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Does a touring bike work well as a commuting/around town bike? Novara Safari

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Does a touring bike work well as a commuting/around town bike? Novara Safari

Old 07-24-14, 08:58 PM
  #26  
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I think that unloaded bike might seem harsher assuming your tires are pumped to a high PSI. I'd let a little air out for a cushier ride.
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Old 07-25-14, 02:59 PM
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How often will you be using the bike with the Weehoo? I ask because a lighterweight, more "nimble" bike may be a disadvantage (IMHO) with the Weehoo. I'm about the same weight as you and use the WeeHoo on my 40# mixte bike. With my son at 3 years and 35 lbs, it doesn't affect the handling that much, but with my 5 year old, 50 lb daughter it's much harder to balance and handle the bike. I think on anything lighter or with a shorter wheelbase, I would feel very unstable (I tried with my 70 lb niece and had to stop after a block). It doesn't bother my husband at all on his slightly lighter (35#) mountain bike, but he also weighs 180 lbs.
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Old 07-25-14, 08:23 PM
  #28  
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Draco, seems that your intended use is as much utility/shopping as it is commuting so a bike like the Safari that can carry a heavy load is worthwhile as opposed to a "commuter bike" where often times a person commuting might only need to carry ten lbs. in which case a light road bike can be a commuter bike.

make sure to bring the bike back for it's regular checkup.
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Old 07-26-14, 11:01 PM
  #29  
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I really like my touring bike (Raleigh Sojourn), I do everything with it...daily commute, leisure rides, rides to the store. One of the heavier touring bikes, but it is solid, dependable, and very sure-footed. The ride is relaxed, and with the larger tires I don't feel all the little bumps, cracks in the road as I did on the road bike I had. Lower gearing, making hills easier, and definately less twitchy going downhill than many roadbikes are. I'm sorry, I don't have any experience with a Novara...they aren't sold locally where I live, they have to be special ordered in here. Unless you need to commute like some of the riders I see, pedaling furiously and hell bent to get to work at top speed...I don't see how you could go wrong with a touring bike for commuting. Plus, many have bar end shifters, which alot of folks come to really like using, like me.
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Old 07-27-14, 08:38 AM
  #30  
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I often commute, run errands, go on dates, etc., riding my LHT, which I also tour on. 'Bout to head out for a Sunday NYT and then some food shopping later.
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Old 07-27-14, 11:02 AM
  #31  
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I bought a Novara Randonee this year and find that I'm riding it more and more for every day stuff. It's just plain comfortable. Not as fast but more comfortable than my aluminum Cannondale road bike. If I want to play 'boy racer' (which is silly given my age and weight), I break out the C'dale; otherwise, I just hop on the Randonee.
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Old 07-27-14, 12:18 PM
  #32  
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OP; I would suggest that you would be fine on a tourer of the types/brands discussed in this thread. Been doing same for long time without major concern. For tires; let the road surface drive that choice as you are pretty light weight. For bullet proof commute maybe 32mm on front, 35mm on rear and don't pump them up too high so as to keep the vibrations down. I am 120# bigger than you so I run a set of 35mm/43mm Pasella's, which are smooth as glass at 65 psi, but mostly so I don't have to change wheels when taking a loaded tour in between commuting days.

