10 Things I Loved in 2023: Matt Beer

Dec 14, 2023 at 12:07
by Matt Beer  
Cane Creek Tigon

Pisgah National Forest and Surrounding Area

Leaving British Columbia's wild coastal trails at the end of April when the snow is melting and the dirt is prime sounds like an unwise choice of travel plans. However, Pisgah National Forest and the surrounding area has been on my riding wishlist for a number of years since being recommended by several trustworthy friends. The riding zones within a 50 mile radius of Asheville, North Carolina, have an unbelievable network of trails with a spicey variety. Plus, I’d be heading out with a local gang with the keys to private trails.

I had been receiving updates of dream-like jump lines and heard all about the ridgeline singletrack trails in the park. In between boosting sculptured jumps and picking my way through rock gardens, I also hit Kanuga Bike Park which didn't disappoint.

Good company and a conveniently-timed stretch of sunshine made the trip one of my highlights of the year.

Cane Creek Tigon
photo


Price: $29 (Kanuga) / $80 US National Forest Annual Discovery Pass
More Information: ridekanuga.com / Pisgah Area on Trailforks




Nukeproof Giga 297

Magura MT5 Brakes

It’s mindblowing how one component can change the way you ride and that’s exactly what these brakes have done for me. They’ve been my brake of choice for a handful of years now.

Given all the bikes that I’m able to swing a leg over, most of them are equipped with the popular and widely accepted SRAM Codes, or Shimano XT. In general, those will do the trick, however, every time I jump on a bike with Magura brakes, I can turn up the pace that extra 10%.

The 5s are every bit as good as the MT7 but at half the cost. With the race pads installed, the power is boosted immensely. I’ll admit that the bleed process is not the simplest and the pistons can be a nuisance to keep running drag free. The stock levers might not be for everybody, but thankfully, Magura has a few options to keep most hands happy.

It boils down to being able to brake later and pull with less effort on the levers, leaving the bike to perform optimally without braking forces and imperatively, less arm fatigue. Is it any wonder why the Specialized Gravity Team chooses Magura brakes?

Nukeproof Giga 297
Nukeproof Giga 297

Price: $141.75 USD / €109.90 *inc. VAT
More Information: magura.com




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Specialized Turbo Levo SL S-Works

Let me start by saying this isn’t a persuasive chat to bring you over to the eMTB side. It's more about how the bike as a whole is remarkably packaged. I also realize the price can be three-fold in comparison to an entry-level enduro bike, but a similar parallel runs with Lamborghinis versus Hondas sports cars.

In my mind, this bike has it all: adjustable for either wheel size, geometry for any terrain, astounding suspension and most importantly, it descends like a regular bike. Impressively it weighs less than 18kg and looks just like a Stumpjumper Evo. The new 1.2 SL motor boosts the torque 35Nm to 50 and with the option to stack an extra battery, I’ve pulled off some lengthy rides this season.

Price: $15,000 USD
More Information: specialized.com




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Ohlins RXF 38 Fork

The market is full of hot suspension right now. There’s one that still stands out in my mind every time I ride it though -- the Ohlins RXF 38 enduro fork. I’ll agree with Seb Scott that it may not be the most sensitive at the top of the travel in comparison to the Fox 38, however, it carries an uncanny level of support through step and rough terrain. The confidence it develops for the rider is equal to its dual-crown sibling, the DH38.

In the parking lot, it can feel under-sprung, yet the damping and dual air springs are always there to catch you when you’re hanging on for dear life. Those two Schrader valves are highly tunable and don’t require opening the air spring to change the ramp pressure. It's the balance of feeling settled, but never blowing through the travel that sets this one apart for me.

Price: $1,350 USD / €1,238 (excluding tax)
More Information: ohlins.com




Feedback Reflex

Feedback Reflex Fixed Torque Ratchet Kit

Pocket-sized ratchet kits like this bring me back to the days when I used to carry tools in a seat bag or on a snowboard binding. They’re still as handy today and the Reflex Ratchet features a built-in 5Nm torque wrench.

I love a good set of standard L-shaped Allen keys from the hardware store, but you'd be surprised how often this snazzy gadget comes out, even with a bench full of home mechanic tools to choose from. The miniature size and stackable barrels work for both installing tricky-to-reach bolts (bottle cages and pump holders in particular) and confidently torquing up carbon components.

