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Ed’s guide to Melbourne’s Best Rides – No 2 : Beach Road

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Ah Beach Road – Melbourne cycling Mecca.

Every Saturday and Sunday morning there are sure to be thousands of cyclists on the weekly pilgrimage to one of many destinations along beach road in Melbourne’s southern suburbs along the bay. Beach Road offers cyclists of all levels of ability the chance to get out in the sunshine and enjoy views of our lovely Port Phillip Bay. For beginners there is a bike path, whilst more confident riders can share the road with the other groups of cyclists. Be wary however, sometimes it can get rather crowded. Beach Road is so popular with cyclists many have taken to social media with the hashtag #notbeachroad to inform people when they’re riding a different route for a change!

And yes, we call it “Beach Road” but it actually incorporates from Beaconsfield Parade in Port Melbourne, Marine Parade in St Kilda,  St Kilda Street through Elwood and The Esplanade in Brighton until you finally hit Beach Road proper in Sandringham.  It  has a number of points which are frequently used as a turnaround spots, which makes it very attractive for cyclists, as you can journey as far as you want without having to pick out a new route every week. Here is a list of spots that a frequently used as a turn around with rough distances if you’re using Carlton as a start/finish:

  1. Black Rock ~55km
  2. Mordialloc ~75km
  3. Frankston ~95km (For the also well known Two Bays Loop, add an extra 15km and 200 meters of climbing)
  4. Arthurs Seat ~ 160km
  5. Sorrento ~ 200 big ones

Due to the massive distances of the last three options, most people ride to either Black Rock or Mordialloc; however you can turn around whenever you want! For this brief write up I will focus on the shorter distances, and in later weeks discuss the Two Bays Loop as it is a cracker.

Blackrock ride

Blackrock ride

Black Rock has a nice roundabout which you can simply ride around, and Mordialloc has a nice pier and car park to stop and recuperate before starting the ride home. Black Rock, (or flat-rock to some) is a nice flat section of road which snakes its way south, through St Kilda, Brighton and Sandringham before coming into Black Rock. The Black Rock shopping prescient is often bustling in the morning with groups of cyclists sitting together sharing a yarn and latte. However once you pass through Black Rock the hills start rolling slightly, so the ride down to Mordialloc is a little more challenging but nothing insurmountable.

To get to Beach Road I would recommend a few different ways through the city. Either Swanston Street (which is closed off for cars, just mind the trams), cross the Yarra River then down St Kilda Road, and once you reach the domain interchange make your way west towards the bay. Or, down William Street (there’s a nice bike lane here, following the road left then quickly right under the train line, passing Crown Casino, and following the road till you meet the City Road intersection. From here you can either turn right on City Road, which will eventually turn into Bay Street, which takes you to the very top of Beach Road. Or alternatively chicane across City Road at the intersection, and going down Moray Street until you meet Albert Road, from here head west until you meet beach road.

Docklands route

Docklands route

Last option (and probably the safest) involves making your way to Docklands, and following the bike path all the way to Port Melbourne. This is very hard to describe so I’ve included a map about how to best navigate through docklands and around the DFO. If you continue along that bike path you’ll meet the water!

Last few notes on Beach Road, while it’s a great place to ride for all levels of cyclists, sometimes boys and their egos tend to get a bit carried away with how quickly they are riding, and can come pass quite close. To ride safely, ride in a single file use hand gestures when you’re changing direction, and let your fellow riders know of any upcoming obstacles. We’re all brothers and sisters out on the road after all! If you’re all unsure feel free to jump on the path, but remember that pedestrians also use this path so don’t hoon along at 30kph.

Lastly, no matter the weather, there is always a headwind on the way home. Take that into account when you’re working out where you’d like to turn around (although, there is the train line running alongside quite a bit of it).

Ride On!

Mordy route

Mordy route

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The Squeaky Wheel – Pushy Women Maintenance Session

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We love working with our friends at The Squeaky Wheel.  They regularly start or finish their rides here at Velo, with many taking the opportunity to grab a coffee from Green Park Dining whilst they wait.

