2016 November Cotswold Laning

Andy Collins organised a days green laning in the Cotswolds area. 6 of us met up in a layby near Sturdy’s Castle pub.

I was going to go with Pat Booth but his Range Rover was still in for repairs to the door pillar so I accompanied Andy. Roger Taylor was going to ride with Andy as his 90 sprung an oil leak from the oil pressure switch but James had arranged to fix it that Saturday so he couldn’t come.

The first few lanes were easy on the vehicles & drivers as they were mostly farm tracks across flat fields heading towards Stow on the Wold.

 

The scenery was amazing although it was a bit misty until just before midday. We found a beautiful spot for lunch & the sun shone although Joe & Paul did not bring any lunch, Mark kindly donated some of his.

From Stow we headed towards Stroud passing Broadway tower on the way. Here the lanes got more interesting with adventures through Fords & along river beds. Nothing too challenging underfoot slightly rocky.

 

 

We did drive across a large field with a muddy incline & had to clear some remains of tree which was blocking the route when Andy did a recky. Mark somehow ended up with some on his roof.

 

Andy only needed 4 wheel drive on the steeper parts. The last lane of the day was done at dusk & was reasonably challenging as it was up hill and there was a fallen tree across causing a bridge effect to drive under.

Again Mark used his roof to good effect almost getting himself wedged under it, but with a bit of determination forced his way though. From here we all set off on our separate ways home. A good day was had by all.

A big thank you to Andy Collins for reckying before hand and then leading us on a great days laning.

Photos and write-up provided by Keith Lister.

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2016 November Cold Water Training

Health and Safety, Rules and regulations, means that when there is a flood, there is a limit to what we can do when we go out on a response call.

Buckinghamshire Council sponsored a small team of ten of us to go on some cold water training, selecting those likely to support their region in a flood situation.

2016_nov_coldwater_siteTraining took place at Lee Valley White Water Centre, just North of the M25. (credit to Google Maps for this image) This is a purpose build facility used for entertainment but also for those engaging in water sports to Olympic standards. We saw some outstanding kayaking early in the morning.

Fireman and other government services are training in various skills relating to water at this site.

Certainly, an honour to be included on this course. The trainer/instructor, Richard Jenkins of Spartan Rescue, is very highly experienced in cold water rescue. The aim of this course is to understand the basics of self-rescue and the effect of cold water.

The morning was class room session, theory on rescue but also why people drown. A lot of emphasis on not rushing in and making a bad situation worse. How to think of the risks and put measures in place for when any recovery attempt goes wrong. Flowing water has a force which can be fun but not when you are fighting against it. The effect of cold on the body and how so many people underestimate just how quickly the body starts to shut down and stop functioning in cold water.

We also got to assemble our own life jacket, comprising the jacket, CO2 bottle and dissolvable salt trigger.

The afternoon session was a practical. We put on an all in one fleece and dry suit. The suites kept most of us dry but some were not so lucky. borg_groupThe idea was to set off the life jacket as soon as we got in the water – which we all did and they worked OK.

Interesting experiences, buoyancy making walking difficult, no swimming with a jacket so floating on your back with only butterfly strokes possible and limited at that.

First it was to experience floating in flowing water and making your own way to the side, or missing and floating out into the lake to be rescued by rope.

Next was going out into more aggressive water, rapidly flowing through a restriction in the width, like a mini water fall. Yes I took in water that felt like I breathed a pint but was possible only a cupful. We discussed aspiration of water, breathing it in. Trying not to cough worked well and I maintained floating down the flowing water just fine. It was an odd experience and desire to cough quickly passed. I think coughing would have arched my back and I’d have lost the ability to float. Certainly, no chance to stand up and cough. The water was about 1.5m deep and flowing at jogging pace. They have some seriously good pumps to get that volume flowing.

Next was rescuing others with a throw rope. I was very poor at this. I couldn’t believe how rubbish I was as throwing a rope. I’ve since purchased one and practiced. It is fairly easy but there is a technique to getting a good distance and direction to the throw.