/K
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Old 07-27-14, 12:41 PM
  #33  
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I've had a Novara Randonee for about 10 years now and I've used it for everything from tours of the mountains in CO to commuting and brevets. I've replaced the rear cassette and chain, that's about the extent of the major maintenance. REI makes great bikes, and either the Safari or Randonee would make a great tourer/commuter/everything bike. Enjoy the ride!
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Old 07-27-14, 03:48 PM
  #34  
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I use my touring bike (85 Specialized Expedition) for almost everything I do on a bike, tour, commute daily, run errands, ride with my wife, etc. I also have a 16 lb carbon road bike that I use for group rides or just when I want to pound out the miles. I have found the touring bike to be more comfortable and fun to ride than the race bike, especially when running errands, it just isn't as fast as the road bike. However, in my case tires make a big difference in the quality of the ride and how the bike handles. I just changed from Vitorria Randonneir Hypers to Vitorria Cross Pros. The Hypers are the best riding touring tires I have owned. They just don't last as many miles, and tend to get flats more easily at the end of their life. I bought the Cross tires because they have much better flat resistance and cost 1/2 the price. But it turns out they ride and handle terribly; they are sluggish and don't track well compared to the Hypers, yet they are made with the same 120tpi cotton casings. I can't wait to get rid of them, but I don't want to spend another $100 on tires. Now I grab my road bike for quick errands instead of the tourer. My point being that a lot of things go into making a bike good and comfortable for multiple purposes. I don't think you can go wrong using a touring bike as an all rounder as long as it fits and is set up well.
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Old 07-27-14, 04:58 PM
  #35  
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After my old (1992) Bianchi hybrid was stolen I replaced it with a Nashbar touring frame I built up. It was a fun project and probably not as economical as an off the rack bike but I knowing I would make expensive changes to a off the rack bike it's what I decided to do.

It's what I think of as my All Round bike. I ride it to the grocery store, for exercise, I carry camera equipment on it in wildlife refuges, I've commuted in a fashion on it.

It's been a great bike.



I've swapped the saddle for a WTB and in hindsight I should have used the Cromo fork and still might...

Here's the build thread: https://www.bikeforums.net/general-cy...ld-thread.html
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Old 07-27-14, 08:15 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by ahsposo
After my old (1992) Bianchi hybrid was stolen I replaced it with a Nashbar touring frame I built up. It was a fun project and probably not as economical as an off the rack bike but I knowing I would make expensive changes to a off the rack bike it's what I decided to do.

It's what I think of as my All Round bike. I ride it to the grocery store, for exercise, I carry camera equipment on it in wildlife refuges, I've commuted in a fashion on it.

It's been a great bike.



I've swapped the saddle for a WTB and in hindsight I should have used the Cromo fork and still might...

Here's the build thread: https://www.bikeforums.net/general-cy...ld-thread.html
Sadly, Nashbar no longer sells the frame. When my now 6' + son outgrew his medium bike in less than a season I purchased the Nashbar frame and we had quality time transferring parts together, he has now outgrown his current frame and wanted another and to our disappointment they longer sell them.
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Old 07-27-14, 08:42 PM
  #37  
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As others have said, the Safari would probably meet your stated purpose pretty well, particularly if you use a trailer. I have had one since 2011 when they just came back to the steel frame with disc tabs and hubs. I loved that bike, but so did my wife, so she adopted it. What a perfect excuse for me to buy another one which I just picked up this weekend! The Safari just makes a great all-around do everything bike. On road - works well. Off road - works well. Long rides - works well. The only thing it doesn't do real well I would think, is hang with road bikes, but someone who buys a Safari probably isn't riding a whole lot with roadies.

Some random thoughts after 3 years and 2 bikes. The pedals it comes with are really "test ride" pedals, so factor in a new set of pedals. We both use forte' platforms with pedal straps. Fenders are awesome and they can fit 65's with a little help. The bike could probably fit any tire up to 700x60.(2.35" Big Apples would be awesome!) Before your first ride just wrap the bar tape next to the shifters with some electrical tape for the first 3 inches and it will help with the bar tape coming loose. To fit out with disc brakes (BB7's) will cost @ $160 according to the guy at REI this weekend (though the v-brakes it comes with have always worked fine for me). My wife has the original 42c Continental Tour Rides on hers. They work well. I have Schwalbes on mine: a Dureme on the front and Big Apple on the rear - both 700x50. Her's are lighter, but I like the cush and better front end traction off road with mine. LOCKTIGHT ALL RACK BOLTS! The frame is an extended mountain bike style which works well for stand over. The butterfly bars can be flipped perpendicularly (think left side switched to right side and vice versa) which will raise them up a couple inches without having to buy an extender. Take it back for the initial tune up. The rear wheels bearings on my first one loosened and REI tightened it up; no problems since. Finally, my experience with the bike shop at my local REI has always been positive. Those guys are great!
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Old 07-29-14, 11:33 AM
  #38  
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OP here. Thank you all for the feedback. Very helpful! Seems like most folks agree the Safari would meet my needs well. I’ve done some test riding and can now report back. This weekend I test-rode the Safari on a combination of pavement, broken up pavement, and hard-packed dirt. For comparison, I also rode a Novara “Big Buzz”- which is an aluminum hybrid/fitness/commuting bike.