Price: $70 USD
More Information: feedbacksports.com




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Adventure Rides

As much as I love having Whistler’s bike park on my doorstep and world-class trails in my backyard, I find myself seeking out wilder rides that may or may not be possible on a bike - in some instances, they may no longer exist.

Type 2 fun is not everyone’s ideal mountain biking. Carrying my bike up, across, over, and sometimes even down doesn’t deter me from trying to piece together dubious rides. Thankfully, every ride isn’t like that for me, plus I have an equally willing partner and groups of friends that frequently sign up. When it all goes to plan, that first time down a trail can often be the most rewarding to me.

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On top of the trip to Pisgah, I spent time wandering around the Northern and Eastern Cascade Mountains following some hot and not so updated recommendations.

Price: Carrying your bike frequently




We Are One Arrival 170. Photos Max Barron

We Are One Arrival

If you’re looking for a truly do-it-all machine, then this could be “the one”. Thanks to crafty engineering, the Arrival’s frame can transform into three distinct bikes by only changing the rear shock and rocker links. When paired with similar length forks, it can become a 130mm trail bike, and a 150mm or 170mm travel enduro bike.

At the right times, it pedals like a short travel bike and is the reason why I had no trouble choosing to take it along for all-day backcountry tours where the terrain can change at a moment’s notice.

With a fairly long chainstay and low front end, there’s a forward weight bias which places the rider in an attacking position. Finding front wheel traction is no issue and due to the supple tune of the RockShox Super Deluxe coil shock out back, the rear tire floats across chatter.

Would it keep up with bikes like the Santa Cruz Nomad or Norco Range on puckering trails? Possibly in the right hands. The Arrival 170 isn’t a mistake eraser - it rewards precise moves and would be a wise choice for enduro racing.

We’ve raved about the capabilities of the Arrival in its 150mm form before, but when you consider how effectively the 170mm travel version pedals and carries speed, you have to ask, why bother limiting the fun?

Price: $5,499 CAD / $4,299 USD (frame only w/ RockShox SuperDeluxe Coil)
More Information: weareonecomposites.com




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Digging

All of that time spent burning around on those old-school trails has made me realize how massive Squamish’s network of trails is, and it's ever growing. Well after the pandemic, folks continue to have an insatiable appetite for building new trails.

Without a doubt there have been highly enjoyable additions to trails in Squamish, however, I’ve found it rewarding to maintain some of the classics. I’m not talking about major changes - just a few buckets of dirt here and there, along with some trimming - you’d hardly notice.

Originally, the inspiration came from the Free Radicals and SORCA’s (Squamish Off Road Cycling Association) restoration of 19th Hole; a full weekend event, filled with food and prizes, working on one of the classic gravity trails in the Diamondhead trail network.

On that note, and similarly to Mike Kazimer, I’d like to give a shout out to all of the trail builders. I’d highly recommend attending a day at your local riding area if you haven’t already.

Price: $60 CAD (annual membership)
More Information: sorca.ca




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Ochain Active MTB Spider

Technically, this innovative product came in for review last year. It found its way onto my Nukeproof Giga “Staff Ride” and has stayed there though.

By minimizing chain forces, the Ochain brings a sense of calmness to your ride, decreasing chain clatter and improving the suspension squishiness. It still blows my mind how much chain feedback, pedal kick, or whatever you want to call it, has on a bike’s suspension, particularly a stiff, framed single pivot like the Giga. In turn that makes you feel like you’re riding smoother, and faster.


Price: $256 USD
More Information: ochain.bike




Photos by Sara Kempner

Feeling Healthy and Strong Again

Two and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease after a long period of battling gut health issues that became progressively concerning. During Crankworx of 2022, the unfortunate catastrophic failure of a homebrew bike coincided with one of the roughest bouts of stomach troubles I’ve endured. My body was totally shot, inside and out, mentally and physically.

Finally, I hit good luck. During my recovery from the accident, my brother suggested some dietary advice that ultimately rectified my main issues (along with a new medical regime).

