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Day 156-159. Linares – Alcaraz, 160 km (7343 km)

The route Linares - Alcaraz

The route Linares – Alcaraz

Day 156. Linares – Torreperogil, 42 km

I start the day with breakfast in the room. This is a very nice day, sunny and nice. The first 9 km, out of Linares and then on to N-322 is very messy with road works going on, they are in progress of “upgrading” the N-322 from nice road to highway. After leaving N-322 I travel nice back roads, they are nice but even hillier.

N-322

N-322

I gain something like 500 meters of altitude the first 10 km so when I get to Ibros and find a park bench in the shadow under a three I take a well deserved break. Things are going slow today, uphill, headwind and hot like hell.

Ibros

Ibros

In Baeza I find a Teberna with a table in the shadow, so I stop there and have a very nice lunch.

Table in the shadow

Table in the shadow

Nice lunch

Nice lunch

When I arrive in Torreperogil I feel exhausted, I don’t feel like going another +20 km for the next possible accommodation. So I call it a day after only 43 km. The reception is at the bar desk and I get to park my bike in the yard in the back of the pension.

 

Bike parking

Bike parking

One from the staff and some volunteers help me carry my bags up to the room.

Casablanca

Casablanca

The place is very new and nice. I celebrate by turning the A/C on max and sleep some siesta to cool down.

Later I take a walk around the village, it’s all quiet and nice. When I go down for dinner at 21 I discover that the bar/cafeteria of the place I am staying in seems to be the watering hole for local law enforcement, several Guardia Civil and Policia Local units are there.  As usual in Spain, I am the first for dinner and have to wait for the lights to be turned on and with them also the TV. Very nice dinner.

Day 157. Torreperogil – Puente de Genave, 66 km

I slept with the A/C running all night, it was tropical heat, 20C already before 8 in the morning. I have some breakfast at the bar, some locals arrive in jeeps and 4×4 and have their first stiff brandy of the day.

Grey day

Grey day

The day is very, very gray. Just as I pack my bike up and start to leave the happy folks from local law enforcement arrive and joins the crowd in the bar.

Grey day

Grey day

The road follows sort of a ridge so the first 20 km is relative fast. Once the road comes down to a bit lower altitude the temperature increases. My friends the farmers helps keeping the speed down, they travel between fields with their tractors at 25 km/h and the rest of the world just has to adjust.

My friends

My friends

Towards the end of the day there are many long downhills, my brakes started to fade a bit and when I checked the GPS later I had gone faster than 55 km/h down those hills.

I find a restaurant with a nice menu del dia, it’s really cold inside so it’s fantastic to sit down and eat for a while.

Cool place

Cool place

Starter

Starter

Main

Main

Dessert

Dessert

 

I continue to ride, the temperature in the afternoon is well over 30C, I bring out my new speaker and play some music.

Boooom Boooooom

Boooom Boooooom

I have a strong tailwind, I can bike at 35 km/h when it’s flat.

The hotel I find is for some reason expensive, maybe because it’s next to a nature reserve, the hotel and the interior is very dated. I take a walk around the village and do some shopping in the supermarket. Very nice little village.

Dated hotel

Dated hotel

I had an amazing dinner at the hotel, it was truly amazing and less than 10 Euro. The last couple of days it seems like I have been traveling through olive headquarters, there are olive trees everywhere. The olives they serve as tapas with drinks here are so delicious, the local olive oil is beyond fantastic. I think that I will not be able to eat any olives again after leaving this region or possibly Spain.

Green gold

Green gold

This is my last night in Andalusia, my home away from home during the last 5 months or so. Tomorrow waits uphills and Castilla-La Mancha.

Day 158. Puente de Genave – Alcaraz, 52 km
The morning is chilly and a bit gray., the day starts with a 15 km uphill.

Andalucia

Andalucia

This is my last day in Andalucia, the sun is strong but the winds are chilly. The scenery is stunning and I have to stop and take pictures frequently.

Taking pictures

Taking pictures

As the day progress the temperature rise and also the intensity of the traffic, there are big clouds on the sky behind the mountains and I hurry up.

Scenery

Scenery

I have decided to stop in Alcaraz, the next town with accommodation. is to far away and also behind a high pass.

