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  1. #1
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    How to introduce children to riding?

    So, admittedly, my daughter is WAY too young to be thinking about this seriously (only 6 months), but I figured I would be prepared and try to plan for the future.

    I'm wondering how to introduce her to bike, when she is of an appropriate age. As of now, I was figuring I would start with a trailer, then move to a push bike, then a real bike...

    As this is my first kid, I have no idea at what age, each of these steps is appropriate to try to introduce? Anyone with any experience feel like chiming in?

    Brian

  2. #2
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    Trikes are the obvious first step. Gets them used to pedaling.

    Age 4 or so, once they understand and will obey "hang on and don't let go" get a Trail a Bike, and hit the local tame dirt loops. The rest will follow handily.

    Also, avoid running to them gasping when they crash or fall over. Do the wait and see. I see it all the time, BAM "OMG honey are you alright??? Let me see that, are you bleeding, let's go find mommy..." Followed by WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH and lot's of tears. Wait and see, don't react, they often pick themselves up, look at you, waiting to see what they should do, give 'em a big thumbs up and a big wahoo, they get back on, and ride off, much better!

    This is my boy (not so little anymore), getting it done in a State College PA rock garden, thanks Trail a Bike
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  3. #3
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    my son is 9 and still has not ridden a bike.. (he has some medical stuff going on) we started last few years by taking the pedals off a fitting bike and letting him push and roll down hills... last year he started to pedal on his own then the snow started to fly.. Just two days ago he says "Dad, I want to ride a bike this summer...." I almost started to cry!
    Like teaching your own child anything, make it fun and in short segments.. it will pay off in the long run.
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  4. #4
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    Great shots, Mendon, and a rockin park!! Where is it?
    What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us.

  5. #5
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    Tricycle to training wheels to the Buddy Bar. My youngest son at 3yrs 9mo. Ironically, his brother, who is 2 years older, had just gotten his training wheels off 2 weeks prior which seemed to have inspired the little guy!

  6. #6
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    Balance first, then pedal

    I'd recommend helping her learn to balance first, then pedaling will come easily. Those little faux-Scandinavian Skuut bikes are a great option, if you want to spend the bucks. Personally, I took the cranks off of a 12" BMX and dropped the saddle so my daughter could straddle it flat-footed. She had been riding with training wheels, but it wasn't getting her anywhere in terms of balance. But she immediately took to paddling along with her feet instead of pedaling, and within two days she could coast indefinitely. When I put her on a bike with cranks, she pedaled away. I passed the little bike around town, and I don't believe the cranks have ever been reinstalled--it just keeps going to the next kid. From what I've heard back, success has been 100 percent.

    I do recommend removing the entire crankset. I've seen parents try just pulling the pedals, but the kid will tire of banging her ankles on the crank arms and chainring. A hand brake is also a good idea, though my daughter just wore out a few pairs of shoes braking. Some of the commercial models have pegs, which don't seem to be getting in this kid's way:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1O80xTs0Jg

    I know people will defend the old training wheel method, and I realize many kids have fumbled their way to proficiency with training wheels, but in my experience the push-bike idea gets kids really riding much more quickly.
    Happy Trails,
    Ron

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pedalmore
    I'd recommend helping her learn to balance first, then pedaling will come easily. Those little faux-Scandinavian Skuut bikes are a great option, if you want to spend the bucks. Personally, I took the cranks off of a 12" BMX and dropped the saddle so my daughter could straddle it flat-footed. She had been riding with training wheels, but it wasn't getting her anywhere in terms of balance. But she immediately took to paddling along with her feet instead of pedaling, and within two days she could coast indefinitely. When I put her on a bike with cranks, she pedaled away. I passed the little bike around town, and I don't believe the cranks have ever been reinstalled--it just keeps going to the next kid. From what I've heard back, success has been 100 percent.

