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Thread: Boomer Bikes?

  1. #1
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Boomer Bikes?

    It is obvious to me that the "baby boomers" are coming back to cycling after our initial introduction in the 70's. Many folks who used to ride regularly (and enjoy it greatly) got away from it for several decades and are now returning. Most of us are heavier and slower than we used to be, and the bike manufacturers haven't yet twigged to what a lucrative and loyal market we can be. "Geezer bikes" are NOT what we want to buy.. Nobody yet makes the type of bikes we'd prefer, but that'll change soon. For the sake of any manufacturer's reps who may ghost this forum, there is a large market of relatively flush older guys who would prefer the following:

    1. Comfortable frame angles but still light (think Specialized Roubaix..)
    2. Double front chain rings with some range rather than flaky-shifting triples
    3. DISC BRAKES - rim brakes are **SO** last-century (Really take this suggestion to heart!)
    4. Durable but light parts groups that rekindle the stuff we wanted back when (think Campy Veloche or even Chorus)
    5. STRONG WHEELS that won't taco (remember I said we were heavier now..) Think 36 spoke units with deep V rims and 23 to 28 mm 700c tires to match our various durability needs
    6. Adjustable stem and bar options for comfort but still with lightness.
    7. Target prices between $1,500 and $2,500 for entry level - up to $3,500 for upscales.
    8. No more than 18 gears - 14 is even better - durability and smoothness are more important than "wow."

    By the bye.. If anyone knows of any current models that fit ALL the above criteria, please let me know.

    I'm sure I've offended many with even the suggestions above - if so, please feel free to send me your own opinions - you may have excellent points that I'm wrong on or haven't thought of that would be of use to other forum folks. If you just want to flame me on the disc-brake issue, don't bother - you're wrong! <G>

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Gone DnvrFox's Avatar
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    I like my triple 105 and it isn't flimsy. Has taken me thousands of miles, and we have hills here in Colorado.

    And 28mm tire is too slow. I like 25 mm or even 23.

    And I like my 27 gears.

    And my brakes work fine!
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    Your brakes may work fine BUT:

    If you get any bend in the rim, your brakes don't work so well
    The aluminum rim is exposed to dirt, water, and the continued abrasion of the brake pads
    The aluminum rim is soft metal that will become scored by the brake pads
    On hard decents, the aluminum rim can become excessively heated, transferring heat to the tire & tube
    Tires have (and will continue) to blow out from rim heat

    Disc brakes also generate heat, but the heat transfers to a rotor that is far from the tube
    The hub structure and even the forks can assist in heat dissipation
    Disc brakes are also exposed to the elements, but you don't have to change your wheels when worn - only the rotor or pads
    The steel rotor of a disc brake is far more wear-resistant than an aluminum rim
    The weight penalty for discs is insignificant
    With disc brakes, wheel truing becomes less critical.

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    scofflaw
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    Let's talk about seats. My husband swears by his ergo seat. In fact I think we should get a kickback from the manufacturer, because everytime we stop, at least one guy asks him where he got his seat.
    Myself I swear by my Terry Liberator, which doubles as a handle. I don't ride pure road bike as I can't
    handle the drops anymore. I ride upright. So I ride a hybrid and yes we both like big fat panniers,
    for snacks, jackets, stashing wine bottles, etc. We're much more into comfort than speed.

  5. #5
    Gone DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    Your brakes may work fine BUT:

    If you get any bend in the rim, your brakes don't work so well
    The aluminum rim is exposed to dirt, water, and the continued abrasion of the brake pads
    The aluminum rim is soft metal that will become scored by the brake pads
    On hard decents, the aluminum rim can become excessively heated, transferring heat to the tire & tube
    Tires have (and will continue) to blow out from rim heat

    Disc brakes also generate heat, but the heat transfers to a rotor that is far from the tube
    The hub structure and even the forks can assist in heat dissipation
    Disc brakes are also exposed to the elements, but you don't have to change your wheels when worn - only the rotor or pads
    The steel rotor of a disc brake is far more wear-resistant than an aluminum rim
    The weight penalty for discs is insignificant
    With disc brakes, wheel truing becomes less critical.
    Hmm!

    Must be a manufacturer's rep!
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marge
    My husband swears by his ergo seat.
    Cool! What seat, exactly, does hubby use? Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    Must be a manufacturer's rep!
    Nope - just a safety engineer.

