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Off-road advocacy, skills park experts in Portland tonight

Posted by Elly Blue (Columnist) on March 31st, 2009 at 7:14 am

PUMP's Forest Park Mountain Bike Tour
PUMP will host an off-road
advocacy presentation tonight
in Northwest Portland.
(Photo © J. Maus)

As Portland moves in on creating more off-road, urban riding areas, interest in skills parks and pump tracks is growing. However, unlike in the transportation cycling realm -- where Portland is often looked upon as a leader -- when it comes to off-road advocacy, we still have a lot to learn.

With that in mind, the Portland United Mountain Pedalers (PUMP) will host the Evergreen MTB Alliance at an event in Northwest Portland tonight. Evergreen is a Washington-based advocacy group that received national accolades for their success in building the Colonnade MTB Skills Park (check it out on YouTube). That riding area is located under I-5 bridge overpasses in downtown Seattle.

At the event tonight, Evergreen will discuss the Colonnade and other projects, as well as how they grew their organization from a regional MTB club into a statewide advocacy group with more than 1,000 members.

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PUMP board member Kris Schamp says tonight's event is open to anyone interested in mountain biking, off-road cycling, or trail advocacy. "It's more of a social where people can come to listen, get inspired, talk with like-minded folks, and share their thoughts and ideas."

Off-road advocacy in Portland is undergoing some major changes. Last month, PUMP elected six new board members and the entire organization is going through a re-structuring and re-branding process this spring.

Currently, discussions are underway to allow more bike access in Forest Park, a major off-road riding project is gaining steam in the Gateway area, and the PDC is working with citizen advocates on a skills park near the east side of the Burnside Bridge.

Here are details on tonight's event:

    A Presentation and Social with Evergreen MTB Alliance
    Lucky Lab NW Beer Hall (1945 NW Quimby)
    6:30 - 7:30pm: social time (come early to chat over a bite and a beer)
    7:30pm: presentation by Evergreen
    8:00pm: Q&A
    8:30pm - 9:30pm: social time + meet the new PUMP board & committees (we love to hear your thoughts and ideas!)
    More info at PUMPClub.org

[Note: This story was posted by Elly Blue from notes and reporting by Jonathan Maus.]

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Comments
  • One Ghost Industries March 31, 2009 at 9:22 am

    We don't have anyone that can make it there tonight but One Ghost Industries, Portland's ONLY downhill/Free Ride bicycle manufacturing company is 100% behind PUMP and helping to build a stronger off-road presence and helping grow the scene and sport throughout Oregon

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  • Bob_M March 31, 2009 at 10:51 am

    If ever there was a feature perfectly suited for the Gateway Green renovation, the skills park is it. That type of amusement park thrill riding looks like it would be incompatable with other trail users and should be performed in separate venues from other users. The way the skills park paths were armored or board paved testifies how this type of riding would be destructive to natural landscapes. Watching the riders, suit up and ride to the skills park, on the sidewalk, displays an obliviousness of the concept of the shared space. The adrenaline addict rider makes the fixie/hipster look like a philanthropist.

    I bike a lot, and Mt. Bike frequently, and I am an advocate of all cycling, but I feel this needs to be said.

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  • Dave March 31, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Bob, I'm a little confused by your tone. You make a couple positive statements, but then... Of course freeriding requires it's own specialized space - that's just the nature of the beast, and nobody is suggesting otherwise. So does velodrome racing, and park skating, and xtreme off-leash dog walking (freedogging, I think the kids call it). That doesn't make them "oblivious to the concept of shared space" or a worse citizen than anybody else.

    Or is the fact that somebody rode slowly and carefully on a sidewalk for the purposes of a promotional/documentary video really that cardinal of a sin?

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  • Will March 31, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Bob, your stereotypes and your apparent lack of knowledge about trail building and freeriding are as strong and as negative as the views expressed by many people outside of mountain biking about mountain biking itself. I respect that this is a personal view, but would also encourage you to be more open minded and do a little research. (This is exactly what the mountain biking community in general is asking of Portland.)

    As far as armoring trails or creating bridges (what I think you are referring to when you talk of "boarding"), this was originally developed for the expressed reason of building sustainable trails by combating erosion and also providing users a way to cross delicate areas. This has been taken beyond just protecting trail and has evolved into creating technical trail features that introduces more challenge for the cyclist.

