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Old 06-06-14, 09:21 AM   #1
RidingMatthew
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planning on riding the GAP this summer

I am planning on riding the GAP this summer and was wondering if people had any suggestions for places to stop and eat or site to not miss etc.

I would appreciate any advice you might be able to give. This will be my first (of hopefully many tours)

I am going to ride on a '12 Motobecane Fantom CX with 700x30 tires.
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Old 06-06-14, 09:53 AM   #2
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We toured the GAP last summer, it was great fun. Here is a short journal, you can find others on the crazyguy site as well, do a search on GAP. http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/12687

As for food, take what you can get, there aren't a lot of options. The Whitehouse in Meyerdale was a decent place, we stayed @ the Levi Deal B&B, it was a good way to send the last night (west to east). The Trailside bar/restaurant/bike shop in West Newton was also decent which was a good thing because there isn't really any other choices. As for what to see, it depends on your interests, we added a detour (via car) on our way out to see the Paw Paw tunnel on the C&O. If you haven't been to Pittsburgh I'd add some time to check it out, we went in the day before our "start" so we could ride down to the point to say we covered the whole trail.

You didn't mention your lodging plans, the choices are also limited in the trail towns, plan on B&Bs or guest houses, Cumberland & Pitt have hotels. Oh and bring ear plugs the trains run 24/7.

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Old 06-06-14, 10:01 AM   #3
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I'm leaving on a weeklong GAP-C&O trip with friends next weekend. We are driving to DC, taking the Amtrak to Pittsburgh, and then riding back. We plan to average about 60 miles/day with overnight stops in Pitt, West Newton, Confluence, Cumberland, Hancock and Harpers Ferry. We are staying in hotels, B&Bs and inns along the way. I'll be glad to share my experiences after we're done.

We are all riding touring bikes with rear panniers. Since we are not camping out, we are trying to keep our loads light. My rear panniers weigh less than 20 lbs, loaded with all the gear I plan to take. The weather is the big variable, and it would be much easier to plan if you knew what it would be ahead of time. The main issue I have struggled with is what tires to take on my bike. I originally planned to use cross tires, but they will not fit my bike with fenders, so it looks like I'll be using 32 mm Panaracer Paselas, which have at least a little tread.
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Old 06-06-14, 10:25 AM   #4
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Get the GAP & C&O Guide $10 Lost of info & maps
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Old 06-06-14, 10:38 AM   #5
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Just the GAP or the C&O as well?

First off, if you are leaving from Pgh, be sure to stop by the Bike PGH (local) forum and say hello, lots of guys there love to help people navigate from their hotels to the trailhead and give a proper send off.

Lots to see and do along the way. It really depends on your planned daily mileage and proposed camping spots. Give yourself some time to enjoy Ohiopyle while you ride through, there is a natural water slide, opportunities to kayak, and some cool little shops and restaurants to visit. If you aren't in a hurry, I'd spend an entire day just enjoying that park.

Adirondack shelters in Connellsville are a nice place to spend the night, they have some grills and there is a grocery store right next door for picking up supplies. You can also pick up supplies at the Homestead Waterfront which is just out of Pittsburgh and right off the trail.

I should give a shout out for Lucky Dog Cafe in Confluence, they treat the cycling community well.

The Morguen Toole Company is a nice place to have a drink and spend the night in Meyersdale, the owners treated us exceptionally well and even let us put our bikes in the garage... just be prepared to go down a big hill and back up as the GAP is at the top of the town (which is kind of par for the course anyways, if you plan to stop in Frostburg that's even more of a pain to get to/from).

Lots of options in Cumberland for food.

