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Getting older, riding slower, trouble keeping up with my group, advice please!

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Getting older, riding slower, trouble keeping up with my group, advice please!

Old 03-06-23, 03:29 PM
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Probably the best answer is to ride solo. You are in total control, and can ride as fast or slow as you feel like.
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Old 03-06-23, 04:09 PM
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When I was in my sixties I used to ride with the hotshot forty year olds and sort of keep up.
However when I found myself short cutting the route to keep up and them waiting on
hills the jig was up.
I'm seventy -five now and ride with all retired people aged sixty to eighties (e bike.)
I only weigh one twenty five to one thirty pounds so hills are no problem.
They try to keep away from hills though!
As others have said riding with such a large age disparity is problematic and it only
gets worse.
Maintenance versus vast performance increases is the name of the game.Lifting weights for leg strength is key.Recovery is slower.
It's not the same as when you were young but you're a thousand percent fitter than the other
old farts who don't ride.
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Old 03-06-23, 08:59 PM
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At 70, a good riding pal of mine was facing the same issue: he wanted to hang with the fast crowd, but was getting left behind when things got hard, such as hills and late in the ride. So I coached him with the following:
  • Conserve energy! He was too ambitious on the first part of the ride, and then faded badly by the end. This was the single most important tip: do your fair share of the pulls (and no more), but don't take a long fast pull before a big hill.
  • Lose weight: amazing how much difference 10 pounds makes, especially when you've replaced 20 pounds of blubber with 10 pounds of quads.
  • Get a fast bike, which means as light as possible. Since you're getting dropped on the hills, dropping weight on your bike and body should be your primary objective. It's all about watts/kg. Bike: 16 pounds full carbon fast with 1,200g wheels with tires pumped to 110psi. No fat (>25mm) tires, or discs or dropper posts or suspension or other such inappropriate ballast borrowed from the MTB world. The topic here is fast riding on the road, not gravel riding, or cycle touring or whatever. My pal found such a bike with Dura-Ace Di2, and it made a big difference.
  • Jettison all ballast: lights, electronics, and (God help us) racks or fenders. All you need a spare tube, small multi-tool with tire levers, and as light a pump as possible. All this fits into a jersey.
  • Get rid of the touring gear, such as flappy cotton clothing, comfort shoes and the heavy helmet with rechargeable flashing lights. For power transfer, you need clipless pedals with lightweight shoes and completely stiff soles. As in no flex at all.
  • Ride more. If you're not sweating, it's not helping.

My pal has turned things around, and now rides comfortably with the fast crowd, and he can make me hurt.
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Old 03-06-23, 10:33 PM
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Go on bike tours and relax at the bed and breakfast. Who needs training at 5am. . I say this because that grind at 5 am , and trying to out do the other turned me off to cycling . Now I love wrenching on bikes and look forward to taking road trips and scouting out the next trail. I mean I still got my "fast" bikes. I have a new interest in vintage bikes, and vintage mountain bikes. When I score one that I can refurbish and try out , and or sell, its exciting. When you push yourself to hard it takes the fun out of it. I pushed myself a bit in track, and cross country running when I was younger. I found out early on , that speed last basically a flash. You can however still enjoy a long run for a long time, as long as God graces us....
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Old 03-07-23, 11:52 AM
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FYIÖthe same slowing phenomenon happens with swimming and runningÖwhich Iíve also been doing in excess of 40 years.

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Old 03-07-23, 09:02 PM
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At least with endurance sports you get to keep on going at an older age. With the fast twitch sports, the game tells you it's time to quit at a lot younger age. You don't even get to play with the youngsters anymore. Just sit on the sidelines or in the stands and watch. It sucks.
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Old 03-08-23, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer
tires pumped to 110psi. No fat (>25mm) tires, or discs
Some garbage advice here ^
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Old 03-08-23, 09:16 AM
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My group is mostly 60s with a few 50s/40s thrown in. We're still the faster group. A few guys, notably the couple in their upper 70s/lower 80s, have taken to e-assist rather than ride with the next group back - which would definitely be an option. It's mostly about the company, not the speed itself.
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Old 03-08-23, 01:24 PM
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The best advice I can give you is to get a trainer. I have friends who have done that and their speed increased dramatically. Instead of barely finishing doubles, one guy is one of the first people in now, and he is also riding ridiculous roads on fixies. I was floored at how much difference it made.

