Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Here we talk about all things cycling - training, wattage, group rides, bike rallies, triathlons, weather, coaching, coaches, nutrition, ponderings, musings, and equipment! If you have a topic or a question, send us a note and we'll try to answer for you!
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Coach Wharton
07:38

8 Minute Test as one more data point to capture W Prime and Anaerobic Work Capacity

At Cycling Center Dallas, we tweak fitness through periodic assessments, and today we performed 8 minute and 13 minute Mean Max Power efforts.

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Coach Wharton
07:24

Just a Quick Overview of A Testing Day, Where We Obtain 13 and 8 Minute Max Average Power

Scott, Allene and Brian are setting 13 minute and 8 minute Mean Max Power, to determine Critical Power. We performed 5,3, and 1 minute efforts on Tuesday.

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Coach Wharton
07:50

PerfPro Threshold Intervals This Week.

SuHere are a few images from this morning's intervals. 

4 by 6min intervals PerfPro Studio

The goal for these was the following:

  • First 2 minutes at 90% of Critical Power (Threshold).
  • The third minute at 95% of CP.
  • Fourth minute right at 100% of CP.
  • The fifth minute, we would rise above CP, and ride at 105%.
  • Finally, in the sixth minute, the riders were set to ride at 110% of Critical power, 

This was repeated four times, with 3 minutes of recovery in between. 

Finally - the last interval for the day was 90 seconds at any intensity the riders felt like attempting. It's usually a good way to end with a bang!

The results were pretty nice - here are some images from riders as they completed the intervals. 

Allene Cashmore - 2018-05-22T06-53-02 - Snapshot

 

Alison Elmquist - 2018-05-22T06-52-59 - Snapshot

The goal for the intervals was exactly what's being displayed; start below Critical Power, learn to persevere, then increase the intensity slightly, until it's either at, or just above CP. Time above CP is always limited, but it's good to spend time up there, and really stretch out the lungs as Vo2 drift occurs. 

And that's the point - to get into Vo2 max areas of intensity. The workout is deceptively difficult, and now that the 7:30am class is undertaking it, they're a bit more awake and alive, and they're nailing it!

Suffer in the room, so you can enjoy the rides you take outside! 


More to come!


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Coach Wharton
17:08

Using PerfPro Studio with Xert is the best combination available for breakthroughs!

Xert alone is a great tool, but it's even more powerful with PerfPro Studio! Watch and see!

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Coach Wharton
17:31

November and December STRESS BUSTER Intervals at Cycling Center Dallas and OBC.

Here's a short video I made covering the basics of the intervals we'll be doing from November 7th through December 29th. We want you CHILL at the office parties, end-of-year sales meetings, and dinners with relatives. These are as hard as you want to make them, so BUST THAT STRESS!

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Coach Wharton
07:35

The More I Use Xert on Myself and My Clients, The More In Love I am With the Entire Concept.

I’ve been meaning to write this for weeks now, but the new information has been coming in so frequently that I’ve literally been unable to keep up. That said, here’s what I’m seeing…

·         My Xert Users are achieving fitness breakthroughs in their Xert modeling, and their Focus.

·         I Myself am seeing this in my own riding. I’m trying to set new Max Wattage PR’s now and then, and I’m also trying to “Game the Hill” using the MPA and Wattage Xert app.

·         I’m instructing my clients to do the same.

Here are a couple of examples…:

Jim is a recreational cyclist in his 60’s, who contracted with me because he was sick of getting dropped on rides with his peers. He also wanted to learn how to be a better climber for the times when he traveled to Colorado.

Climbs in Dallas are much different than climbs in Colorado, but the idea is still the same; improve fitness, then “Focus” on the area of training that will best fit your activity profile. Jim wanted to be a climber in the summer, and, honestly, a “Puncheur” when riding in Dallas. So I set him up with the Xert Apps, taught him how to keep the rider profile current through Garmin Connect and Garmin Express, and gave him some specific intervals during the week.

Things started happening in late September, and I THINK THEY ARE JUST REALLY, REALLY cool!