From the fall of 2022 onward, I made it my mission to get back to full strength and into racing shape. By the time spring rolled around, I’d stacked on 12kg of muscle I’d depleted and could hold a strong pace without feeling immediately weak. That led me to sign up for the Back Forty and the Sun Peaks Canada Cup downhill race.

With no idea what to expect, or how to pace myself in the XC race, I bordered on red-lining while keeping the short travel bike rightside up. I managed to slot in with a respectable finish for the baggies crowd.

Five years had passed since I bolted a race plate to a downhill bike, and although not all the top dogs were at the Sun Peaks race, I still managed to lay down a competitive time.

None of that would’ve been possible one year ago. It’s been a journey and hell of a battle. I’ve got to give a massive thanks to the friends, family and coworkers supporting me in getting through those tumultuous times.




Author Info:
mattbeer avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2001
375 articles

131 Comments
  • 321 4
 Cheers to feeling strong & healthy. Way better than adjustable chainstays.
  • 93 0
 There is literally nothing better than feeling strong and healthy. It's also the one thing that everyone takes for granted until it's gone.
  • 6 0
 @Explodo: That's a double.
  • 7 0
 As someone who has had Crohn's for 24 years that one hit home Matt.
I truly understand the work it takes (both mentally and physically) to come back from being so unhealthy. I'm still myself getting back to normal from a total colectomy and reanastamosis last Christmas.

Keep up with your regimen if it's working and stay healthy brother!
  • 5 0
 Great last one Matt. Good on you.
  • 2 0
 Cheers to that!
You only miss it (your health) when it's gone...
NEVER take it for granted and savor every day that you can ride, run, swim, lift, skate, surf, hike, walk.
  • 1 0
 My cousin died of it, awful disease. So glad you've found a way to live to the max despite it, stay strong dude.
  • 43 0
 Great list Matt. Can you share a bit of details about the diet?
Thanks!
  • 5 0
 I'd love to hear more about this as well
  • 7 0
 Same. My dad has Crohns and it's been rough on him. My GI system is my achilles heal for sure.
  • 9 0
 Crohns sucks. Glad you are in a good place with it.
  • 1 0
 I would like to hear more about your diet as well. Plus offer. Fresh cabbage juice throughout the day. It is a bit spendy and you need a good juicer. But my wife swears by it.
  • 1 0
 I've read avoiding red meat is a good idea for folks with Crohns disease. My close friend has diverticulitis which is another GI problem. He was advised to take Metamucil every day, basically psyllium husks. High fiber diet, avoid seeds on bagels too! They can get stuck in the intestines.
  • 8 0
 @reginald68 Everyone's gut is different, so I can only share what's helped me. Gluten wasn't always an issue, but once these symptoms came on, I cut that out and noticed a change.

After some trial and error (admittedly, not the best medication regime) starting Infliximab injections every eight weeks massively improved my system. Still, some flare-ups occurred so I cut out tomatoes, along with other nightshade foods. I immediately recognize when I consume those foods and my energy plummets over the next day or two.

I spend a fair bit of time cooking at home minimal refined and basically no fried foods. I wasn't a huge drinker, but that meant less beer (I know, the irony!). Even the GF beers affected me to a degree. Dairy and meat are still in the fridge and I've noticed they help keep my system running normally. Coffee doesn't seem to be a bother, as long as it's not on an empty stomach, but I also try to drink a ton of water.