There is a hostal down by the road, it doesn’t look great and reviews on the Internet are not good either. I decide to go for the hostal in village and have to push the bike up a very, very steep hill. Once up there is a small village and at the end of it I find my hostal.

Narrow streets

Narrow streets

 

The price is right, I get to park my bike on the balcony, I decide to stay two nights and have a day of rest tomorrow. I rush to the supermarket but it’s already closed. I have to settle for a small corner shop, just the basics to survive a Sunday. I return to the Hostal and do some laundry and hang it on the balcony and have a small siesta.

Proper parking

Proper parking

When I went shopping I found the tourist information, I went inside to see what they had to offer, I found out that there is a Via Verde along an old railroad going from Alcaraz to Albacete. This sounds almost to good to be true but they had maps and folders with information.

The clouds I saw earlier today have now grown and covers the whole sky, which is pitch black. A good time to go to sleep.

Day 159. Alcaraz – Alcaraz, 0 km

I slept very well and woke up late. There is no breakfast in the hostal so I eat some of the stuff I managed to buy yesterday. I do some more laundry, it looks like perfect weather to dry laundry in.

I go for a walk up to the ruins. I though the hostal was on the top of the village but it as it turns out there is a steep walk up to the ruins. The view is magnificent.

I spend some time looking at the route after Albacete, I have a challenge in getting down to the coast again without going in to Valencia. I don’t want to ride through a big city like Valencia, but there are very few options, I hope I will find the right one.

Nothing much to do in Alcaraz on Sundays so I spend the evening in my room.

 

All the pictures relating to this post.

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Day 152-155. Cordoba – Linares, 130 km (7183 km)

Route day 152-155

Route day 152-155

Day 152. Cordoba – Cordoba, 0 km

Sunday in Cordoba. I practice the noble art of doing nothing for most of the day. I have a look at maps for the route ahead, update the blog, upload pictures.

I go out for some walks but the temperature is 30-31C in the shadow so the heat is intense. There is a massive amount of people out and about, most bars and restaurants are full, all the parks are full of people. No sign of La Crisis.

All the supermarkets are closed, even the little corner shop, maybe it’s some kind of local holiday or so.

Day 153. Cordoba – Andujar, 85 km

I start as early as I can to enjoy the cool mornings. The first 10-12 km out of Cordoba and then along the N-IVa is horrible. Massive traffic and nowhere to bike except on the highway-like road. After this I am out in the quiet and nice country side again.

N-IVa

N-IVa

There are many, many cyclist out and about, strange given it’s Monday. Most of them seem very serious cyclist with carbon bikes and carbon wheels.

A man on a bike catches up with me and we start talking some strange mix of Spanish/French/English, he is very impressed with how long my bike tour is.

It is a very hot day and before noon it’s well over 30C, the sun is shining.

I find a nice menu del dia and get to spend an hour indoors in the cold dining room.

Cold inside

Cold inside

Towards the end of the day there is a 14% uphill to conquer. I am very tired when I finally get to Andujar.

 

14%

14%

The hotel I have set my sights on is on the outskirts of town, in some kind of industrial area. At first I don’t like it but when I see that there are several restaurants and a big supermarket just across the street I decide to like it more. When I get to park my bike in the Business Center I like it even more.

Business Center

Business Center

Day 154. Andujar – Linares, 42 km

The breakfast buffet is fantastic and the morning is very cool at 14C. The ride to Linares is on some very dodgy via servico. At two underpasses I really start to wonder if there actually is a road to Linares except the highway.

Almost a road

Almost a road

It’s very hilly with many small up and down, the sun is blasting and before noon it’s 30C again.

My new friend

My new friend

It seems I was in the hottest place in Spain this day and temperature records were set.

When I arrived in Linares I could not get any 3G network and find my hotels I had looked up, I just stopped at the first one. When I saw it was 4 star I thought to my self that this will hurt. As it turned out it was very cheap, and I stayed two nights to have a day of rest tomorrow.

I park my bike in their garage next to the owners (?) Rolls Royce and go to my room and turn up the A/C to max and have a small siesta to cool down.

Brittish racing green

Exclusive high performance vehicle and a Rolls.

Linares is an old mining town. I will explore it tomorrow.