In Mid-September, while it was still hot and windy, but travel season was over, Jim had a Fitness Signature on Xert of:

·         Peak Power: 650w.

·         High Intensity Energy (HIE): 10.9kJ.

·         Threshold Power: 209w.

Then, on September 21st, on a local solo effort, THIS happened…!

JNFalk Hill 1

THAT, dear readers, is a FITNESS BREAKTHROUGH.

What’s a FITNESS BREAKTHROUGH? Well, it’s when your ACTUAL POWER OUTPUT is HIGHER than your Predicted MAXIMUM POWER AVAILABLE!

For FOURTEEN SECONDS, Jim was pedaling at a power output that was ABOVE his MPA. Was the model wrong? NO, NO, and NO. He just hadn’t put that level of effort out before, and he earned his “Medal” on the Garmin 1000 Screen!

So remember those previous Max, HIE and Threshold values that we had been using? Here’s what a breakthrough means for those…

·         Peak Power: 649w (we still haven’t really worked on a true “Sprint”, but that will come.).

·         High Intensity Energy (HIE): 12.4kJ (a gain of 12%).

·         Threshold Power: 214w (a gain of 2%!).

And here’s what the chart looked like after the re-analysis.

JNFalk Hill 4

Now, interestingly – take a look at Jim’s PREVIOUS hill. It’s the one in red that is on the left side of the image. Notice how the MPA line (Dark Blue) kind of follows the curve of the red line, which is wattage? I’ve seen this a bunch, and I love it; It’s basically a way for a rider to “Get More” out of an effort. In other words, you can always go a bit longer at a lower intensity, and not dig too deep. In this case, Jim knew that he really wanted to hit the SECOND hill stronger, and he followed a more “Steady” profile. The terrain dictated the watts and cadence, but yeah – this was a solid moment where Jim was able to “Chase” his MPA, and then break it.

But wait – it gets better…
JNFalk Chart 1 
Here’s a chart of Jim’s recent activities. What you’ll see is typical with all cycling exercises; if you don’t train hard here & there, your Max Watts, Threshold and Anaerobic Capacity (HIE) will slip a little. But when Jim went out and rode THAT SAME RIDE JUST TWO WEEKS LATER….
JNFalk Hill 5

So what had been a 214w Threshold and a 12.1kJ HIE, slipped, and when Jim put the spurs to this hill again… Well, the model needed some updating, and here it is…

·         Peak Power: 651w.

·         High Intensity Energy (HIE): 12.9kJ.

·         Threshold Power: 219w.

Here’s the Updated version.
JNFalk Hill 6

What you see is basically that the MPA slope is more gradual, which makes sense; when you train for higher intensity, it allows you to go harder, longer. Because Jim has real data, and paced himself according to the MPA app on the Garmin 1000, he had another Gold Medal, and got to update his training information from Xert.

But you may think that this is just one example…. Well, here’s another.
 JingChart1

Jing was a great client of mine, who got a job and moved to Northern California, and he’s experiencing the same type of thing; Breakthroughs that translate to more successful cycling.

Here’s Jing’s Activity Chart; I’ve highlighted his first Fitness Signature, after an adjustment period when he was moving in, unboxing, etc.



His Fitness Signature in mid-September read:

·         673w Peak Power.

·         21.3kJ HIE.

·         251w Threshold.

What set this Signature up was this particular hill in Palo Alto, called “Emerald Hill”. Here’s the wattage and hr and MPA profile.
JingPic1

This was his first ride out on this type of terrain, and he was nervous, so you can see it in his wattage profile; it’s at or above Threshold, but he doesn’t last long above it, before backing off.

So, here he is a couple of days later, where he had another Fitness Breakthrough, though it wasn’t quite where you might think….

The image is of the hill that he climbed, and you can see that he marshalled his resources well, using the data in the Garmin 1000, and pushed it on the final part of the climb.
JingPic2

But here’s the catch; remember how I harped about Jim needing to get a “Real” Peak Power? Well, elsewhere in this file, Jing actually DID hit a new Peak Power, going from 653w to well over 800, and that altered the Fitness Signature Significantly.

With the new data in hand, it looked more like this:

·         811w Peak Power.