I love the handlebars on the Safari. Up a steep hill it felt really nice to have the extra position. I also (surprisingly) loved the Deore rim brakes. They felt just as good as the hydraulic disc brakes on the Big Buzz. I thought for sure I’d want disc brakes on the Safari but now I’m thinking the rim brakes are excellent.

I also loved the ride/tires on the Safari. Bumps in the road were smoothed out by the wide-ish tires. The hard-packed dirt was no problem for the tires either – I could climb and brake no problem.

I didn’t like the grip shifters on the Safari, though. Part of the problem is I’ve never used grip shifters before. Seriously, I would need a four hour test ride to figure out if the shifters are okay for me. Maybe longer. They just felt so foreign. I’m sure they work well, but in a 15 minute test ride you simply can’t determine if it’s a good fit or not.

The other challenge with the Safari is the way the standard rack is designed, I don’t think I can fit the Weehoo. The rack looks very, very solid, but the geometry is such that I’m pretty sure it would interfere with the Weehoo. Not the end of the world, but not ideal to buy a bike with a sweet rack and have to remove it.

So what did I learn? I learned that I’m still not sure. REI has a generous return policy but I’m not comfortable returning a bike simply because it’s not perfect for me. So I need to do more thinking about it.
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Old 07-29-14, 11:35 AM
  #39  
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I rarely leave any bike I buy just as it was when I paid for it.
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Old 07-29-14, 11:36 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by mel2012
How often will you be using the bike with the Weehoo? I ask because a lighterweight, more "nimble" bike may be a disadvantage (IMHO) with the Weehoo. I'm about the same weight as you and use the WeeHoo on my 40# mixte bike. With my son at 3 years and 35 lbs, it doesn't affect the handling that much, but with my 5 year old, 50 lb daughter it's much harder to balance and handle the bike. I think on anything lighter or with a shorter wheelbase, I would feel very unstable (I tried with my 70 lb niece and had to stop after a block). It doesn't bother my husband at all on his slightly lighter (35#) mountain bike, but he also weighs 180 lbs.
Thanks for that info. I haven't taken the Weehoo out of the box yet. I should probably test it with a couple bikes before making a decision.
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Old 07-29-14, 11:55 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by draco_m
Iíve read some posts that suggest touring bikes only work well when loaded. Is that really the case? Iíll be doing mostly commuting and around-town trips. I do often go for 20+ miles rides on a mixture of pavement and hard-packed dirt. I also want to start using my bike more for shopping trips. Thatís why Iím thinking a touring bike might be good for me. But if touring bikes donít work well when carrying no luggage then I think Iíd want more of a hybrid bike.
I'm getting rid of my touring bike for exactly this reason. It doesn't ride unloaded well and doesn't like to go fast for longer rides.

Some caveats:

- if your unloaded rides are short and you are just cruising at a very chill pace I don't think it matters much
- if you are a heavier rider and/or a powerful rider I don't think it matters as much [stiffness is relative]
- some people don't seem to mind a dead feeling bike
- if you do lots of loaded touring and you only want one bike a touring bike might be worth the compromise
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Old 07-29-14, 12:50 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by surfjimc
I use my touring bike (85 Specialized Expedition) for almost everything I do on a bike, tour, commute daily, run errands, ride with my wife, etc. I also have a 16 lb carbon road bike that I use for group rides or just when I want to pound out the miles. I have found the touring bike to be more comfortable and fun to ride than the race bike, especially when running errands, it just isn't as fast as the road bike. However, in my case tires make a big difference in the quality of the ride and how the bike handles. I just changed from Vitorria Randonneir Hypers to Vitorria Cross Pros. The Hypers are the best riding touring tires I have owned. They just don't last as many miles, and tend to get flats more easily at the end of their life. I bought the Cross tires because they have much better flat resistance and cost 1/2 the price. But it turns out they ride and handle terribly; they are sluggish and don't track well compared to the Hypers, yet they are made with the same 120tpi cotton casings. I can't wait to get rid of them, but I don't want to spend another $100 on tires. Now I grab my road bike for quick errands instead of the tourer. My point being that a lot of things go into making a bike good and comfortable for multiple purposes. I don't think you can go wrong using a touring bike as an all rounder as long as it fits and is set up well.
I've had great luck with the Vittoria Randoneur Pros. I used to get a lot of flats with lesser tires, but these have been about bombproof for me and handle well.
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Old 07-29-14, 12:58 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by draco_m
OP here. Thank you all for the feedback. Very helpful! Seems like most folks agree the Safari would meet my needs well. I’ve done some test riding and can now report back. This weekend I test-rode the Safari on a combination of pavement, broken up pavement, and hard-packed dirt. For comparison, I also rode a Novara “Big Buzz”- which is an aluminum hybrid/fitness/commuting bike.