But ultimately, eventually, as we age, we are going to slow down. At some point, you'll just be slower and there won't be a lot you can do about it. At that point, it's going to be an ebike or riding with a different group.
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Old 03-08-23, 03:30 PM
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I am just going to chime in to add my 2 cents since I have had similar experiences.

First, be realistic. At 67, I'd like to ride with the 30 year old's but that is just wishful thinking. Really, you are getting old and the body does slow down. No way can a 70 year old run their HR up to 190 like a 30 year old and if you can't maintain a HR from 175-185, no way will you be able to keep up no matter how much you train. If training were the case, you would see 70 year old's running 2:20 marathon's. Face it, the mind is willing but the body is weak.

Yes, you can train more and it will make a difference but in the long run, you will not be able to climb with the mountain goats.

Secondly, drop all the extra gear. Geez, I have ridden over 20k miles in the last years and had exactly one flat. A pinch flat at that as I hit an unseen pot hole. By some gator skins. They are bullet proof as far as I am concerned. I just carry one tube and a cylinder plus a couple of small hex keys. Yes, 2 bottles on long rides but that is it. No way I am toting my toolbox with me. Unless you are riding non-paved surfaces, you should not be flatting out at all or hardly ever.

Thirdly, last year I got a lot slower than previous years as my age has definitely caught up with me. I second the thought on the road E-bike. I bought a Trek ALR and it saved my life. I can keep up with moderately paced group rides that don't typically run over 22mph. Not saying it is easy, but the e-bike assist helps. On climbs? Well, let's just say that I can keep up on those too as long as they do not go into double digits. My riding partner who typically had to wait for me at the top of the climb, now has someone riding on his wheel and sometimes passing him. He hates me now. I have taken a little slack but I just usually say, let me know how you are doing when you are 67. I am still riding, will they still be riding at 67? They usually shut up after that. I have had one group ride that rode me off because I was on an e-bike but that was no problem for me. At my age, Ego was one of first things to go. Again, I still make it, just some minutes behind. I am OK with it and don't feel like I am cheating anything except the ER. As Greg LeMond said, "It doesn't get any easier, you just go faster" and I have found this true on the e-bike. My HR is almost the same as my old bike, only now I am going a bit faster. So my heart is still getting the same workout.

Remember, you can only train so much. As I have aged, I find that I need a lot more recovery time now than I did even 5 years ago. As I said, be realistic. Getting old is getting old.

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Old 03-08-23, 05:31 PM
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One either has to keep riding with the same friends for decades or find a slower group of friends. That's assuming one has maxed out one's training.

I've ridden with some really fast folks in their late 60's/early 70's. The 6', 145 lb. types with serious genetic ability. They're out there. One 70 y.o riding buddy rode the highest pass in the world in Nepal, 18,000'. He came back and took 45' of the age-group record for a local mountain climb event. What some people won't do for a little extra fitness, eh?

I really dislike riding with e-bikes for two reasons: they don't hold their power steady so you can't trust them, and they kill the competitive spirit. How are you going to compete with an e-bike? Group rides are all about playing with similar folks on similar bikes. We banned them from our fast group. If they'd stay on the back, it wouldn't be a problem. You don't know what you don't know. I see little groups of e-bikes on our local bike paths, going about 12 mph, fine and good for them, but that's not what we're talking about on this thread.

I don't think I'd have the discipline to hold a hard effort on a climb while bringing up the rear on an e-bike. I think it'd frustrate the hell out of me. I'd rather shift into 26/30 on my carbon bike and just pedal.
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Old 03-11-23, 12:02 PM
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Thought I’d follow up again with my conclusion, which is train harder and hang in there.