·         20.0kJ HIE.

·         249w Threshold.

And that tells me that maybe he could have eked out a slightly better hill effort. Well, here’s the next week….
JingPic3

So you can see… he’s learning how to “game” the hill, using his on-screen MPA and Wattage App!

Here’s the next week. Same hill.

I’m actually going to zoom in on two efforts, since he kissed his MPA on both of them, BUT HE DID NOT SURPASS THEM!

Here – Have a look:
JingPic4

He’s learning how to “game the hills”! In our discussions, he’s come to realize that hills like this are a game of patience and pacing. They’re not perfect, but I like how he’s playing it a bit conservatively at first, and doesn’t tap in to his HIE until the last 1/3rd of the hill, and he still doesn’t go too far. Now – could he go harder? Certainly! But that’s at the cost of possibly blowing up. We’ll continue to work on his Threshold, but I’m really happy with how Xert makes teaches you how to “Think” a strategy, be it a hill, an attack, or a pacing strategy for any recreational athlete.

Finally, I’m going to recount my own experience from this weekend.

Work and Coaching have really taken their toll on my time, and it’s been rare for me to get out and get any real consistency or volume, other than lifting weights 2-3 times a week, and maybe getting to ride in between other efforts. But that said, I AM a “fast-responder” to stimulus, and after getting in some decent rides on some weekends, I had a couple of experiences of my own, using the MPA App.

First – there’s a hill in Glen Rose, TX, that was once part of their rally course, which always spelled the “Make it or Break It” moment for me in this rally. It’s just 4 miles from the finish, but the cyclist who “gamed” the hill best, usually got to solo home.

I NEVER got it right.

But recently, I’ve been back out there, and with the MPA App and my metrics inserted, I tried to “game” the hill with a better pacing Strategy. Here’s the first effort on this hill in, oh, 6 years? 7? I really don’t remember completely.
WhartonPic1

Do you see where the red circle is? ROOKIE MISTAKE!!! I rode TOO HARD, TOO EARLY, and I FORGOT ABOUT THE SECOND HALF OF THE HILL!

I can’t show it right now because my internet is kludgy, but my heart rate went through the roof on the steeper part, and I basically blew up and denied myself a smoother transition going in to the second part of the hill, right after the “knuckle”! So MPA and Xert revealed that I COULD have ridden it better. I just screwed it up.

Here’s the second time I tried it – about a week later.
WhartonPic2

*** Believe it or not – this IS the same hill; my internet is not cooperating and I’m having trouble zooming in appropriately.

Notice the difference in the two wattage profiles? The first is more of a parabola, while the second is more elongated, and doesn’t really kick up until AFTER the knuckle in the hill. For this hill, I was watching my Garmin 1000, and I watched that Xert App as my wattage went Black (Threshold), then Yellow (<3min of MPA remaining), to Red (<30sec MPA remaining!), but I never was able to make it go Purple, because I WAS COMPLETELY KNACKERED by that point! Again – I can’t show it, but my HR broke 190, and I traveled a good bit further up the hill before I backed off.

(Edit – HERE it is… Finally)!
WhartonPic3

Finally – this past weekend, I had the chance to ride a good old-fashioned rally, and about 20 minutes in, I was dealing with some riders that I don’t particularly feel safe riding around; they always wear earbuds – in grupetto’s – and you can hear their music when you ride beside them, it’s so loud. AND they’re a couple, AND they don’t really have a sense of situational awareness. So, with just a few people left in the front, maybe 5, including me, these two, and two others, I saw a hill, and I saw an opportunity.

I had already depleted my MPA a bit here and there as we picked up our speed, rolling out of town, but at this moment, I increased my power output as the hill rose to meet me, then stayed steady at or around my threshold, and finally increased my wattage one more time as the hill picked up its’ pitch one more time. Looking through my right arm, I noticed that the shadows which had been behind me were getting gapped, and after another 20 seconds of Threshold, I was alone.
WhartonPic4

Now, I TRIED to go from “Yellow” on the MPA app, (<3min of MPA left) to “Red” (<30sec of MPA left), to “Purple”, but it just got to the point where it was crazy-hard, I felt like my eyes were going to pop out and my lungs were going to burst… and I backed off, which you can see in the image. I was able to keep pedaling as the gradient lessened, and while my MPA didn’t necessarily rebound, the Red/Blue gap opened up, giving me some room to recover.

