Is singlespeeding harder on your body - knees included- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Is singlespeeding harder on your body - knees included

    I'm considering making the move to a single speed, today I rode my geared 29er on a technical steep trail (east coast) I ride every month or so. I really enjoyed it and the challenges that came with it on the climbs. The one bad thing though that I did notice is that when I was really smashing on the uphill I was exerting alot more force with my legs and through my knees than I would if I was just in granny gears cranking up. So my question is, does ss negatively affect your body?

  2. #2
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    No. Riding once a month negatively effects your body.

  3. #3
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    Yes, SS is harder, but as long as you have a good overall fitness and get enough recovery time between rides it's no problem imo.
    Ride more!

  4. #4
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    It is different.

    Climbing out of the saddle gives your upper body a workout too.

    I have not noticed any ill effects on my knees, and I have some history of knee pains.
    You need to get out of the saddle as soon as turning the cranks seated becomes hard. That can save your knees and makes the going easier.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  5. #5
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    It's harder until your body beefs up the supplemental bits that you're not used to using, but not in a detrimental way. If you really want to put the hurt on, get a rigid fork. I'm starting to believe that could have long term negative effects.

    Of course either could suck balls if you're not doing it right.

  6. #6
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    I'm somewhat new to the SS game and the one area I noticed it most was my back. Keep in mind though that I don't necessarily workout with weights on my upper body (need to change that).

  7. #7
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    In the saddle climbing on geared bikes isn't good for your chamois area, too much pressure there for extended periods of time could be the single most detrimental activity for your body long term.
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    If your SS sis geared properly for the terrain and you have decent core fitness, then no. If you start out trying to be a He-man and rock a huge gear, you will hurt your knees. If you have no core strength you will likely develop low back pain from standing and pulling the handlebars. Assuming your bike is geared properly and you have decent fitness, I think a single speed is a better workout and "more bang for your exercise buck" so to speak.

  9. #9
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    I had knee problems when I switched back to a geared bike for 2 weeks.

    The caps slide out of alignment and I was messed. Phsyio and back on a SS and the knee problem is gone.

    My SS is geared at a ratio which works for me, when I had the geared bike I kept trying to push a harder gear and "boom" out went the knees.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigV View Post
    If you have no core strength you will likely develop low back pain from standing and pulling the handlebars.
    My core must suck then. Perhaps some situps along with back strengthenig will help.

  11. #11
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    I've noticed that too short of a toptube/stem hurts my back. Maybe you should try a longer stem.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by umarth View Post
    No. Riding once a month negatively effects your body.
    +1 If you are not riding with regularity then I think a SS would be a rough go.

    If your frequency is such that you can maintain a modicum of fitness then you will be fine.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by lyndonchen View Post
    I've noticed that too short of a toptube/stem hurts my back. Maybe you should try a longer stem.
    I've actually just raised my bars/stem to as high as I could go on my setup. I'll definitely keep that in mind. Thanks.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmanco View Post
    I'm considering making the move to a single speed, today I rode my geared 29er on a technical steep trail (east coast) I ride every month or so. I really enjoyed it and the challenges that came with it on the climbs. The one bad thing though that I did notice is that when I was really smashing on the uphill I was exerting alot more force with my legs and through my knees than I would if I was just in granny gears cranking up. So my question is, does ss negatively affect your body?
    Nope, not at all. I think gears can be bad because you just do the same thing over and over and over and over and... Think carpal tunnel syndrome...

    The SS forces one to employ many more situations of technique. This builds strength in a 'round' way. There are many ways and employing them in your routine will make you stronger and less prone to injury. Use more of your body and less 'gear' to get it done. For example, don't think your legs/knees have to do all the work, your core is hella important here as are your hips, ankles, lower back, upper back, forearms, butt! etc. Employ them all. They should all work together and take turns carrying the load, which gives the others a rest. You will be amazed what you can accomplish employing creative ergonomically correct form and engaging different muscle(groups) to achive upward momentum. For example, try riding your bike with Pilates in mind...Have fun!!!! Of course, this can be done with gears too...changing gears so you can always sit and spin is unhealthy and not a balanced approach IMHO.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by forgiven_nick View Post
    In the saddle climbing on geared bikes isn't good for your chamois area, too much pressure there for extended periods of time could be the single most detrimental activity for your body long term.

    boing!!!!