I keep hearing success stories from other senior riders. Last week a friend and I rode down the coast and in Santa Barbara we fell into a conversation with a local homeowner. He mentioned that his brother, who's in his 80’s, often rides to SB from Malibu and back. And I got a copy of Cycling Past 50, which is really excellent, and filled with great info. I’m only part way into it, but the big take away for so far is that it’s all about the training. It sounds like if you just do 2 rides a week you lose strength. 3 is minimum, 4 is better. (He also makes the point that if you try to train too often you’ll actually lose strength, because you never have a chance to recover.) So as Johnny Carson used to say, “It’s all in the timing." I’m convinced that a senior rider can be fast and almost as strong as the younger folks, but it takes more and more planning and commitment. I hope to find some in-between place that makes me stronger than I’ve been recent years, without trying to be some hyper-focused super athlete. (That’s not me.)

That book has a ton of numbers and charts. It’s almost too much, but one interesting thing was a chart that addresses the fatigue and recovery cycle, and the way your body “overcompensates” (becomes stronger than before) after fatigue and recovery. This made me think that if I do a big training ride say 3 days before my group ride, my overcompensation sweet spot might coincide with the group ride, giving me a little boost.

I'm also trying to educate myself about lung capacity and breathing, which I think has been an issue for me. And I made an appointment with my cardiologist to get her take on this. I think she might have some insight into the physical limitations and what my upside is.

Meanwhile, I exchanged a couple messages with the group leader. He basically said don’t worry about it, just come out with us. So that was very reassuring and took off a lot a lot of pressure. I went out with them a couple of days ago. It was one of their easier rides but I could tell I was a little stronger. I mashed up the hills a little better, and just fell behind briefly a couple of times. So in the coming months I’l work at getting a little faster, skip the most challenging rides, and I think it’ll all be ok. I'll never be one of those amazing 80 year olds that leave the kids in the dust but I think I can get to where I keep up well enough and enjoy riding with my friends for at least a while longer.

Thanks again for all the replies.

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Old 03-11-23, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by 3940dxer
Thought Iíd follow up again with my conclusion, which is train harder and hang in there.

I keep hearing success stories from other senior riders. Last week a friend and I rode down the coast and in Santa Barbara we fell into a conversation with a local homeowner. He mentioned that his brother, who's in his 80ís, often rides to SB from Malibu and back. And I got a copy of Cycling Past 50, which is really excellent, and filled with great info. Iím only part way into it, but the big take away for so far is that itís all about the training. It sounds like if you just do 2 rides a week you lose strength. 3 is minimum, 4 is better. (He also makes the point that if you try to train too often youíll actually lose strength, because you never have a chance to recover.) So as Johnny Carson used to say, ďItís all in the timing." Iím convinced that a senior rider can be fast and almost as strong as the younger folks, but it takes more and more planning and commitment. I hope to find some in-between place that makes me stronger than Iíve been recent years, without trying to be some hyper-focused super athlete. (Thatís not me.)

That book has a ton of numbers and charts. Itís almost too much, but one interesting thing was a chart that addresses the fatigue and recovery cycle, and the way your body ďovercompensatesĒ (becomes stronger than before) after fatigue and recovery. This made me think that if I do a big training ride say 3 days before my group ride, my overcompensation sweet spot might coincide with the group ride, giving me a little boost.

Meanwhile, I exchanged a couple messages with the group leader. He basically said donít worry about it, just come out with us. So that was very reassuring and took off a lot a lot of pressure. I went out with them a couple of days ago. It was one of their easier rides but I could tell I was a little stronger. I mashed up the hills a little better, and just fell behind briefly a couple of times. So in the coming months Iíl work at getting a little faster, skip the most challenging rides, and I think itíll all be ok. I'll never be one of those amazing 80 year olds that leave the kids in the dust but I think I can get to where I keep up well enough and enjoy riding with my friends for at least a while longer.
My own data point is with running. In my mid-twenties, I was a reasonably fast amateur distance runner. Went on a near-marathon distance training run with a buddy and a couple of guys north of 75yrs of age. "Fit" doesn't describe how capable and bloody quick they were, even over the last handful of miles on that run. (At a sub-3hrs pace, for a run a bit shorter than a marathon.) Turns out, they were both marathoning legends in the area and had been running trails since dirt was created. (Who knew? My buddy did and he could have warned me, but there it is.)