  8. #8
    www.getafolder.com wpflem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    7. Target prices between $1,500 and $2,500 for entry level - up to $3,500 for upscales.
    During the 1980's I thought little of spending $1500 to $3500 on a high end stock or custom built bike, and I thought the several I bought were well worth the price. Nowadays, I am most impressed by the great value one can get in the $250 to $400 price range. I think these newer Taiwan imports exceed the quality of my expensive bikes of the 80's. So my views of bicycle values don't fit with the price range you are suggesting.

    You do have an interesting post, but it puzzles me.

  9. #9
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    I like a lot of older stuff and have managed to do some of what you're talking about by retrofitting a 1980s sports bike--but it has been a labor of love. For example, with the help of Harris Cyclery (www.sheldonbrown.com) and Rivendell bicycle works (www.rivbike.com) I've managed to get a new crank, derailieur and freewheel combination (yes freewheel) that gives me a double chainring with wide-ranging gearing. I also bought a Nitto quill stem and handlebar combo that is taller and more comfy to my older back than my Cinelli bars and stem were.

    Having said that, I don't see most boomers having a problem with triple chainrings. I've had them on a touring bike and a mountain bike of a similar vintage and never found their shifting to be flaky. For better or worse, in an age when people seem to think more is better in the cog department (30 speeds and rising!), I can't imagine any manufacturer going in the other direction.

    But I do think we will see more and more bikes with the kind of boomer geometry you are talking about. Specialized Roubiax, Lemond Big Sky, Trek (can't remember the model number), Breezer come to mind. And you can find disc brakes entering the road bike world (Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra and Kona Sutra among others in your price range). Getting most of the features you're looking for in one bike may be another story.

    Donít know if this is quite what you have in mind, but the Dutch bike maker Koga-Miyata offers this very comfortable, unusual but classy-looking, bike which has strong--36 spoke--wheels, adjustable handlebars and interesting (thought not disc) brakes. http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/koga/liteace8.html It ain't light weight, but I can see certain boomers going for it who want an alternative to the Lance wannabe crowd and the ride-around-the-block-comfort-bike-crowd. And it's in your price range.

    By the way, Iím not selling anything. Never worked in the bike industry. Just a bike junkie. Good luck in your quest.
    Last edited by Blackberry; 03-02-05 at 11:31 PM.
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  10. #10
    Ride it, don't fondle it! Wheel Doctor's Avatar
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    The original poster makes some good points. There are some bikes that fit some of his criteria but not others. There may be some bikes coming in the future that are closer to his likes. It really does make sense. Anything that gets people riding more is a good thing for the health aspects as well as the enviornment. You notice that his price range does not start at $500. I didn't think he was a manufacturer rep. He's too fwd thinking. He acknowledges THE FACT that Boomers have bucks and that segment needs to be addressed.
    Disks are the brakes of the future. Not so much on pure performance bikes but on a class of inbetweeners. The Hybrid market is dying, comfort bikes are the fastest growing section of the market, mostly because of the aging population using them as recreational health riding vehicles.

    Bike riding is good for most everyone. What you ride is irrevelent, that you ride is pertinent. Some are stuck in one venue to the exclusion of others. I was like that but I've become multivenued. No one bike fits all needs.

    Jude

  11. #11
    www.getafolder.com wpflem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wheel Doctor
    Bike riding is good for most everyone. What you ride is irrevelent, that you ride is pertinent...
    Jude

    Well stated. I bought a $53 Roadmaster the other day just to give it a try.

  12. #12
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wheel Doctor
    The original poster makes some good points. There are some bikes that fit some of his criteria but not others. There may be some bikes coming in the future that are closer to his likes. It really does make sense. Anything that gets people riding more is a good thing for the health aspects as well as the enviornment. You notice that his price range does not start at $500. I didn't think he was a manufacturer rep. He's too fwd thinking. He acknowledges THE FACT that Boomers have bucks and that segment needs to be addressed.
    Disks are the brakes of the future. Not so much on pure performance bikes but on a class of inbetweeners. The Hybrid market is dying, comfort bikes are the fastest growing section of the market, mostly because of the aging population using them as recreational health riding vehicles.

    Bike riding is good for most everyone. What you ride is irrevelent, that you ride is pertinent. Some are stuck in one venue to the exclusion of others. I was like that but I've become multivenued. No one bike fits all needs.