I love the handlebars on the Safari. Up a steep hill it felt really nice to have the extra position. I also (surprisingly) loved the Deore rim brakes. They felt just as good as the hydraulic disc brakes on the Big Buzz. I thought for sure I’d want disc brakes on the Safari but now I’m thinking the rim brakes are excellent.

I also loved the ride/tires on the Safari. Bumps in the road were smoothed out by the wide-ish tires. The hard-packed dirt was no problem for the tires either – I could climb and brake no problem.

I didn’t like the grip shifters on the Safari, though. Part of the problem is I’ve never used grip shifters before. Seriously, I would need a four hour test ride to figure out if the shifters are okay for me. Maybe longer. They just felt so foreign. I’m sure they work well, but in a 15 minute test ride you simply can’t determine if it’s a good fit or not.

The other challenge with the Safari is the way the standard rack is designed, I don’t think I can fit the Weehoo. The rack looks very, very solid, but the geometry is such that I’m pretty sure it would interfere with the Weehoo. Not the end of the world, but not ideal to buy a bike with a sweet rack and have to remove it.

So what did I learn? I learned that I’m still not sure. REI has a generous return policy but I’m not comfortable returning a bike simply because it’s not perfect for me. So I need to do more thinking about it.
I think I forgot to go over the grip shifters in my review. You may not get used to them, lots of people hate them. The added expense of replacing them with another style might be something to add to the scales. I also get the impression that grip shifters are significantly less reliable than other kinds of shifters, the plastic guts of them failing far sooner than other types. IMO it's too bad they still spec the Safari with these.
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Old 07-29-14, 04:16 PM
  #44  
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If your not going to load up the bike, I suggest you also take the Novara Forza for a spin while you are at REI. I love mine. It's a hybrid that leans toward a roadie compared to the Safari, super comfortable for me, and a few hundred bucks cheaper. I walked in thinking I wanted an Explorer but the test ride had me falling for the Forza. I've ridden it as a commuter, on light trails, and a century!
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Old 07-29-14, 08:33 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
I rarely leave any bike I buy just as it was when I paid for it.
+1. I think of N+1 as a bike kit instead of a bike, because it takes a while to get everything added and just so.

BTW, not knowing what a Weehoo was, a search popped up REI. OP could ask to se the Safari fitted for the Weehoo.
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Old 07-30-14, 01:52 PM
  #46  
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I like the twist shifters on my Safari. I had never ridden a bike with them before I bought the Safari.

I did have another, lightly used, bike with trigger shifters, and my old hands didn't like the long throw with significant (for me) effort on the lever part of the trigger shifters--but that's just me--many (most?) like trigger shifters.

I appreciated the easier movement to shift on the Safari right from the start. However, I suspect a lot of the knock against twist shifters is that lower-end ones on lower end bikes don't work as well as the ones on the Safari. I've had no trouble with mine.

It's been a couple of years since I rode a bike with a Wehoo, so I forget how it mounted. Yes, I'd ask REI if that's an issue, and if it is, they might be able to work out an exchange to a different rack.
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Old 07-31-14, 10:47 AM
  #47  
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I commute almost every day on a Fuji "Touring". I should call it a "Commuting" rather than a "Touring" because I haven't done any touring on it. Yet. It works GREAT as a commuter for me. My daily commute consists of about 14.5 miles of actual bike riding and probably about 70 miles with the bike on front of a bus on the bike rack. It gets a lot of "highway miles."