    I do recommend removing the entire crankset. I've seen parents try just pulling the pedals, but the kid will tire of banging her ankles on the crank arms and chainring. A hand brake is also a good idea, though my daughter just wore out a few pairs of shoes braking. Some of the commercial models have pegs, which don't seem to be getting in this kid's way:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1O80xTs0Jg

    I know people will defend the old training wheel method, and I realize many kids have fumbled their way to proficiency with training wheels, but in my experience the push-bike idea gets kids really riding much more quickly.
    Happy Trails,
    Ron
    Thanks for the suggestion - we have been looking at the Skuut bike and were planning on getting one, but the "kids BMX-snas-cranks" idea is an awesome one!

  8. #8
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    stay off the crank

    This was on my daughter's first day without cranks:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How to introduce children to riding?-img_4281.jpg  

    How to introduce children to riding?-img_4277.jpg  


  9. #9
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    Push bikes FTW! I've witnessed enough kids on these things to become a believer. If they can walk, they can use a push bike. Pulling the cranks off a regular bike is actually a pretty good idea for a lower-cost solution.
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  10. #10
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    Another fan of the balance bike here! We bought a balance bike for my daughter for her 2nd b-day. She took to it well at about 2 yrs 4 mos and really "got" the balance quickly (she's a shorty so she had to grow into it). We then gave her a 12" Spec Hard Rock at 3yrs 2mos and she started on it immediately. Pedaling & balance were instant, no hesitation. The biggest learning curve was the coaster brake. Taking the cranks off is a great option, but check out some of the balance bikes (we have a Mini-Glider from Costco) especially if you can hand it down. The balance bikes have a little more forgiving geometry, and usually have limited steering so the child won't oversteer. I think trailers & trail-bikes also help the kid want to ride like mom & dad.

    Here's my daughter at 3yrs 3mos. She'll be 4 in a few weeks and I hope to move her to a 16" bike this summer.

  11. #11
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    We bought my son a strider. http://www.stridersports.com/. He has been attempting to ride it since he was able to walk. He now can ride it and roll down hills with it at 17 months. He loves to "work" on it too. Hopefully he will love cycling a fraction of what we do.
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  12. #12
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    My 4 year old started with a Specialized hotwalk at 2 years old (no cranks), then a Hotrock 12" bike by 3, and now she has a 16" Hotrock. She crusies all over on it, and rides gravel a little bit.

    I also have a trail-a-bike I put her on and take her thru the dirt trails. She loves it and can't wait until she is bigger so she can ride the trails too. Before the trail-a-bike I used a kids seat on my hardtail, and we also have a trailer for longer rides.

    When buying a kid bike, go on Craigslist and find a "good" bike. Don't settle for some Walmart 40 lb bike. I found all my kids bikes for $30 or less each adn they are super light and easy to pedal.

  13. #13
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    When my daughter was scared of riding without training wheels, we got her a razor scooter to get used to balancing herself. $35 bucks a Walmart and BAM 3 months later she's riding her bike! We just did the same with my 5 yr old son and he rocking.

  14. #14
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    Strider!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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  15. #15
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    My kids started riding once they got around 18 months or so. My youngest son was riding a pedal bike by the age of 2. I recommend either one of those push bikes, or what i did is just remove the cranks from a small bike. but as mentioned before balance before pedals. And if the can walk they can push a bike. And I recomend not using training wheels as the give the child to much of a crutch, and they seem to get more upset over there failures (I.E. spills, hitting parked cars or those darn jumping bushes). Even though I never say they failed but that sometimes you need to learn the hard way how to stay on your bike.
    But the most important thing is to show interest in riding with your child. And to express your love of riding. Hopefully they will pick it up easier and quicker if they see you doing it.
    Hope it help's

  16. #16
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    with so much stuff physical with kiddies i've noticed size makes more of a difference with age, except riding. my little girl (3 now) is tiny but she's bee raaking up the runner bike for about a year now...

    this was taken when she was about 2 and a half

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by MendonCycleSmith
    Trikes are the obvious first step. Gets them used to pedaling.

