Are Those Bruises?

I don’t know what it is about me. I know what causes bruises–but I don’t know why I bruise so much and so easily. Wham! I’ll walk into the side of a patients bed and develop a huge black and blue mark on my hip. Smack! Walk into a sign and have a bruise on my forehead. Crash! Fall off my roadbike, in my own driveway (which wasn’t my fault– it was the silly huge heart that was moved in the side of the lawn, and I thought it would be smart to check my mail on my bike still clipped in. Didn’t go down so well. Picking gravel out of your knee with tweezers is never a fun thing to do). You’re probably wondering if I’m just clumsy–that might be the case. That, or not think. After a visit to the doc yesterday morning he looked down at my knees, “What happened?”

To that I could only answer, “being me.”

Anyway, this post isn’t about my clumsiness and blessed ability to bruise easily, it’s about the rest of my first ever road trip.

Part Two: Shelbourne,  and Burlington

Church Street, downtown Burlington

After hiking up Mt Mansfield in Stowe, I headed further east to Shelbourne to spend the night. Little did I know that almost everything within walking distance to Burlington was booked, so I ended up staying about four miles south of the town, which ended up being a blessing in disguise because it was a construction disaster getting into burlington, with lots of traffic, and I would have been a mess trying to find my way around and drive anywhere.

Once I checked into the hotel, I noticed a large number of young people walking around, and Tri bikes on top of the roofs of cars. At the desk a cute young athlete came up to me and asked if I was here for the race this weekend. Apparently, the 19th and 20th were when the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship was going on that weekend. “No, not this one…no…But I do tri’s!”

Since it was so late by the time I got there, and the muscles in my arms hurt from mountain biking, and my legs could use a rest from the climb, and there was no way in hell I was going to attempt to get back into Burlington, so I just stayed in the hotel and ate some trail mix and watched some TV. Ahh, relaxation. I cannot remember a time when I could relax.

In the morning, I took the bus into town because walking along a 2 lane “highway” for four miles did not seem appealing. I would have walked, though.  But, now I know their bus system! (The ladies at the front desk must have thought i was crazy for even contemplating walking that far).

I went to Church street, which is the main street in Burlington. It is on a hill, and if you want to go to the water and then back up is a bit of a hike! Church street reminded me of Boston for some odd reason.

Cherry Street, or as Ben and Jerry's prefer Cherry Garcia (taken next to the ben and Jerry's ice cream shop

Once downtown, I wandered the streets, up and down, taking everything in. Burlington has its own mall! And, with brands that I like! I was super stoked about that. I found my way down to the water (I guess not the conventiona way…maybe I should look at maps more). And it was beautiful. Warm, sunny, breezy….great. By the time I got down to the water, I was famished. So, I decided to stop and have food and rehydrate (it was hot out!) so I went toBreakwater Cafe and Gril. She brought me to a back table and I waited and just kept watching the small waves in the lake, and decided what next to do.

Looking out at the bay

Looking out at the bay

Whenever I am close to water, I feel like I want to eat fish. Or something from the sea. I did want to treat myself to a lobster and when I asked him where the  lobster was from, he said, “Maine” and I nearly choked. “You don’t have Vermot lobster?”

“No, I’m sorry”

Saddly, I ended up, eating a salad with a crab cake. I really was looking foward to lobster.

Looks interesting

After my lunch/dinner, I walked along to the Aquarium (although I didn’t go in) and back up to main street, which lead me back to Church street. It was a really nice day, just relaxing. Once I was there, I found my way to the bus station and headed back to the hotel. On the way, I had the driver stop cause my next destination was the Magic Hat Bewery and did a tour which was pretty neat. I did come home with four pint glasses from the place as my souvenier form my trip. The inside of the artifactory is dark but with yellow  christmas tree lights all over the place–it was kind of crazy.

From there, I walked back along route 7 (busy busy) which was only  like a mile from my  hotel. (boy, it was warm out!). I kinda chilled in my hotel room (by the time I got  home it was around 7), took a long shower, and placed all the maps over my bed to  see what would happen next.!

Some lessons learnt on my trip thus far:

1) Do not use your phone as a navigation system, unless you have an app or something similar on it. Trying to look at the directions on your phone as you are driving and figuring out which way is staight is not at all helpful and worth the attempt at saving trees. If you use directions from mapquest, print them off!

