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  1. #1
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    Why are the first 30 minutes the worst?

    Nearly every time I ride I struggle for the first 30 minutes or so. I get winded, legs ache, etc., but then it gets better and I'm able to have a good ride. Yes, I warm up/stretch. Anyone else have this happen? Any suggestions? Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I've had that problem all my life, even as a kid. My heart rate goes to the redline immediately, then after a while it settles down and all is well. Probably because I've often been skinny, but never been truly fit. Or maybe it has something to do with me coming from a long line of middle aged chest-grabbers. Hard to say. But regardless, I know what you mean, and it can be miserable.
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  3. #3
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    For me it always helped to spin a bit on the road before hitting the trails to get everything warmed up.

  4. #4
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    I think it's just a factor in exercise physiology...The body needs some time to warm up and get moving after prolonged periods of rest. I go through the same thing every time I go for a ride.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by SHADES
    For me it always helped to spin a bit on the road before hitting the trails to get everything warmed up.
    Yep, ride to the ride.

  6. #6
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    The only problem with riding to the ride is its about 25 miles from my house to the trail. If I rode to the ride I wouldn't be able to ride...or get back home! *L*

  7. #7
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    I'm right with you mate.
    It takes me about 2-3km to get warmed up.
    Prior to that my heart rate rockets and I feel decidedly uncomfortable.

    I ride with a good friend who always goes out really hard direct from the trail head - I hate it.
    Years ago I gave up chasing him and let my body settle in before I upped the pace, once that happens I can hang with him all day - he just seems to be able to start much faster.

  8. #8
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    Need a bit more info:

    - general fitness level based on normal weekly exercise level? (i.e. how often do you work out and for how long? i'm trying to gauge whether your aerobically fit or if you just ride infrequently. If you're ride is 25 miles from your home, I'm guessing it takes a fair bit of work to get to the trail and you only ride the weekends?)
    - trail conditions first 30 minutes vs. rest of the ride? Are you pointed uphill the first 30 minutes? You going over rocks and technical terrain right off the bat?
    - do you ride by yourself or with others? That might affect how quickly you come out of the gate.
    - what's your warmup routine like? If you're just half-assed stretching and shootin' the breeze while you have a quick cigarrette, you're not warming up. If you're riding at an easy pace along the first few miles of trail till you start sweating and finding your rythm, your warming up.

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    Noe secrets to give, the first and last hill are always usually the hardest to deal with...just put some lube on your vag and deal with it.

  10. #10
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    you just aren't warmed up enough, as evidenced by the fact that the effort of those first 30 mins makes you feel better the rest of the ride.

    There's a big difference between warming up enough that your legs feel loose and you feel more active, and warming up enough that you build up your heart rate closer to your target range, which can be used as a good indicator of your general warmed-up-edness.

  11. #11
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    Just drink three beers in that first thirty minutes and you will be fine.

  12. #12
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    I have the same issue plus asthma too. I suffer for the first 2-4 miles then settle in near the back 'till the half way point. From there I can normally head to the front and not get in anyone's way.

    During last nights ride I had a major asthma attack and had a hard time getting my lungs back. After a long steady fire road climb I regrouped and had one of my best rides ever. Just proves that sometimes you gotta hang in there even when it hurts. Giving up is the easy part.
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  13. #13
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    Warm up SLOW for the first 20-30" and the rest of your ride should be substaintailly better than it is now.

  14. #14
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    i'm also pretty miserable for the first 10-15min. instead of fixing it, i just deal with it.

  15. #15
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    I've always had this problem no matter my fitness level from High school till now...I'm in my fourties. When I was in the military and had to do a PT test I always went out an hour early just to jog around the track in order to score well. I always thought it was my bodies’ way of rejecting the stress I'm exerting on it. I've also noticed that as the ride goes on I get stronger, maybe because I have a bigger glycemic tank...yep, I’m a Clyde.

    One thing that really bothers me is when I start out on a group ride I tend to get excited/anxious and my heart rate get’s to the point where I think it's going to jump out of my chest…not a good feeling but I’ve learned to drop to the back of the pack and not worry ‘bout the pack until I get more comfortable…

  16. #16
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    Happens on every ride so I just take things slowly for the first 15 to 30 minutes and that includes not trying any above average technical features. After the warm-up is when the fun begins!

  17. #17
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    yeah, what everyone's telling you is correct. you have to warm your body up before jumping into some all out physical activity.

  18. #18
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    Sounds completely normal, I take anywhere from 20-40minutes to warm up and get into the ride proper. At races a lot of the riders will spin for 30 minutes before the start so they can hit the first mile flying.

    Those 30 mins are your warm up, not the couple of mins you doing right now and leave the stretching until after you've warmed up properly. Stretching cold muscles isn't going to do them any good at all. It's more important to stretch after the ride.
    It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.