If you are continuing on the C&O, I suggest a wider tire than 30mm. That's fine for the GAP but the C&O has larger gravel and more mud... I'd personally want a 32mm+ there (it was doable with 28's but I ended up bleeding off as much pressure as I could, down to about 80# to save my hands/wrists). If you are taking the C&O, I'll throw up some other highlights.
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Old 06-06-14, 11:09 AM   #6
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Get the GAP & C&O Guide $10 Lost of info & maps
Definitely. I bought one of these off Amazon for $8 and it was money well spent. Includes folding maps of each trail.
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Old 06-06-14, 11:11 AM   #7
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+1 on the shelters at Connellsville if you plan on sleeping outside. There are bike racks, and you can literally see the back of the grocery store. Just keep an eye out for used condoms. There was one in one of the shelters when I stayed there last September. That night, a volunteer trail monitor stopped by and told me that kids sometimes like to have sex in them when no one is around.

I got some good BBQ chciken here in Confluence:

The Smokehouse BBQ ::: Confluence, PA ::: Restaurant - Take Out

Ohiopyle is definitely neat.

If you plan to camp at Rockwood, I recommend ear plugs. The trains are very loud. Go to YouTube and search "train at rockwood" to view a short video I took. Turn up the volume on your computer for the full effect. That aisde, the place is nice. Right along side of the trail. Lots of shade a free firewood. Only porta-potties and no water, but you can get jugs and use the shower and bathrooms at the bunk house in town, which is a short walk from the campground. Just be aware that the Dollar Store in town has a poor selection of groceries if you plan to cook. There are a couple of eateries in town. I got takeout beer at the Rock City Cafe on Water Level Rd./Main St. east of where you cross over the bridge from the trail into the main part of town. The place has food and looked to be reasonably priced. When I was there, there was a welcome center where the trail crosses the road that leads into town. Volunteers were maning the place into the early evening to provide cyclsists with information. There is also a water source there.

Keep a look out for the kids with the lemonade/drink stand. It was on the right in/near Whitsett. Cute place run by Mia and J.J. They were selling old school Mountain Dew made with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.
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Old 06-06-14, 02:53 PM   #8
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I'll be riding that in two weeks and will be doing video blogging. A Midnight Rider Maybe you will get some insight into the area. The GAP is one of better places to do a first tour. Your always in the middle of civilization.
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Old 06-06-14, 05:24 PM   #9
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Be sure to give some time to tour through Pittsburgh. There is a lot to see here, including a really cool bicycle museum.

Let me know if you need any assistance at the Pittsburgh end. If you need a ride, place to stay whatever.

The Yough Shore Inn is a fun place to stay. It is just outside of Mckeesport in a small town called Boston. It is right at the start of the GAP (if you don't count the trail from the city).

The hostel in Rockwood is excellent and cheap.

Give some time in Ohiopyle but do not try to camp there. The campsite is pretty much straight up off the trail over a very rocky path.
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Old 06-06-14, 05:33 PM   #10
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32c Panaracers will be groovy on the GAP. C&O depends on rainfall/mud.

Trailside restaurant/bar in West Newton.
Adirondack shelters and Martin's grocery store then grill in Connellsville.
Couple of places in Ohiopyle.
Sweetie's in Confluence for breakfast.
Donges Cafe in Meyersdale, favorite breakfast on the GAP.
Decent coffee house in Frostburg.
Multiple choices in Cumberland.

Husky Haven in Rockwood is my favorite campsite on the trail, although does have rail noise.
Frostburg, second, albeit steep, rampy entrance.

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Old 06-06-14, 06:04 PM   #11
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Oh try to time it so you are in Frostburg on the weekend if you can. As I recall the train runs only on the weekend and is a site to see them turning it around.

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Old 06-06-14, 07:14 PM   #12
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I just got back from the GAP -- Continental Travel Contact tires were the perfect mix of smooth riding surface and knobbies at the edge, and they worked on the short section of the C&O we did as well. They say 37mm, but they fitted fine under my 35mm fenders. No flats.

My recommendations:

Brave the (steep) 4-mile ride up to Fallingwater from Ohiopyle and tour the Frank Lloyd Wright house.

Eat at the Firefly Cafe in Ohiopyle -- possibly the only fresh food you'll get.

At Meyersdale, we also liked the Morguen Toole Hotel -- converted store/mortuary/undertaker. Rooms have lots of character and food is decent, with the exception of the mac 'n cheese.