Recently, their Pushy Women project held a maintenance session in conjunction with us.  Our mechanic Coralie was beaming with the opportunity to share some skills and knowledge so that more riders can be empowered to keep their bikes going day to day.  That means they only have to come to us for the more difficult stuff, and generally less will be required when they do.

The popular session was full of demonstrations. Many questions were asked and plenty of answers provided on many of the basic tasks.  We look forward to their next Pushy Women Excursion, Breeze Ride, or Pushy Women learning event.  Hopefully the weather will be as splendid as it was for this session – it certainly makes it a lot easier to enjoy when it plays its part.


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Teaching your child to ride with pedals

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One of those life-moments for any parent, but particularly a bike rider, is when their child first rides with pedals. The feeling of exhilaration and pride is hard to beat, a bit like learning to swim. Many of today’s adults learned to ride a bike through one of two common methods:

  • the use of training wheels,
  • or just the sink-or-swim get rolling, and then your parent lets you go.

But there is a better way.

For younger kids, a balance bike, (sometimes also called a runbike, or toddlebike) is a great way to learn balance and cornering.

But don’t despair, even if your child didn’t start on a balance bike, you can use the same concept to get them going on pedals.

There’s plenty of how-to steps out there, but this set from UK’s SusTrans is one of the best we’ve used. Some children may skip a step or two. Others may stay on a step for a while.  The trick is to build their confidence as much as their skills.  Ensure they’re looking up and ahead where they’re riding, and they’ll progress faster.  Pick a good venue – preferably with short grass, but pavement is also an option.  A gentle slope can also be beneficial, but not too steep so their bike could run away from them.

  1. Pedals off, lower the seat – so it’s most like a balance bike.  They need to be able to be flat footed when in the saddle. If they haven’t ridden a balance bike, you may want to actually have the saddle lower so they can walk ‘over’ it, like a hobby-horse, before they slowly realise it can take their weight and remain uptight.
  2. Walking with their bum on the saddle – scooting with both feet. They can use each of their steps forward to keep upright and get used to the sensation of some weight in the saddle and how the bike supports them, but also how it wobbles so they use their balance. At this point, whilst the bike is stationary (brakes on) let them give their bottom a ‘wiggle’.  The will feel where the bike is under them and how they support it, but it supports them.
  3. Giant Steps. This fun activity distracts them from the fact that they’re actually balancing more and steadying with their feet less, increasing their confidence.
  4. Kangaroo Hops. Similar to Giant Steps, but requires more balance technique, and is the closest to real riding.  Many children will happily coast along keeping balance at this step, if the gradient is right.
  5. One pedal scoot. Put the right pedal back on.  Do a ‘wiggle’ to show the bike is still stable. One foot on the pedal, and gentle scooting with the left.  Do a left turn so they’ll feel the pedal under their right foot.
    (As you generally mount a bike from the left, it’s generally the right pedal used to get the bike rolling before then placing the left on the pedal. It doesn’t really matter if you do it the other way around.)
  6. Two pedals on.  Attach the second pedal.  Again, a wiggle.  It’s at this point your patience, but also your encouragement and explanations are key.  You are, again, looking at boosting confidence more than anything, as they already have the skills required to ride.  So explaining exactly what you’re going to do at all times is vital.
  7. First try. They hold their bike, you hold them.  This is because they need to keep the balance. Give a wiggle.  Explain to them you’re going to hold them by the back and shoulder/upper arm. Encourage them to put one foot on the pedal, then the other. Look up/ahead. Release the brakes and pedal.  If they’re balancing remove your arm from the shoulder/arm, and then the back.  After a few pedal revolutions get them to brake and heap them with praise and exaggeration of how far they’ve pedalled.
  8. Second try.  Wiggle. Same as above, put perhaps only holding onto the back – explaining what you’re going to do. Count down with heaps of excitement from 5 to 1 and go.   Allow for them to go further before braking. And pace back the steps for how far they went.
  9. Third try and beyond. Further reduce the contact to get them going and jog along with them for as far as they’re happy to go. Don’t forget to get them to brake/stop from time to time, so that gets bedded in also.