As I said, this won't work for everyone, but it's helped me. I'm still open to experimenting as I don't believe the battle is over.
  • 2 1
 @mattbeer: Thanks for sharing and glad you've found a strategy that is working. My wife is hyper nightshade sensitive and so we've cut out all nightshades for around five years now and notice that helps my gut big time. Once you realize how many food nightshades are in it can be a challenge dining out. Paprika, potato starch and many other nightshade ingredients are in a huge amount of foods and recipes.
  • 40 2
 Pisgah resident here, Pisgah is terrible, sucky place, bad trails, not a single good trail in fact. you guys probably wouldn't even like it, I would just skip over and go check out the Florida riding if i was you all...
  • 9 4
 Actually pisgah does suck unless you have a local tour guide. Sure the terrain might be good, but good luck finding it. Turn by the horse gate they said. No signs anywhere.
  • 6 1
 @Alecridesbikes: yeah youre 100% right. no good trails here, not a single one, everything sucks... better look elsewhere...
  • 6 0
 @Alecridesbikes: man you know, the stables. On the gravel road.
  • 1 0
 @Alecridesbikes: Don’t go to the Wilson Creek region then. It really sucks
  • 7 0
 @slayersxc17: hang a right just before the pot grow. If you see the meth head guys with shotguns, you went too far.
  • 1 1
 Went for the first time this summer. Only had time to ride a couple trails but damn. Black Mountain 127 was legendary. Not to mention all the waterfalls and swimming holes. My little gremlins absolutely loved it too.
  • 2 0
 @mkul7r4: should've seen what it was like before they nerfed it!
  • 1 0
 @SangamonTaylor: this is my experience on many outings in Wilson Creek.
  • 1 0
 @love4FLOW Bentonville instead, right?
  • 1 0
 @Alecridesbikes: keep Pisgah wild
  • 2 0
 @Alecridesbikes: As someone from the northeast where everything is 100 miles of trail spaghetti in 10 square miles of land, I found the pisgah area trails incredibly well marked and easy to find. Especially with trail forks. I went alone and did not ride with locals and had no issues. I'm pretty sure I remember the horse gate you are referring to as well. I rode all of the well known trails when I was there a few summers ago.
  • 1 0
 Actually there is no good terrain east of the Rockies in North America and 90% of the good trails in the west are in the cascades, Sedona and Moab. Everywhere else stinks and is certainly not worth mentioning let alone having any staff nearby.
  • 1 0
 @banzonam: If Pisgah Area SORBA has their way, you won't be able to tell the difference between Pisgah and Bentonville.
  • 1 0
 Same here in Nelson BC, I'd check out Grand Forks instead...
  • 31 1
 We're stoked that the Arrival was a highlight of your year! Thanks Matt!
  • 3 1
 Amazing and versatile bike. Rooting for you guys!
  • 17 0
 +1 on the Magura/Ohlins gang. It's the best. The HC lever upgrade for the MT5 is very much worth it.

And I've also lusted over that Arrival for a while.