Mining

Mining

Day 155. Linares – Linares, 3 km

I sleep late and go out to the supermarket and buy breakfast, there is a small fridge in my room so I can store stuff there for 2 days breakfast.

I walk around the area and have a look, it’s not very exciting so I go back to the hotel.

Something important

Something important

The bike was very dirty from riding the flooded underpass, so I decided to take a ride to a service station and spend one euro on cleaning of the worst. I have had some doubts about the tension of my spokes, so I decide to take the bike to a local bike mechanic for a second opinion. He thinks they are perfect, I test some spokes on new bikes in his shop and they are like spaghetti. So I guess that my hand strength has increased or maybe it just is a long time since I built a wheel (August 2013).

The road ahead along the N-322 looks like it has partially been “improved” to Autovia A-32, I ask in the reception and the bike mechanic, there is no clear verdict on exactly where I can ride or not. I guess I will find out tomorrow.

 

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Day 148-151. Benalmadena – Cordoba, 175 km (7053 km).

The route

The route

Day 148. Benalmadena – Estepa, 67 km.
The time has now come to leave Benalmadena and Costa del Sol and start the long journey back home. To make life easier I had decided to stay in a hotel for the last nights. The reason mainly being logistics, I had to clean and leave the apartment at 10 in the morning, then carry the bike and all my bags down the stairs (12 floors). Then I would have to ride the 20 km to the train station and get the train.

So after spending many hours on cleaning the apartment and getting everything in order I went to sleep the day before my last in Benalmadena. Unfortunately there were many groups of people roaming around the hotel partying, the last ones went to bed just after 5 in the morning. So I started the day with only a few hours of sleep.

I had made sure that I had a room on the same floor as the reception so that I could just load the bike in my room and roll out the doors.

Unfortunately the weather was not so great, there were a few drops of rain in Benalmadena and the nearer I got to Malaga the more it rained. My plan was to take the Media Distancia train to Bobadilla to avoid the nasty traffic around Malaga and the mountains between Malaga and the inland.

It was dark when I left so I toke a chance biked on the beach walk, it is not allowed but the alternative was to bike through Torremolinos and Benalmadein the dark and rain. A small portion of the route to Malaga goes over the beach, it was not fun dragging my fully loaded bike through the sand and mud. I had already bought the ticket for me and the ticket for the bike so all I had to do was to pass through the X-ray machine, it was a 10 minute project to get all the bags off the bike and through the machine and then on the bike again.

The train I am taking goes all the way to Ronda via El Chorro and Bobadilla, a familiar route by now. It is only 13-14C and I am all wet, so I wait and wait and wait until I can board the train and at least be a little warm.

Media Distancia

Media Distancia

The train ride to Bobadilla was very uneventful, El Chorro looked great in the rain. When I left the train in Bobadilla the rain was pouring down and it was 12C, not really what I had hoped for on my first day of the return tour. But there is really nothing in Bobadilla so I put on my winter jacket, gloves and hat and started to pedal.

The ride through the Andalusian country side was as beautiful as usual, the rain made for some dramatic scenery. Towards the afternoon the clouds went away and the sun came out.

Country road

Country road

I had forgotten how fun it was to bike around in the country side, it seems there are not many loaded touring bikes going through this area as almost every car/truck I met smiled, waived, smiled, shouted, honked and/or stared.

Sun is coming out

Sun is coming out

I found a car/bus/truck stop along A92, they had a restaurant with menu del dia, it was not fantastic but at 9.30 Euro it was a bargain, and dry and warm.

Country road

Country road

When I got to Estepa after some hills I felt that I had enough for one day and quickly found Balcón de Andalucía. Hostal, bar, cafe and restuarante in a one stop shop for cyclists. I got to park my bike in the garage and they had central heating, fantastic place.

The view from the room was fantastic. Since I now had left the tourist paradise and entered the proper Andalucía there was no dinner to be had until 20:30. So I hung my clothes to dry and had a quick siesta.

The view

The view

I was the first and only guest in el comedor, dinner was great as it mostly is in Spain.

I was very tired so I went straight to bed after dinner (around 21:30).

The view

The view

Day 149. Estepa – Estepa, 0 km.