    Jude
    Not all of us have available cash to spend on what would be pretty good bikes. Some of us will be trying cycling for the first time, or on a budget, so will not want to spend a great deal initially. Discs may be the brakes of the future, but a good set costs a lot of money. Cheap disc brakes may work as well as Rim brakes, but that is doubtful. Plus the fact fact, there is a lot of development to go on yet for disc brakes for road bikes.. Then on the gearing side, AS MANY AS YOU CAN GET helps. Hills get steeper as you get older, and I will not swop my 22/ 32 for anything else.


    What do I ride? A bianchi mountain bike, that gets used most weekends, that works. is five years old, gets maintained as required and does not cost a great deal to run, and is used most weeks of the year. The other is a mountain bike set up for heavy duty, That does have disc brakes, top rate hydraulics at that, heavy duty wheels, heavy duty forks, and all the parts are made for the job. Trouble is, how many of you want to spend $6,000 on a bike, even if it is a Tandem, and this ones works even better, but cost's a fortune to keep in good condition.

    Good ideas mind you, but we have to think of Custom building at this time. That is the only way you will get a bike as you want it, and Yes I have done it, but Budget restraints and Biking capabilities nowadays mean that I cannot warrant the amount of money my ideal bike would cost.

    Going onto the disc brake issue. A good disc brake works and works well. Cable brakes are not up to grade so you have to think Hydraulic. I have yet to see a road bike with Disc-- must be a reason? However on Mountain bikes, It is now about 50/50. Nothing wrong with rim brakes, except for the rim wear that I will agree with, but That can be overcome with ceramic rims. Top rate Hydraulic brakes will cause problems. They work very effectively, so much so that you HAVE to think about stronger forks, and head tubes, and headsets, and 20mm Bolt through axles. How Do I know? note the Tandem above that has gearly benefitted from Hope Mono M4 disc brakes, and I would not revert back to Rim brakes on this bike. Cost of this effective system on the Tandem was not just the Brakes, it was also the wheels that would take this power, the forks to take the strain of them working at full capacity, and the loss of warranty on my frame if the headtube breaks.

    I know that a New bike built to take this Disc Brake Punishement would be built stronger, but the weight would go up, and the cost of the better quality parts would also have to be included. I think that for the average person, this bike would not be up to speed standard, and would be too pricey.
    Last edited by stapfam; 03-03-05 at 11:38 AM.

  13. #13
    Jim Shapiro
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    Do we really have to have the absolute best (and most expensive) of everything, even if we can afford it? I'll take your word that disk brakes are the way to go, but I have 7 bicycles, all with rim brakes, non with any dents or serious scratches in their rims and they all stop me each and every time I have ever used them. Of the 7 bikes, I most often ride the one that happens to have cost the least, an old Centurion that I bought for $50 and put new rims and a new seat on. It's simply the most fun to ride, period. Works for me, anyway.

    Jim
    Last edited by jimshapiro; 03-03-05 at 05:50 PM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    I'm another one that disagrees with the assertion that triples are Bad. With age should come the wisdom to recognize that your knees aren't 20 years old anymore. Triples are a Good Thing(tm) if you ever have to climb double-digit grades.

  15. #15
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazingPedals
    Triples are a Good Thing(tm) if you ever have to climb double-digit grades.
    You're right, of course. I live in the flatlands where the tallest hills are less than 100' high.. To each his own. Other posters have made fascinating points that I'd like to address too:

    The rim-brake vs. disc brake debate is already dead. Yes, rim brakes work adequately most of the time, but discs (even Avid road mechanicals) are VASTLY superior in every way. The cost of discs will drop radically very soon, and most bikes (yes, even most ROAD bikes) will have discs. Road bikes that have them now include the Specialized Sirrus Disc, the Schwinn Super Sport DBX, and the Kona Sutra. Others will follow within the next year. Luddites can keep their rims - the future is disc.

    There will always be a market for $400 bikes, but the average boomer now has enough cash to want a fancier bike, whether it is "better" or not. Quality has, indeed, improved throughout the market, and today's $400 bike probably is the equivalent of a $1,000 bike from 1975. However, perception, not performance, is what drives bike sales. Very few boomers want to own what they percieve as an "entry level" bike. This may not make sense, but it is reality.