    As Dave mentioned, this is something that definitely needs to be managed correctly to avoid user conflict of any space.

    The comment about "displays an obliviousness of the concept of the shared space" is a wonderful way to create an even more "us versus them" attitude. Along the same lines as cars vs. bikes, road bikers vs mountain bikers, and if this isn't enough, let us work to create more friction by splintering up the mountain bike community by creating animosity instead of working to find common ground. You close the paragraph by inferring that the freerider is an "adrenaline addict". This is exactly how mountain bikers in general have been constantly referred to by many people who don't mountain bike. I think this label is itself one that does nothing to engender any activity to people in the mainstream and only undermines what we are all working for.

    We as cyclists have much more in common than not. Heck, I will go a step further and say we as people have much more in common then not. Until different groups can park their stereotypes, biases, and misconceptions, moving forward as a community in any direction is near impossible.

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  • Will March 31, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Great shot of Tom Archer by the way :D

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  • Bob_M March 31, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Dave and Will
    Your comments are very thoughtful and I agree that I could know more about skill parks. Still I have seen a horses bolt down a trail having thrown its rider after being frightened by a inconsiderate cyclist. I frequently see cyclists ride so fast that they could not respond to a pedestrian or dog as they round the corner. Stereo types are often based on facts and experience. It is as much the responsibility of free riders to disprove by example and dispell the stereotypes as it is the casual trail user to be better informed.

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  • Mike March 31, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    I'm stoked!

    See ya'll there!

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  • Will March 31, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    I agree Bob, you are completely correct. I would argue that the issues you talk about are due to poor trail design. In situations where you have this type of user conflict, these situations could be in large part avoided through creating a trail system where you have "flow" - rollers and turns which are not only fun to ride but also result considerably slower speeds (think jogging pace). Additionally you make sure that you provide good lines of sight so that users have plenty of time to see, recognize and adjust for other users. I have spent much time riding and building trail systems with this in mind and they really work.

    Having a fire road as the only outlet for all users is an invitation for conflict, this type of "trail" encourages bicyclists to go fast creating a larger gap between user speeds. Likewise, having a narrow trail with bad flow and poor sight lines also lends itself to creating unpleasant situations between users.

    And not to waltz around the point of personal responsibility on the bicycle user, I completely agree, we need to educate the cyclist and they must work to be good ambassadors. But just to throw this out there, this is not "just" a problem of freeriders vs whomever. My bike is my daily commuter, and I work to be conscious of the example I set on the road every day. Many people look at cyclists as a bunch of stop sign/stop light/ no respect having hoodlums. Many people also have an unfavorable view of all mountain bikers.

    We each need to take personal responsibility, and be good ambassadors. We all know how the few can reflect on the many. Most importantly though, I think there is so much more that can be done to set up all these different user groups up for success. Creating safe, sustainable and fun options for all cyclists will go along way to letting all groups to co-exist happily.

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  • Zaphod March 31, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Freedogging... now *that* is funny.

    Will (#8), I couldn't have said it better myself.

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  • gabriel amadeus March 31, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Thanks dave and will for saying that stuff better than I could.

    See you there tonight...

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  • Bob_M March 31, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Will #8

    Agreed!

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  • One Ghost Industries March 31, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    All about the "extreme Freedogging" myself!

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  • David Anderson April 1, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Bob_M. #2.
    You're right! That's why the project proposed for Gateway Green is being proposed for that location!
    Now, I want to beable to ride singletrack and enjoy nature too. You know those two activities are not incompatible with each other.

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  • Tim Banning April 2, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Very excited to hear about Evergreens outreach to PUMP. There are other projects that i will personally be a part of helping out advocacy of backcountry XC, and hopefully we'll get to meet some of you find folk.
    As someone who was heavily involved in Colonnade the armoring that was done is done primarily because of the challenging dry terrain underneath 3 five lane freeway decks an on and offramp to boot.
    The limestone rock retaining and rock tread of the Limestone Loop trail which is an intermediate to advanced XC trail, is a testament to high quality sustainable trail building techniques that we can and have showcased to land managers. Essentially providing the qualifications of our volunteers having expertise in providing high quality fixes on backcountry trails.
    But like with most everything in the mountain biking realm, people want to showcase the extreme and exciting tangent of what we've done at the park. And the untold stories of how it can help are not so easy to glean.
    Hopefully by providing this one particular example of many that i have will help soften the divide between mt. bikers, whatever our preference of riding.
    Volunteer efforts are influenced by the persons who assist. Backcountry XC is as represented as much as possible (underneath a freeway) at Colonnade, as well as freeriding.
    If not completely sold go on MTBR and search Tqalu.