We’re quite keen to run some sessions to get kids riding.  Get in touch if you’d be interested.


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Brompton 2017 Special Editions – available now

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As much as we love all of the regular Bromptons we stock, we’re always that little bit more excited when we can get our hands on some special editions.  Just prior to Christmas we had the latest release of the Black Edition.  Then April provided the stunningly beautiful and durable Nickel Edition and the exclusive NYC Edition.  We’re stoked to have each of these available on the floor again.

Nickel Edition

How much is that nickel in the window?

How much is that nickel in the window?

When this debuted earlier this year, Australia’s total allocation numbered nine, and we had two of them.  One was an M6L and similar to a Black Edition (see below), but with the main frame finished in a highly-reflective mining-quality nickel finish.

The other was Australia’s only Nickel Superlight  – an S6L, which adds a nickel handlebar stem, and titanium forks and rear triangle.  As lucky as we were to get these, we could only briefly ogle as they didn’t stay around for more than a few days. This time, we’ve upped our quota and so hopefully if you missed out last time, you can grab one this time (but we’d suggest you pre-order to ensure one has your name on it).   The ‘standard’ nickel bikes will be due around Feb/Mar.  The superlight nickel editions a few months later. Pricing is to be confirmed, but it will likely be around $750 more than the standard finish version.

Black Edition

The popular Black Edition is back again.  This swaps out alloy and chrome components and replaces them with black.  So, you get black seatpost, saddle rails, handlebar, headset, pedals, cranks and chainring, brake levers, rims, spokes and hubs.  The main frame comes in a number of featured colours, and the extremities are black. Many find this really highlights the design of the Brompton – it makes it POP.  Available in S, M or H handlebars, and 2 or 6 speeds, with matching black guards and for the first time this year, a matching black rack option.

For 2017 it’s available in black (of course), lagoon blue, lime green and stylish orange. Pricing is only $105 more than standard coloured 2017 Bromptons.  Each time we put the word out, many of these also sell prior to us receiving them, so if you have your heart set on a colour/handlebar combination, get in touch ASAP. They’ll be some of Australia’s first 2017 models, with various updates including handlebar profile and shifters.

 

Click here for more detail on the NYC Edition.

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Kid’s bikes – why should I buy from a bike store?

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Your household has most-likely recently been inundated with reams of Christmas catalogues, with this year’s must-have items.  But, year in, year out, the humble bicycle is always a great choice.  And, there’s certainly some low prices out there – however what are you getting for your money?  Are the kid’s bikes from a bike store really that much better than those from a chain or department store?

At Velo we love kids on bikes.  We can start you out on three-wheeled and two-wheeled balance bikes, and run through the full range up until they fit an adult’s bike.  Indeed, many families are repeat visitors, moving up to the next model/size every few years.  Of course, we’d suggest a child on (almost) any bike is better than if they have no bike at all. (If you are on a budget, we’re only too happy to help set up any new bike. Often these bikes are supplied in boxes, or they’ve been hastily assembled by a stock or salesperson at the department store – we’re always more comfortable if the bike has been built by an experienced bike mechanic).

The two key aspects of the kid’s bikes we stock, when compared to cheaper models, are much the same as what you’d look for in a bike you’d purchase for yourself – the geometry and the weight.

Comparison of traditional kid’s bikes with a ByK – taken from ByK’s website

Most kid’s bikes are built with quite a short wheelbase, and your child will sit ‘over’ the wheels. If you think of it as a triangle, the base is quite narrow and the top point is quite high – almost an equilateral.  At the younger end, these bikes are built to be used with training wheels, and so there is no real requirement for the rider to be able to touch the ground with their feet. Unfortunately, this often means that even if you put the saddle at its lowest point, they physically cannot reach. By the time they can, they’ll have almost grown out of the bike.  Also, most kid’s bikes tend to be heavy.  Perhaps, even heavier than your own bike.  Would you want to ride a bike that weighed 60-80% of your weight?