    Age 4 or so, once they understand and will obey "hang on and don't let go" get a Trail a Bike, and hit the local tame dirt loops. The rest will follow handily.

    Also, avoid running to them gasping when they crash or fall over. Do the wait and see. I see it all the time, BAM "OMG honey are you alright??? Let me see that, are you bleeding, let's go find mommy..." Followed by WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH and lot's of tears. Wait and see, don't react, they often pick themselves up, look at you, waiting to see what they should do, give 'em a big thumbs up and a big wahoo, they get back on, and ride off, much better!

    This is my boy (not so little anymore), getting it done in a State College PA rock garden, thanks Trail a Bike
    Is that Charcoal Flats?

    State College is a great trail system.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by brockfernandez
    Great shots, Mendon, and a rockin park!! Where is it?
    B-Mac asked too. It's Rothrock State Forest. About halfway down Tussey Ridge, which is easily one of the best trail I've ever ridden, just singletrack sweetness and killer views for like 3 miles along a burned over ridge top....
    This is a Pugs not some carbon wannabee pretzel wagon!!

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  19. #19
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    Loads of mtb vids and a pushbike:

    from Merijn Buitelaar on Vimeo.


    from Merijn Buitelaar on Vimeo.


  20. #20
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    I have 5 kids ranging in age from 10 to 2 months. The older 4 all ride bikes and have each done races. The oldest two are pretty competitive on them.

    My recommendations...I hope you are already doing this but make cycling a huge part of your life. My kids have always seen bikes in the house whether I am wrenching on them or just have them hanging around. The kids know how important they are and when they are old enough, they just can't wait to be part of the action.

    Go straight to a push bike as soon as they can stand over it. The real push bikes are tons lighter than a converted bike without cranks. Makes it a lot easier for the kids. Within weeks they are flying around the neighborhood causing general bedlam.

    Make crashing fun. It's going to happen. My kids all know to yell "crash and burn", even through the tears they are yelling it and everyone is clapping. They get over it pretty quick.

    After that, just get them out riding with you and don't try to cram it down their throats.

    Have fun!
    I'm a mountain bike guide in southwest Utah

  21. #21
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    Question: My girl has been on her Strider for a year now. She has a Trek Mystic (she not know it yet! - will get it this weekend on her BDay), should I leave the training wheels on it (She never really liked a trike, so very little pedalling experience) to help her learn to pedal or take them off.
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  22. #22
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    I introduced my kiddo (now 8) to "bikes" at a year old via a Burley trailer. The early sensations of that and just riding along the road and seeing his enviroment like that seemed to really get him excited and happy. fast forward at his 4th bday he quallied for his first bmx main and trophied. good times ahead for ya op!!

  23. #23
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    I gave 3 bikes

    and training wheels to my son's Montessori. At 3 they introduced themselves.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by sxr-racer
    Question: My girl has been on her Strider for a year now. She has a Trek Mystic (she not know it yet! - will get it this weekend on her BDay), should I leave the training wheels on it (She never really liked a trike, so very little pedalling experience) to help her learn to pedal or take them off.
    I'd recommend taking the training wheels off.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by sxr-racer
    Question: My girl has been on her Strider for a year now. She has a Trek Mystic (she not know it yet! - will get it this weekend on her BDay), should I leave the training wheels on it (She never really liked a trike, so very little pedalling experience) to help her learn to pedal or take them off.
    I'd take the pedals off, let her push it around for a bit to get used to the weight 'til she looks confident on it. Could be a few minutes, could be a few days, you'll know it when you see it. Then slap on the pedals and see how it goes.

    My daughter had ridden her 12" bike for a while w/training wheels but then I yanked the drivetrain and made it a push bike. When she could coast 50 yds on a slow incline I literally put all the stuff back on the next day, told her to push like she normally did and she just put her feet up and took off.