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  • Mike vandeman April 2, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    What a lot of nonsense!

    Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1994: http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande/mtb10 . It's dishonest of mountain bikers to say that they don't have access to trails closed to bikes. They have EXACTLY the same access as everyone else -- ON FOOT! Why isn't that good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking....

    A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and that science supports that view. Of course, it's not true. To settle the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited, and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande/scb7 ). I found that of the seven studies they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided mentioning another scientific study (Wisdom et al) which did not favor mountain biking, and came to the opposite conclusions.

    Those were all experimental studies. Two other studies (by White et al and by Jeff Marion) used a survey design, which is inherently incapable of answering that question (comparing hiking with mountain biking). I only mention them because mountain bikers often cite them, but scientifically, they are worthless.

    Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife and other trail users out of the
    area, and (worst of all) teaches kids that the rough treatment of nature is okay (it's NOT!). What's good about THAT?

    For more information: http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande/mtbfaq .

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  • daalan April 3, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Hey nr 15! April fools day was the day before yesterday. You missed it by a day.

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  • atbman April 5, 2009 at 11:44 am

    For an overview of what mountainbiking can be, on properly constructed trails, google "Forestry commission mountain biking" and read some of the sites listed. A good many rural areas in the UK have been revived by careful attention to trails, natural and artificial, as a result of fruitful co-operation between the Forestry Commission, local mountain bikers, IMBA, local councils and so on.

    It is true that mtbing can damage trails and paths, but so can foot traffic, as anyone who saw the 100yd wide stretches on the Pennine Way in northern England a few years back. Walkers, as well as riders, tend to go round boggy/wet areas, thereby spreading the trail and damaging adjacent plantlife - tho' I've never hear of anyone killing small animals, apart from the occasional bird or squirrel diving thro' a wheel - not that any such thing happens on the road, of course.

    And tell me, why are bikes unnatural, but vibram soled walking boots not?

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  • Mike vandeman April 5, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    "tell me, why are bikes unnatural, but vibram soled walking boots not?"

    Is that a trick question? Try HIKING 100+ miles in a day. Try going 50 MPH downhill on FOOT. Try squashing snakes and lizards (which move pretty fast when threatened) on FOOT. Try creating V-shaped ruts with SHOES. Try turning someone into a quadriplegic (as a mountain biker did) on FOOT. Do I really need to go on?

    Mountain bikers actually believe that "conservation" means conservation of TRAILS! Such ignorance is laughable.

    The Forestry Commission is obviously equally ignorant of conservation. After all, exploiting natural resources for financial gain is nothing new....

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  • ben lat April 5, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    I for one am extremely happy this is finally happening, and sad to have missed the event on the 31st. I have found Portland to be the best cycling city in the country, and was shocked at the lack of MTB in the metro area.

    I'd suggest people check out / email the people over in Charlotte, NC at http://www.tarheeltrailblazers.com/
    for insight into how they deal with competing interests on trails.

    The group has tons of trails within the urban areas that accommodate various activities in a seemingly harmonious environment of respect - for each other, and the trails.

    Holler - http://www.twitter.com/benlat

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  • daalan April 6, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Hey Mike, nr 18.
    I was a member of the Sierra Club back in the early 70's, and hiked a lot. I remember seeing lot's of lovely glossy photos back then of trails going smack dab thru meadows in designated wilderness areas that had ruts 8+ inches deep in them. Those ruts weren't created by mountain bikers. So, how do you explain that?!
    How many small animals have you killed in your car on the roads and freeways? You must have, I know I unfortunately have. I'm willing to guess that you probably have killed a heck of a lot more animals by your car than I have on any of my bicycles. The only small animals I can recall killing on any of my bicycles, mountain or road, are worms on the road during wet weather commuting to and from work. So, are you going to stop driving your car because of the death you cause by driving it?
    Your arguments, unfortunately, are a lot like Chicken Little - full of hysteria and half truths.