Their key was, as you say: training. They simply kept up with it ... in their case, for 60+ years. Reasonable periods of recovery, sure, and varying the numbers and distances of runs and other activities in order to keep strong. They also did gym work, weights and stretching, along with occasional swimming and cycling to keep the cardio up for the "pushy" run days. Along with decent nutrition containing plenty of protein, sufficient recovery (doing other things, typically), and watching for injuries and conditions that'd need special attention. Otherwise, training. And they hadn't lost much in all those decades. I was seriously impressed.
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Old 03-12-23, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by 3940dxer
He also makes the point that if you try to train too often youíll actually lose strength, because you never have a chance to recover.
^^^That is one of the biggest takeaways I've learned about cycling at my age: Recovery days aren't days when you're not training; they are training, and they have to be built into your training plan and respected/adhered to just as diligently as you do the on-the-bike part of training.

The other big takeaway for me is something that I've heard is true of competitive cyclists of any age, but especially so of us older folk: We don't work hard enough on our hard days, and we don't go easy enough on our easy days. I always try to have at least one "active recovery day" per week where I get on the bike and do ~10-20 miles as easy as possible. No sprinting, no steep climbing, nothing that gets my heartrate up, almost never in the big chainring, just a chance to gently spin my legs and enjoy being outdoors. It makes the hard days much more do-able.
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Old 03-12-23, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob Ross
The other big takeaway for me is something that I've heard is true of competitive cyclists of any age, but especially so of us older folk: We don't work hard enough on our hard days, and we don't go easy enough on our easy days.
I have heard that admonition many times, and I think I understand the sensible rationale behind it: If you ride sorta-hard much of the time, you may be too fatigued to do a truly hard workout.

Personally, I've not experienced that "too fatigued" feeling very often, and when I do, I just take a rest day. If I have a truly hard workout planned, I'll take an easy day before it (and maybe after it).

I don't think there's much data to back up the idea that riding sorta-hard (zone 3 or "sweet spot") is counter-productive. Any workout is going to produce adaptations, and there are plenty of adaptations going on in zone 3.

Truly hard workouts (zone 4+) are another issue. Do too many of them, you will get fatigued, and you'll be forced to rest.
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Old 03-12-23, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
I have heard that admonition many times, and I think I understand the sensible rationale behind it: If you ride sorta-hard much of the time, you may be too fatigued to do a truly hard workout.

Personally, I've not experienced that "too fatigued" feeling very often, and when I do, I just take a rest day. If I have a truly hard workout planned, I'll take an easy day before it (and maybe after it).

I don't think there's much data to back up the idea that riding sorta-hard (zone 3 or "sweet spot") is counter-productive. Any workout is going to produce adaptations, and there are plenty of adaptations going on in zone 3.

Truly hard workouts (zone 4+) are another issue. Do too many of them, you will get fatigued, and you'll be forced to rest.
How many days per week are you riding and how many are zone 4+?
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Old 03-12-23, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by big john
How many days per week are you riding and how many are zone 4+?
I've been riding 5-6 days per week. No "for real" zone 4+ rides yet this year, but I am throwing some short high power segments into rides.



I'll start doing 20-40 minute zone 4 climbing intervals once the road and weather conditions get better. A couple times per week.
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Old 03-12-23, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
I've been riding 5-6 days per week. No "for real" zone 4+ rides yet this year, but I am throwing some short high power segments into rides.

I'll start doing 20-40 minute zone 4 climbing intervals once the road and weather conditions get better. A couple times per week.
I get out 4 or sometimes 5 days. Saturday is usually a longish ride and Tuesday 45ish with some other retirees. I was doing a couple hours of climbing on Wednesdays but now I stay on more level ground.