The Fuji wasn't ideal when I bought it new about three years ago. The original cantilever brakes were awful. They have been replaced with Tektro's "V" brakes and levers and they are very nice. The original rear wheel ended up with about three broken spokes. It was a very cheap wheel. Now, I have Mavic A719 wheels front and rear. No more broken spokes. The stock Sora triple crank with the 50 tooth big ring was ugly and I thought it had to go. I replaced it with a Sugino crank: 48/36/24. That should work better if I ever go touring.

I use panniers on my commute and they are great for hauling my office clothes with room for a few items if I stop by the grocery on the way home.

For more hauling capacity, I have a set of baskets from "Basil" that hang on the rear rack. They work great for grocery store trips. They come with handles so I can carry them into the store and use them as my shopping baskets.

The "Touring" had it's weak points (brakes, wheels, and a triple crank that was more for "road" use rather than "touring" use, IMO), but it has been a great bike. Mileage has recently rolled over 10,000 in the three or four years that I've had it.

Oh, I think the best thing I've done was to replace the stock Fuji saddle with a Brooks B17 Imperial. With the 32mm Schwalbe Marathon tires, this is one comfortable ride! The longest ride I've made has been 65 miles +/- and there was never any "bottom end" discomfort. One great saddle!

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Old 07-31-14, 12:12 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by draco_m
OP here. Thank you all for the feedback. Very helpful! Seems like most folks agree the Safari would meet my needs well. I’ve done some test riding and can now report back. This weekend I test-rode the Safari on a combination of pavement, broken up pavement, and hard-packed dirt. For comparison, I also rode a Novara “Big Buzz”- which is an aluminum hybrid/fitness/commuting bike.

I love the handlebars on the Safari. Up a steep hill it felt really nice to have the extra position. I also (surprisingly) loved the Deore rim brakes. They felt just as good as the hydraulic disc brakes on the Big Buzz. I thought for sure I’d want disc brakes on the Safari but now I’m thinking the rim brakes are excellent.

I also loved the ride/tires on the Safari. Bumps in the road were smoothed out by the wide-ish tires. The hard-packed dirt was no problem for the tires either – I could climb and brake no problem.

I didn’t like the grip shifters on the Safari, though. Part of the problem is I’ve never used grip shifters before. Seriously, I would need a four hour test ride to figure out if the shifters are okay for me. Maybe longer. They just felt so foreign. I’m sure they work well, but in a 15 minute test ride you simply can’t determine if it’s a good fit or not.

The other challenge with the Safari is the way the standard rack is designed, I don’t think I can fit the Weehoo. The rack looks very, very solid, but the geometry is such that I’m pretty sure it would interfere with the Weehoo. Not the end of the world, but not ideal to buy a bike with a sweet rack and have to remove it.

So what did I learn? I learned that I’m still not sure. REI has a generous return policy but I’m not comfortable returning a bike simply because it’s not perfect for me. So I need to do more thinking about it.
Regarding the rack and the WeeHoo, I had the same issue with the geometry and stock rack on my Windsor Kensington 8. My low-tech solution was to use a spare trail-a-bike hitch I had hanging around and mount the WeeHoo hitch on top of it (so the WeeHoo hitch sits on the trail-a-bike hitch instead of the seatpost collar). This is the hitch I used WeeRide - For The Family On The Go! - Co-Pilot Hitch.
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Old 08-02-14, 07:05 AM
  #49  
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I've been riding a Trek 520 as my only bike for 20 years. I find it ideal for commuting and for around town utility use. I can haul and amazing amount of groceries from the store. I frequently bike to a gym 11 miles away with all my gym paraphernalia in my panniers. A few weeks ago, I even bought a gallon of paint, brushes, sandpaper & a small tub of joint compound from a lumber yard about 8 miles from my house. No gas, no problem.
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Old 08-04-14, 02:49 PM
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Does for me,but I don't care how long it takes to get somewhere.
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