The result? Well, I spent the rest of the ride alone, and had the motorcycle escort to myself the entire time.

Here are my overall results from the day:
WhartonPic5

It was a pretty good day: nice average speed, great kJ count, GREAT Strain value, in perfect temps, under sunny skies, rolling terrain, and the knowledge that THIS STUFF REALLY, REALLY, REALLY works.

Xert takes a complete re-think of intervals, efforts, hills, and timing. I think that was one of the things I was never good at when I was racing all the time: I had really bad timing, and didn’t figure out when to play the game and when to back off, and recover. Now? Well, I had some idea of it with W’, but the model, especially on Anaerobic efforts, just didn’t hold up. This Xert MPA stuff? In REAL TIME, with REAL VALUES yielding REAL RESULTS?

Well, it works!

Want to learn more about Xert, MPA, and how you can apply it for yourself and your cycling? Check us out at http://bit.ly/BikeCCD.


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Coach Wharton
19:30

What Xert Sees That We Don't See - Just Yet...

The more I work with Xert, the more impressed I am. We're looking at a program that has the potential to shift the entire paradigm of training for cyclists, from basic recreational cyclists, to competitors, to top-level athletes. Here's just one example. 

Kurt Chacon is mentioned in this blog from previous years, when he helped riders understand that cycling is not just about legs and lungs, but is instead a Holistic sport that requires the entire body. Sure, certain muscles are emphasized, but that's at the expense of other muscles and parts of the skeletal system that can help reduce fatigue, reduce wasted effort, and transmit power to the pedals as well. 

When you look at Kurt, he doesn't look like a cyclist. He's larger, more muscular, and the impression is that he might be better served with a more short-distance sport, but here he is, a recreational cyclist, capable of a solid power output and endurance in the 3-5 hour range. That said, he loves his anaerobic intervals, and has studied the information that has come out of XertOnline.com. 

The intervals we built for the class, based on this Xert protocol this month, are HARD. REALLLY HARD. They're in the 200 to 300% of FTP range, and they're anywhere from 15 seconds to 2 minutes. People that have been coming to the studio for years are now commenting that they're actually SORE from the workouts, and they're having better rides outside. So we plugged in Kurt's information from a ride to see what's actually happening per the MPA model. 
Kurt Chacon MPA Map Xert Online
In the image above, BLUE is Kurt's MPA, while RED is his wattage output. The intervals began at 200% for 15 seconds, and went up by 20% in reps of 5. There was a 45-second recovery that I specifically placed at ZERO watts, so that the cyclists could pedal or coast/rest in order to recover; it was their choice. 

If you look carefully, you'll see that Kurt's MPA dropped substantially as the intervals increased in intensity, and for the entire duration of the effort, MPA never returned to full capacity. However, let me zoom in on something that I am fascinated by - the 4th and 5th intervals of each set. 
Zoom In on Interval 4
On interval 4 of the first set, and almost every set thereafter, MPA actually dipped BELOW the interval's Peak Power, but it did it JUST AFTER the interval ended. 

You can see it even more clearly on the 5th Interval. Here is a close-up.

Fifth Interval Close-Up Xert
Here, you can see that while Kurt was able to complete the interval, his MPA and wattage actually touched, though there was no breakthrough, but he continued to suffer as his power backed off, and the MPA dropped further. 

Now scroll back up and look at he first image. Intervals 4 and 5 for most of the sets revealed an MPA that dipped BELOW the intensity of the interval, but did not INTERCEPT the effort. In my opinion, this was probably one of the BEST workouts he, or any client, could have performed. He accomplished the task, finished each progressively harder interval, but saw a dip in his MPA, from which he basically never really recovered. So for this athlete, this was probably the most COMPLETE workout in recent history. The breakthrough will come, probably next week, when we attempt 1 minute intervals at 160% of Threshold. 