  19. #19
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    I'm the same way if I don't take time to warm up. It's about a 2 mile ride to my local trails so I just ride there for my warm up and then get off and stretch before I start which helps immensely.

  20. #20
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    Yup the first 20 minutes of a ride are just like the first mile of a run or first lap of a hare scramble for me- uncomfortable, HR not getting up into the zone, and feeling really inefficient. Once the sweat starts and I begin to move some air, it's off to the races so to speak.

  21. #21
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    Basic human physiology. Your body doesnt like stress. Your muscles contracting are causing a fast lactic acid build up which is the cause of the burning. After awhile the majority of the lactic acid released from your muscles is absorbed and you are off to the races feeling swell.
    Theres really no way around it.

  22. #22
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    im the opposite. the first 30-45 minutes are great and i fly. after that, its usually all pain. maybe i should be eating something out on the trails to keep my energy level up....

  23. #23
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    Yep same way with me also. Have to take it easy and warm up the first 20 minutes of the ride. I usually park away from the trail head so I can spin the legs before hitting the dirt. Helps to stretch before and after also..

    Tails

  24. #24
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    excellent! i thought i was the only one with this problem. It was always strange cause my energy would pick up after a bit and the warrior would come out. I always attributed it to my water consumption or adrenaline. Thanks!

  25. #25
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    Thanks for all the responses. Glad to know I'm not alone. I'm 43 and thought I was just getting old, etc. Not like when I was in my twenties. Anyway, this morning I made it a point to go easy the first 20-30 minutes and that seemed to help. The first part of the trail is mostly downhill and rocks, so it's hard not hit it wide open. Now I just need to figure out how to get rid of all the cobwebs and spiders on the trail!

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisf_999
    Nearly every time I ride I struggle for the first 30 minutes or so. I get winded, legs ache, etc., but then it gets better and I'm able to have a good ride. Yes, I warm up/stretch. Anyone else have this happen? Any suggestions? Thanks!
    I could be wrong but I remember hearing that when you exercise your body burns the carbs off first. While good for a quick burst they burn off rather quickly and leave you feeling a bit sluggish. After awhile your body starts tapping the fat reserves which is a much better, longer lasting and efficient energy source. I always chaulked this "warm up" period to this energy source transition period. But like I said I could be way off.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  27. #27
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    If you have to drive to the trailhead... why not just ride the road away from the trailhead for 15mins... then back? You'll be warmed up and ready to hammer on the downhill start.

    And yes... you are getting old. But we all are (I'm 39).

    I'm fortunate enough that many of my rides start from home and are uphill for the first 15-30 mins or more. No cobwebs by the time I'm at the top.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisf_999
    Nearly every time I ride I struggle for the first 30 minutes or so. I get winded, legs ache, etc., but then it gets better and I'm able to have a good ride. Yes, I warm up/stretch. Anyone else have this happen? Any suggestions? Thanks!

    Just do longer rides then you will be winded, achy legs etc at both ends.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisf_999
    Now I just need to figure out how to get rid of all the cobwebs and spiders on the trail!
    The only solution is a "blocker". You have to ride with someone and you have to let them go first so you won't slow them down. You could go later in the day when other riders have already passed but spiders can get a web back up pretty quick.

    Works good for radar traps on the highway too. Find someone who is speeding at a pace you like and follow about a half a mile behind them.

  30. #30
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    Try to suck down about 4oz of Orange Juice right before you hit the trail. Instant energy your body can make quick use of; and it helps avoid that bonk feeling (you can sometimes get) at the start of the ride as the insulin/adrenalin is dumped into your system from the physical stress.

  31. #31
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    It only gets worse as you get older.

    Used to take me 15-20 minutes, now about 45 minutes to get warmed enough to hammer.
    It wasn't me

  32. #32
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    Try altitude!

    I've always been slow to warm up. But the first 15 - 20 minutes of every ride at altitude at Tahoe I feel like I'm going to die, and I want to quit. And most of the trails always seem to start uphill.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisf_999
    Nearly every time I ride I struggle for the first 30 minutes or so. I get winded, legs ache, etc., but then it gets better and I'm able to have a good ride. Yes, I warm up/stretch. Anyone else have this happen? Any suggestions? Thanks!
    You didn’t warm up or stretch properly… either that, or you need to stop taking prescription drugs and/or stop drinking alcoholic beverages (I stick with non-prescription, and do my training rides after a night of binge drinking, it really beefs up your cardiovascular endurance).
    Uh oh! Someone just stole your KOM!

  34. #34
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    It takes me a bit to warm up, so I usually ride for a couple of miles on pavement and then I'm good to go.