Avoid Dawson (noisy). Watch for snakes.

And I wish I had known about the Pittsburgh bicycle museum. We did visit the Andy Warhol museum at the end, which was a lot of fun.

Blog about it here:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/jhggap
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Old 06-06-14, 07:21 PM   #13
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there's a guy out there somewhere - look for the outdoor refrigerators next to the house - he'll sell you a pretzel for $2 and give you a nice cold beer to wash it down.
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Old 06-06-14, 08:21 PM   #14
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I think the self service refrigerator is a little east of the Rivers Edge KOA RV refugee resettlement center.
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Old 06-07-14, 09:28 AM   #15
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Oh get the book. Number one advice. Get the book! The guide book is wonderful.

Here's my blog from last summer. http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/bgraham2013

So your original question was about things to see...

1) If you have the time, I'd recommend a side trip to Antietam. It's hilly. But it's a very interesting and somber place. Just an amazing place to visit. I biked the driving tour (it's like 8 miles or something) and it totally kicked my butt. So hilly. I should have left my bags at the visitors center. I spent most of my day there. But even if you just go to the visitors center, it's very worth it. The ranger presentation was excellent.

2) Harper's Ferry. The stairs are a huge pain in the butt. The bridge is narrow. It's really unpleasant going over to Harper's Ferry. But once you are there, it's a pretty cool place to check out. Also did a ranger tour there. They did a nice job. Lot's of history. The other cool thing is that it's roughly the mid-point on the Appalachian Trail. Lots of hikes, section and through, pass here. Bikers and hikers met up here - it was interesting to talk to some of them.

3) Everywhere - stop everywhere. I was amazed how friendly everyone was. Talk to people going the other way - they can tell you what's coming up. Talk to people who are going your way. Talk to the locals out for the day. I didn't realize that my first day or so and missed chances to talk to people who were almost done. I just biked on past them. If you see people stopped, say hi.

I loved the GAP and C&O. Both are different, and both are wonderful. It's only a matter of time until I do them again. I totally fell in love with these trails.
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Old 06-07-14, 04:06 PM   #16
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Old 06-07-14, 07:20 PM   #17
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HA - I love that. Memories...
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Old 06-13-14, 09:42 AM   #18
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responding in bulk.

thanks for all your responses

@headloss I am just doing the GAP this time around. I am hoping to end in Pittsburgh instead of start there. I am riding with a group of people and hope to camp mostly along the way. C& O is for another time and possible larger tires or a more touring oriented bike.

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Just the GAP or the C&O as well?

First off, if you are leaving from Pgh, be sure to stop by the Bike PGH (local) forum and say hello, lots of guys there love to help people navigate from their hotels to the trailhead and give a proper send off.

Lots to see and do along the way. It really depends on your planned daily mileage and proposed camping spots. Give yourself some time to enjoy Ohiopyle while you ride through, there is a natural water slide, opportunities to kayak, and some cool little shops and restaurants to visit. If you aren't in a hurry, I'd spend an entire day just enjoying that park.

Adirondack shelters in Connellsville are a nice place to spend the night, they have some grills and there is a grocery store right next door for picking up supplies. You can also pick up supplies at the Homestead Waterfront which is just out of Pittsburgh and right off the trail.

I should give a shout out for Lucky Dog Cafe in Confluence, they treat the cycling community well.

The Morguen Toole Company is a nice place to have a drink and spend the night in Meyersdale, the owners treated us exceptionally well and even let us put our bikes in the garage... just be prepared to go down a big hill and back up as the GAP is at the top of the town (which is kind of par for the course anyways, if you plan to stop in Frostburg that's even more of a pain to get to/from).

Lots of options in Cumberland for food.