Performing intervals that are STRAINFUL, yet REPEATABLE, allows for greater adaptation and confidence. Up until Xert, however, we only had the W' model to predict what the 'penalty' was for an effort, and even the developers of that protocol admitted that shorter, harder, more repetitive intervals didn't work with the model. MPA does, and I continue to be amazed at how uncannily accurate the Xert model is, for EVERY athlete. 

We'll see how his testing goes next week and again in a traditional effort in September. Until then, grab a registration on Xert and see for yourself. It's pretty fascinating. 




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Coach Wharton
10:02

What's on my Garmin? THIS SCREEN is Pretty Much All You Need.

Okay - I'm finding that I'm using this XertOnline stuff more and more, so here's my usual screen. If you care about wattage, about physiology, and about getting MORE out of every ride, this is a simple way to set things up.

Garmin 1000 Screen Xert

It's got my MPA and Power on the first 3rd of the screen, my Fat and Carb use in grams in the middle, and Xert's "Focus" and "Strain" on the bottom.

Obviously, I'll use MPA and rolling 3-sec power most, because it'll tell me, based on color schemes (Green, Blue, Black, Yellow, Red) what general 'Zone' I'm in, and basically how much Power I have left in the tank. I've described some of the details of this on a video I posted months ago, and it's also up on my YouTube page, so hopefully that explanation will help. Here are the links: https://youtu.be/7tbfbe_0D0Y and https://youtu.be/P1u3oLroef4.

Basically, if your power is Green, you can go forever. Blue is Tempo-ish, Black is Threshold-ish, Yellow is Vo2Max-ish, and means you've got less than 3 minutes of MPA left, and Red is Anaerobic, and it means you've got less than 30 seconds of MPA left. If it's Purple, congrats! You've had a fitness breakthrough!

Now, for the Fat and Carbs area on the screen, this is an interesting way to look at how we USE STORED AND INTERNAL ENERGY to GENERATE POWER, which in turn, helps us GET FIT. It also tells the cyclist just how freaking hard it is to actually BURN FAT. Remember, 1 gram of FAT yields 9 Calories, while 1 gram of Carbs yield 4 Calories. Our bodies prefer burning the Carbs, so this teaches you how to ride slower and in a zone that will burn more fat, thus preserving the carbs and teach the body how to better use that stored fat. Finally, I actually use it to help stave off bonks and also to try and stay on top of my hydration. If you know how many grams of food and sugar are in your pockets and bottles, you can come up with ways to mentally stay on top of your stamina through an eating and hydration schedule. The Carbs area turns red when you're mostly burning Carbs, or red when you're mostly burning Fat, and it's tied in to the information Xert puts in to your Garmin Express Code, so it's unique to every individual. Finally, if you're in to Polarized training, then THIS APP IS FOR YOU. I'll tie it in to the 3rd app next.

Now for the last 1/3 of the screen, I include "Focus" and "Strain". I don't want to get into debates about specificity, but readers, I have to tell you - this is a pretty darned cool app. If you've signed up for your free account with Xert, it'll ask you things like "What type of athlete are you?" And you look at a power-duration curve and basically think about where your strengths and weaknesses are, and make a selection. In this image, I selected "Breakaway Specialist", which in Xert's world means the focus will be on optimizing 5-minute power.

Xert Power Profile


Now, when I go for a ride, as soon as the app gets enough data, it starts telling me where my "Focus" is, in terms of minutes and seconds. Ironically, it doesn't take much to get that "Focus" in to the lower numbers, from 1-4 minutes, and it's MUCH HARDER to get the Focus in to the numbers that are higher. Now, where the tie-in comes is this: Let's say, like me, you dabble (and I do mean dabble) in the Ultra-Marathon Cycling World, and you're looking to train for great power over 2-6 hours at a time. Well, here's your truth-teller, right here. You'll be pedaling and generating so little power that you'll be S L O W, and your "FAT" grams ID in the middle will be RED, RED, RED, while your 3-second wattage in the UPPER screen will be GREEN, GREEN, GREEN. It's boring, it's embarrassing, it's risky when it's hot, you hate yourself, you hate everyone else that's passing you and probably having more fun, and you hate your coach for forcing you to do these "Old School" rides. But that FOCUS will help. Furthermore, if you're really wanting to hit your FOCUS goal, you can literally ride as hard or soft as you like, knowing that this is really a good way to "Focus" on specificity. We all waste our time on rides; that's actually kind of the point of riding - it's dynamic. But this FOCUS can really help you hit your goals, or truly see how hard a group ride is, let's say, in your current condition, so you can then "Focus" your workouts using Xert's workout generator.