    It's a real trip to watch...good luck.

  26. #26
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    I've been planning to move my almost 4yo daughter from her 12" bike to a 16" bike sometime this spring. This thread urged me to pop into my LBS yesterday to check out the options. Well, lucky me! Right inside the front door was this trade-in 16" Hotrock for $80. Guess my shopping task is complete!!

    How to introduce children to riding?-hotrock_2.jpg

  27. #27
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    Got mine the 20" 6sp Hotrock last Christmas. Nice little bikes.

    BTW, to the O.P. there's tons of useful info over on the "Families and riding with kids" forum. Many of the answers you seek are already there.

  28. #28
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    All of my boys got introduce to cycling before they were 1 by being towed in the bike trailer. After a while, they wanted to pedal them selves so I got them on a 16" with training wheels or trikes. They went from 20's to 26's with no problems. I've heard good things about striders as well.
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  29. #29
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    Haven't read any of the other responses, so if this is redundant, forgive me:

    Both of my kids took to riding very easily, and I'm convinced it's because of one common denominator: The Razor Scooter. They both started riding Razors before they learned to ride a bike, and learned basics of balance early on. When they got their first bikes, I always took the pedals off and let them scoot around via leg power until they could coast without any difficulty. I'd put the pedals back on, give them a little push, and within an hour (or less) they were cyclists. Obviously, all kids are different, but I had both of mine riding before the age of 5, one at the age of 4.

    Good luck!

  30. #30
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    Glide bikes rock for introducing kids to riding. Our son started riding in a sidecar at ~6 mos, and got his first 2 wheeled glide bike at 18 mos. At nearly four he flies on both his glider and pedal bikes.

    My best advice is to never let them ride a bike with training wheels!

    -RW

  31. #31
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    one of the best things to do is just have your little one be around bikes. on a camping trip when my son was 18 months he was just so happy watching me ride my bike around the camp site- he smiled and laughed the whole time.

    it's soooo much fun! enjoy it!
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  32. #32
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    three bikes...

    One w/ pedals, one with no pedals, one with training wheels.... Now he's pimped!
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    Don't do it this way

    At 5, my Dad took the training wheels off, pushed me down a long sloping grass hill and then went inside for a beer. I guess he figured I'd either like it or hate it.
    Like!

    But for my kids I just made sure they had size appropriate bikes, 12", then 16", then 20", etc., and they took off on their own.
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  34. #34
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    My son has been riding without training wheels since he was three, because he would "Skid" all the time and blow out his rear tire, while I just finished changing the tube I sent him on a trial run down the front lawn without the training wheels...and we never looked back.

    The above 2 vids are three yrs old.
    Got a new bike a few years later & we're having all kinds of fun!!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How to introduce children to riding?-jakeramp.jpg  

    "foot to pedal, wheel to dirt, there is no substitute for the act of riding "

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeaBass_
    Tricycle to training wheels to the Buddy Bar....
    I would say this is SOOO not the way to go...
    Trikes are 'OK' when they are stoopid little, but on a bike training wheels re-enforce bad balance technique - How many times have yo seen a kid on TWs turning left, leaning and supported by the right TW?

    Balance bikes are the way to go - it's been proven over and over anecdotally (made up word, I know) -
    If you wanna skip the 'balance bike' and got to pedal bike...just remove the chain, cranks etc...
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  36. #36
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    Started my son and daughter riding the trails with me when around 10 to 11, now I try to keep up with them, I love it when we ride together
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    How to introduce children to riding?-dsc01692.jpg  


  37. #37
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    Here is some advice of a different nature - keep it fun, and low stress. For me, the less I tried, the better my kids did. My first son learned the 2-wheeler at 4 after much effort. I think I inhibited him, by trying to get him to keep up with my friend's kids. My youngest learned at 2 with barely any help at all. He saw us having fun and wanted so badly to join in.