If you are continuing on the C&O, I suggest a wider tire than 30mm. That's fine for the GAP but the C&O has larger gravel and more mud... I'd personally want a 32mm+ there (it was doable with 28's but I ended up bleeding off as much pressure as I could, down to about 80# to save my hands/wrists). If you are taking the C&O, I'll throw up some other highlights.
@indyfabz are the trains loud on the whole trail or just at Rockwood? how do i find the shelters? are there trees near the shelters? BBQ sounds good

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+1 on the shelters at Connellsville if you plan on sleeping outside. There are bike racks, and you can literally see the back of the grocery store. Just keep an eye out for used condoms. There was one in one of the shelters when I stayed there last September. That night, a volunteer trail monitor stopped by and told me that kids sometimes like to have sex in them when no one is around.

I got some good BBQ chciken here in Confluence:

The Smokehouse BBQ ::: Confluence, PA ::: Restaurant - Take Out

Ohiopyle is definitely neat.

If you plan to camp at Rockwood, I recommend ear plugs. The trains are very loud. Go to YouTube and search "train at rockwood" to view a short video I took. Turn up the volume on your computer for the full effect. That aisde, the place is nice. Right along side of the trail. Lots of shade a free firewood. Only porta-potties and no water, but you can get jugs and use the shower and bathrooms at the bunk house in town, which is a short walk from the campground. Just be aware that the Dollar Store in town has a poor selection of groceries if you plan to cook. There are a couple of eateries in town. I got takeout beer at the Rock City Cafe on Water Level Rd./Main St. east of where you cross over the bridge from the trail into the main part of town. The place has food and looked to be reasonably priced. When I was there, there was a welcome center where the trail crosses the road that leads into town. Volunteers were maning the place into the early evening to provide cyclsists with information. There is also a water source there.

Keep a look out for the kids with the lemonade/drink stand. It was on the right in/near Whitsett. Cute place run by Mia and J.J. They were selling old school Mountain Dew made with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.
@capejohn i look forward to your video. It will be my first tour I hope it goes successfully and starts a lot of touring.

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I'll be riding that in two weeks and will be doing video blogging. A Midnight Rider Maybe you will get some insight into the area. The GAP is one of better places to do a first tour. Your always in the middle of civilization.
@spinnaker I am starting in Pittsburgh. Do you leave near the trail? I was thinking about camping at the Ohiopyle state park? is that not a good idea.

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Be sure to give some time to tour through Pittsburgh. There is a lot to see here, including a really cool bicycle museum.

Let me know if you need any assistance at the Pittsburgh end. If you need a ride, place to stay whatever.

The Yough Shore Inn is a fun place to stay. It is just outside of Mckeesport in a small town called Boston. It is right at the start of the GAP (if you don't count the trail from the city).

The hostel in Rockwood is excellent and cheap.

Give some time in Ohiopyle but do not try to camp there. The campsite is pretty much straight up off the trail over a very rocky path.
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wow that is loud. all night long do you get any sleep?

How many miles would you all say are doable in a day? i guess that depends on my proposed sleeping spots.
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Old 06-13-14, 09:59 AM   #19
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@indyfabz are the trains loud on the whole trail or just at Rockwood? how do i find the shelters? are there trees near the shelters? BBQ sounds good
Yes they are loud the whole way. Maybe not all as loud as Rockwood but they will be loud. For Rockwood I would recommend the hostel.



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@spinnaker I am starting in Pittsburgh. Do you leave near the trail? I was thinking about camping at the Ohiopyle state park? is that not a good idea.
Do you mean do I live near the trail? If so yes I do. I live very close to the Montour Trail which connects to the GAP. It is the long way to get there but a very pleasant ride and much of it rivals the GAP in its beauty. The Montour is one option for getting to the airport.

PM me if you need to arrange for any help in Pittsburgh. A tour, place to crash whatever. But please ask general questions in the forum.

DO NOT camp at Ohiopyle. You will regret it. The campsite is straight up over a rocky path. Instead camp at Confluence or Connelsville. In Connelsville there is a free campsite and the Rivers Edge Campground. I highly recommend Rivers Edge. They have some great hiker / biker sites by the river and the mother / daughter team that runs the place are a site to behold too.