I wake up and hear that the rain is pouring down and it’s really cold outside (about 6C). I quickly decide to take a strategic rest day, no point in spending a day in the rain if it can be avoided. After all, I am not in any particular hurry.

I sleep for a while longer and then I go down to the cafe/bar and enjoy my breakfast, tostadas.

Nothing much get done this day. I have lunch, excellent menu del dia, at the hostal. I take a small walk in the rain and do some shopping at the supermarket DIA.

I have made a eBook copy of the blog so that it can be read offline, but in the latest version it became to big to fit the eBook formats. So I had to remove all the pictures from it. I have spent a lot of time testing new tools to create eBooks with pictures, but in the end it turned out that Libre Office is the best so far (at least for PDF). So I spend some time adding pictures back in to the blog-book.

I notice that my Spanish no longer works, I don’t know if it is that I am tired or that people outside Costa del Sol don’t understand bad tourist Spanish.

Day 150. Estepa – Fuente Palmera, 61 km.

Clear skies but a very cold morning. The heater is very hot but it is not enough to bring any real heath to the room. I pack up my stuff and go downstairs for my tostados.

Cold Estepa

Cold Estepa

It was so cold that I had to put on winter clothes, I could see my own breath as white smoke.

The first 12 km or so was mainly downhill and I average close to 30 km/h almost effortlessly. The day turns out to be great, it’s a bit cold but the sun is shining and the sky is big. It feels great to be back on the road, in the country side on small roads.

When I rode through Ecija there even were some bike lanes, felt great, but the town was not very big so soon I was back on the roads again.

Bike lanes

Bike lanes

During the pause in my tour I bought a louder speaker to have on the handlebar, in theory it can connect to my phone with Bluetooth. But luckily it also has a line-in jack. This was the first time I tried it out while biking, it was really great to be able to listen to music even when cars pass by. It seems like it also confuses all the nasty dogs along the road, it seems like they think it’s a car coming and discover to late that it’s cyclist that needs barking at.

Wide roads

Wide roads

Later in the day it got warmer, almost 20C. I have been feeling a minor strain in my calf, so decide to to push it to much and check in to Hostal Carlos III in Fuente Palmera.

Hostal Carlos III

Hostal Carlos III

The rest of the day is spent shopping at Dia and eating in the hostal. I have a bocadillo de tortilla francesa con mayonesa y tomate, this is the perfect food for a hungry cyclist.

Nice road

Nice road

Day 151. Fuente Palmera – Cordoba, 47 km.

I wake up and it’s a light rain but not as cold as yesterday. My next stop is Cordoba and a planned day of rest. It will be my third time in Cordoba.

Fog and light rain

Fog and light rain

The road to Cordoba is relatively flat, once in Posadas I turn on to the big road in to Cordoba. A little bit to much traffic for my taste but mostly a very wide shoulder to ride on. There are many road cyclists out today, it seems like they are not at all using the shoulder. They just group up and block the lane, I guess that’s the only safe way to ride if you can’t ride the shoulder.

 

Once inside the city limits I find my way to my favorite hotel and amazingly enough they have rooms to spare. I park the bike in their garage and set out to have a look around Cordoba. This is my third time here since December so nothing new.

Wide shoulder

Wide shoulder

Early dinner at my favorite restaurant and then an early night looking forward to my day of rest tomorrow.

Restuarant

Restuarant

 

All the pictures relating to this post.

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Day 136-147. Sagres – Benalmadena, 344 km (6878 km).

Day 136. Sagres – Manta Rota, 36 km.
After a few days of slacking in Sagres I have decided to spend 5 nights in an apartment hotel closer to Spain. Portugal is cheaper than Spain and I feel I need a semana tranquila.

Since the Algarve Ecovia and N-125 were once in a lifetime is enough experiences I have decided to try the train from Lagos.

I had semi-tailwind so the ride to Lagos was quick, I found the train station and bought a ticket.

The train had one small cargo area at the end, the door was wide but the lift was quite high. Once the bike was secured to the train I was warned by one of the employees to keep an eye on the bike at all times or it could be stolen.

Train to Spain

Train to Spain

The train ride was uneventful and I was lucky enough not to have to change trains in Faro.

Once I got to my destination, Cacela, I did some heavy lifting and got the bike off the train and started to bike to Manta Rota just around the corner.