Whenever I start feeling like I'm making good gains something gives me a reality check. I'm a lot like the OP in this thread. I'd love to be able to do the longer climbing rides with the old (younger) gang.
One of the women said she wanted me to get an e-bike so I could ride with her again. I thought that was very sweet.
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Old 03-13-23, 04:52 AM
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Originally Posted by 3940dxer
Thought Iíd follow up again with my conclusion, which is train harder and hang in there.
That might well work IF you are not already training hard and IF the younger guys you are trying to match are not training as hard as you. The thing to watch out for in this approach is overtraining, which would obviously be counter-productive. Your training plan has to be a quality one to compensate for the decades you are giving away to the other guys.

I've seen some seriously fast older guys, but I expect most of them (maybe all?) were extremely fast in their younger days and just carried on.
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Old 03-13-23, 05:48 AM
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Do a little hatha yoga in the morning. This may be as simple as remaining in the "kneeling" position for a minute or so, to begin-with. You need to stretch. You mentioned nothing about stretching, so I assume you do not. Cycling is entirely a concentric exercise, and we need to counter any exercise like this with stretches. Yoga works on the principle of static stretches (ones you hold for a period of time). This posture is not easy. You may find that you can not even attain it, at first. Keep working at it, even if you have to put a pillow or bolster under your butt, and your quadraceps will eventually lengthen enough for you to do this comfortably. After you become proficient at this, you can work on a posture that stretches the backs of legs and glutes. You can not expect to cycle well, especially at our age, without stretching.
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Old 03-13-23, 07:28 AM
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My two brothers and I all ride. Weíre all in our 60s (60, 62, and 69). We live in different parts of the country but we just spent a weekend together and had the opportunity for a few rare rides together. We all follow one another on Strava, where our individual rides are always in the 14-16 mph range. But in these recent rides together, that were all 25-30 miles in length, riding in a small pace line (we actually picked up a forth rider along the way on one ride) our average speeds went up to around 18mph, with long sections (five miles or more) that averaged over 19mph. I understand that riding in groups is usually faster by nature. But just pointing out that with the right conditions/motivation, faster speeds are possible as you age.

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Old 03-13-23, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by 1989Pre
You can not expect to cycle well, especially at our age, without stretching.
Pass me the popcorn.
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Old 03-14-23, 04:18 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Pass me the popcorn.
Why? Are you feeling sluggish?
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Old 03-17-23, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by roadcrankr
Swytch makes a cool front-wheel conversion kit. Rather than install a pedal assist doohicky, use their throttle option.
With their max battery, you'll find that the help up climbs, only, will not needlessly exhaust the battery while you're safely drafting.
Their system adds about five pounds total additional weight, but that's a far cry from a dedicated ebike weighing thirty-plus.
Only problem is Swytch's long delivery lead time on their latest generation. Probably around six months.
I am late to this, and I am happy to see that e-assist came up (very) quickly in the discussion. I mean ... seriously. How else is a 70 year old going to keep up with a 30 year old? Riding alone, or only with other senior cyclists, is certainly one option, but there is no amount of 'training' that is going to take 40 years of 'age' off of a human. Do I need to say that? As to the Swytch. In 2023 I can't think of another product that expects a buyer to put their faith in a 6 month delivery window. The difference between a 250W motor and a 1000W motor is the more powerful motors ability to absorb heat. That's it! It is not 'faster'. It is ... stronger. Better built. You WANT that. A standard sedan has 120hp and that is a jaw dropping amount of power. It allows that car to accelerate going uphill! It allows a 120mph top speed if you have a tailwind and a mile of clear freeway. And most of them cruise around modestly at around 45mph on commutes and errands. Just like the 90hp econoboxes. The econobox will make it to the coast. The standard sedan will make it there and back. As many times as you want. The Swytch will disappoint because the low power (light duty construction) only satisfies the virtue signalling (see I don't need no stinking power) but you will destroy it in its first six months of use because. Well because, hills. The practical e-assist has a 500W - 750W motor and is legal in the U.S. You then ride it like you would ride any other bicycle you own.
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Old 03-17-23, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm
You then ride it like you would ride any other bicycle you own.
Well, except for it being a motorbike.
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