  16. #16
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    yeah, it's harder on your liver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zorro View Post
    I'm somewhat new to the SS game and the one area I noticed it most was my back. Keep in mind though that I don't necessarily workout with weights on my upper body (need to change that).
    I been riding ss now for a good four months now been on my geared bike only once,
    I started with the 18x32 setup that came with my Kona unit ,I ride anywhere from 2-5 times
    a week, anyways in the beginning I could sure feel the pressure in my lower back no bad
    pains but enough to make me wonder if I could keep this up, I have been doing stretches
    and stomach crunches for years to to keep my back in shape, so I started doing extra stretches
    and that with regular riding, I dont feel the pressure on my lower back anymore not enough
    anyways to make me worry.
    Also had knee aches in the beginning but not really much anymore, I am amazed how much
    stronger I am now compared to when I started, google back stretches and you will find the
    right ones for you.
    I start my day with morning stretches, and now I find if I also do my back related stretches
    after rides in the evening it seems to really make a difference.
    Last edited by Lonecrow; 09-19-2011 at 06:26 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmanco View Post
    does ss negatively affect your body?
    To be REALLY picky; no, it doesn't hurt your knees any more than any other cycling will. HOWEVER, pedaling at low cadence & high effort IS harder on your knees than spinning at 120rpm exerting minimal force; this all assuming your bike is setup properly.

    I'm basing this on my own chronic knee injuries. Both of mine were hurt years ago in some non-cycling related foolishness. In riding my SS I actually find that, unless I've provoked my knee to bug my by doing something stupid like running a great distance in flip-flops, everything is fine. When I do flare up a knee injury however, mashing at high effort and low RPM on my SS hurts like an absolute bastard. And, while I shouldn't be doing ANY cycling while I heal up, I can spin granny-type gears on my commuter bike without (much) pain and still get around.

    SS wouldn't be a problem for my knees if I rode like 32:32 gearing. That would just make me look like a MASSIVE pansy

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lonecrow View Post
    I been riding ss now for a good four months now been on my geared bike only once,
    I started with the 18x32 setup that came with my Kona unit ,I ride anywhere from 2-5 times
    a week, anyways in the beginning I could sure feel the pressure in my lower back no bad
    pains but enough to make me wonder if I could keep this up, I have been doing stretches
    and stomach crunches for years to to keep my back in shape, so I started doing extra stretches
    and that with regular riding, I dont feel the pressure on my lower back anymore not enough
    anyways to make me worry.
    Also had knee aches in the beginning but not really much anymore, I am amazed how much
    stronger I am now compared to when I started, google back stretches and you will find the
    right ones for you.
    I start my day with morning stretches, and now I find if I also do my back related stretches
    after rides in the evening it seems to really make a difference.
    Good advice. Funny cause I always mention to my girlfriend that I need to start stretching more now that I'm 37. I just need to incorporate it into my daily schedule.

  20. #20
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    ss

    I have been riding and racing ss for over a year now.Im 58 and have had 3 knee surguries,arthoscopic, I also have some lower back issues.Riding ss has made my back feel better and no problems with knees.Terrain is desert like with no long climbs but plenty of short steep ups.I ride lot more aggresivly and keep momentum on climbs.I am also running a rigid fork one niner so you would thing I am beating myself up but so far good.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by zorro View Post
    Good advice. Funny cause I always mention to my girlfriend that I need to start stretching more now that I'm 37. I just need to incorporate it into my daily schedule.
    Hit that ****!!

    Yeah, so if SS-ing has you stretching and paying more attention to more of your body in terms of fitness, therapy and incorporation/technique, then it is by no means harder your body -> it is quite the opposite...

    dig?
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by hihache View Post
    yeah, it's harder on your liver.
    QFT.

    I take hot yoga. It's the best cross training there is. Cyclists are notoriously tight and that crap loosens you up like crazy. And it's fun.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by cluster_tolerance View Post
    Hit that ****!!

    Yeah, so if SS-ing has you stretching and paying more attention to more of your body in terms of fitness, therapy and incorporation/technique, then it is by no means harder your body -> it is quite the opposite...

    dig?
    I dig, but I did not say it was harder on my body. Just said I felt it in my back. If anything it has brought to my direct attention the need to do daily stretching and overall increase my strength. So I guess we are pretty much saying the same thing...ss will get your arse in shape, way more than gears. At the very least it will point it out to you real quick like. Plus, I'm way stronger on my geared bike now.

  24. #24
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    When I started riding 4 years ago my back told me I needed a full squish geared bike. My back always hurts from the hunched over spinning position especially on the climes. After riding and training on a SS my back feels much better. I think it is due to the stretched out standing position when hammering the on the peddles.

    If anyone wants to get stonger in leeps and bounds, a SS in the only way to go. Last year I was barely placing in the top 10 Sport class (geared), this year Iím consistently on the podium and winning. My goal isn't winning my age group any more, it's finishing in the top 5 in all the age groups. Hell, I even catch some of the Cat 1 riders that start 5 minutes ahead of us.