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  • Mike Vandeman April 6, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Daalan, you should know what caused those ruts, since you were there. But regardless of who/what caused them, how does it help the situation for mountain bikers to create MORE ruts?

    As to driving, I don't own a car. But why don't you hike, and thereby reduce the killing you do? I've been asking for 14 years, but I have never gotten an answer: Why do mountain bikers insist on taking a large piece of MACHINERY wih them, wherever they go? Why is it that everyone else is happy to WALK, but for some reason mountain bikers seem too lazy to walk. It'a mystery to me, and apparently to a lot of other people, because I have yet to hear an explanation. Please enlighten us!

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  • daalan April 6, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Mike #21,
    My point is actually the point you were trying to avoid in your response #18. Hikers and horses caused those ruts. Hikers using vibram soled hiking boots. Because of those ruts people learned to re-route trails around meadows, not thru them, to minimize the impact of people traversing an area. People learned how to design the trails to minimize the impact of people visiting an area. You should know that a 2,000 lbs animal, with steel shoes, has a great deal of impact on a trail. You should also know that people, because the way we walk, chew trails up with the front of our footstep. Look at how our toes dig in to the ground everytime we take a step. That combined with vibram soles does chew trails up. You can't ignore that point.
    My point is that trails can be designed to minimize the impact of all users on the environment. A poorly designed trail used by hikers, mountain bikers or horses will degrade rapidly - and you should know that the trail will show serious signs of use regardless of who uses it. A bicycle wheel on a properly designed trail will roll over the surface doing little to no damage to the ground. If a trail is going to be seriously degraded by mountain bikers it sure shouldn't be used by hikers either.

    Glad to hear that you don't own a car. Assuming you hike, how do you get to the wild areas you hike in? No doubt in some sort of vehicle that moves fast. And if it does move fast it does kill a lot of animals - including fragile butterflies.

    I will have to spell this out a bit more clearly. I have not killed an animal while riding on my mountain bike. No squirrels, no birds, no gophers, no mice, no elk, no deer, not even a butterfly. So, I'm not sure why you are accusing me of killing animals while on my mountain bike. The only animals I can honestly say I have killed while riding a bike are earth worms crawling around on wet paved city streets, commuting to work.

    In trying to change to tone of the discussion you take it to a personal level and accuse me and many other people of being lazy. What kind of argument is that? First you say we shouldn't ride bikes in natural areas because of our impact on those areas. When you can't win that argument you try and change the argument to us being lazy. But to try explain Ill have to tell you a true story. I was told by a Doctor of mine that I needed exercise. I told him that I walked 18 holes of golf frequently. He said that wasn't exercise. He said I might be tired after golfing, but I wasn't getting cardio-vascular. I decided to take up bicycling - which is cardio-vascular exercise. So to answer your question, I am getting much better cardio-vascular exercise riding a mountain bike than I would be hiking. Get it yet?

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  • Mike vandeman April 6, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Daalan, the science shows that mountain biking causes much greater erosion and harm to plants and animals than hiking. It's just common sense, since mountain bikers travel several times as fast and as far as hikers. (NO, hikers don't dig our shoes into the ground; that would produce instant sore feet and blisters!)

    But your logic escapes me. You seem to be saying that hikers mess up the land, so mountain bikers should be allowed to do so, too. It doesn't follow. All we need to know is that allowing bikes on trails INCREASES harm to the trails, the wildlife, and the other trail users. That's enough to ban bikes in natural areas, as has been done in Yosemite and other places where people truly care about the land.

    "I have not killed an animal while riding on my mountain bike." Excuse me, but that is impossible. You aren't even aware of all the animals you kill. Didn't you know that insects are animals? Or don't you care?

    "I am getting much better cardio-vascular exercise riding a mountain bike than I would be hiking." That's nonsense. The bicycle is an ENERGY-SAVING device. It is the most energy-efficient form of transportation known to man, per the Scientific American. You may use more energy on the uphill portion, but you use next to ZERO on the downhill portion of your ride. Walking is a much more natural form of exercise -- one that we evolved to perform over several million years.

    If you think bicycling is better exercise, then do it on paved roads, where you can't do much harm to the environment of other people. Just don't bring your large pieces of MACHINERY into Wilderness, where it doesn't belong.