I discovered a whole new meaning to trust. When floating in flowing water, visibility of the side is almost impossible so you trust people calling instructions to you. I guess we faired quite well since we adopt a banksman in winch recovery and all fall into a fairly well organised team rather than a free for all and everyone having an opinion. However, wrong instructions or too much effort from me and I got caught in an upstream current that pulled me out form the edge and round for another go.

Actually, this meant I was fortunate enough to experience floating on by whilst a rope was thrown for me. It was within inches of my hand but it might just have not been there at all. Another rope landed closer and I managed to get a hold only to be told to let go since I was approaching the next water fall/restriction in the river. So I floated out towards the lake and another rope recovery to drag me in.

Final session was how to walk across a river in spear head formation as a team all holding on tight to one another’s harnesses. We walked out into the full force of the river just downstream of the restriction. We did exceedingly well. Working a team and our generally better than average body mass appeared to help. Lighter people did not fare so well.

All in all, a great appreciation for water.

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2016 October Laning in North Wales

2016_oct_wales_aA small bunch of Land Rovers ventured off Friday afternoon for a long week-end’s laning in the outbacks of North Wales. Starting from different locations, a small group met up and travelled over to Wales, tackling a couple of lanes before making rendezvous with a couple of others at Welshpool Light Railway in Llanfair.

2016_oct_wales_bFrom there, progressed as a group on some more laning ending up at Tyddyn Bychan Bunkhouse; pre-arranged accommodation in Cerrigydrudion.2016_oct_wales_c

 

We came across four rally drivers and support van taking some practise perhaps before the Welsh rally in November. Stopped for a chat, nice friendly people.

The weather was dry throughout the week-end although the mornings were foggy and made it a little damp. The evenings drew in early needing headlights around tea time.2016_oct_wales_d2016_oct_wales_e

 

 

 

On Sunday the mist came in late afternoon.

 2016_oct_wales_fScenery is great – the fresh grass, dry stone walling, occasional abandoned derelict buildings. 2016_oct_wales_g

 

 

 

Healthy looking live stock that we obviously treated with respect as we are only visitors to their land.

2016_oct_wales_hWe came across a manmade tree for an Osprey nest next to a lake remote from anywhere and unspoilt by tourism.2016_oct_wales_i

 

 

 

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We came across some guys on motor bikes, again stopped to make conversation as you do when you are in the middle of nowhere and happen across complete strangers.2016_oct_wales_k

 

 

2016_oct_wales_l2016_oct_wales_mSome of the lanes were heavily overgrown needing a good pruning to make passage which will have helps others taking the route another time.

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Out into the open and we came across the group of motor bike riders again – small world.

The terrain of the route was quite varied with tarmac, gravel, mud, grass tracks and rocky areas. A hidden rock on the side caught Pat out needing a little repair work with his trusting 3lb hammer.2016_oct_wales_p

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2016_oct_wales_rYou can’t go to Wales without meeting some water and one route had a ford that helped wash the cars down.
2016_oct_wales_sWe came across the Wayfarer where there is a water proof case with a couple of provisions in and a visitors book worthy of a comment and signing.2016_oct_wales_t

 

 

 

The mist came in early on Sunday but that didn’t dampen our hearts for the week-end was a great success, enjoyable company with some wonderful laning and tremendously rewarding scenery.

 

 

Thanks goes to Jonathan for organising, route planning and arranging accommodation and thanks for Keith Lister for taking photographs and sharing them.

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2016 October BrickHill

A good turn out to a day at the Brickhill site on Sunday. It is a site that some of us are familiar with but with so many new members to the club this year, it is a nice venue for people just starting their 4×4 ambition to experiment on. The site is mainly a wooded area and an open field, however it can be described as having several sections each offering different types of terrain and thus challenges for gaining skills. See the RTV write-ups for more detail on the type of ground, soil, grass, mud, trees, slopes, sandy soil etc.2016_oct_brick_a

The day started with an open discussion on various items of equipment that the more experienced carry with them. This proved very worthwhile with many questions coming from new and old members alike.