    A great feeling for someone that just turned 50.

    mojo

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mojo Man View Post
    If anyone wants to get stonger in leeps and bounds, a SS in the only way to go. Last year I was barely placing in the top 10 Sport class (geared), this year Iím consistently on the podium and winning. My goal isn't winning my age group any more, it's finishing in the top 5 in all the age groups. Hell, I even catch some of the Cat 1 riders that start 5 minutes ahead of us.

    A great feeling for someone that just turned 50.
    That's awesome. Good for you. I take it you're racing geared?

  26. #26
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    I'm not sure about "harder" but because of the standing and mashing I have found that warming up, especially my knees, is more important to me.

    I even speed up the process by putting muscle rub on my knees, and wearing neoprene wraps for the drive to the trailhead and then choosing a route that allows me to spin for a few minutes before I attack that first hill...

    When I get back from the ride, I slap the wraps back on to keep them nice and toasty until I can get home so they cool back down gently.
    Last edited by arphaxhad; 09-20-2011 at 01:55 PM.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by zorro View Post
    I dig, but I did not say it was harder on my body. Just said I felt it in my back. If anything it has brought to my direct attention the need to do daily stretching and overall increase my strength. So I guess we are pretty much saying the same thing...ss will get your arse in shape, way more than gears. At the very least it will point it out to you real quick like. Plus, I'm way stronger on my geared bike now.
    Yup! Dig we do. I have a compromised knee and a shoulder with an AC grade 3. SS-ing and fixt riding has strengthened me hella. I took the long way to get started in terms of learning technique, strengthening my body to bring it up to the task, etc.etc. I think today, to many folks want instant grat. Ain't gonna happen on a SS...and that's a good thing!! I still need to stretch more. Hot(Bikram) yoga was mentioned above. I did that for ~3 months last winter and I don't think I have ever done anything that has helped my cycling and my psych-ing so much!
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  28. #28
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    Harder No. But when your legs are dead on a SS you are in trouble. No way to make it easier other than pushing it.

  29. #29
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    I've been ssing for a few years, and slowly fine tuning everything since making the switch. I found that I needed a slightly higher bar to combat back pain. This year, I developed knee issues. I worked with my sports doctor, and the solution was placing a small shim on the inside of my cleats. This gives me a little bit of vertical float on the inside, and allows my feet to stay in their natural pronation. Any biking can be hard on the body. Correctly identifying and solving the issues is key.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by zorro View Post
    My core must suck then. Perhaps some situps along with back strengthenig will help.



    Planks, side planks and burpee's are much more effective than sit ups.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dubthang View Post
    Any biking can be hard on the body. Correctly identifying and solving the issues is key.
    Agreed. Proper setup and biomechanics are key and if you have issues, then SS will exasperate them. I have chronically tight IT bands that pull my knees out of whack. As long as I manage the issue and maintain proper fitness and form, then I can hammer away all day without problems and I have been riding SS for ~9 years.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ.MTNS View Post
    Planks, side planks and burpee's are much more effective than sit ups.
    Core Work

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by random walk View Post




    Excellent link. Thanks

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by random walk View Post
    Awesome link, thanks.

    PS - that dudes shorts were pretty short.

  35. #35
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    Yes, I agree, SS set up is just as, if not more important that on a geared. I tend to like my bars about an inch higher that my seat. This gives me much better positioning when hammering out of the saddle. Since Iím out of the saddle more times than sitting it allows for that quick transition.

    Mojo

  36. #36
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    I seem to manage best with the bar a little below seat level. Either it has to do with my proportions, or it is just what I am used to. A higher bar feels awkward to me, uphill, downhill, on the flats, over rocks and roots.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by monzie View Post
    QFT.

    I take hot yoga. It's the best cross training there is. Cyclists are notoriously tight and that crap loosens you up like crazy. And it's fun.
    At age 48, I (and my wife) just started yoga last week--I love it! I am drenched when done. We're going to a core-specific yoga class. It's warm in there but not categorized as 'hot yoga.'

    I'm going to stick with it.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwiktm View Post
    Harder No. But when your legs are dead on a SS you are in trouble. No way to make it easier other than pushing it.
    Amen to that. No more let me drop down a gear and recover a bit, either you go or you don't. For me recovering is now stopping for 30secs. Hopefully those 30sec recovery stops will dwindle.

  39. #39
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    Also check out the YouTube videos in this thread, post #2. If you look closely, there are actually some good stretching exercises there.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colo Springs E View Post
    At age 48, I (and my wife) just started yoga last week--I love it! I am drenched when done. We're going to a core-specific yoga class. It's warm in there but not categorized as 'hot yoga.'