    For mountain dwellers, triples may be chainring heaven, but for us flatlanders, two chainrings is plenty (even with our decaying knees). The trick to using two is to have a wide range. The old "52-42" isn't what is needed. A "50-36" range gives all the usable gears of a 30-speed with less duplication. Face it - how many "real" gears do you get with 30 speeds? About 18 if you're lucky!

    It must also be said that with narrower chains, cogs, and chainrings, the nine and ten speed chains stretch more. These systems are also more likely to break, to bend, or to jam. Even the manufacturers tacitly admit this with their replacement schedule recommendations. Give me reliability!

    Thanks to all who have replied. I've enjoyed your feedback and will continue to read and respond to future posts on this thread.

  16. #16
    Gone DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Regrettably (I guess) I must agree with some of what you state.

    As I view the panoply of Excursions, Expeditions, Navigators, Lexi, and whatever in our local grocery store parking lot, I am overwhelmed with all of the money, and have no clue from whence it cometh, except I suspect they are all selling drugs. And they are all equipped with a Cell-phone talking soccer mom - it gets to be laughable - and they live in 7,000 sq ft houses.

    Yes, these folks have money - so who cares about Social Security? Just sell a Navigator or Escalade or Hummer and you will be rich the rest of your life.

    So, the demand will be for disc brakes (against which I have nothing - if they are beter, so be it).


    And, they will likely start with hybrids or something similar, but in the competition to see who can spend the most money, will quickly demand something more "prestigious."

    And faster.

    As to the gearing, you are right, I seldom use the grannys, but around here in Colorado, there are times when they are necessary. But my 21 speed mtn bike (3x7) has plenty of gears for me, and I likely could use less, as long as I had the range in gearing i needed.

    In fact, I have installed lower gears on my triple - for those "ouch" hills (at least "ouch" for me at 65yo).

    So your prognostication is not too far off, IMHO.
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  17. #17
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    You're exactly correct about the evils of conspicuous consumption for its own sake, but this malady is not limited to baby boomers. I believe the demand for "above entry level" bikes in the over-50 crowd is not so much about conspicuous consumption, but rather about an appreciation of quality. Having owned many items that were the cheapest money could buy, I have learned that it's sometimes wise to spend more on things I use heavily. Appliances, which to me include cars, are a prime example. The "use a lot" catagory includes my bike. Will a $1,500 bike be better built, more reliable, and more pleasurable than a $300 "entry-level" bike? I think so. Others may disagree, and are welcome to vote with their pocketbooks. Thanks for your participation in the thread - I've enjoyed your perspective.

  18. #18
    Fortunatissimo
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    Lighter, faster, older here. Speak for yourself.
    How is it that we have let the people who do not believe in the public good be in charge of the public good?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Figaro
    Speak for yourself.
    I do. I also express my opinions about my contemporaries. If you don't fit my generalizations, good for you. Differences are good.

  20. #20
    Cool roadie
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    It's slowly dawning on me about your points on disc brakes. Taking away the rim as the braking surface lightens it up considerably, tranferring more of the overall wheel weight to the hub, which has less rolling resistance. Rims can be designed purely for holding the tire. They don't even need vertical sidewalls anymore. Just go with a lighter and stronger V shape.

    Rivendell bikes come close to the ideal of a comfortable, versatile, lightweight, enjoyable mount that can go anywhere with aplomb. They're strong, dependable, comfortable, simple to maintain. The new "comfort" roadbikes, like the Trek Pilot and Giant OCR, are a step in this direction, more upright riding position, shallower angles for straight line stability and curved chainstays for comfort over long distances.

    I've been riding two lugged steel frames for 20 years. They have fully adjustable ball and cone BBs, headsets and wheel bearings. No sealed bearings. Toe clips and straps, so I can ride without cleated shoes if I want, or with cleated shoes (except slotted cleats are rarer than 6 speed freewheels!). 52-42 up front, 13-22 or 13-26 in back. 12 or 14 gears. No need to double shift--ever. The gears are close enough to pick up the cadence easily when shifting.

    One bike weighs 24 pounds with fenders and 28C tires. The other weights 22 pounds with 25C tires. Climbing steep grades in 42-22 has always been character building. I even have down tube friction shifters. They have never jammed up or broken. 36 spoked wheels haven't needed truing for 5 years.