We clearly have some knowledgeable people in our group as there appeared to be no end to the depth to the answers and technical information. It was appreciated by all.2016_oct_brick_b

We moved on to an interactive demonstration of vehicle recovery. We drove Jon’s 90 around the trees and parked it at an angle on a slope – then pretended that the defender had failed and needed to be recovered up the slope. Everybody was engaged in this demonstration.

Get observation was taking place with open discussions about risks, mechanical stresses, practical methods and limitations of equipment.2016_oct_brick_c

I’m delighted that there was consideration as to people if they were in the 90, even though joking about tea and cake. People are the main cause of problems in a real situation. We also pu ta rope on the roll cage to prevent a potential roll whilst recovering the 90 from the front.2016_oct_brick_d

Full Health and Safety, recognised as being real risk of harm to people if anything doesn’t go to plan or if equipment should fail.

This was hosted so well that no one appeared to be afraid to ask what was going on and why; lots of interaction.

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The second vehicle was a D2, to be recovered up in reverse on a nearby slope. The slope has a buried tree truck which made the final pull at the top that much more challenging.

2016_oct_brick_gThe start of this recovery was with a single winch which started to get hot, demonstrating the load of the pull. Two winches were employed with pulley block. Tremendous forces involved way above the physical weight of the D2 being recovered.

I’ve done some basic maths and the forces peaked in the region of seven tonnes of pull. This is a lot of force and some components in the recovery line of rope, hooks, shackles, pulley block, straps etc. would take the whole load rather than sharing this.2016_oct_brick_forces

There was good explanation as to what was going on and how to double up the equipment to reduce the load on individual components.2016_oct_brick_i

I’m pleased to see clarification on the hand signals for winch recovery. People who do not regularly work together as a team often have variations to the what they understand. We took discussion on this and collectively agreed what is obvious, why and thus likely to be more successful and less misunderstandings.

After the recovery, we broke for lunch and people then went off in groups to try out the land and challenges but also practise some recovery in what is a safe environment which skilled help and equipment easily available and not too far away.

All in all – an outstanding day and everyone got some benefit from it.

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2016 October Newton Longville

Experience the Country hosted an event sponsored by a magazine publisher. It was an all-day event on the Saturday aimed at people with little or no off road experience, giving them a two hour opportunity to learn a little and drive a little to understand the real capabilities of their land rovers even if they don’t intend to do anything extreme any time soon.

BORG was asked to marshal this event and we wanted to support this to be a great success hoping that the sponsor may consider repeating this again sometime.2016_oct_newton_ec_a

A few of us took time off work on the Friday to help set up the course. Mark Stopps, Operations Manager of Experience the Country, is experienced in off road work and understands how to best utilise the land and obstacles to good effect to give a wide range of technical and non-technical challenges to the visitors. He designed an excellent course which caters well for a large volume of potentially inexperienced off road drivers all travelling the same route.

Four sessions were organised for the day, each group starting with an indoor presentation which amounted to a great insight to vehicle design and features along with how and when to take advantage of some of the hi-tech gadgets that modern Land Rovers 4×4 cars have.

After the safety briefing they ventured out on to the course in convoy. The marshals at the start of each section could offer advice and final words of encouragement as one by one they took their vehicles through ever increasing challenging parts of the course.

For some, in their shiny brand new Range Rovers, even driving across the field to the first track through the woods would have been more off road than they’d previously taken their vehicles before.

2016_oct_newton_ec_bEveryone has bags of enthusiasm and were really up for this. The first section was a rutted track through a tight group of trees or woods. The ruts had been engineered to not be too damaging but at least make scrapping noises under the cars as they go.

Certainly, people would have been bounced side to side and up & down.

The second woods were similar and perhaps steeper dips. Then there was a drive across open country to the technical challenge referred to as elephant feet.