Best of health to you in 2024!
  • 6 0
 I've been loving the Oaks Component levers as well.
  • 3 0
 @jalopyj: I looked long and hard at those. Sweet levers!
  • 3 0
 I actually love the stock levers
  • 1 0
 @RonSauce: Took me a few rides to get used to, but now everything else feels weird.
  • 8 0
 Shimano also produces great brake levers for Magura brakes ;-)
  • 10 0
 As someone who has suffered from Crohn's for over a decade, I agree that there's nothing like feeling "normal" again. Stomach troubles on a mountain bike are the worst. Glad to see you're healthy and back at it!
  • 9 0
 got diagnosed 2.5 years ago, riding was the only thing that would take my mind off stomach pain. From Diet and some medicine have been feeling great and got motivated to get super fit again. Now more focused on nutrition than before and riding stronger than ever!
  • 4 0
 I'm at 24 years and doing well. It has its rough patches but don't let it hold you back.
  • 4 0
 Got crohn's as a kid. It sucks. Later in life climbed Mount Rainier and completed a triathlon, so it didn't limit me beyond what the average person can athletically do. So hopefully you get well soon and race again. Just takes a while to figure out which medicine your body reacts to best to get Crohns under control.
  • 2 0
 @erikulator: fork yeah man! Love it.
  • 13 2
 Pisgah rules. Hopefully it doesn't get ruined by the creation of more dull flow trails.
  • 6 0
 Thanks for sharing, Matt. I’ve had UC for almost 20 years. These types of ailments make it tough to stay strong and keep on muscle, not to mention managing the disease itself. I love to hear about people doing well with their illness. Keep it up!
  • 8 0
 Yeah buddy, it was awesome seeing you inside the tape at Sun Peaks this year.
  • 9 1
 I have Crohns/Colitis. Crappy situation! Still shredding hard at 53, though. Emtb sure helped me keep the lap counts up.
  • 5 1
 I agree that MT5 are extremely powerful, swap out the levers for the HC as pictured here and good pads and rotors and I think they are the best bang for your buck trail/enduro/dh brake out there. But one little tip over and I broke a body on them. Then the replacement came (purchased) and tightening the hose nut (with a torque wrench) the threads snapped out of the body. The third body came (purchased) and when swapping out the lever the back of the body snapped off.
I am also a shop lead mechanic for 10+ years and am an actual competent mechanic. After these issues, I decided I couldn't travel with a Magura brake as one small tipover or a shuttle issue and I would be SOL. Back to SRAM and the new Code Stealth Ultimates are super impressive and provide all the power I need.
  • 1 0
 When you do a lever swap, the pin only comes out 1 way on both levers the same way. I was trying to swap mine and the pin wasn't moving as easily as I felt it should, checked the instructions and yup, there's a right and a wrong way.
  • 3 0
 Use some Shimano levers, by all accounts they work great.
  • 2 0
 Unrelated to the Maguras but I spun around on a Druid V2 with the new Code Stealth Ultimates and I also was quite impressed. Like good old Codes but betterer.
  • 2 0
 @adhesivenote: I kept having issues with Magura levers on my MT5s, so I swapped to Shimano levers...and while the ease of setup and durability is miles better, the braking is just worse Frown Maguras truly do offer control like no other.
  • 3 0
 I would also love to hear more about the diet changes. Maybe pinkbike could start a series of articles about athletes/staff diet on and off the bike?
I don’t think I’ve seen any diet articles here over the years ‍♂️
  • 8 0
 Digging. Hell yeah!
  • 6 0
 I have a fiend who is also wrestling through Crohn's. Would love to hear what worked for you.
  • 9 2
 Chrone's disease???? you have got to be shitting me.....
  • 1 0
 *slow clap*
  • 5 0
 So the last thing on the list was actually a beer, cheers to feeling better
  • 1 0
 @mattbeer you give me hope!
Since 2011 i have a diagnosis of UC but it' s 3 years and half without remission, failed 2 medical regime, i bet the third one will declared failed soon.
Feel strong and comeback on saddle it' s a huge goal for 2024.
Cheers
  • 5 0
 Right on Matt! Stoked to see you healthy this year.
  • 4 3
 Yeah man. I love Ferrari's and Snap-On Tools too. LOL! Like a rich kids Christmas list up there. For real though. Huge congrats on the health journey. It's not easy to get torn down and climb back up again. Huge props there. Keep at it! Here's to being better than ever!
  • 2 2
 Bahahaha... OMG i started reading fast and thought you said "Yeah man. I love Ferrari's and Strap-On Tools too!"
  • 5 0
 +1 on the Maguras and the Ohlins 38
  • 7 1
 Friggin Tabelord
  • 14 1
 Matt's so good at bikes.
  • 2 20
flag thechunderdownunder (Dec 20, 2023 at 14:35) (Below Threshold)
 @mikekazimer: we should all stop bumbling down the trails and let Matt do the riding. Wink
  • 6 0
 @thechunderdownunder:

Maybe just you, you seem fragile .
  • 4 0
 I would note this list does not include "a wristwatch" or "alarm clock", or any timekeeping devices of any sort.
  • 1 0
 @cooperquinn-wy I blame is on growing up in a province with a time zone half an hour off of everyone else haha!
  • 2 1
 Couple things. First, congrats on getting the gut under control...that's a tough one too handle. And hell yeah to digging... the best thing people can do to support their local riding. And lastly Pisgah...SOOOO much good stuff there. I could take a decade to uncover all the gems there and it will still surprise you at times.
  • 5 0
 That We Are One is phenomenal....
  • 1 0
 I have had some gut issues (GERD) of late as well. It is like my stomach just said, nope, you can't eat these things anymore and penalized me by making me feel really bad. After several months, I still have gut issues, but am better. I think probiotics have helped a lot. I knew about probiotics, but kinda thought they were just hype, but my sister (who is a pharmacist) told me I should be taking them.