  35. #35
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    In Oneonta, NY we start EVERY ride with a climb. Usually gain a couple hundred feet of elevation without a break in grade. Once we get to the top, a quick break to let the last riders catch their breath, then we're off and (more or less) ripping. I beat myself on those first climbs, partly to keep up, but partly because of my (possibly foolish) mentality that if I can hand mashing up the first big climb then I (my lungs) can usually handle the rest of our ride.
    Go ride your bike.

  36. #36
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    This works good for me. Just put you riding shoes and helmet on, leave the camel back in the car. Go out for 2-3 miles of really easy spinning. Come back and finish gearing up and drink a bottle of water. I find I can hit it a lot harder if I let myself cool down a little then start the ride

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisf_999
    Nearly every time I ride I struggle for the first 30 minutes or so. I get winded, legs ache, etc., but then it gets better and I'm able to have a good ride. Yes, I warm up/stretch. Anyone else have this happen? Any suggestions? Thanks!
    Your legs take a warm up to get to a warmer temperature just two degrees where they're most functional. then youll hit another wall later one once your glycogen levels diminish and you start burning fat?

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by denjen
    This works good for me. Just put you riding shoes and helmet on, leave the camel back in the car. Go out for 2-3 miles of really easy spinning. Come back and finish gearing up and drink a bottle of water. I find I can hit it a lot harder if I let myself cool down a little then start the ride
    This is excellent advice.

    I'd add that I'd still take the first 10-15" on trail to ease into it also.

  39. #39
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    One word: Endorphins.

    It takes a bit of work before they get released. Once they are they reduce the perceived effort and pain.

  40. #40
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    Warmup is key, like everyone has been saying, to get the body to a steady state where it can maintain the current workload under a fairly aerobic environment that you can maintain for a good amount of time. I know you say that you do this. However, it should not take you an additional 30 minutes of riding to acclimate. The issue may very well be starting out without a warmup before an activity, but I think in this situation it is more appropriate to think of it as the activity being too intense for the warmup. Especially if you are not conditioned for intense mountain biking, starting out at a very high intensity will start to deplete substrates that are used to replenish "energy" that the muscles can use, at a very high rate. Because you are starting from a metabolism lower than that which your activity requires, your body needs to quickly react to this by kind of using up its "short term" energy stores, at a high rate because the energy you would get from aerobic metabolism (once you reach steady state) is not available yet. This kind of means that your body is working harder than it needs to in order to supply your muscles with energy, because you have not reached a steady state, and you will indeed feel it more. Sorry if I rambled, and I hope I translated what I know into something that people without a background in exercise physiology can understand.

    Anyway, the basic solution that I see is to try to match your warmup intensity to that of your actual ride. You want your metabolism to be close to where it is going to be while performing, but you don't want your warmup to be so intense or so long that you start to deplete any energy stores. It is a tricky situation to balance, but with a bit of common sense it is not too tough. Hope this was somewhat helpful and if you want any more clarification let me know. Again, this was a very basic overview of how a proper warmup can help you.

  41. #41
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    just need to warm up. for me im warmed up after 30 min hehe.

  42. #42
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    Breakingbryan, that makes complete sense. Thanks. Thanks to everyone for their input it is all helpful.

  43. #43
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    Lack of oxygen is what I would guess to be the cause of the struggle at the begginning of a ride. I just quit smoking early last year so I don't feel winded, I very literally feel pain in my lungs at the start of a ride. At first my lungs feel very tight and it is hard to get a good breath but after about a half an hour they seem to stratch out and eventually I can take a nice deep breath. The muscle ache seems to coincide with the lack of oxygen which is likely the cause. On a side note, mountian biking works substantially better than the patch

  44. #44
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    Thankfully I never smoked…just dipped a lot for about 15 years. I haven’t had any tobacco for about 13 years now.

  45. #45
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    I am a total n00b to mountain biking but had the same issue. Mine turned out to be user error and I was using stupid gears when biking. I switched to easier ones and it has been much easier on me.

  46. #46
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    I think there is a tendency to go flat out from the start when your all excited about being on a ride and that can be a bad thing. I always make an effort to go slowly for the first 15-20 mins, or longer if the ride starts with a large hill. it gives me time to find my groove also.

    who wants to waste time warming up, when you could be warming up on your bike

  47. #47
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    Google Kreb cycle - takes 15 minutes (or so) to kick off and start using oxygen as your primary energy source, good reason for the tour guys to get on the rollers prior to their time trial

  48. #48
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    when my group rides we do the first climb drink our monsters then were good for the day
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  49. #49
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    sorta happy to see this thread, I thought it was only me.

    Ever since I developed asthma when I was about 12 or so I have had endurance/stammina challenges. I no longer suffer symptoms (asthma) and havent for over 15 years (presumably have grown out of it) but the stammina issue still lingers. My speed and physical strength is not of any issue but climbing that ascent kicks my a$$ every time. I also find that my recovery time is longer than those around me, always seems to have been that way.