2016_oct_newton_ec_cBasically, a manmade section with railway sleepers offset between left and right, with peaks and troughs in the ground – a cross axle trial. There were a couple of shiny steel mirrors erected about 3m long and 1+m high so the driver can see alternate wheels just in the air. Great to see and understand traction control braking the spinning wheel up in the air diverting power to the wheels still on the ground.

The last section was a hilly area with deep muddy ruts twisting and turning around bushes and trees. The skill challenge of this section was assisted by a good down poor of rain the previous night.2016_oct_newton_ec_d

The water splash was three short experiences of taking your vehicle through water. Nice and deep, top of the tyre depth if you drive slowly!

Everyone had seriously good fun and only one or two had to be recovered from being stuck so that they could continue and despite the thrill, no vehicles were damaged either.

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Into the evening, there was the removal of the route markers and barriers and finally the club BBQ – and as usual, it rained but we are well prepared with the gazebo and so good food was had by all.

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Dr Rowley Cottingham

Several BORG members have worked with Rowley in his role as Chief Medical Officer for the Sunseeker and Tempest rallies. You may be interested in this interview with him which mentions his work life, interest in bikes, interest in motorsport, and also his new lifesaving CAERvest product!

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Brickhill RTV – August 2016

This is the first time I’ve competed in an RTV and wow, what a challenge!

I’ve attended the RTV’s at the same location in February and I was allowed to drive around to get the hang of the game but didn’t actually take score.

Borg 4×4 organise these RTV and it is aimed at an inter-club challenge under the heading of the Lauren Trophy. This has been running for a number of years.

The course is set up on a Saturday by a few skilled in this process and who are willing to give up their time in pursuit of the game.

The rules are simplicity itself – to describe that is and less so to navigate. A pair of bamboo poles stuck in the ground, one with a white sock for the drivers side and the other with a red. The red I presume is for the passenger side but then that depends upon the angle to approach at the gate!

RTV – Road Taxed Vehicle, so any legal car then. Mostly land rovers but others too including a real impressive Toyota Hilux. Massive length that we joked it should be articulated in the middle somewhere. As it went around there was something sliding side to side in the pickups boot – possibly a Suzuki Jimny.2016_08_brickhill_Hillside

It was Sunday 14th Aug, about 22 competing cars although it felt like many more.

Brickhill is south of Milton Keynes, with terrain of various wooded areas and grass land – all made equally challenging by the experts routing the course.

The challenge is to drive through the gates, all ten of them without touching either bamboo pole. It should be possible and feels that way when you do your walk around. However, getting the angle right so as to not make your vehicle wider by going at an angle or dipping into a hole causing your vehicle to sway. Ruts are a pain – especially if the pole is actually in the same one you are using.

Two other rules – no stopping for more than two seconds and not allowed to cross your own tracks. SWB cannot use reverse but LWB can use reverse just the once but you need to shout “shunt” prior to stopping and engaging reverse.

 

There were Five courses laid out and different groups started at different places. This is the order to which I took.

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In the trees, growing close together making tight turns, difficult visibility of the route and undulating ground. In February – the soil was wet and my all-terrain tyres just clogged with mud and become so smooth as to be like a town car on snow.2016_08_brickhill_RTV1_d2

The course was very clever, deep dips, awkward cornering and tight gaps between trees. All possible although seeing the route whilst driving was not that easy. I was crawling around slower than a walking pace just looking for the best route.

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The next was with tree more open with small valley and crumbling dry soil. Some tight turns so a lot of forward planning was needed so driving slowly and keep questioning if your route is the best – since if you stop and reverse then it’s game over.

2016_08_brickhill_RTV2_d2Taking wide turns out on open land was safe but only if you knew you wouldn’t need that land further down the course.

There was a pair of trees almost too tight to pass through. I’d seen others really struggle but my game was over before that. I went through a gate with a 300mm horizontal tree root and a dip just after. Caused my rear tyre to slide of and hit the stick. Some of the more serious guys would have stopped so as to not give the secrets away further down the course but at this point I didn’t care about scoring so picked off a few more gates just for fun.