I had found and booked the apartment through hotels.com, as it turned out they had no idea where the apartment was or how to contact the company that owned the apartments. However they gladly accepted my reservation and credit card details.

After some searching I found something that looked like the pictures on the hotels.com site, there was a reception that was manned a few hours per day and luckily enough it was open when I arrived. Since hotels.com had no means to contact the hotel they had no reservation for me, but luckily again they had a room. So I have now added hotels.com to the list of companies/sites I will never use again (just like airbnb.com).

The apartment felt very luxury with kitchen, fridge and washing machine.

137-140. Manta Rota – Manta Rota, 0 km.

Not much to say about these days, one day was rain the rest was sunshine. Did all my laundry, read some books, cooked some food, ate lots of food, walked on the beach, lazy days in the sun.

Sun and sand

Sun and sand

141. Manta Rota – Lepe 42 km.
Time to go back home to Spain. A short ride to the ferry and then some waiting and then I was back in Spain. First order of business was to refill my SIM card to get some muchos MB Internet again.

The ferry to Spain

The ferry to Spain

Obviously the Vodaphone shop near the harbor was closed since a long time, I had to bike around for a while to find the tourist information. They directed me to the Vodaphone shop in a shopping mall on the outskirts of town. An added bonus was that the shopping center was a massive uphill from the main road, but once I got there I got the refill sorted quickly.

With the one hour time difference between Portugal and Spain, the ferry, the hunt for Vodaphone it was already afternoon and I only had 15 km on the GPS.

I found some great lunch and biked on to the town Lepe, the town felt a bit dodgy but I found a nice and clean hostal, fast Internet and the bike parked securely indoors behind the bar.

It felt great to be back in Spain, the roads are nice and wide. People drive fast but it feels much more controlled than in Portugal. More consideration is given to cyclists on the road.

Things are easier in Spain, it seems I know more Spanish than I thought, when I was in Portugal I felt very handicapped by not knowing the language.

142. Lepe – Moguer, 53 km.
I got on my way late this morning, it was really cold, less than 10C. I don’t have a plan for where to go today, I have started to think that I am getting near the end of my journey, I should focus on riding as few kilometers as possible per day to make the ride last more days.

I have to ride back past Huelva and I really wanted to avoid that town so I biked north of it in the beautiful countryside.

When I had rounded Huelva I went south of the highway to San Juan del Puerto, there is a nasty stretch of road through an industrial area there, lots of trucks and smelly factories. I had a look at some hostels there but decided to go on to Moguer, it was supposed to be an typical Andalusian village with a long and glorious history.

There was a massive uphill to Moguer, the village itself was a myriad of narrow roads with cobblestones, there was very few street signs and they had a very elaborate one-way street system since no roads were wide enough for two cars to meet.

Found the hotel I had my mind on, from the outside it looked really small but inside it had a big atrium.

Not so small hotell

Not so small hotell

 

Atrium in the hotell

Atrium in the hotell

After convincing the staff that the Wifi actually was broken I helped them with troubleshooting and rebooting of access points.

Next big city is Sevilla, I really struggled to find a route through this big city.

Later I saw a TV program about the southern outskirts of Sevilla, it’s called “Las Tres Mil Viviendas” and apparently the Spanish police do not dare to enter unless in great numbers and heavily armed. I had to rethink my route through southern Sevilla.

My scripts that updates the map from the SPOT tracker had broken, it seems SPOT changed their website so I had to thinker a bit with my scripts to get the updates going again.

143. Moguer – Aznalcazar, 66 km.

The morning was really cold and clear. The breakfast at the hotel was surprisingly good. I start to bike towards Sevilla without any plan for where to go, I decided to just bike for as long as it was fun.

I found a really nice lunch in Pilas and the cycling was great. I found a cheap and nice hotel in the town of Aznalcazar. At sunset I saw the mountains between me and Malaga for the first time.

Distant mountains

Distant mountains

Later I got information about a ferry over the river Guadalquivir, the crossing was in Coria del Rio. This saved me from the hassle of biking through Sevilla.

144. Aznalcazar – Utera, 59 km.

The restaurant/cafe at the hotel didn’t open until 9 so I had breakfast in another place.