  50. #50
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    Your muscles have three phases of energy production. And the advice given about is corrent

    Anaerobic. ATP creates the energy. This phase is good for 10-20 seconds. Technically, you could run a 100 yard and not breathe. This is explosive power. Think lifting weights, the first reps are easy, but then the ATP runs out and you turn to...

    Lactate. As your effort continues 2+ minutes of high exertion. You start to consume glycogen to produce ATP (a sort of cellular starch) This creates lactate, which your body can burn again. The downside is that it creates lactic acid (the burn)
    With training your body neutralizes the lactic acid more efficiently. depending on your condition it can take from a few minutes to 20 to neutralize the lactic acid

    Aerobic. After about 20 minutes you're full aerobic. Now your body is burning carbs, protein and fat to produce ATP. This phase can go for hours. You've passed the burn and now your lungs are pumping to create energy. You can't generated the same explosive force as with Lactic or anaerobic but you can keep going.


    Chances are (as stated before) you're hitting it too hard initially for your body type. Your body is more of an endurance thing. You aren't strong anaerobically, but are fine with time.

    Try cycling a fartlek routine. Start slow and after a few minutes, sprint for 30 seconds. Slow down until you recover, then sprint again. Slow down recover then try to sprint for a minute. The training doesn't build power as much as it speeds up the change over from one phase to the next.
    Life is too short to race through it. When life is a blur, you'll miss the magic.

  51. #51
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    I too am huffin and puffin for the first 20 min or so. But, it seems like, if I go all out to keep up with the fastest rider in our group on the first big climb, I feel great the rest of the day. If I ride by myself or with slower people and don't push it in the beginning, I feel like crap the rest of the ride.

  52. #52
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    For me my legs are on fire for the first 20-30 minutes. Any suggestions?

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisf_999
    Nearly every time I ride I struggle for the first 30 minutes or so. I get winded, legs ache, etc., but then it gets better and I'm able to have a good ride. Yes, I warm up/stretch. Anyone else have this happen? Any suggestions? Thanks!
    What do you mean by "warm up?" Obviously you're not really warmed up yet. Usually takes me at least a half an hour to really warm up too.
    Feel free to check out my personal website, Greg Heil.com

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motorep
    I have the same issue plus asthma too. I suffer for the first 2-4 miles then settle in near the back 'till the half way point. From there I can normally head to the front and not get in anyone's way.

    During last nights ride I had a major asthma attack and had a hard time getting my lungs back. After a long steady fire road climb I regrouped and had one of my best rides ever. Just proves that sometimes you gotta hang in there even when it hurts. Giving up is the easy part.
    Ive had this same issue. a couple my ashma attack gain the sympathy of a couple of very nice females who I happened to be riding with. hugs really help cure the ashma!!

    I finally saw a Pulmonary Dr. and he cured it with some a z pac, anti biotic and steroid inhaler with 8 pac of tablets.. I have been dying to get back on the trails but for now I am recovering from surgery,and am limited to flat recovery road riding.

    It usually takes about 10 miles to warm up when I ride on road.

  55. #55
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    I'm twenty-three and in excellent health. I stretch each muscle for 20 to 30 seconds, and I ride a couple times per week. Still, I drag for the first 30 minutes. None of my friends seem to have this problem, so I just don't know.

  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by RacingFan120
    I'm twenty-three and in excellent health. I stretch each muscle for 20 to 30 seconds, and I ride a couple times per week. Still, I drag for the first 30 minutes. None of my friends seem to have this problem, so I just don't know.
    Same here.. I am definitely going to try riding around before we hit the trails tomorrow AM and get warmed up.

  57. #57
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    i have the same problem but my biggest thing is during an extended climb or just an all out big ring fire road sprint i get a rally bad burning sensation in my stomach and lower esophagus. its like bad acid reflux that is gone after the strain.

    any ideas on how to fix the stomach problem?

  58. #58
    jalepenio jimenez
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    it's not good for my old muscles and other soft joint tissue to start out fast.
    most of us have some kind of tear, from minor to chronic, in our leg muscles or soft tissue of the knee jopint, and the only way to avoid further painful tearing is to take it easy until your muscles are warm.
    and, if you don't have any pains, it will prevent you from getting any.
    the slow warm up is a great time to let my mind unwind, drink a little agua and get centered and focused on my breathing and pedaling pace as a form of meditative preparation for the ride.
    it lets me become the animal I am.
    you know...one with the pulsing rythm of nature.
    once I catch back up with my riding buds, they spend the rest of the ride chasing me.
    White Clouds - Heart of Idaho

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