How to score then – the first gate is ten points and the last is one point. If you hit nothing and get at least your front hubs through all gates then you will score zero; which is a win. So basically the score against you is the first gate you fail with, if any.

Third was in open air, a steep hillside of grass and exposed soil on tracks with an area of waste grass land. Not taking the usual track over the grass and the banks of grass making the going a little tough. One Discovery got stuck balancing like a see-saw on a mound of grass.

The fourth was interesting, open grass field with small dips to catch you out causing your vehicle to rock sideways and hit a flag. The end was up a bank towards a fence so stop before hitting the fence but after your front hubs are through.2016_08_brickhill_RTV4_902016_08_brickhill_RTV4_d2

I was surprised at how many gates were being hit by the more experienced guys on this course – made me think twice as hard when it was my turn.

I caught an excellent example of a failed hill climb engine stall recovery on film.

2016_08_brickhill_RTV5_toyotaThe last course was the most rugged. A steep slope of dry soil in a track through woodland. Down and up on a dusty track with existing ruts to guide you into a flag so very careful management of vehicle positioning and focusing on the rear of the car as it doesn’t already follow the front tyres.

The result are in:

LWB (Range Rovers, Discoveries and that Toyota truck)

1st – Pat Booth with 14 (Range Rover)

2nd – Keith Richards with 16 (Discovery)

3rd Adam with 21 (Free lander)

SWB (Defender 90’s or a Discovery tray back)

1st Chris Janes (Alfc) with 31

2nd Jonathan Smith with 34 (Defender 90 with largest tyres)

3rd Rhiannon Smith with 35 (same defender 90 and unplanned demonstration of a textbox failed hill climb engine stale recovery)

Overall Winners:

1st Phil Jones with 3

2nd Graham Stevens with 8

3rd Posh Paul Davies with 13

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Newton Longville RTV – September 2016

This is a rare opportunity to use this site2016_rtv_nl_dsc04487a at the “Experience the Country” near Milton Keynes.
It was a fairly wet day whilst setting up the RTV course and yet on the day, it was a hot and sunny making it slightly easier going by comparison.
15 vehicles took part in the RTV challenge and so we were split into three groups.
2016_rtv_nl_dsc04033aNow although the course was in tended to be none damaging, a couple of vehicles left the site in a different condition than when they arrived – however, nothing major.

 

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There were five courses laid out again which various types of difficulty spread across all of them. This makes it fun for all so that even if one course proves just too much, then there are others which are still worth attempting.
The first was just through the woods except rather going in a straight line down an obviously rutted route, we weaved in and out of the tree line. A particular test of skill is getting your wheels out of a rut to move back out into the tree line. Once in a deep rut, almost impossible to change direction other than just follow the way the ruts want to take out.

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The second was in the next set of trees in a wooded area. Steeper soil banks to navigate and shake even those who are not usually faint hearted.

Third was a route jumping between a set of tracks on one side of a line of tree and another on the other side; taking in their stride a grass bank on the side of a water reservoir. This was interestingly challenging to get the line right. Fairly tight turning with little room for error without missing the gap between the gate/poles. The grass bank was easier during the day when dry but needed some speed when the grass was wet first thing since traction was usual for wet grass – not great.
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Going up the grass banks and turning left to come back down whilst at the steep bit, took a little nerve until you got used to the fact that your car nowhere near your tipping angle.
The last gate was OK to pass with just your hubs through but a few managed to get up the climb and all the way through.