2)Always make sure you are somewhat presentable before checking into hotels. And ask if they will let you have your bike in your room for safety reasons. Some do, some don’t.

3)The weathermen are never predictable.

4)Getting lost trying trying get to I89 over to whatever it is in Albany to come down from the North, during AM rushhour traffic, is never fun.

5) Two different people on two different occassions said I looked like that actress. My reply, “Jodie Foster? Yeah, everyone says that. I still don’t see it.

6)Dried cherries are not as good as craisins in the Molly trail mix.Next time, I’ll add walnuts and pecans and sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds!

7) After returning and being shocked by the number on the scale in the doctors office, I’ve decided I really need to start watching what I eat. Blah

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You Were F-l-y-i-n-g Down That

Before I begin this, there is something you should know, if you do not already. I’ve put in quite a lot of miles on my road bike (which I’ve had for a year today!). Riding on the eastern side of the Hudson is pretty awesome. Well, so is the riding across the river. Meh, everywhere I’ve ridden on the roads have been nice (except for route 9 from Hudson to Rhinebeck which is a pot hole mess with no shoulder). My mountain bike is a different story. Truth be told, I think I’ve put in less than twenty five on my mountain bike. I think twenty-five is stretching it. Maybe more like eight, and two of those were on a road. Do I let that stop me playing? Pshh, please. You’ve gotta learn how to handle the bike somehow, and what better way to learn how to do that than by 1) riding by yourself in 2) a completely foreign place (okay, okay a different state).

Yes, you may know my special bond with my road bike. But after this weekends occurances, I think my bond with my mountain bike might be even closer.

I returned from my whirlwind vacation of being in New Hampshire, NYC, and Vermont, and have decided to tell you about it. Might I add, this is the first vacation I have had in over a year, and the first time I have driven anywhere by myself as the driver for a longer distance than kingston/New Paltz to Boston, which, once upon a time, could do blindfolded with one hand tied behind my back. Don’t worry, I never actually did that. I try to obey the law as much as possible.

Map of my trip

Day 1: Kingdom Trails and Stowe, Vermont

I headed out early (0600) since I was up at 3 and got to my first destination, Easte Burke, Vermont, known for it’s amazing network of trails for mountain biking known as the Kingdom Trails. Now, I’ve never been to this place, or this area of Vermont before, so it was all new to me (just like in NH, gas prices are way cheaper than in Dutchess County) I would have made it sooner had there not been so much road work going on. Left lane closed—-merge Right—right lane closed—merge left. Seriously? on I-90 going up to East Burke there was construction construction construction. Which was slighly annoying. But, with it being that early in the day, it wasn’t too bad because not too many people were on the roads.

After multiple cups of coffee and iced coffee  to keep me awake, and munching on a Molly trail mix of almonds and dried cherries (which look like cranberries dried, who knew?), I made it to Burke Mountain to find that the lifts were only open on weekends. And, I think Burke Mountain is where downhill bikers go. Anyway, after getting lost, I found my way to the Kingdom Trails Information Center and discussed options for biking.

“Hi!” I said to the information center person

“Welcome! Have you ever been here before?

“No, I know nothing about this place and was hoping you could tell me where to go.”

“That’s my job! Do you do much biking?”

“Yeah a little,”

“Where do you live?”

“Rhinebeck, across from ulster county.”

“Close to the Catskill region?”

“Yeah.”

“Ohhh, then I have some great trails for you which should be a piece of cake.”

Hmm, maybe I should tell him that even though I live close to the Catskills, I’ve only ever been on my mountain bike less than 5 times….The very friendly man behind the desk pulled out a very detailed map will miles and miles of different mountain bike paths, ranging from “easiest” to “most difficult”–most of what he showed me was single track paths.

Trails, trails, lots of trails!

If you are unfamiliar with Kingdom Trails, and like mountain biking, this place is amazing and you could spend days riding all of the paths that they have. There is not only cross country mountain biking, but downhill mountain biking over at Burke Mountain, which I mentioned before. If I did not need to use my limbs for work, then I totally would have tried a downhill mtn bike course they have for people.