    We are involved in BMX racing. I have seen dad's yell "PEDAL" to their kids as they struggle to cross the finish line and they end up in tears. It's pretty sad to see.

    We all need to remember to take it easy on our kids and keep it fun.

  38. #38
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    Some great advice on here.

    First, you don't have to do anything. What kids see you doing is what they want to do! Both my boys were making slap shot motions and riding wheeled things at a very young age. I did the rear seat carrier (1-2 years), bike with training wheels and then trail-a-bike. My second, actually taught himself to ride at four! He just kept at it in the backyard, on grass, and eventually got it. I've never seen anyone learn on level grass before, but whatever.

    HiDell is wrong up above, there is no correct path to follow - just keep them smiling. Proper development of kids less than six is ridiculous. Who cares how they proceed?

    By demonstrating passion for activities though; your kids will end up following.
    "I love being on a bike. It helps me feel free. I get it from my dad", by Guillaume Blanchet

  39. #39
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    Well, since you aren't going to be able to explain how counter-steering works, you might as well do what I did:

    I used silver duct tape to tape my daughter's hands to the handlebars and her feet to the pedals, then pushed her down a hill. Seriously.

  40. #40
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    Looking back at my first two kids, with the oldest TW's really held him back. He would ride leaned over onto one of the TW's. It took a while to get the confidence to ride without them.

    With the second, she ditched them pretty quick, but she has always been more daring and confident than he older brother.


    I am planning on removing the cranks on a teeny bike for my one year old when it is time and let him get the balance down.

  41. #41
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    For riding with the family on bikepaths and such: Trailer>trailabike>tandem stoker>on their own in the group.

    For riding around the yard, then the trails: pushbike>pedalbike

    My older two started riding the trails here last year at 8 y/o and 5 y/o. The stunt man on the brakeless pushbike will ride all of the trails around the house, and the ramps in the driveway and such. H'e dying to go trail riding with us, but needs pedals. I love riding with the kids...it's just so much fun...and they get better every single ride!

    A pic of my three showing the progression, and a couple pics of the older boy at 5 y/o.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How to introduce children to riding?-team-sept-10.jpg  

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  42. #42
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    Great Thread!
    I started mine early with a small little BMX style bike and took the training wheels off at 4 - he loved it for about two weeks then told me he wanted to put them back on. I did and he used them for another 6 months- most training wheels are adjustable and you can raise them up quite a bit which really helps on the balance.

    My only advice I picked up here at MTBR was get a pair of gloves - a bad spill on pavement with gloves you catch your breath and hop back on, without gloves you can scrape little hands up pretty good and it usually the end of the ride.

    Now my son is 12 and rides my old enduro frame - I just had to put on a longer stem because he is growing so tall - 5'8" already!
    He loves Mountain biking and I take him all the time. I did have to get him two bikes though. One beater for around the neighborhood and my old "nice" full suspension that is way too nice to leave laying in his friends front yard. He is the only kind in the neighborhood with chis king hubs!
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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbchess
    My only advice I picked up here at MTBR was get a pair of gloves - a bad spill on pavement with gloves you catch your breath and hop back on, without gloves you can scrape little hands up pretty good and it usually the end of the ride.
    +1000 on this. I found some nice little Bontrager brand ones at the LBS for like 10-12 bucks for mine when she was 4, and she got another pair at 6 the next size up that matched her mtb better. I got my niece a little set of Bell riding accessories that had gloves/knee pad/elbow pad in a pack at a discount sporting goods store, Academy IIRC. Yeah the bell stuff wasn't high quality but the thought of protection went a long ways to adding confidence to her. Both ate it on the decomposed granite on our neighborhood H&B trail a lot, and my street is super rough Texas chip seal, so 10 bucks saved a lot of stinging scraped up little hands. Even for adults a skinned up palm is one of the worse boo boo's so spend a few bucks and keep your kid from getting discouraged. It's been well worth it to me.

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