Well-designed children’s bikes push that ‘triangle’ flatter, with longer wheelbases for better stability, and a lower saddle height for a lower centre-of-gravity, and also a greater likelihood for your child to be able to put their feet down. (Vital when learning).

Since we originally opened, we’ve stocked Melbourne-owned ByK Bikes. – we’re actually a ‘Reference Centre’ – their highest accolade meaning we stock their entire range – a range that has grown now to encompass everyone from 2 years up to mid-teens. In fact, we’ve actually put some petite adults on their larger models.  We love them because they encompass everything we strive for with a bike – the ability to match a quality bike to a rider’s specific needs.  With different gear options, and colour choices, as well as MTB, road and commuter styled models, they can cater for most.

Similarly, we’ve always had the utmost respect for Jamis bikes, and so we’ve recently also started stocking their kid’s range. From a child’s first pedal bike up until upper primary, we can now offer a range of quality bikes at a friendlier price.

So, what about comparisons? We’ll profile both manufacturers’ bikes pitched at 4-6 year olds – perhaps their first or second pedal bike.  These comparisons are similar throughout the range, but you’re most welcome to come in and see (and test ride) to see what works for you.

The Jamis Starlight is a 16″ wheeled bike that would suit a 4-6 year old.

  • When compared to a cheap department store bike, it does have
  • a longer wheelbase,
  • lower minimum saddle height,
  • and is a much lighter weight (up to 2-3kg!)
  • It’s equipped with a hand brake for the front (great to squeeze when getting on/off the bike, to make that easier) as well as the dependable rear coaster (foot) brake.

At $215, we think it’s a lot of quality for the price.

So what would the $339 ByK e350 get you?

  • It has larger, better-rolling 18″ wheels,
  • with an even longer, more-stable, wheelbase
  • and a lower minimum saddle height
  • with slightly shorter reach to the handlebars.
  • It also has both front and rear hand brakes and coaster (foot) rear brake
  • and better componentry (cranks, pedals, brakes, levers)
  • and even with all of this it is lighter again.

So, it all depends upon what works for you.  Both are great quality bikes with a geometry and weight that actually suits a small child, and will likely last a kid or two before you can move it on and probably still get some decent resale to help fund your next one.

ByK e350 and Jamis Starlite out front of Velo Cycles, Melbourne

ByK e350 and Jamis Starlite out front of Velo Cycles, Melbourne

Between now and Christmas, with any ByK out the door, you get a free ByK helmet worth $59, while stocks last.

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2017 Bromptons now in store

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After progressively seeing the rest of the planet receive their orders, we’re very proud to say we now have the new 2017 Bromptons in stock, including a number of the limited edition 2017 Black Edition.  The 2017 model includes a number of design evolutions which significantly improve upon Brompton’s already exceptional design.

The most notable differences are all to do with where you put your hands.  Although the geometry of the bike remains unchanged, the profile of both the M and H handlebars is quite different.  The bars are shallower, and the angles of the bends less harsh.  To offset that, the stem is proportionally longer, so you end up with the same height as the older model.  Why do this?  The result is a stiffer feel, especially when you’re pushing hard.

The second revision is with the shifters.  Previously, all Bromptons had the shift levers above the bars, however with the 2017 models they’ve completely redesigned the mechanism.  It’s thumb actuated, and it returns to centre after each shift.  There’s indicators to let you know what gear you’re in.

Finally, the shifters are integrated with the brake levers, freeing up a little real estate.  That, and the new profile bars, allow for standard-width grips.  This is great if you want to fit aftermarket options.  And, the grips are now lock on, so they’re very easily removed (or replaced) with an allen key.  The right-hand brake lever now also has an integrated brass bell, with a bright lasting tone.