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wow that is loud. all night long do you get any sleep?
A combination of good ear plugs and riding enough during the day that you won't care.

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How many miles would you all say are doable in a day? i guess that depends on my proposed sleeping spots.

That is up to you. Some people do the whole thing from Pittsburgh to DC in 36 hours straight. But I would say 60 miles is comfortable for most people.
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Old 06-13-14, 11:01 AM   #20
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@indyfabz are the trains loud on the whole trail or just at Rockwood? how do i find the shelters? are there trees near the shelters? BBQ sounds good
You can't miss the shelters at Connellsville. The shelters/camping area is literally right along side the trail at the north end of town. There is an old caboose that servers as a welcome center. No shower, but water and a clean pit toilet.

The trains were not that loud there as they are across the river, and the lay of the land is such that it doesn't hold the sound in. That's the issue at Rockwood. It seems to be surrounded by hills to the north and south which trap the sound. Also there are at least two grade crossings in town. By law, the trains have to sound their horns. You will hear and see trains while riding many other sections of the trail, but they are not annoying. For me, they add to the experience because I am in the rail biz.

IIRC, the BBQ place in Confluence is only open Fri-Sun.
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Old 06-13-14, 11:26 AM   #21
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Here's a good starting place:
Great Allegheny Passage - The official website for the rail-trail system between Pittsburgh, PA and Cumberland, MD

The tour book everyone is talking about is very good. Heck, the map alone is worth the price.

If you really want to get into the history associated with the trail, and there is a lot of it, then you might find these two books of interest:
The Great Allegheny Passage Companion: Guide to History and Heritage Along the Trail by Bill Metzger
and
An Uncommon Passage: Traveling through History on the Great Allegheny Passage Trail by Edward Muller.

It is not much of an exaggeration to say that the history of this trail is the history of America.

I borrowed both books from our local library.

Enjoy your ride!
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Old 06-13-14, 11:45 AM   #22
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You can't miss the shelters at Connellsville. The shelters/camping area is literally right along side the trail at the north end of town. There is an old caboose that servers as a welcome center. No shower, but water and a clean pit toilet.

The trains were not that loud there as they are across the river, and the lay of the land is such that it doesn't hold the sound in. That's the issue at Rockwood. It seems to be surrounded by hills to the north and south which trap the sound. Also there are at least two grade crossings in town. By law, the trains have to sound their horns. You will hear and see trains while riding many other sections of the trail, but they are not annoying. For me, they add to the experience because I am in the rail biz.

IIRC, the BBQ place in Confluence is only open Fri-Sun.
Yeah about the only real issues with noise will be at places were there are crossings. Rockwood would be one and maybe Confluence (have never stayed there at night so not sure).

Rivers Edge can be a bit noisy as the train is within eyesight across the river but not too bad. I still recommend the Rivers Edge even with the noise.


The Y in Cumberland is VERY noisy.
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Old 06-13-14, 12:11 PM   #23
capejohn
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I am starting my ride in Weirton W.Va on the Panhandle Trail and the Montour Trail in PA. Camping in Cecil Park. PA. I will get onto the GAP at Boston, PA riding to Cedar Creek Campground for my last night camping. The rest of the GAP I'm staying in B&Bs. Two nights in Confluence and one night in Meyersdale. I'm doing a very easy paced tour with lots of stops because of the World Cup. Mine is more of a soccer watching tour with bike rides between games.
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Old 06-13-14, 12:13 PM   #24
indyfabz
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
Rivers Edge can be a bit noisy as the train is within eyesight across the river but not too bad. I still recommend the Rivers Edge even with the noise.
It certainly has more ammenities, but the weekend crowd and the loud music that seemed to coming from the pool area turned me off. Plus, where do you get food around there?
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Old 06-13-14, 12:17 PM   #25
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I will get onto the GAP at Boston, PA
I got a sandwich from the bar right above the trail in Boston. Some local color, even at noon on a Saturday. One woman was 3/4 in the bag.
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