Finally, you've got "Strain", on the bottom. Like KiloJoules, Strain only goes UP. Now, it's NOT KiloJoules, but it's KiloJoule-esque, and if you put yourself through low-strain rides, it'll creep up, but if you put yourself through high-strain workouts, it'll jump up. Call it a new way to measure volume. Some of my indoor 60-minute workouts are in the 175 range (with a FOCUS down in the 2:30 range), and some of my longer, 3-5 hour rides with clients, at their speeds, are in the maybe 300-350 range.

SO - to sum things up on this screen....

  • MPA is there to tell me what I can do RIGHT NOW, THIS INSTANT.
  • Rolling 3-sec Power is there to give me an idea of zones as well as output. 
  • Fat Grams tells me what I've burned, and if it's red, it's my primary source of energy. 
  • Carb Grams tell me what I've burned, and if it's red, it's my primary source of energy. 
  • Focus is there to help me understand what I'm getting out of a ride,
  • Strain is there to tell me how much volume I've accomplished or not.
If you own a Garmin 520, 820, 920, or 1000, then I urge you to open a subscription at Xertonline.com, and go through the process of establishing your fitness profile and training goals. We've been working with Baron BioSystems, the creators, on this technology for months now, and have been implementing it with several clients who have seen incredible results. In my opinion, it's the most convenient way to best determine just what you're accomplishing on a ride, and how solid your fitness or fatigue is as well. With the cost of power meters dropping to around $400, an entire setup can be had for less than $800, and you'll be able to take your fitness and knowledge from your indoor training at Cycling Center Dallas, to the outdoors, where it counts most. 

Enjoy the ride!

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Coach Wharton
16:33

Using Xert's MPA and Time-to-Exhaustion Apps, and the Strain/Focus and BioShift Apps, in REAL-TIME, on my Garmin 1000.


Clients and Prospects;

I've been using XertOnline.Com's ConnectIQ Apps for a couple of weeks now, and I am really excited about what they're telling the cyclist. The MPA as a model for power and duration is really solid, so I built two videos explaining just what's going on, and how it can be used for training. Have a look, and leave your comments on the YouTube channel. 





And here's the work on the Strain/Focus and BioShift Optimizer App. 








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Coach Wharton
16:24

Stage 21: 21 Days of the Tour de France, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! Set a Goal!

Ascent

Well, it's over. The 21 stages have finished, the jerseys awarded, the elation, the heartbreak, the countryside, the millions of spectators... and now comes the Champagne.

These riders, their teams, directors, and sponsors, share a passion for this sport, and show that passion on the world's most beautiful stage. France in summer is like no place else, and if you ever get the chance to view it, or participate in a tour, give it a serious thought.

Most of these riders and teams are goal-oriented. When you ride, think about where you've been, where you are, and where you're going. Think about the elation, the challenge, and the struggle as you accomplish those goals. If you find one goal is just a little too far out of hand, well, that's what Cycling Center Dallas is for - we live to help people become better, more accomplished cyclists and triathletes. It can't be done with your legs and lungs alone. It takes heart, soul, spirit, and a holistic approach. It takes good equipment, knowledge, and reinforced passion.

There's sort of a let-down in the last week of July and early August, when the Tour de France has ended. But in North Texas, we do have one incredible goal to look forward to and prepare for - the Hotter 'n Hell! Think you're up for the challenge? Register today and come see us - we'll help you get there!!!

We hope you've had a wonderful July, full of rides, sun, road, recovery, and revitalization. We've got a great program for August, and we'll be introducing several new training themes and ideas in the remainder of 2015. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and come visit!

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