We’ve already sold a number of our 2017s, but there’s more on the way.  If you’re after a 2017 Black Edition I wouldn’t delay.  Although we took around a third of Australia’s total delivery,  and we have plenty of colour, speed and bar height options available, they won’t last forever.  Don’t be disappointed and come and take a look.

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Mt Pleasant on a Brompton – more pleasant than you may think

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Stu is no stranger to some kilometres.  He commutes on his bike each and every day from out in the hills around Eltham into our shop(s) in Carlton North.  Consequently, he’s also no stranger to some hill climbing.  So, following Ed’s lead, he thought he’d give the Mt Pleasant Ride a bit of a spin.

Stu’s regular ride is a more standard commuter – flat bar 700c wheels, although it does have an internally geared hub and a gates carbon belt.  To that end, the Brompton folding bike is somewhat different with its 16″ wheels, although on the 6 speed, the gear range is more than comparable – from 29″ – 88″ is quite similar to what you’ll get on most bikes with a compact crankset and standard cassette.  So, having ridden one a few times (both on his daily commute, and in a few other rides such as the 2016 Around the Bay) he thought, hmm… I wonder what it’ll be like to do a hilly road ride.

Now don’t scoff – the smaller rolling radius means that every bit of effort you put into the pedals comes straight out the wheels, so Bromptons climb surprisingly well!

Stu’s steed was one of our Apple Green demo fleet, an H6L with a telescoping seatpost to give him the extra height he requires.  He’d actually have preferred the lower handlebars of an M6L or an S6L however the more relaxed riding position has its benefits as well.

Says Stu,

To be honest, I just wanted to go and see some kangaroos.  But, the ride was a little easier than I expected.  Although it wouldn’t be my first choice, I’d happily ride it on a Brompton again*.  In fact, I’m thinking of trying it on a 2 speed.  As long as I have either the extended or telescoping seatpost to give me enough extension, it’d be fine.  They really can climb! Perhaps I’ll do it tomorrow!

Although they’re ‘Made for Cities’, Bromptons have a growing following for touring.  They’re an accommodating ride, so the prospect of getting back on day after day, with good climbing ability, we’re not surprised. A few were seen on this year’s Great Victorian Bike Ride.
.

*Stu is actually riding the 2017 210km Around the Bay ride on a 2-speed, S-Bar Brompton. Stay tuned.

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Catherine’s Custom Surly Cross-Check | Velo Cycles Melbourne

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Catherine came to us looking for a bike that would tick a number of important criteria she wanted in a bike. After having a long discussion with our assistant-manager Ollie, they ended up deciding that a Surly Cross-Check would be good choice, due to its rugged flexible design, and sturdy nature. However on inspection of the stock complete Surly Cross-Check, there were a few elements that didn’t fit the bill, such as the bar-end shifters and mountain bike components. Therefore a custom build was in order!

The finished product came up a treat, highlights include Dura-Ace down tube shifters, Schwalbe Marathon tyres, FSA Handle Bars and Stem, and some Cane Creek levers. Full specs and pictures below.

If you’re after a custom build, just give our approachable sales staff a bell, and we can find the bike for you or build you your own custom dream bike around a number of frame options, from Surly, Soma and others. Drop in for a chat.

Complete Bike Part List
Frame: Surly Crosscheck Frame 52cm Grey
Fork: Surly Crosscheck Grey
Crankset: Shimano Sora Crankset 46-34 170mm
Handlebars: FSA Handlebar Vero Comfact 31.8 x400
Gear Shifters: Shimano Dura-Ace 7700 Down Tube Shifter Braze On
Headset: FSA Headset Orbit Equipe 1 1/18 Black
Stem: FSA Stem S-16B 90mm Black
Tubes: Schwable Tubes av17
Grips: Dolce Sport Bel 175 Black Grips
Brakes: Tekro CR520 Canti Caliper Brakes Black
Tyres: Schwable Tyre Marathon 700×28
Seatpost: Seat Pillar Microadjust 27.2mm 400mm
Bottom Bracket: Shimano Bottom Bracket SM-BB52 Deore 68/73mm
Brake Inner: Shimano Brake Cable Road
Brake Outer: Shimano Brake Casing
Chain: Shimano 9speed CN-HG93 Ultegra / XT Chain
Cassette: Shimano Cassette 9sp 11-28 CS-HG300
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Sore Derailleur Rear 3500 Black 9 Speed
Front Derailleur: Shimano Double Sore FD-3500
Brake Levers: Tektro Levers RL340
Wheels: 700c Novatect Hubs Blk with 36 Hole Alex DM18 RimsHubs
Rim Tape: Zefal Rim Tape