The Ochain looks good because it does solve a problem.
  • 3 0
 @mattbeer did you ever try to Ochain on the arrival 170? I love my arrival and wondering if the Ochain would make it even better.
  • 1 0
 @Carlharl I did not have a chance. The Ochain has never made suspension feel worse, although I never had an issue with chain feedback on the Arrival.
  • 4 0
 Lamborghini compared to a Honda. (Head scratch) $20 says there Hondas out there with mileage twice the cost of the Lambo!
  • 1 0
 Oh f&@k, what a nonsense analog.
This is like a Rav4 vs a Rav4 hybrid. Not worth three times as much.
Especially since the motorcoss bikes don't even cost that much...
  • 8 6
 There's also the Manitou mezzer pro which is currently half the price of the ohlin's, has all the same adjustments and performance, and is lighter
  • 5 2
 Have the Hayes employees slipped into every mtb discussion forum?
  • 1 0
 @mcfadden999: not an employee or sponsored rider, just a guy who likes to let the world know there are other options out there that are just as good (or in this case, better) that don't have the marketing budget to always be at the forefront
  • 1 0
 On a serious note, Matt if you haven't already you should be tested for the HLA-B27 antigen. It can shed light on your issues.
  • 4 0
 Ohlins RFX38 is great!
  • 2 0
 US National Forest Annual Discovery Pass??
Is there forest pass we’ve heard little about in the Pisgah?
  • 1 0
 They recently had a meeting looking at charging you to use the forest; so eventually everyone will have to pay, once they get their way.
  • 1 0
 @likeittacky: oh I’m very aware of the potential of the pass. That little note made it seem like he paid for it. I’ve heard nothing for months about it.
  • 2 0
 Pisgah area actually sucks. Don’t waste your time visiting. Sub-par bike parks, boring trails, and lackluster views.
  • 1 0
 Magura runs semi-floating rotors..?! Wow, I didn’t think floating rotors had made it to Mtn biking.
..I need a new front rotor for my Code caliper
  • 2 0
 Welcome to a decade ago?
  • 1 0
 @BarryWalstead:
If that was referring to my floating caliper comment, are they an improvement over solid mount by staying cool and straight? If they set the world a blaze, I must have been under my rock at the time.
They were the source of much debate in the MX world. Often blamed for bad braking, though that never made sense. All road race machinery uses them.
Anyone here using them?
  • 1 0
 No comments from me on their relative merits in real life. I know the why of it, but not that it's actually needed. But it isn't really new.
  • 1 0
 @BarryWalstead:
Sounds familiar somehow..
  • 1 0
 @BarryWalstead:
Back in the 90s, Kawasaki came out with a full floating rotor for their MX bikes.
Everybody hated it, but I think it was more about the rotor being stainless steel rather than a high carbon steel.
I lived with one for a while, never got it to work that great.
We were getting better results by swapping out stock brake hoses for a steel braided version.
  • 1 0
 That Giga is pretty dialed and looks great, everything from the saddle, wheels and the wolftooth parts w/ espresso color accents.
  • 2 2
 Why haven't my tax dollars installed electrical outlets in the backcountry so I can do rad adventure rides on my 15k ebike without sweating?
  • 3 10
flag likeittacky (Dec 20, 2023 at 15:06) (Below Threshold)
 Ukraine
  • 1 0
 Happy to hear your feeling number one again Matt. All about a good adventure ride too. Smile
  • 1 0
 Oooof. I wouldn't wish Crohn's disease on my worst enemy. I hope things stay better for a long long time!
  • 2 0
 Matt wins this years best things. All the best in 2024!
  • 1 0
 Matt Beer, thanks for reminding me about one thing I loved about 2023. Beer. I loved Beer. Wink
  • 1 0
 Is there a review of the Ochain on Pinkbike? I imagined this product years ago but never knew it existed.
  • 2 0
 Things I liked in 2023: photos of Matt Beer sending it.
  • 1 0
 Magura Brakes: Power at the expense of everything else
  • 1 0
 Great list! Nice to see a well rounded view
  • 1 0
 that wip in kanuga really nice
  • 1 2
 Glad to hear about your health journey! Mind sharing what private trails in/near Pisgah you were able to ride?
  • 2 0
 I’m assuming he’s speaking of the numerous off-map rogue trails. Soooo many. Or maybe he has friends with neat trails in their backyard.
  • 2 0
 Private trails stay private by not telling all of the internet. Ask a nice local.
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