    I'm going to stick with it.
    Try out a Bikram class. I love it. Since you do regular yoga the Bikram won't be as hard as it is if you go in not knowing the deal( how I started).
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  41. #41
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    It was hard at first, my whole body hurt all the time had to take couple days off between each ride. Now I can pretty much ride everyday if I could without too much pain, but I think this is more to do with getting used to your trails on a SS. You would be surprised what a new trail can do to you when you don't know when to hammer.

    If you're new to it and are in group ride with geared riders, just get the hell in front of them any chance you get. These guys will just granny gear up anything and go from dead stops up hills.
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  42. #42
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    Here are my suggestions
    -Make sure to gear it properly for the steepest terrain you feel comfortable riding
    -Ride often
    -Learn when to stop and just start walking

    I started w/ 36:18 w/ 29er. Was awful, singletrack and fireroads of 500-600ft elevation change was painful. I now ride a 32:19 ratio. Much better! Def learn to check for a straight chainline and buy 3 or 4 diff gearing cogs to play around with. I've seen singlespeed mtb'ers running 32-34 for front chainrings on 29ers.
    -Ben

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by monzie View Post
    Try out a Bikram class. I love it. Since you do regular yoga the Bikram won't be as hard as it is if you go in not knowing the deal( how I started).
    Been there. Done that (a couple times).

    Really helped me to stabilize my breathing to conserve energy with riding.

  44. #44
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    One thing that has really helped my overall fitness (especially SSing) is crossfit. (see Welcome to CrossFit: Forging Elite Fitness)

    It will definitely improve your riding (and running, and swimming, well, you get the idea...)

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Node View Post
    Been there. Done that (a couple times).

    Really helped me to stabilize my breathing to conserve energy with riding.
    That's another rad benefit of Bikram, I don't even notice not getting winded anymore but when I first started doing it( Bikram) the difference in my breathing on the bike really helped out and was noticeable.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tone's View Post
    Id scrap the passion forum all together, its a breeding ground for unicorn milkers, rainbow chasers and candy cotton farters.

  46. #46
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    to me singlespeed is about riding at your own pace. it should be fun! when it gets too hard just walk.
    I think I push my self harder on squisy geared bikes, but i havn't ridden one for over a year!

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    I just did my first ride on my new SS. 10 miles, and my buddies had a hard time keeping up with me on their geared bikes. I had a blast, but the next day I noticed some soreness around my knees that I never have after riding my geared bike, also toward the end of the ride I did have a tired back, however I think that is due to the set up of the bike (bars are way to far forward for me, new stem on the way)

  48. #48
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    Love it or Hate it

    I've been single speeding for about 3 years now and rode a fixed gear road bike years before that,

    If your regular rides have an Elevation Gain of more than 1000 ft, I stick with a geared bike. Also If you only ride on the weekend or once a month,Stick with the geared bike however

    I bought my Singlespeed with the Idea that it was only gonna be a Commuter Bike and it was just fun to Ride. Well I run my Single Speed 90% of the time as I'm one of the ones who became hooked. However

    I bought mine as a year end closeout and that bike dealer don't sell them anymore as they don't just fly out the door. There is a reason for that.

    SF
    Who cares how much gas you save, ride your bike to work because it's fun!!!!!!!

  49. #49
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    Love ss because of a more "all body" workout. I've noticed I'm stronger in my deltoids, triceps, and pecs. I've been doing bench press and pushups in the gym to help when I'm not riding so I don't get so sore. (I've got a weak upper body cause I'm a girl). Also the hand calluses are pretty cool.

    Did make the recent mistake of when I switched back to a geared bike for a 50 mile race, my a$$ got so chafed from sitting in the saddle to spin gears that I was miserable for many days afterwards. I never use the saddle on the singlespeed!

    I also have screwed up knees from too much skiing (torn MCL, PCL, and patellar tendon, 3 separate injuries but all the same knee). Knees on the singlespeed are perfectly happy, at least so far!

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steel Freak View Post
    If your regular rides have an Elevation Gain of more than 1000 ft, I stick with a geared bike.
    Well then I'm hosed out here in Colorado. Any ride you do out here is easily 1k climbing. You shouldn't tell that to the crazy ss crowd out here. Let me tell you, they are god dang CRAZY (leadville 100 on a ss?). Starting to incorporate stretching into my daily routine and noticed a few posture changes I needed to make while climbing. Hoping it will make a difference.

  51. #51
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    My knees are killing me after my last ride.

    Can't blame it on SS'ing though. I ejected off the bike after flying into an unexpected rut. I stuck the landing, but the bike followed me and I took a bar end in the back of one knee and the stem clanked off the other one.

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    Last Post: 11-02-2005, 08:01 PM

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