The weather was super gorgeous, and since it was the  middle of the week, the place was not too busy. I started up Durling Hill Road and then went down into the forests. The trails are awesome and kept up really well. It was a little muddy in some places, because of all the rain they had gotten, but still fantastic. I started off on one called Coronary Bypass, which at somepoints, thought I would need my own coronary bypass after riding up (I know, I’m still learning the whole going up steep hills part of mountain biking). Then, made my way to Pastore Point Loop and over to more of Coronary. I did keep bumbing into a couple of riders (we tended to meet at areas where there were different routes available, and I ended up riding with them for a little while. I warned them I was not the best mountain biker, but I guess I have no problem going down hills as after going down River Run, one of my new friends exclaimed, “Dude, you were flying down that!”

My response: Yeah, I love going fast!

Some River close to Pastore Pointe Loop

Looking back at Tap n Die---on which I really would have died

*As a side note, yes, I have this weird ability to be able to talk to complete strangers which some people find odd since I’m somewhat shy. These two guys were on vacation from Seattle! It was nice to have some other people to ride with, even though at a point I had to part ways with my newfound friends.

Looking out towards West Burke

I continued my journey biking up through trees, over bridges (which I didn’t fall off of!), speeding down hills,through streams, through puddles of mud, and getting lost. It was a blast, and I wish there was a place like this closer to Rhinebeck with trails like them.

After spending a couple hours of biking, I was famished and covered with mud. I kind of washed enough of the dried mud from my legs and headed into Lyndonville for food before heading to my next destination: Stowe, VT. For some reason, after any bike ride, I crave food that I do not usually eat, like pizza. And at the end of this ride I thought, Mmm, pizza and a beer sounds really good right now. Alas, I got to a pizza place right in town (there isn’t much in Lyndonville, just incase you were wondering) only to find out they had stopped making pizza thirty minutes before I got there, and they would not start serving it again for three more hours. First of all, what type of pizza place doesn’t have pizza all the time? Ohh well, the Molly trail mix and gatorade in my car would have to do. I looked down at a map and decided I had had enough of being here, so onto the next stop before heading to my final destination of Burlington.

Stowe, Vermont, is about an hour and twenty minutes east of Lyndonville. It is home of the highest point/mountain in Vermont. Since I had come prepared with not only my mountain and road bike, but also hiking gear, I figured I would do some hiking/walking if the weather permitted. Once I got to my B&B that I was staying in, which was a very cute , I went and walked the Pinnacle Trail– which was a little more than 2 miles walk outside the village to the trail head, and then a 1.4 mile hike to the summit of Pinnacle. The weather could not be more gorgeous, and this was a perfect afternoon/early evening hike.

I spend the night at the Three Bears at the Fountain Bed and Breakfast  which was a very cute and cozy bed and breakfast. If you are ever in Stowe, I strongly suggest staying there, although there is a plethora of different inns/b&bs/lodges open in the summer and winter (there is lots of skiing available during the winter in Stowe). My room was awesome, and they had great breakfast in the morning. I decided, why not treat myself and stay somewhere nice, I am on vacation! (This really is a great place–they did not even question how insanely dirty I was after arriving post mountain bike ride…Although in the future, I will make sure that I am somewhat clean, don’t have old dried mud smeared across my forehead, and am wearing clean clothes before checking into a bed and breakfast, or checking in anywhere for that matter. They did ask me where I came from when I apologized for looking so messy.)

Stowe's most romantic and historic bed and breakfast.

After a hearty breakfast the next morning (they had great great breakfast) I decided to hike up the Long Trail– a trail that will take you to Mount Mansfield, the highest point in Vermont (4395 ft). I went up Smugglers Knotch and got to the summit in the early afternoon. I was amazed at how many hikers I saw along the way. There were some areas which were a bit tricky, but for the most part, it wasn’t that difficult of a hike. And the views from the top were amazing! And with a clear, cloudless blue sky, you could see for miles. Ofcourse, the one time I forget both my camera and my phone. I guess I’ll just have to go back!

Song of (that) day:

Vacation, here I come!

I cannot remember the last time I went on a vacation. I think it was Christmas of 2009 when I went home to Luxembourg for the holidays. Unfortunetly, the house I lived in will be sold this summer, and I will not have the cance to get back and see it before it is sold. I suppose that is a part of growing up.