    Pushing 62 years of age, competition is no longer the main thing, so I don't have to have a sub 18 pound bike. But I think a modern carbon-aluminum or carbon-steel combo bike could come in under 20 pounds with 32 spoked wheels and 25C tires, like the "comfort" bikes mentioned above. The Giant OCR2 weighs slightly over 20 pounds. I've had my eye on a Redline cyclo-cross bike with disc brakes that comes in at about 20 pounds with knobby tires. That's good enough for me. I'd give up some lightness for comfort and durability.

  21. #21
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam

    Going onto the disc brake issue. A good disc brake works and works well. Cable brakes are not up to grade so you have to think Hydraulic. I have yet to see a road bike with Disc-- must be a reason?
    The Giant OCR touring has disc brakes. It is the reason I got this bike, I wanted disc brakes. I love not having to wonder if I will have any problem slowing down in less than ideal weather. Price point is good at about 1100. It is a tad heavier than most road bikes as it is made for going and going and going.

    Is it perfect, no. It's a compromise. Biggest problem is the bike makers have set an artifical limit of 24 teeth difference between lower number of teeth and highest number of teeth. Going to 10 speeds does not solve that problem. It's just a lot of money down the toilet. I'm waiting for the makers to get smart and support a triple with something like 20-39-54. They have come up with great solutions for bents, when will there be something for an all in one comfortable road bike? I don't want to mess with multiple bikes: one for loaded riding, one for speed and tooling along, and one for comfort family rides.

    Here in CO, we don't only have mountains, but in the spring and fall riders will face wind gusts of 50+++ mph. This can be a real ride joy breaker. Since these are gusts, you may start your ride and find out about them too late. Riding a bike at near walking speeds is a bummer. I'm not a mechanical engineer, but there must be a better marketable solution than we have seen. Bikes have come a good ways since the 70's, and there is still good room for improvement.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  22. #22
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    So I've been thinking that aging boomers may want to try a tricycle. The risk of serious problems from "going down" becomes greater with old age. I don't want an 18 month recovery period after shattering my hip when I couldn't clip out at a traffic light (or even just losing balance with platform pedals and falling over). Not sure what that tricycle design should be. Those low ones seem too easy to get run over by an SUV. But I'd like to think I can cruise around the neighborhood (or retirement community, or whatever) even when I'm 75, or 85, or 95.

  23. #23
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=FarHorizon]You're exactly correct about the evils of conspicuous consumption for its own sake, but this malady is not limited to baby boomers. I believe the demand for "above entry level" bikes in the over-50 crowd is not so much about conspicuous consumption, but rather about an appreciation of quality. Having owned many items that were the cheapest money could buy, I have learned that it's sometimes wise to spend more on things I use heavily. Appliances, which to me include cars, are a prime example. The "use a lot" catagory includes my bike. Will a $1,500 bike be better built, more reliable, and more pleasurable than a $300 "entry-level" bike? I think so. QUOTE]

    I think you make a good point--especially about equipment that one will use a lot. It may be less painful to think of the outlay as an investment instead of simply a cost. In my own case, I spent $700 on a pretty good road bike two decades ago. Believe me, that was a big bite at the time! However, I've really enjoyed that bike for 20 summers and hope to continue to enjoy it for 20 more. At $35 per year (plus related expenses like new tires, etc.) I consider this perhaps the best investment I ever made. That isn't to say you can't enjoy a less expensive bike. Just that sometimes it's really worth it to suck it up and lay out the cash for something you're planning to make very good use of over a long period of time.
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Trogon's Avatar
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    That list makes me want to turn in my Junior - AARP card.

    I want the highest-tech, hottest, fastest, sexiest, lightest bike my slush funds can accomodate. And that's exactly how I have built my small collection. I'm not overweight, fatigued or listless. I've worked hard to avoid those things. I want go fast, now.

    I spent last evening out in my Bike House installing the major items (at least those requiring a stand and a torque wrench) on a Moots Vamoots. Record, FSA Superlight, Chris King, Deda and Thomson. 24/28 spoke custom wheels tipping the scale at 1400 grams. It's going to be a rocket. Even with my tired old knees turning the pedals.


    So, all you bike reps listening to this - remember, not everyone wants a wide gel seat and an adjustable stem.

  25. #25
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trogon
    That list makes me want to turn in my Junior - AARP card.

    I want the highest-tech, hottest, fastest, sexiest, lightest bike my slush funds can accomodate.
    Are you sure you're not talking about your inflatable girl friend?
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

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