    After 14 years of asking, I have yet to hear even ONE good reason to allow bikes in natural areas. And you certainly haven't provided any (HINT: because there AREN'T any).

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  • Common Sense April 7, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Mike #23,

    Your "arguments" are, near as I can tell, baseless and generally inflammatory. To borrow a little bit of your own "fire" I might go on to venture that nobody in your fourteen years of asking has given you an answer because you're probably a very unpleasant person to have a conversation with. Please keep your incendiary comments to yourself and out of this forum.

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  • Mike vandeman April 7, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Mike #24, obviously you think "incendiary" remarks are acceptable, as long as they support mountain biking. I notice that you don't complain about anyone else's "incendiary" remarks, much less your own.

    But you illustrate a good point: mountain bikers always resort to attacking the messenger, when they aren't able to defend mountain biking with facts or logic. It's especially obvious, when you give no details.

    How about answering my questions (if you CAN)?

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  • daalan April 7, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Mike:
    Yes, you are right. I have probably, most likely, killed some very small animal/insect that I didn't see, didn't know was there, while hiking and mountain biking. Sad isn't it. Who hasn't? Hikers have. Bikers have. So what's your answer to all the carnage out there? Or, what you perceive to be carnage, by your tone. I know I have disturbed quite a few spiders while hiking - those that have spun their web across a trail. Too bad, isn't it, disturbing spiders who are just trying to live?
    With all due respect, no one will ever be able to present you with logical reasons as to why mountain bikes should be allowed on singletrack. Because any argument given will be arbitrarily rejected by you, no matter how well presented, no matter how factual. You pooh pooh the health benefits of riding bicycles. You point out, correctly, that they are efficient energy devices, but try and claim that because of that energy efficiency they don't provide good cardio-vascular exercise. What kind of logic is that? Faulty logic is what I would call it. It is only your opinion that riding a bicycle is not a good form of cardio-vascular exercise. Excuse me, but I don't enjoy riding on roads that have and are responsible for destroying so much habitat, the killing of so many forms of wildlife, are the source of so much noise and air pollution, and are generally not pleasant places to ride - in my opinion. I would rather enjoy riding my bike in beautiful places where I can enjoy hearing birds singing, not the sounds of vehicular noise. And I sure don't like breathing exhaust fumes. I think you would agree with me that that is not healthy for anyone, or any animal for that matter. Do I ride on roads? Yes I do - even if it's not my preferred riding habitat.
    You call people "lazy" for riding mountain bikes on singletrack; you call other people's ideas "nonsense". You twist data to suit your own arguments. I think there's a word for that. I think you know what word I'm thinking of. It's a word I usually hold for firebrand preachers who preach one thing but practice another. You hold fanatical beliefs in what activities are acceptable in 'natural areas', which you also try to equate with designated Wilderness Areas. In short you do all the things you accuse mountain bikers of doing.

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  • Mike vandeman April 8, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Daalan, glad you admit killing animals. That's the first step to reform. Mountain bikers obviously kill A LOT more than hikers, because they travel much faster & farther & can't possibly watch for animals & plants on the trail: they are too busy trying to control the bike & not crash. The solution is to restrict bikes to pavement.

    "No one will ever be able to present you with logical reasons as to why mountain bikes should be allowed on singletrack."

    That's only because there ARE no logical reasons. That's why no one has attempted to present any reasons.

    I never said "that riding a bicycle is not a good form of cardio-vascular exercise". But hiking is better exercise, and doesn't do anywhere near as much harm.

    You want to ride your bike "where I can enjoy hearing birds singing, not the sounds of vehicular noise", but the bike DOES make "vehicular noise"! In getting your preferred experience, you DENY the same experience to the MAJORITY of wilderness users. Mountain bikers are incredibly selfish! Every mountain-bike-allowed trail turns into a mountain-bike-only trail.

    You claim I "do all the things you accuse mountain bikers of doing", but you can't name any of them. Typical. No, I don't do what mountain bikers do. I tell the truth, and back up my statements with SCIENCE. Mountain bikers do NEITHER. But thanks for illustrating mountain bikers' favorite technique: when they fail to convince anyone with facts or logic, they resort to attacking the messenger. All that does, of course, is reinforce their rotten reputation and dig themselves in deeper. Try telling the truth. If you remember how.

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