Anyway, after looking at my schedule for next week, I realized I have a full ten days off from work. TEN. Ten. Not working. And, I could not be more thrilled about this trip, that I still have not planned out, than you can imagine. No, I’m not going to an exotic beach (I think I have ADHD when it comes to beaches and sitting on beaches and sitting next to pools. Lakes are a different story) or an exotic resort. Actually, I’m not quite sure where I’m going. My Timberman sprint is right in the smack of the ten day stretch which kind of stinks, because it breaks up the vacation. But, do I let that bother me? Pshh, please. My vacations that I’ve taken alone, and I’ve done my fair share of traveling alone, or backpacking, through different areas, have all been slightly on the spontaneous side. I do like to have a plan, but my plans tend to go back and forth so much it almost seems useless to even plan anything.

But, this vacation is different. It’s going to be some “me” time (yes, maybe company would be nice). I am going to check out Burlington VT–I have never been there, but hear fabulous things about it. (Did you know the Magic Hat Brewery is close to Burlington?!?) Then at somepoint, head over to Kingdom Trails to give my mountain bike some love and attention.

And then, ofcourse, I need to be at Lake Winnepasakee for the Timberman Sprint which I’m excited about, because I think I will be able to actually finish this one! And then, well, maybe head north and do some hiking in the Mount Washington area.

These are just tentative ideas. Where I’ll be staying, I have no idea. When I’ll be in each place will be decided on, hopefully, pretty soon. All I know is that my tri gear is all set and ready to go, my bike with aerobars is intact, my mountain bike yearns for my attention, and my sleeping bag/tent that have accumulated dust in my room long to be taken out and absorb the sunshine (or rain, if it decides to rain.).

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.

~Andre Gide

Reflections of Two Years in the Hudson Valley

Yes, it is hard to believe I have been living up in the hudson valley for two years. Wow. It seems like forever ago, and so much changed during that time– hospitalizations, learning how to live with certain illnesses, being unemployed, a horrible break up with the man I was going to marry, living (for a short period) which my grandmother–God rest her soul– switching jobs, stress with job hunting. Then, there was returning to my amphibian roots and actually loving when I can get into the water and swim…I could go on and on

Two years ago today, or to be more precise, two years ago minus a day, I got my first drivers license in VA. Wow, and I remember my first car trip alone to Boston on the Mass pike not even a month after I got my license and how t-e-r-r-i-f-i-e-d I was.They don’t call Massachusetts drivers Massholes for nothing. Yes, boston is only about 3 hrs away. But I am planning my first vacation where I will be driving longer distances in my car for my vacation next week (which will be a post in itself!)

It’s amazing how much can change in two years. Job wise, the amount of knowledge that I know is insane. There are still times when I freak out (internally) and when horrible things happen, but that is the nature of the job. It is not a place I see myself for very much longer, but we’ll see.

Personally wise, I’ve developed amazing friendships with amazing people, and have had the ability to get to know my cousins and aunt and uncle more than I ever did growing up. (My dear friend who also moved here about the same time as me has a blog–City Mouse in the Country— about her two years. You should check her blog out- it’s awesome, and I love her dearly).

I love the fall in the Hudson Valley, esp in the Catskills. Gorgeous.No, it’s stunning. The hiking and mountaineering possibilities are endless. I love being able to be so close to places where I can pick my own fruit. I love that mini pumpkins are beginning to grow in the garden behind the house.

I started biking again which I had not done since high school (except spin classes) and can’t remember why I ever stopped, because it is a passion of mine. Not only that, but starting to pursue different types of biking–like mountain biking, and I hope soon cx biking, which will be easier in the winters.

I’ve developped a passion for racing. I always did small 5k or 10k races, and then the NYC half and three marathons, but those are different from triathlons. In the midst of my vacation, I’ll be doing my first sprint triathlon. I decided to be easy on my body and move my way up in terms of training for larger event races since I was unable to finish the other race (I am no quitter). And, this fall, inbetween the triathlons, will do my first mountain bike race ever. Who knows, maybe even start cross racing.