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Just shy of a million – Velo’s counter for 2016

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The Velo Cycles / City of Moreland Bike Totem Counter

The Velo Cycles / City of Moreland Bike Totem Counter

It’s fair to say, the number of cyclists passing our counter year upon year is growing – by about 5% per annum.  To that end, we were confident we’d reach one million in a calendar year for 2016.  Alas, the weather got in the way.

2016 gave us the total of 989,207 riders past the post. In Jan and Feb we were smashing our records, with over a dozen days in the high 4,000s. It was all looking good.  And indeed, on the days where good weather was predicted, numbers throughout the year were on average an increase on previous years.

But then, there were the rains.

Days where rain is predicted are generally about half that of regular days.  And, on some of our quite stormy days we had this year, they’re often 10-15% of normal totals.  Too many of these, and it was always going to be tough.  September and October were brutal – November almost as bad and really, it was going to be tough to recover.  In all honesty, we thought we were going to miss it by more.  But, 74,942 in Dec meant that we almost made it.

We’re hoping that the general increase in the numbers of riders, and a few less stormy days in 2017 will make it happen.  Thanks everyone for your continued support, and we’ll keep you posted each month.


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Stu’s Pleasant Rides – The Surly Big Dummy

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We’re all for our staff riding our bikes so they can accurately describe its attributes and what it does and doesn’t do. It seems as though our daily-bike-commuter General Manager Stu has taken it unto himself to use the famed Mt Pleasant Ride to do just that. To be fair, this loop does show what a bike is like at speed, how it climbs and how it could be utilised for touring.  As well has his own regular commuter, he’s tried a Brompton and this week, it’s the Surly Big Dummy.

A little history.  This category – generally referred to as ‘long-tail cargo bikes’ really gained popularity from XtraCycle, who developed the concept for use in Africa and then built the ‘Free Radical’ which could be added to most bikes to convert it into a long-tail.  Shortly afterwards, Surly thought the concept was a great idea and developed their ‘Big Dummy’, which was fully compatible with XtraCycle’s accessories.

Surly Big Dummy at Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market

Surly Big Dummy at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market

Originally introduced in 2006, the 10th year Big Dummy is quite an impressive ride.  It now comes equipped with powerful disc brakes, and a very impressive gear range loaded up with a 3×10 with an 11-36 cassette on the rear.  This is so you can haul your stuff – and it’ll take almost 100kg of cargo.  We’re not surprised by that number, as when we’ve loaded it up it stays solid as a rock, with little to no flex. It also comes with an incredibly versatile set of panniers, with multiple strap and clip attachment options, allowing you to carry almost any sized cargo.  If it won’t the deck and the frame have all manner of options to attach further accessories and racks.  You really could customise this to carry the kitchen sink, and then some. As a child carrier, it would be superb.

Stu wanted to try his kids on the back (just for their enjoyment) but whilst he had it, he thought he’d do Mt Pleasant to see how it handled it (and, of course, how he handled it).

I’d tour on this! It rolls along really nicely and has loads of gears for loads of gear.

Drop on by for a test ride of this, or the other long-tail we stock, the Kona Ute.  We also have a long-tail eBike, the eZee Expedir, should you need a little assistance, or we could fit a kit to any of our cargo options.

 

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