I loaded up and went for the ferry, there were many cyclist out and about in the countryside.

Eventually I found the ferry as it was about to leave, I just made it. It was hard to find since it wasn’t on google or GPS maps.

Small ferry

Small ferry

After crossing the river Guadalquivir I biked through the countryside, it was nice and quiet since it was weekend.

I made it to Utera and found a hotel, it was really cold in the evening and I started to hope that Malaga would be warmer once I got to the other side of the mountains.

It was some kind of public holiday so shops were closed but I managed to find a Dia supermarket that was open and bought plenty of supplies to last me trough the weekend.

In the evening I started look closer to planned route and found that it was going to some mountains, so I re-routed to ride along the highway on the via servicio.

145. Utera – Osuna, 68 km.

The hotel I stayed in had an indoors atrium where all the rooms had their windows. During the night I woke up to a horrible sound, it seemed like someone had brought a donkey in to the hotel and now was sexually molesting it. When I looked out through the window I saw that it was the night manager that was snoring while sleeping on their sofas instead of watching my bike. I called the reception number and after a while it woke him up and I could go back to sleep again.

In the morning I woke up with a sore throat and felt a bit sick, this is not a great start of a day on a bike tour.

It was really cold in the morning, I had to put on several layers of clothing. I biked along the highway all day and there was some head wind and I felt miserable all day.

Endless roads

Endless roads

I didn’t find any lunch along the road so I just pushed on until I got to Osuna, I quickly found a hostal with a cool bike-in reception. I rushed to the supermarket to do some shopping for food.

I tried to find a place to eat dinner at around 21, but it was either to early or to late , not sure which, so I ate some of my supplies instead.

In the evening a car with PA-speakers on the roof drove around town and played a commercial for something, the first 10 times it passed the hostal it was annoying, then it got worse.

146. Osuna – Osuna, 0 km.

My cold had gotten worse during the night so I had to take a day of rest. I walked around in Osuna and found the train station, I managed to buy a ticket for Malaga on a train that could transport my bike as well.

I spent the rest of the day looking at different accommodation options and finally managed to find a small studio apartment in a hotel in Benalmadena just south of Malaga. My plan is to stay there for 2 weeks while I search for a real apartment to rent until spring.

147. Osuna – Benalmadena, 20 km.

Woke up with an even worse cold, I was happy that I had booked the train but still wondering if it would really carry my bike and how much heavy lifting that would be involved. The morning was cold and grey as I rode to the train station. The station was really small and the switches and signals were operated by wire from a console on the platform.

Control panel

Control panel

The train was delayed but once it came it was quite easy to get the bike in to the train. There were 3 places to hang bikes, to small for my bike so I just parked it opposite of the vending machines and tied it to the wall. I didn’t bother to unpack the bike so I just stayed next to it during the whole trip, the man from Renfe didn’t seem to mind my parking or me standing around.

The trip was very uneventful except for that one asshole had to smoke in the lavatory and not surprising managed to set the trains fire alarm. After 4-5 minutes the man from Renfe came to investigate, since its about 40-50 meters for him to walk from his cabin I guess he was sleeping, there was no fire so he went back to his cabin. Perhaps this happens all the time.

Once outside the station in Malaga I biked towards the beach and went south along the sea. In order to get out of Malaga I had to ride on a to narrow sidewalk across a highway bridge, and then through some really nasty industrial estate. Once in Torremolinos there was sort of a bike lane for a part of the way and then I had to mix with the crazy drivers on the N-340.

After conquering the insane steep road to my hotel I settled in, Benalmadena, my new home for the next couple of months.

All the pictures relating to this post.

 

Many things are broken in Spain

Many things are broken in Spain

As I am writing this I have been in Benalmadena for almost 3 months, I found an apartment with a very nice view, I have attended some weeks of Spanish courses, I have traveled around the Iberian peninsula and been to Spanish Africa (Ceuta). I still have some travels in Spain planned. It has been very nice and I have really enjoyed the 10 or more hours of sunshine almost every day. But now I starting to feel the need to get back on the road again. I have started to get my bike back in working order. I have changed some broken parts, the one that is going to be most painful is a new Brooks saddle (B135), normally they need 1000-2000 km to get comfy.

In mas o menes 2 months I will start to head north again.

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