The two years weren’t all peaches and cream. Work has been stressful. My grandmother who I had lived with passed away. A dear friend of mine passed away in November of 2009. For the past couple months, I had family living with me, which can be hard when you work a night schedule, and all the construction/lawn mowing is done in the morning right when you want to go to sleep. I’ve spent so much time on my bike that running, actually, has been more difficult for me due to some weird knee problem that has resurfaced.Living alone in a house during the last winter of 2010/2011 was horrible–old houses plus lousy/long/cold/ bilzzards is no fun. I think I worked every holiday. It was the first Christmas I spent alone while the rest of my family was back in Luxembourg. Talk about depressing.Esp. when you worked the 23/24/25th of December. But, I did have someone come over to say Merry Christmas to, which, if you read this and know who you are, I thank you dearly, because it meant a lot to me.

I’ve matured in so many ways, not only into a young adult, but in what I do, too. I used a John Deere mower for the first time (by my self!) today. It was a bit dicey–there were definitely lots of “eeks” when riding down the hills around the house (if you have seen the house, you know what I am talking about). But, I did it! I’m learning how to garden, and seeing the produce spring up is awesome.

I don’t know what is going to happen in the future, or happen tomorrow even (although I have a pretty good idea about what will happen). But, despite all the ups and downs of the past two years, they have been good ones, and I’ve made great memories that will be with me for the rest of my life.

The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.

~ Abe Lincoln


This is Just Plain Nasty

Upon finishing my delicious dinner of Peanut Butter Clif Bars and settling down for the first time today (yes–I was up all day, during day light hours! Unimaginable! And, yes, the Clif bars were tasty, but I’m really craving a large portion of Pomme Frites covered in salt and a beer at the moment), I realized it has been quite a while since I’ve written a post. And after running (not literally–it was more like stumbling) into a friend of mine who exclaimed, “I think the last time I saw you was in early March,” (my response, “Really? Dude, that’s a long time.”) I thought it is about time to resurface from my semi-hermit-nocturnal lifestyle and attempt to do things during daylight hours like the majority of the rest of the world.

So, what do I write about? Thank goodness the heat wave seems to have left the area, and I thought about writing a post on sports nutrition, but then decided I’m probably not the best to give advice on nutrition if I just ate Clifbars for dinner, and the fact my stomach for some odd reason cannot tolerate gels or energy things during races or training (as I found out the hard way yesterday when I scarfed down a package of Gu-bloks right before riding up Platte Clove Road. Less than ten minutes up the hill, I felt the gelliness (is that a word?) creep into my throat and had to stop to puke). However, my knowledge of nutrition is quite extensive due to a career in nursing and juggling an athletic/vegan-vegetarian lifestyle…My enthusiasm towards creating and cooking new dishes has actually increased recently–only a hand full of people who have eaten the food (and survived) would believe that since the juices and beverages are basically the only habitants of my refrigerator, except for the lone jar of pickles. A favorite website of mine is Fat Free Vegan Kitchen which has amazing dishes.

In my defense, I prefer to go food shopping on days I cook and only have enough for me or whomever is joining me to eat so that the chances of anything going rotten is slim. On that note, I also prefer to shop locally instead of large chain stores. Yes, the food might be a bit more expensive when not bought locally (there are farmer’s Markets in most towns where you can get local fruits and veggies as well as local butchers) but you are helping the local economy stay afloat. And, honestly, after my last trip to Wal-Mart I was not only terrified by the condition of the people shopping there, but I just felt gross leaving. In no way am I suggesting people who do shop at Wal-Mart are unconscious of their health. And, Wal-Mart does have some good prices for certain items….But if I can buy locally, I’ll do so. Below is a site that lists of farmers markets in the Dutchess and Ulster counties. I know I’ve spoken about CSAs before–and those are fantastic during the summer months…Although the summer is quickly passing and fruits will be off the vines soon, but it will be apple picking time in no time! Mmmm, I love baking Apple pie. Adams seems to have amazing food, and if you eat fish, it seems to be the best fish I’ve found in the area– so fresh, and you can find fish that were wild caught, not farm raised.

Back to the post about Cycling. I have a couple of friends who will be participating in the Tour of the Catskills this weekend, which is a three stage road race up through the Catskills. It is mountainous with sharp ascents and long descents, winding roads, and on a beautiful day, the views on parts of the ride are breathtaking. It’s intense. Lots of thigh burning.I decided to do one of the stages yesterday because I needed to get my long ride in, and was bored with Dutchess County and thought, “Hey, I’ll do the stage 2 course!” I got lost so my ride wasn’t exactly the same, and my written instructions of where to go were useless when I ran into rain going from Windham to Durham.