Fourth was in the open air. A man made hill perhaps normally to demonstrate going up a steep climb in a 4×4 and then a steep descent. However, rather than taking the obvious route, we zig zagged left and right using the sides. This was seriously steep and managed by most. There was also a little water that was enough to wash the tyres but not much else. The pile of tarmac and hardcore made for interesting maneuvering and drivers needed to think about their line well in advance with four gates fairly close together with obstacles between each.
2016_rtv_nl_vlcsnapThe fifth was up in the area frequented by 4×4 so deep rutted tracks crossing other tracks. Never to stick to the obvious, the course went through some bushes with some tight turns and obstacles to keep the drivers alert.2016_rtv_nl_dscf3526a2016_rtv_nl_dsc04331a

Scores:
Class of Vehicle – Short Wheel Base:

• Paul Stockford – 29 (BORG)
• Matt (unknown last name in a Series I) – 30 (BORG)
• Mike Dunn – 33 (ALRFC)

Class of Vehicle – Long Wheel Base:2016_rtv_nl_dsc04646a

• Graham Stevens – 32 (BORG)
• James Stevens – 36 (BORG)
• Paul Goodwin – 38 (BORG)

Overall:
• Pat Booth – 15 (BORG)
• Paul Davies – 15 (BORG)
• Tom Parker – 23 (Guest)

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Summer Camp at Roundhill, 2015

I was unable to make it to Roundhill this year, I hear that a good time was had by all, hopefully someone will supply a better review for this page. Meantime, here’s a picture of Matt’s vehicle in it’s usual position – on its side! Matt at Roundhill 2015

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Wiltshire and Salisbury Plain – June 2015

Small but select group, everyone else having been kept all weekend in to do extra Prep by old scraggy-arse.  Paul Stockford lead, with Steve Walsh in the Diskette, and me in caboose.

Weather had been warm and dry so most of the mud was in the special compact “just add water” form. Wish I’d taken a mask or scarf, SW spent most of the day in “Bandit” mode with face covered.

A spot of byway maintenance.

A spot of byway maintenance.

First lane, which we reached after avoiding all the sun worshipers starting their Solstice on Avebury hill and nearby, went well until that deep corner, which had been so deeply rutted that Paul grounded out. Steve pulled him back out then they set to with spades to lower the centre, or fill in the ruts, whichever way you choose to review it. Paul then made it through with only a little diff-dragging and a re-try. Steve took it a bit faster and made it in one. We split the difference – I was nervous of going at it too fast as I have no steering guard but managed to get though without bogging.

I would point out this lane had a sign at the start saying it was in “Voluntary restraint”. But we took a good look and, apart from this corner, it was hard as nails and we clearly weren’t going to do any more damage. Indeed, we actually improved this corner, though I fear it will ever be icky unless someone cuts a drainage channel… maybe next time eh?

The lane we took up to the plateau at Wilsford started off with a choice of two sets of ruts. Early progress up the deeper ones was good but then Paul found he was sat on his diffs once again. Once again SW pulled him back. Paul and I then switched to the shallower ruts, but Steve decided it was just in need of more oomph, and in he went.

Steve giving up on engine power for lent.

Steve giving up on engine power for lent.

He got to about the same point. This time Paul was on hand to pull HIM forwards through the sticky bit.

This lane continues to a steep stepped climb up to the plateau itself and this had been badly cut away. Paul made it about half way up, then stopped. After walking the rest to establish that the bit we were now stuck on was the worst, the waffle boards came out and proved sufficient to save the day. Getting back past the side of the vehicles against the steep banks was easier for Steve than for me!!

Paul helping Steve complete the deeper ruts at Wilsford.

Paul helping Steve complete the deeper ruts at Wilsford.

The boards went under the Diskette and Steve made it up then my turn.. made it half way up and ran out of go. Steve re-positioned the waffle board my back wheels were about to hit and then leaned in and said “just don’t roll back whatever you do”. Of course, folks will recall I have this trick transfer box that just loves to pop into neutral at the worst possible moment and it must have been listening… fortunately I caught it on the brakes before it dropped down the step and was able to make it up the tricky step on the next attempt – that’s once the giggling had subsided.

Lunch at the top of this was followed by lots of driving around the plain itself in the dust, with a couple of excursions to do farmland lanes around Collingbourne and Upavon. Eventually we all decided enough dust! We headed across to do the lane alongside Bulford Droveway (at last – some real wet mud that Paul doesn’t get stuck in!) and then called it a day.

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