7. I don't give a flying donut what people think of my appearance on the bike, because I'm going to live forever

Who's with me here? I have almost 70,000 verifiable miles in my cycling lifetime and enjoy it more now than I ever have!
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Old 10-26-11, 11:36 PM   #21
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I have bicycle commuted for 9 years in the last 15, no idea about the miles, but about 5 - 6000 km per year now. Am 47 and have ridden since I was 4.

1. I am back in cycling shorts. Have used them, havent used them, back in again.

2. Used clipins on and off some time ago, rode in 2005 and 2006 with SPD, back on platforms now, but often thinking about spd again.

3. Still ride my comute as fast as I can, get to work and home sweating, even in winter. Try to ride more slowly outside of that.

4. Yep, running Schwalbe Marathon Plus on my commuter. Wish they stuck in the wet a little better. Schwalbe Marathon XR on my tourer.

5. 2 1/2 years of commuting in China, and I have been dropped once. Didnt like it. Wont when it happens the next time. I console myself with the fact he was on a road bike, and I ride a mtb, converted for commuting.

6. Yep, lots of add-ons. Rack, Brooks B17, two huge locks, fenders, lights, and I carry a backpack.

7. I wear baggy shorts over my bike shorts. I get enough stares here in China just because I am not Chinese, dont need them all checking out the tackle as well.

So I am with you on many but not all of these.

z
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Old 10-27-11, 06:08 AM   #22
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I've been cycling for 40+ years. My riding style has evolved over the years but I still like to go fast, maintain a good average speed and get a good workout when I ride. Half of my cycling is commuting, the other half weekend group rides and light touring. I always wear cycling clothes, the whole deal -- bib shorts, synthetic jerseys, gloves, helmet, cycling shoes. My bikes all have clipless pedals, SPDs on my commuters and Looks on my road bikes. My commuter bikes are set up for my personal needs, as lightweight as practical for carrying my gear on a hilly, 30-mile RT route. I use a large seat bag, front and rear lights, and folding tires ranging from 23-28 mm. I don't care what anyone else wears, the kind of bike they ride, how much gear they carry or how fast they ride -- just hold a line, don't bump my tires, and call "on your left" if you're gonna pass me. Some days I take it easy and just put in the miles; other days I push it and try to ride as fast as I can. I'm 57 years old, ride 600+ miles a month year-round and weigh what I did in college. Cycling has been good for me. I hope to continue riding even when I'm forced to slow down and reduce the mileage.
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Old 10-27-11, 07:32 AM   #23
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I've been commuting for close to 10 years, but very on-and-off and at light volumes, until this year. Commuting is maybe 40-50% of my mileage.

What I used to do: use SPD clipless pedals.
What I do now: use Crank Bros clipless pedals. can't imagine anything else. actually I have used platforms a few times due to switching over pedals etc, and it was horrible. both on my knees, and efficiency.

What I used to do: ride on MTB/hybrid.
What I do now: ride on road bike whenever I can, MTB only for bad weather. I would prefer an option in between the road bike and MTB that has 700c and wider tires, but that will have to wait until my next new bike.

What I used to do: ride wearing MTB shorts, and T-shirts or MTB shirts
What I do now: ride wearing bike shorts or MTB shorts or padded inners, and usually bike jerseys. even when I wear jeans/casual I wear padded inners underneath. It's a must. i also cannot ride without some sort of technical layer as my first layer. cotton just gets sweaty too fast.

What I used to do: ride as fast as I can
What I do now: ride as fast as I can, according to conditions. If I happen to pass a fast racer-type I think it's fun, and that's about it. I've had guys follow me until my exit on the MUP, and I think that's fun too. i've tried riding slow deliberately, and i just can't (unless conditions warrant it). also, it's not good to ride slow when you're taking the lane.

What I used to do: carry as little as possible. no panniers, bags, racks or even fenders
What I do now: carry as little as possible. bike jersey pockets help with this a lot. the big difference now is i do have fenders now on my wet weather bike, and i see them as a necessity. i also do have much better lighting options. when i need to carry more (once a week), i use a backpack.

When commuting, the scenery gets boring because I ride the same variety of routes every day. I don't really care about my appearance either but that has never changed. Actually that's not 100% true. I wouldn't ride say, full team kit if I was commuting on my MTB. But I'll happily wear bright hi-vis stuff, reflective bands everywhere, plastic bags over my gloves, and rig all sorts of lights etc to my bike.
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Old 10-27-11, 07:43 AM   #24
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As I change from my office clothes into my biking clothes for my 7 mile office to home commute, I sometimes ask myself why I don't just wear my regular clothes. Then I remember that I like to go really fast, which also means that I sweat a lot because I work hard, and sweat soaked street clothes aren't fun. Then as I'm zooming along on my hybrid and roadies pass me without breaking a sweat, I realize my zooming is someone else's easy pace and I know that's all O.K. Because it's about enjoying what you're doing...an overweight, senior citizen "zooming" or a fit 20 something on a long training ride. It's all good at whatever age.
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Old 10-27-11, 08:53 AM   #25
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I'm with you on many of the points. I still ride SPD but I don't really care, it's only because the cleats are already in the shoes I've been wearing for a couple of years and I'm too lazy to take them out.
I don't really try very hard to ride fast. If I've got a tailwind and a downhill I'll joyride a bit, but especially this time of year when the temperatures are crisp and the leaves are pretty, I like to sit up in the saddle and just cruise around.
I've never run tires narrower than 32 and I'm tending more towards 35s these days, 45s in the winter.

It never bothered me when people pass me. I'd be in trouble if it did, since the U of M cycling team practices on my route some afternoons and I'm riding a $300 bike that weighs > 40 pounds loaded. And I'm nearly 50 years old and they're definitely not.
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