I’ve ridden over in Ulster/Greene county before, and the one time I’ve ridden up Platte Clove was at the beginning of my ride. In the tour, the ride up Platte Clove, or “the Devils Kitchen” is after riders have been riding for over 50 miles–and thats the higher category cyclists. The pro’s and cat 1/2 do a longer loop, but still end up going up Platte Clove Road.

I give the people racing this weekend an incredible amount of credit for what they are about to do. The kicker of the race is Platte Clove road, a road only open seasonally (according to the Daily Freeman last week, a hiker fell somehow off the road and was seriously injured) and this road is over 3 miles long with a 7% grade incline. And after riding over 50 miles, having to ride up it is a b*tch. As I was riding along route 32 from Durham towards Mountain Road, I looked over at the Catskills and a horrible thought came over me: I need to get back up there to get to my car…. and it’s up there.

I’m not a fan of hills, or mountains I should say, when biking, especially after riding for over 50 miles (I know, hardcore road cyclists think that is nothing). I’ve only done Platte Clove once, and it is like the hill from hell– it’s just plain nasty. It is never-ending. Once you think you are at the top, you still have a couple of miles of rolling hills to get to Tannersville, or Haines Falls where I parked. If you were to pass me, you’d hear my “ughs” and the swearing started once mosquitos decided to have a feast on my arms. However, I did stop along Platte Clove and wrote in large letters a couple of names of people I know who will be riding up this devilish hill this weekend. However, by that time, most of it will be just one large smear of orange from the cars and if it rains. (Crayolla Sidewalk Chalk is amazing–there is even glow in the dark chalk! But, its washable– who makes washable sidewalk paint?).

HF→Durham→Round TOP→Saugerties→Platte Clove

Once I made it to the top after having a break to speak with someone who was walking their dog (I might be semi-quiet in general, but seem to be able to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger over useless, random topics of conversation.)

Training wise, I went to the lake to swim today  which was wonderful, and actually found a rope swing which I just could not swim past and no try it. It was fun; I haven’t been on a rope swing in years.

Onteora Lake-- complete peace

My next race is the Timberman; I decided to sign up for the sprint, since it is in the middle of my ten day vacation (woohoo!) and I plan on doing lots of mountain bike rides and road rides up in Vermont and New Hampshire so I would prefer if I was able to walk and do activities after the race. However, after my ride yesterday and my swim today, I think I could technically do the full half IM, but since it’s my vacation, I want to be able to do more hiking/road and mountain biking with by babies. My long run is tonight, so depending how that goes, I’ll decide what I’ll do. Then, I should really start planning my trip (insert extremely happy face). I really would love to do the half IM, but am not sure it’s possible now, especially with my insane, nasty night-shift work schedule which make it hard to train because you are so physically exhausted. Ohh the day when I can work during normal hours… Imagine how much easier it would be to train!

Before I end his post, I am going to share some useful info for you regarding cycling, and doing anything outside in the Catskills, even if it is only 0700.

1) Bring sun glasses, or those clear cycling glasses you can wear. They not only help on a bright day, but also keeps rain from pelting your eyes so you can see during sudden rainfall (however, there is nothing like riding in the rain).

2) Reflective cycling jackets are a smart idea to wear when you are riding right when the sun comes out and when you are cycling in fog. It helps drivers know you are there.

3) Not all reflective jackets are waterproof, as evidenced by my drenched, wadded up pathetic paper directions of my route (perhaps the reason I didn’t know where I was a couple of times… thank goodness I kind of had an idea of where I was going).

4)Even when it is overcast, you can still get burnt. I think I have three different shade of color on my upper arm from wearing different sleeve-length jerseys.

5) If you carry a cell phone, put it in a plastic bag so incase you do run into rain, it does not destroy the phone. This I learned the hard way after a mountain bike ride when my phone, along with my whole body and bike, fell into a stream.

Farmers Markets in the Hudson Valley

To end this post (my apologies if it is all over the place), I leave you with a small teaser from a documentary which is coming out on the Catskills.

When was the last crazy post written?

August 2011
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